Friday, December 28, 2012

Best Albums of 2012

What I thought the best albums of 2012 were and why:
Best Album of the Year: Santigold Master of My Make Believe
Santigold took a few years to make this spectacular sophomore follow up to her self-titled debut, but it was indeed worth the time. She returns with her same unique hip-hop sound, but is clearly influenced by the voice of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Little Dragon's techno-Asian melodies. My friend downloaded this album and we listened to it the whole way to Jazz Fest in New Orleans and back, so I have very specific memories tied to this music. Her use of African percussion and political/girl power lyrics, place this album at the #1 spot for me.

"They wanna sit and watch you wither
Their legacy's too hard to take
Oh, we said our dreams will carry us
And if they don’t fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out
Oh, how to win what they all lost"
- Disparate Youth

Check out: "The Riot's Gone" is very uplifting, and almost spiritual, "The Keepers" is under the Little Dragon influence and is very catchy, and "Never Enough," a summery reggae tune
2nd: St. Lucia St. Lucia EP
I normally wouldn't include a 6-song EP on an "albums" list, but this little gem is an exception. This EP is totally amazing and energizing, it's like diving in the ocean and into the 80's all at once. Just brilliant. Jean-Philip Grobler's music is upbeat, danceable, and summery. He has said that he is influenced by 80's masters Phil Collins and Lionel Richie (especially "All Night Long"), and upon listening it could not be more true. I'll forever associate this EP to spending the summer in Charleston and driving to the beach.

"Close your eyes
Face the night
Closer to the dance we climb
Arrange yourself
Before the fight
We will always intertwine"
- Paper Heart

Check out: "Closer Than This" the feel-good song that started it all, "All Eyes On You" has very a cool, tidal sound, and "Before the Dive"is so so so 80's!
3rd: Sigur Ros Valtari
This is going to be quite the varied list. There is nothing to say lyrically about Sigur Ros music because it's either in Icelandic or their own made up gibberish (seriously). This album should be a soundtrack to a film, because it is so beautifully composed and flows like a river going through a bed of volcanic ash in Iceland. The music's crescendos are like swelling ocean waves, and commands you observe it's quiet moments of peace and serenity. This album is breathtaking and goosebump-inducing.

Check out (also, if this were a film score): "Varúð" would be playing during the war scene, "Rembihnútur"would be playing during a childhood flashback, "Dauðalogn" should be the last song, when the lovers finally are reunited.
4th: Marina and the Diamonds Electra Heart
It's crazy that Marina and the Diamonds aren't selling out areas and number one on the charts, their music is so - now, but no overly trendy. It's sassy, upbeat techno-pop, but with biting and ironic lyrics. Marina's voice is unique, like a cross between Shakira and Regina Spektor. Her sophomore effort is definitely more mainstream and pop than her debut, The Family Jewels, but is still oh-so fun to listen to.

"Deception and perfection are wonderful traits
One will breed love
the other hate
you'll find me in the lonely hearts
under 'I'm after a brand new start'"
- Homewrecker

Check out: "Radioactive" is very super-model 90's and one of my fave songs of the year, "Primadonna Girl" is so damn catchy, and "How to Be a Heartbreaker"also catchy and dance party ready.
5th: Ellie Goulding Halcyon
Ellie's angelic voice combined with her sparkling production team makes her music so unstoppable and energetic. She's been an UK national treasure for some time now, but only became a chart topper in the states less than a year ago (thanks to Pandora? I don't know). The Brits always have a hunch about these songstresses. This sophomore album by Ellie has so many dramatic moments, brought to you both by her lyrics and the accompanying music. There's really a song in there for every emotion, fleeting feelings. It's just great.

"And God knows I'm not dying but I breathe now
And God knows it's the only way to heal now
With all the blood I lost with you
It drowns the love I thought I knew"
 - My Blood

Check out: "Anything Could Happen"was a 80's tinged, stellar first single, "I Know You Care" is beautifully sad and calm, and "Halcyon" builds and builds to euphoric sound.
6th: Andrew Bird Break It Yourself
This is Andrew's umpteenth album and he is never dry of new, experimental instruments or story lines. His songs are under the influence of many cultures - Spanish, Irish, American, French, etc. With all the different sounds he can make with his violin, you can be transported country to country, musically. His lyrics seem confusing at first listen, but repeated playing makes you realize how metaphorical and unique his songwriting is. They make you think extra hard because he just doesn't come right out and say it, he dances around it, so to speak. He is lovely and I want to marry him.

"So you dare the plane to crash,
redeem the miles for cash when it starts to dive
And we'll dance like cancer survivors -
like we're grateful simply to be alive"
 - Near Death Experience Experience

Check out: "Lusitania" is a wonderful duet with Annie Clark of St. Vincent, "Danse Carribe" is so giddy you'll do a gig, and "Desperation Breeds…" highlights his flowery violin playing.
7th: Regina Spektor What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
I was super disappointed with Far, her last album because it sounded rushed and like she was selling out, but with What We Saw from the Cheap Seats she regains my loyalty. On this album she returns to her story ballads and doing weird things with her voice, and I love it. It's the quirky Regina I fell in love with. Welcome back.

"The piano is not firewood yet 
They try to remember but still they forget 
That the heart beats in threes 
Just like a waltz 
And nothing can stop you from dancing "
 - Firewood

Check out: "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)" is a glass full of sunshine, "Small Town Moon" is Regina-funky, and "All the Rowboats" is emotional, historical and full of panic.

What were your favorite albums of 2012?

See also: Best Albums of 2011

1 comment:

  1. you are my authority on good music! hope you have a happy new year!



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