Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 50-41

18 Dec

Going forward there are two things you need to know:

1) This blog is going to get a lot bigger in the future, I’m thinking of actually investing money into making it a full-blown website: Stay tuned.

2) I will not be the only one writing for much longer.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Reggo has made her return, and Traviud has promised he is going to submit his top 25 of the year here as well.  So, what that means is, please understand that this list is not a consensus of the board.  This is just my opinion.  Maybe next year we’ll do a “staff” list instead of several different top lists.

“But, Ashley, what happened to your top songs list?”

I’m glad you asked that, no one, and I have a response for you: I’m incorporating the two together.  I’ve never been good at ranking songs and the more I thought about doing it, the more palpitations of the heart I suffered.  So instead, since I’m breaking this up into groups of 10, I didn’t think one Youtube video per album was too much to share. 

This year, I wanted to try and rank albums by genre.  That never quite happened, though as you saw in the Pop albums list, I did at least separate that particular classification.

Mostly, what I wanted to do was rely less on what my list was and more on what albums I really enjoyed, so, especially tonight, when I looked at my rankings, I did a little bit of tinkering to put the albums I wanted to talk about into the list, rather than where I had almost arbitrarily placed them initially.

Hopefully you can begin to understand where my list is coming from and get a bit out of what I have to share.  Shall we carry on?  I’m not waiting for your answer:

50) Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic

Errors-Have-Some-Faith-In-Magic-SignedI have to thank Drowned in Sound for this one.  If they didn’t have such a giant man-crush (I think it was a man that wrote the review) on Errors, I never would have found this album.  I’m pretty sure they’re the only music publication to have this album in their year-end list, to boot.

Some really interesting chill-wave here that goes beyond just trying to lay out a groove to zone to.  There’s a lot of experimentation going on here, a lot of sounds you’re not going to find most anywhere else.  A lot of trance, a lot of tribal beats.  A really exciting album that I have not given nearly the attention to that I should have this year.  I haven’t heard it since February (until refreshing myself on it tonight).

Best Song:

But I could as easily have suggested “Magna Encarta” if I had not wanted to show off their less Chill-Wavy side.

49) Godspeed You! Black Emperor! – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

allelujahAbout two years ago, I made a list of albums from the 2000’s that I had not heard, but planned to (I posted that list at the bottom of this post, though it needs to be updated).  When I heard Lift Yr Skinny Fists…I fell in love with not just Godspeed, but Post-rock in general.  Prior to hearing that album, I was convinced nobody could ever do anything better than Explosions in the Sky and there was no use trying to hear anything else from the genre.

What a horrible opinion, but nevertheless, one that did not last.

Unfortunately, this summer, I saw Godspeed live.  I was expecting magic, and instead, I was bored to tears.  I know, that probably sounds horrible, but it’s true.  Their stage show did nothing for me, and after a long day of festival, with ground too wet to sit and chill out on, I found myself mostly zoned out and uninterested.

Then, I heard that Godspeed were releasing a new album.  Their live material sounded more metal than anything I really wanted to hear, and so, despite the rave reviews that continuously piled in, I ignored this album.  If it weren’t for final exam study-time, I may never have heard it, but I did, and I’m glad for it.  My fears were silly and quickly alleviated.

No, it’s not my favorite Godspeed album, and it’s no where near the best post-rock has to offer, but it’s good, and it does it’s job, building epic soundscapes to get lost in for stretches of time.  And of course, it filled our ! quota for the year.

Best Song:  Please don’t take this as a cop-out, but you can’t just hear one song from this album.  It doesn’t work that way.  Really, I’m not even sure why they bothered breaking this thing up into tracks.

48) Ellie Goulding – Halcyon

halcyonYes, Ellie Goudling’s follow-up to her smash hit, “Lights” (and I’m talking about the song, not the album, because let’s be honest here) has a lot going for it.  There aren’t a lot of standout tracks, besides “Anything Could Happen“, but the album is a consistent good.  Ranging from influences the likes of Florence and the Machine to even a little bit of Adele, this album has a lot to offer.

She doesn’t quite hit those trip-hop highs that I loved so much about “Lights” on this one, but she makes up for it with a more consistent album than the prior.

Consistency gets you placed in the top 50.  Congrats.  I expect big things from you in the future.

Best Song:

47) The xx – Coexist

the-xx-coexist-200x200This album had a lot riding on its shoulders.  The XX have created one of the more unique sounds in indie music today, blending together a marriage of male/female vocals, ambiance and dream pop in a way that I really have heard from exactly 0 other bands.

I guess this album had no where to go but down, after the incredibly positive reception of is predecessor.  Personally, I don’t get it.  The harshest criticism this album seems to receive is that it sounds too much like the debut.  I suppose consistency does not get you everywhere after all.

As for me, I liked the debut, I like this one, and I’m pretty sure they both fell into about the same spot on my year-end listings.

Best Song:

46) DIIV – Oshin

oshin-diiv-cd-cover-artEvery so often, you hear an album and you think, “Well, that was good, next!” and that’s it.

Then sometimes, your favorite band of the last five years is playing a show in a bar and DIIV is the opening act.  You go to the show because, it’s your favorite band of the last five years headlining and you kind of enjoyed DIIV’s album, so bonus!

And that’s when it happens.  A complete transformation.  That band that was trapped inside of the confines of the LP is let loose on a stage and they take it to their full advantage.

