BEST OF 2012: Albums
Here are ten albums we will never forget from this year. Click the links to listen on Spotify.
Mount Eerie - Clear Moon / Ocean Roar
Two separate albums are my top album of the year. Funny how I totally have the power to do that! Really, though, it was Mount Eerie mastermind Phil Elverum that blew my mind with his songs of nature and domesticity, use of space, flirtation with black metal dynamics and so much more over this essential body of work.
The Walkmen - Heaven
Streamlined and simply lovely, Heaven is a subtle album that wrestles with big issues like family and faith. Rockers like the title-track and "Heartbreaker" are true ear-candy, while swampy detours like "Line By Line" and "The Witch" are amongst the best songs written by these veterans.
Beach House - Bloom
Bloom is essentially Teen Dream II and what the hell is wrong with that? This is majestic, utterly pretty dream-pop with painstakingly crafted epics that really stay with you. Whether through the fluttering guitars of "Wild" or the swelling closer "Irene," Beach House's fourth album never left my rotation.
Mac DeMarco - 2
There's no surprise on my end that Mac DeMarco drives a Volvo station wagon. He's just that kind of guy, and on this album he practices super-catchy slacker-pop that sounds like it might fall to pieces at any second. Loose hooks and bleary guitars led the way, but his personal viewpoint and songwriting prowess felt major.
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Still ornate and difficult, Dirty Projectors actually took an accessible turn towards late-'60s folk on this memorable LP. The arrangements and production are novel and stunning, while the group's trademark vocal complexities unlock unforeseen levels of emotion throughout this journey.
Angel Olsen - Half Way Home
Angel Olsen has a voice so powerful that sometimes it feels like a beautiful slap in the face, but on this, her first well-produced album, she has songs that are so heartbreaking, cosmic, timeless and unique that I couldn't help but fall completely in love.
Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream
Maybe not as culturally-defining as that other R&B album, Miguel simply knows how to write fantastic, art-damaged pop songs. "Adorn" is a jam of the century, while "Do You…" sports some of the best lyrics this side of The-Dream.
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Psychedelia for a new era, Tame Impala took the natural twists, turns, whirlpools and pop hooks of our greatest classic rock technicians and then jammed it all through computers into an eye-dilating stew that followed its own glorious logic.
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Fiona only makes a statement when she really has to, and her fourth album was more urgent than anything she'd ever produced. With a barebones setup that highlighted her powerful-yet-vulnerable voice and a loose, chopped, experimental take on percussion, the album did what an album is supposed to do: create a distinct sonic world stitched together with excellent songs.
Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city
The best rap record of the year, this Compton rapper went from upstart to acclaimed artist in one gigantic conceptual leap. From the thrilling bravado of "Backseat Freestyle" to the epic suite "Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst," Kendrick cemented his voice as one of the more important in hip-hop while showing commendable courage in confronting an industry that too often forces 'unproven' artists to dumb-down their material.