Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best Albums from 2012

In alphabetical order:

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Lost Songs

"Lost Songs splits the difference between some of the more overly emotive/dramatic …Trail of Dead featured on recent albums, and the frenetic, exciting …Trail of Dead of its the early years. Tracks like "Open Doors" and "Catatonic" are brothers in arms with the halcyon-era, breathless punk rock the band earned its early critical stripes for. If for nothing else than the fact that they serve as fist-pumping anthems, Lost Songs is a success. And when Reece sings, "We're catatonic! Looking for something new!" it's clear …Trail of Dead have discovered what was once Lost." [pastemagazine]

{Alternative Rock, Rock, Metal}

Blockhead - Interludes After Midnight

"Instrumentally, Blockhead inserts several melodic samples, bestowing a range of genres with minimal changes to his style. Often he incorporates wild and whimsical flute, which stands independently or melds into juxtaposition against heavy bass. Intense horns, electric guitar, and wholesome piano all make appearances. Although tonally separate from the consistent drum and bass, they are arranged over the beats and become harmonious with the core of each song." [inyourspeakers]

{Experimental Hip Hop, Electronica}

BT - If the Stars Are Eternal So Are You and I

The seven-track record - much like This Binary Universe - sees BT expanding upon his original detailing of chillout's notoriously testing reaches of sound exploration. It's this unknown - this very recognizably unrecognizable dark abyss - where nine out of ten times we find ourselves with BT's music, as if on a pivotal knife's edge unsure where to go next. BT's music may, for the most part, associate with something more human and impacting, but it's here on If The Stars Are Eternal So Are You And I where Brian's skills truly come into play and, as a result, shine through. [musicreviewdatabase]

{Electronica, Ambient, Experimental IDM}

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

"Attack on Memory echoes the sentiments of yesteryear's greatest punk records. It's awash in good vibes underneath bad distortion and Albini's a primo candidate to knock that out of the park. Nirvana's In Utero, which he produced, remains one of the most haunting efforts of its genre, but you'd never know. Why? Albini's production supported the raw and live instrumentation that outweighed the dense lyricism. Admittedly, that sort of creative style can be rather obtrusive if handled improperly. For a veteran like Albini, it's second nature now." [time]

{Punk Rock}

Grizzly Bear - Shields

"As both an art piece and a product, Shields is masterfully executed. The great joy of Shields is that it is nowhere near as dualistic and polarized as all of that might suggest, and as Veckatimest sometimes felt. Shields plays like a truly collaborative effort, the product of a band blessed by four musicians with distinct voices and great aesthetic curiosity — independently prolific when not creating together — finding an unlikely but completely organic common ground between rock, jazz, folk, symphonic accouterment, electronic experimentalism, and avant grandiosity." [stereogum]

{Alternative, Jazz-Rock, Dreampop}

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

"Japandroids' brash, affirming ruckus never lets up and never gets old: In 35 minutes and just eight songs, these guys kick and scream ("Let rip, but never let go!"), fill their choruses with "whoa-oh-ohs," and generally sing the praises of a loud, messy life. It's fitting that Celebration Rock both starts and finishes with the sound of fireworks — figuratively, they never actually stopped." [npr]

{Punk Rock}

The Orb feat. Lee Scratch Perry - The Orbserver In The Star House

"This alliance with The Orb is positive for both parties, Perry providing a tighter rein on their tendency to meander, while they furnish him with a different terrain to his usual dub skanks, even bringing a more haunting tone..." [independent]

{Dub, Bass, Ambient}

Orbital - Wonky

"Wonky mostly finds Orbital deciding to do what they've always done best: gorgeous blends of house drive and techno precision, linking airy whoosh and stadium stomp, melodic hook and rhythmic push. These are dance tracks that hit you with the immediacy of pop singles, occasionally erring toward outright throwback territory but usually with just enough juice purloined from club culture's more recent mutations and underground niches to keep things vital. This doesn't mean the Hartnolls aren't still devoted to the sounds of the 1990s, ideas they helped either pioneer or refine, and there are indeed plenty of sonic nods to rave's (and Orbital's) most fertile decade." [pitchfork]

{Rave, Techno, Dub, Electronica}

S.P.Y - What the Future Holds

"What the Future Holds," is a symphony. Press play on the title track and any junglist is likely to double-take; the epically orchestral introduction could be a Hollywood blockbuster soundtrack. The rich strings rise and fall with the glorious breadth, enough to make you choke. Over the horizon a gentle tribe of drums marches in and the soundscape is truly philharmonic." [foxgotbass]

{Drum & Bass}

Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

"It's not just laser-guided club bombs, though. Subliminally or not, "Cerulean" mimics Orbital's bleepy, robotic techno style; "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" is a fizzing 8-bit exercise with off-kilter rhythms leaving decaying trails of electronic debris behind it like meteor showers. In contrast, "Interference"—Unpatterns' most willfully contemporary-sounding track—is aimed directly at 2 AM Berghain crowds, fusing echo-laden, Scuba-like bass thuds with spattering Detroit techno drum patterns. Unpatterns feels like Simian Mobile Disco's watershed moment. They may have cool alt-pop friends, but they've gone with their heart by beating a path to the dance floor. This is compelling proof they've made the right choice." [residentadvisor]


Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

"Sweet Heart, Sweet Light was written while Pierce was touring Ladies and Gentlemen in its entirety. Inspired by the experiences of performing, this new album does evoke comparisons to the earlier release, but is in no means a derivative re-tread. After much of the album's writing was complete, Pierce suffered from degenerative liver disease and as a result underwent experimental chemotherapy while recording, a treatment that often left Pierce clouded. When Pierce sings, "living my life on a prayer now" in "Freedom", one of this album's most serenely beautiful tracks, he truly means it." [consequenceofsound]

{Art Rock, Baroque Pop}

Titus Andronicus - Local Business
"Three guitars, a sense of humor in the face of despair, and an unwavering commitment to the underrated art of the rock 'n' roll sing-along are what define Local Business. There might not be a better rock band right now at pairing an everything-is-fucked worldview with an it'll-be-okay-with-another-guitar-solo chaser, and no frontman better at pairing the glorious freedom of being an individual with the pain and responsibilities and confusion that come with that individuality." [avclub]

{Punk Rock}

Voices From The Lake - Voices From The Lake

"Voices from the Lake is an intensely personal project borne out of the long-standing friendship between two Italian DJ/producers, Donato Dozzy and Neel. The project extends and deepens their explorations of ambient techno, with an emphasis firmly placed on the 'techno' component. Listening to Voices from the Lake is an immersive experience, as the textured beats and carefully crafted rhythms have a deeply hypnotic effect. The open, fluid structure of the music gives it an organic, natural feel, transporting you to more peaceful surroundings. With the music of Voices from the Lake there is a completely natural progression and flow, nothing is forced or hurried. The sounds develop and unfold at their own pace, creating a powerful sense of tranquility. The genesis of the Voices from the Lake album can be found in the mountains of Japan, where they made their live debut at The Labyrinth festival in 2011. This album recreates and refines that performance." [prologuemusic]

{Ambient, Techno}

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