In 2012 I felt that actually some of my usual favourite artists played it very safe and therefore when I came to look at whose made the top 10 albums of the year, there are four completely new artists to me and two that I’ve only known since last year. That’s exciting for my ears for the years to come.
A few self-imposed rules are in this time round. Tori Amos’ Gold Dust (not that it’d have made it) and Patrick Wolf’s “Sundark & Riverlight” (could have done) are reworks of older music that I’ve chosen to ignore them. Also Atticus Finch & Imogen Heap, despite making some of my favourite music, have done only singles in 2012 and therefore isn’t included as there’s no album yet. A separate top 10 for game soundtracks will feature later.
Honourable Mentions: Jesca Hoop, A City on A Lake, Module, Garbage & Sunday Lane.
10) Arcana – As Bright As A Thousand Suns
Arcana have been around for years and I preferred the more melodic and percussive band effort compared to the melancholic Peter Bjargo solo album. It’s one of those albums you feel like you’ve already known for ages with the beautiful mesh of different instruments from aeons passed.
Try Out: As Bright As A Thousand Suns
I had never heard of the band before a “You may like” on Amazon presented their album to me. From just the samples I felt like I’d been on a journey. The guitar work, the way the tracks just build and build into life defining climaxes and the vocal and string arrangements are simply amazing.
Try Out: Lightning Song
The wonderfully detuned and mumble happy Soap&Skin returned with a short but beautifully formed second album fusing her piano and industrial bleep roots together. What was made see’s her ripping her heart out and smearing it over your speakers. Her screams are like yelps and the quiet moments are like lullaby’s for the lost.
Try Out: Boat Turns Toward the Port
Rifftastic bass/drum duo Clatter blasted back onto my speakers in 2012 with their best album to date mixing nutty percussive chops, strong vocals and euphoric choruses to mosh to. I still feel like I have to tell everyone there’s only two in the duo as there’s so much sound coming from them – it’s my favourite rock album of 2012.
Try Out: Strawberry Park
Yes, they are an indie rock group but I don’t think of them as a rock group – they’re like a spacious story group. Alt-J go out of their way to make sure no song follows a well trodden path and their lyrics are cryptically awesome. I’m so glad they got the Mercury Prize this year although I hope that doesn’t mean doom like so many others before them.
Try Out: Breezeblocks
Internet sensation for her music video strangeness, Kin marked her first full album release. It’s dirty, filthy, emotive and like you’re freaking out in slow motion. I personally love the way it all feels together as one seamless piece in a way and when played with the barmy DVD of continuous music videos telling a story of sorts, it only draws you further into the world of Kin.
Try Out: Drops
Such an early release in 2012, Lila Rose became my favourite album in 2012 for a lot of it until some later releases pushed it down. The mix of pop beats along with mature alternative slants, minor keys and Lila’s very downbeat vocal delivery that suggests knowledge beyond her years all merge perfectly to make easily the best radio playable album of 2012. It’s like she’s found her own mini percussive piano pop genre for herself.
Try Out: Casting Shadows
Recently reviewed a few weeks ago, Carina Round’s latest album is such a repost to clean-cut music. Messy, harrowing, haunting, unleashed and furious in places, Tigermending’s synth alt-rock mash-up goes out its way to tell you stories from the bottle of every bottle and alleyway. Carina has never sounded so good and she can still push out anthemic ballads too.
Try Out: Weird Dream
Fiona’s output is slow at best but it is always worth the wait. In many ways The Idler Wheel is her most direct and simple to date but with the purity comes the undistilled emotional impact of each song. Her vocals rasp and growl, her melodies stay stuck in your head for days and way the album comes together as a whole is phenomenal.
Try Out: Anything We Want
After thinking for many year it would never happen I was delighted to have Dead Can Dance back together and their album proved that sometimes when two people work together magic happens regardless. An exercise in music of period and territories, each track pushes off into different versions of the Middle East. The instrumentation is rich, the melodies are sumptuous, the vocals of Brendan and Lisa are as strong as ever and although the album feels like they are separate in many ways, you can feel looking deeper how each has effected the other. Mesmerising.
Try Out: Kiko
And there we have it. My favourite albums of 2012.
Don’t forget you can also listen or even buy my latest studio album here too which I would be blessed to be considered in anyone elses top 10 of anything :-)
The top 10 game soundtracks of 2012 will feature soon.