Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best Music of 2012

Best of 2012

1) Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (Def Jam

All the buzz about the brilliant debut album of this New Orleans R&B singer is justified. I listened to this album as much as any album this year and had a new favorite song from it every week. 

2) Cloud Nothings--Attack on Memory

Angsty, high-energy punk pop from Cleveland’s Dylan Baldi, who has graduated from basement studio productions to fronting a band. When my days at work became beastly, screaming along to this album on the drive home was a catharsis. “Stay Useless” is my song of the year.

3) Sharon Van Etten -- Tramp  (Jagjaguwar)

Recorded with the help of The National’s Aaron Dessner, Van Etten broadens her musical palette and releases her most consistently compelling album to date.

4) The Coup -- Sorry to Bother You (Epitaph)

Boots Riley and company mix up a potent blend of hip hop, 70s funk, soul, garage rock and wickedly funny agitprop. The revolution may not be televised, but there will be dancing. The Coup also put on one of the best live shows of 2012.

5) Best Coast--The Only Place (Mexican Summer)

If you stop listening to the lyrics after the sunny title song you could easily mistake this for a breezy summer fluff album of sixties retro tunes. But the success of her first album seems to have unsettled LA native Bethany Cosentino. These are dark songs from a sunny clime, with lyrics about trying to stifle self doubt with drinking and shopping.  Cosentino continues to develop her her songcraft, and her singing is stronger than ever.

6) Japandroids -- Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)

The title is its own review. This duo from Vancouver, British Columbia makes some happy noise.  

7) dB’s--Falling Off the Sky (Bar None)

After a gap of thirty years, all four original members of the dB’s reunite and put out an album as punchy and toothsome as their best stuff from the eighties. They floored me when I saw one of their shows at the Hideout in November.

8) Santigold – Master of My Make Believe (Atlantic)

The less she tries to sound like MIA, the better she is.

9) Walkmen--Heaven (Fat Possum)

The Walkmen grow up, mellow out, become dads and still make some terrific music.

10) Lee Fields -- Faithful Man (Truth & Soul)

Old school soul from a veteran with 40 years of experience. An amazing singer, killer band and first rate material.

Also many happy listens:

Alabama Shakes-- Boy and Girls (Ato)
First Aid Kit--The Lion’s Roar (Wichita)
Passion Pit--Gossamer (Columbia

Monophonics--In Your Brain (Ubiquity)
XX--Coexist (Young Turks)