On record: DIIV is a Dream Pop/Shoegaze band (a lot of those genres getting thrown about on my list so far).  Live, they are a ROCK band, and I mean that 100%.  They cut loose, scream, dance and play their instruments like there is no tomorrow (which after Friday, I suppose there won’t be).

So, I went home, and I listened to Oshin again, and I thought to myself, “Wow.  This album is good, but that metamorphosis into what it’s supposed to be takes it to a whole new level.”  It’s not like Oshin became a favorite, but it jumped up 30 spots on my list and entered my Concert Memories Hall of Fame.

Best Song (Going to use a live version, but this one doesn’t cut loose as much as the others I mentioned):

45) Bob Dylan – Tempest

Bob-Dylan-Tempest-200x200

Click the pic to read an obsessed fan’s journey to finding the location of this statue.

Bob Dylan should not still be releasing albums this good.  It should not be scientifically possible to have a career as long as he has had and still be this talented.

He is a beast, not human, not animal, something altogether out of this world.

Tempest will not go down in the annals of time as the best Bob Dylan has ever done, and maybe it’s still not the best Bob Dylan will do.  Over the last 10 years or so, he’s steadily released album after album of quality music.  I hope it doesn’t stop until he does, which I hope will be never.  Ever.

Best Track:

44) Regina Spektor – What We Saw From the Cheap Seats

cheap seatsI would like to congratulate Spektor in reeling me back in.  I hated her last album so much, I didn’t even want to bother with this one, but that would be petty, and the idea of me being petty is just ridiculous!

She will never top Begin to Hope, I have realized this now, and in realizing it, I think I can begin to enjoy her music more on a base level.  She makes beautiful pop melodies, and every so often, a piano rocker that would make Elton John at least bat an eyelash or two.

This album was completely eclipsed by one track in particular, and I would love to share that with you now.

Best Song:

43) Jessie Ware – Devotion

PMR018_CDA_Wal.inddI waxed on quite a bit about Jessie Ware yesterday, but she deserves just a bit more of your attention now.

Honestly, I’m glad that I’m placing her lower than most lists I’ve seen her on, because it means that other people not only are seeing her potential, but really enjoyed her music as well.  I have a horrible tendency of being hyper-critical, and sometimes artists suffer for it.

This R&B/Pop starlet is sure to be a smash success soon.  It’s only a matter of time and it will be full of goodness when it happens.

Best Song:

42) Dead Can Dance – Anastasis

dead-can-dance_anastasis-200x200Another metal/post-rock (darkwave if you must) grandfather that decided to grace us with their presence this year.  Something really strange happened when Dead Can Dance announced their first album in 16 years: It leaked about two days later.

Madness swept the music world!

The hype machine was in motion!

And in my stupidity, I once again assumed that there was no way the album could be that good. (Remember, I’m never petty).

And of course, I was wrong.  This album kills.  It’s really just that album you could spend a stormy afternoon crashed on the couch doing almost anything to.  It does not require your full attention, but if you give it to it, you will be rewarded with chaotic instrumentation and beauty on a level that only the strangest of bands can provide.

I had no one favorite from this album, so we’ll let Rate Your Music decide our pick for us:

41) The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

the-mountain-goats-transcendental-youth--This album forced me to make the most excruciating decision tonight, as I was forced to cut either Errors or Allo Darlin’ from my list.  Obviously it was the latter, and I could not be sadder to see it go, but, the Mountain Goats have really done it again and that can not go ignored.

Once again dipping into the theme album well, this time we are given the story of the outcasts and the mentally ill, struggling on the fringes of society.  There’s even a song about Judas on here if you didn’t quite get where he was going.

I’m beginning to find my love for Darnielle’s lyrics fraying a bit, but for now, they still hit me in the gut so hard with their raw emotion.  The stark music he pairs most everything he says with, really allows the song itself to shine and it has always been he and the band as a whole’s strongest point.

Here’s to another 5 or 10 albums as good as your last two.  Let us never go down the path of The Life of the World to Come again.

Best Track:

That wraps things up here for today.  Tune in tomorrow for 40-31.  Also, I promise a review for the new Toro y Moi joint is imminent.  Just as soon as I find the last four tracks on the album.

Here are your honorable mention albums, for those wondering.  Some really unpopular opinions hiding in here:

  1. Allo Darlin’ – Europe
  2. Julia Holtor – Ekstasis
  3. Pepe Deluxe – Queen of the Wave
  4. Paul Banks – Banks
  5. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
  6. Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend
  7. Punch Brothers – Who’s Feeling Young Now?
  8. Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks
  9. Django Django- S/T
  10. Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II
  11. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here
  12. Lotus Plaza – Spooky Action at a Distance
  13. fun. – Some Nights
  14. The Shins – Port of Morrow
  15. Tindersticks – The Something Rain
  16. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
  17. The Men – Open Your Heart
  18. Dan Deacon – America
  19. Lambchop – Mister M
  20. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
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3 Responses to “Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 50-41”

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  1. Ashley’s Top 50 Albums of 2012: 30-21 « An Ocean of Noise - 21/12/2012

    […] Read 50-41 Here […]

  2. Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 20-11 « An Ocean of Noise - 23/12/2012

    […] 50-41 […]

  3. Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 10-1 « An Ocean of Noise - 23/12/2012

    […] 50-41 […]

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