Hey there, I'm Eric. I'm a music junkie and habitual overthinker. I might have interesting ideas sometimes...you can find some of them here. Why you would be so thoroughly interested in them is beyond me, but hey, you're reading this, aren't you?
Before I list off my top 10 albums of 2012, these are some albums that stood above the Honorable Mentions but didn’t quite make the cut into the best of the best.
MOST Honorable Mentions:
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
After the Sacramento-native Deftones released their “revival” album Diamond Eyes in 2010, it was unclear what direction within the alternative/nu-metal genre the band would venture in next. The result is a darker foray that falls sonically halfway between the notions of Saturday Night Wrist and Diamond Eyes. Their post-rock, odd time signatures, and progressive tendencies show here more than ever.
Jack White – Blunderbuss
Third Man Records owner and ex-White Stripe/Raconteur put out his first solo effort this year that included many similar sounds of past, but patched the wounds in our hearts that those bands left open.
Fancy Colors – Near Equator
Jupiter One members Dave Heilman and Zac Colwell front this bluesy alternative/indie band and carry out an album whose vibe is well-defined by the band’s name. This album is like perusing a quaint gallery of washed-out art on the countryside while thinking of how weird your last weekend in New England was.
Geographer – Myth
This San Francisco-based indie band is well worth your attention. They have an electric cello and cascading synths that create a unique atmosphere that deserves to be seen live. They will be touring the US in early 2013.
Top 10 albums of 2012:
10. Kishi Bashi – 151a
After having released his Room for Dream EP last year, Kishi Bashi began a Kickstarter project that firmly boosted his solo career after his prior band Jupiter One went on hiatus. His impeccable violin skills paired with expert use of looping pedals creates a one-man band that conveys emotions deeper than one might think possible. Each of his songs could be the soundtrack to a short film in the way they fill a room with the particular emotions of whatever subject he covers.
9. Wild Nothing – Nocturne
Wild Nothing’s sophomore LP ventured in the direction of 80s and 90s dream pop with a far clearer and cohesive statement than their first album. The blissful melodies and noticeably improved songwriting skills by Jack Tatum have shown that the sound of the Smiths isn’t necessarily limited to their period of time; Wild Nothing proved that this sound can respectably reside alongside music in the 21st century.
8. Beach House – Bloom
MORE dream pop goodness. “Myth” and “Lazuli” are gorgeous. Beach House knows how to create a world of their own.
7. Metric – Synthetica
Themed with the ever-intensifying grip that technology has on society, Emily Haines and friends returned this year to follow up 2009’s wonderful Fantasies. Their obsession with synthesizers grew as this album was produced, and the resulting songs show how much the size of their sound has widened. Case in point: “Dreams So Real.” “Clone” returns to Metric’s appealing slow jams and “The Void” is one of the most infectious indie pop tunes the band has ever written. Lou Reed also shows up on “The Wanderlust,” and you leave the song wondering why they ever invited him into the studio. He’s too Lou Reed for their Metric.
6. Digitalism – DJ Kicks
You know you’ve won some respectability as an electronic artist if you’ve been asked by !k7 records to compile a DJ-Kicks compilation. Digitalism crafted almost an album’s worth of new exclusive tracks to incorporate into a mix of tunes that have helped influence and shape the “electro-clash” genre and the sound that the duo calls their own. From deep/disco house to loud electro bangers, and even indie electro jams, this is the most well-rounded compilation of the year.
5. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
OFWGKTA native goes the distance in his major-label debut and shows that he isn’t just another one of the boys in a fun-loving rap collective. He has what it takes to leave a mark on the genre, and has even said since the release of Channel Orange that it may be too daunting of a task for him to even consider creating an equally story-oriented follow-up. Personal favorite: “Super Rich Kids (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)”
4. Grimes – Visions
Canada’s Claire Boucher knows how to make a sound much bigger than herself. Her aspirations as a solo artist are large enough that this surely isn’t the last we’ve seen from her. In a few years’ time, this will likely show to be the tip of her musical iceberg. “Genesis” and “Oblivion” are the sequential one-two punch of the year.
3. of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks
Kevin Barnes returned this year with his eleventh full-length album as of Montreal. His tortured lyricism makes a comeback and the band’s electronic beat samples are exchanged for a more refreshing assortment of flutes, strings, and other “classical” instruments behind the band’s indie pop sound, giving it a more organic sound than past albums. While the latter half of the album is a test of patience, the album has many blissful moments in between its psychedelic and depressed interludes. Furthermore, highlight “Ye, Renew the Plaintiff” is a towering 9-minute masterpiece of indie rock glory, creating of Montreal’s equivalent of a multi-faceted classic rock piece in the vein of “Stairway to Heaven,” with its distinct segments. Look for the band’s career-spanning documentary in March 2013!
2. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
After the resounding underground success of his mixtape Section.80in 2011, Kendrick Lamar was destined for great things this year, and his “Short Film” has shown to be the most captivating story musically told this year. With the help of Dr. Dre and a handful of other masterful producers, Kendrick’s career is the most exciting in hip-hop today. Every single song is thought out to a painstakingly detailed degree. For example, “Backseat Freestyle” is less of a common rapper’s boast but is Kendrick’s recollection of growing up and rapping as a young’n, with the increasingly dangerous peer pressure that comes along with it (which is detailed further in the aptly titled “The Art of Peer Pressure”).
1. Tame Impala – Lonerism
I’ve consistently labeled the sound of this album “The Beatles meets Neon Indian,” but this album is far more than a fusion of old and new sounds. The songwriting and homemade aspect of this album is a huge testament to what Kevin Parker can accomplish ALL BY HIMSELF. He constructed this album almost entirely alone in a bedroom, and made what isn’t just a grower, but a keeper. It’s entirely possible that everyone could have different favorite tracks on this album, which is what makes it so great. It’s just so arbitrarily appealing for reasons we already know and love.
TNGHT – TNGHT: In the words of Anthony Fantano, the most well-thought out “herp derp” of the year.
RÜFÜS – RÜFÜS EP (Blue): These Australians craft dark alternative dance melodies that are irresistible.
††† (Crosses) - EP ††: Sonically speaking, it’s Deftones meet Depeche Mode. Chino Moreno side project.
Burial – Kindred: The best and most captivating rainy day soundtrack ever.
Minnesota – Astral Projection: Take a trip to space.
Mord Fustang – Welcome to the Future: Mord’s glitchy electro house is impossible not to dance to.
KOAN Sound – The Adventures of Mr. Fox: A fantastic collection from funk to jazz to ambience.
Dillon Francis – Something, Something, Awesome: 112 bpm wonders that will leave you wanting more.
Diplo – Express Yourself: Moombahton isn’t dead. Masterful use of a Peter Gabriel sample in “Set it Off.”
Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (5-CD Remastered Reissue Set)
Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Massive Attack – Blue Lines (Remastered)
Tycho – Dive (Deluxe Edition)
Grizzly Bear – Shields
Neon Trees – Picture Show
Cinnamon Chasers – Dreams & Machines
Crystal Castles - (III)
Blockhead – Interludes After Midnight
Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon
Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
Passion Pit – Gossamer
Dada Life – The Rules of Dada
The xx – Coexist
Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
Fake Blood – Cells
The Killers – Battleborn
The Shins – Port of Morrow
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Swans – The Seer [features vocals from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs]
Hard to Explain Award
This year, we have a record FOUR artists receiving the Strokes-influenced Hard To Explain award, each with their own intricate reasons.
Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods
Silversun Pickups’ first two albums were produced by Dave Cooley, and firmly established the band’s alternative shoegaze sound. With their new album, the band maintained their core songwriting skills but seemingly sacrificed some of their vision when moving to new producer Jacknife Lee this time around. Neck of the Woods feels slightly more dragged out than their previous efforts, but did not ultimately end up a trainwreck. Since I have grown to love the band due to their first two albums, I feel like I have a decent degree of bias in this case. However, the band hasn’t lost their personality, and I still look forward to future releases from them.
deadmau5 - > Album Title Goes Here <
After a year of heavy touring and dealing with depression, Joel Zimmerman aka deadmau5 realized that it had been too long since he had treated his fans to new music. As production time passed and the mau5 realized that he was lagging on the release of his new album, the piece became a bit less of a labor of love and more of a work of haste. While his music is no less his, some of the tracks (namely “Fn Pig,” as it was a copy-paste job of two work-in-progress tracks that worked together) felt rushed. The rest are bona-fide prog-hau5 tracks that any fan will come to love. The inclusion of the long-time unreleased track “October” was definitely pleasing.
Calvin Harris – 18 Months
For his third effort, Calvin Harris created less of an album this time around rather than a compilation of singles from the past approximate year and a half, hence the album’s title. “School” is the only track that even remotely resembles his past material, and while I am glad it is included, I hope this doesn’t mean that sound is fading out for good.
Muse – The 2nd Law
NEVER let Muse make dubstep on their own. “Unsustainable” was just plain embarrassing. “Follow Me” was more or less a Nero track featuring Muse, which was more acceptable in the wub-wub department. As for actualMuse tracks, “Animals” was subtle yet captivating, and “Supremacy” was a glorious bond-esque tune. Overall, The 2nd Law was pretty hit-or-miss.
this little bugger hitched a ride on my car from the Commons to class today…and then class was canceled! i guess you were good luck, buddy.
WON LIVE 105 TICKETS TO A FREE METRIC SHOW TOMORROW. if i were 21 i could get into two shows, but oh well. emily haines yo