Ashley’s Top 50 Albums of 2012: 40-31

20 Dec

Yesterday was a bad day for me, as far as sleep goes, and I passed out the minute I got home without doing anything.  I apologize for that, but in my absence, Travis wrote a stellar entry on his top 25, and I thank him for it.

Meanwhile, it’s time to get back to my unnecessarily drawn out top 50!

Enjoy 50-41 by Clicking Here

40) Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

here-we-go-magic-a-different-shipEver since I’ve started regularly listening to about 75 albums a year (since 2009) I’ve slowly been picking up pet bands.  What happens is, I go to music sites and find the flavor of the week to pad out my stats and end up getting hooked.

Or, in the case of bands like Here We Go Magic, it’s less that I enjoy the album by them I hear, and more that I hear the potential for what they can become.

So it was with their debut Here We Go Magic.  There was not a lot there to really latch on to as far as great music goes, but there was a sense that these guys could get way better, as soon as they nailed down the sound of what they wanted to be.

Their follow-up album Pigeons received a lot of praise, so I gave it a go, and again, it still wasn’t quite there (it ended up 79th out of 127 albums that year, for what it’s worth), but they had begun to nail down a sound.

Finally, it happened, and it only took three albums, Here We Go Magic have released a really great album.  Something that had me excited while I was listening to it, because I felt proud.  Like my little brother was a band and had finally hit the big time.

Maybe this isn’t their big break, but I think it’s definitely the moment where, if they ever do break out, people will turn to and say, “Yep, that’s when it happened.”

My initial comment on the album: “I’m surprised their first two albums (which weren’t very good) got way more coverage than this one. Hell, this one doesn’t even have a wiki page. Shame, I have really enjoyed following this band over the last few years. If they continue to improve at this rate, I have high hopes for their future.”  Alt indie gods in the making here (wink wink, nudge nudge)

Favorite Track:

39) Jack White – Blunderbuss

jack-white-blunderbussI may be the only person in the world of music-lovin’ people who doesn’t really like the White Stripes.  I don’t have anything against them, just not my cup of tea, etc.  (Oh, who am I kidding, I’m just bitter after seeing Napoleon Dynamite that not all of their music sounds like “We’re Going To Be Friends”)

I couldn’t deny how much I enjoyed “Love Interruption” though, and a lot of people were really liking this album, so, on a depressing plane-ride back from an awesome California vacation, it seemed like the time was right to give it a go.

Turned out, the people were right, this album is really good.  Probably not anything that will be remembered in the annals of time, but more than worth the time you get to spend with it.  It’s quite a shame that he was playing at the same time as Kaskade at Lollapalooza, I would have enjoyed the opportunity to see the show (though it was before I’d heard the album).

Favorite Track:

38) Blaqk Audio – Bright Black Heaven

blaqk-audio-bright-black-heavenFINALLY!  Finally I can put this album on a list of favorites.  Those of us who are in the know about this industrial/dance band (comprising of Davey and Jade from AFI) have been waiting for this follow up for what’s felt like an eternity at this point (more like 5 years).

Did it live up to the hype?

Was it the Matrix Reloaded dance version of Chinese Democracy?

The answer to each of those questions is probably no.  It’s hard to live up to 5 years of preparation for something, and yet, this album came damn close.

While debut, Cex Cells, had more stand out tracks (and boy are those stands outs, stand outs), this album is faaaar more consistently good.  I know I use that as a justifier of quality a lot, but I really do value an album that is good all the way through, rather than one with peaks here and there (for the most part).

If you’re looking for an album that sounds like what Depeche Mode would release if they were young in the 2010’s, this is probably as close as you’re going to get.  I never heard Sounds of the Universe, but I can’t imagine it sounds much like Violator.

Favorite Song:

37) Purity Ring – Shrines

shrinesYou might be surprised by how “low” this album ended up on my list, considering the praise I heaped down upon it in the Best New Artists post,  but let me assure you of something right now, starting with Black Audio there, every album on the rest of this list is an 8 or higher.  I really loved music this year, what can I say?

For those of you who did not read my post on my favorite new artists of 2012, let me fill you in:

Purity Ring is one of those magical bands who fall under the genre tag of “Witch House”.  That is absolutely one of my favorite hilarious genre tags, but I digress.  They had a lot of hype leading up to the debut of this album and it was almost all deserved.

Their twitchy dance music is quite an enjoyable listening experience, and because I shared one of my favorite tracks with you already, I’ll share my other favorite now:

36) Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

R.A.P. MusicI’m surprised by how little hip hop I listened to this year.  There was this, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, B.o.B. and Flo Rida (if you even count him) and that’s it.  I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood, or if there just weren’t a lot of releases with high praise this year.

It’s strange, because I really have been enjoying hip hop here lately, too.  Ah well.

Killer Mike’s album is everything I love about 90s rap, and I am nothing, if not a sucker for nostalgia albums.

I will never understand why he thought it was a good idea to write a song about Ronald Reagan (and yes, I get that it’s a parallel to the Obama administration), nor why everyone is praising it as the best song on the album however.  The song never ceases to amuse me, but, ah, that’s just me.

Meanwhile, this song exists and it is sick:

 

 

35) The Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea

Why have you abandoned me, Ashley?  Why?

Why have you abandoned me, Ashley? Why?

I don’t know how to feel about this album anymore.  From the first moment I heard it until about a month ago it was my favorite album of the year.  I loved how much it sounded like classic Magnetic Fields, folksy and cute with those gorgeous deep vocals and lovely female harmonies.  The pop numbers, like “Andrew in Drag” harkened back to the band I have so recently fallen head over heels in love with and I couldn’t have said enough good things about this album.

Then I heard it for about the 4th time (after a brief respite) about two or three months ago, and I became frightened that I may have overdone it on my excitement for the album.  Maybe it really wasn’t that good and I was just relieved to hear them returning to a familiar sound.

And then…I heard it last month and it dropped THIRTY-FOUR spots.  Yeah, a little intense, but I think it’s where it belongs.

It is by no means perfect, but if you’re a fan of the band there is no reason on earth why you shouldn’t hear this.  If you have never heard anything by the band, I implore you to check out Holiday or, if you’re feeling crazy, 69 Love Songs. 

Best Track (And close contender for one of my favorite videos of the year):

34) Best CoastThe Only Place

I don’t love twee girl music.  I mostly hate it.  But something about Best Coast is so sweet and so fun that I can’t say no.

There’s not a lot to say about this album, honestly, it’s just a straight up, no-holds-barred, death match of adorable.  The songs are playful, the lyrics something a 16 year-old-girl wrote in her diary.  The music is that California surf-pop that is so popular these days.  It’s really just a perfect storm of all things cute.

Favorite Song:

 

 

33) El Perro Del Mar – Pale Fire

The Cure, is that you?

The Cure, is that you?

Unlike Here We Go Magic up there, I loved El Perro Del Mar with all of my heart from the first moment we met (not that I met her on her first album, mind you, but I did fall in love with her at the same time I heard Here We Go Magic).

She is a wonderful example of that all-encompassing genre – Electropop.  Honestly, I think she’s got a lot more going for her, in the realm of the dreamers to be in that category, but genre tags are a silly thing to argue about.

It’s been 3 years since Love Is Not Pop, but the follow-up was more than worth the wait.  I don’t seem to get a lot of music like this anymore, electro without layers and layers of effects, so I cherish it when it comes around.

Favorite Song:

32) Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Hussy.

Hussy.

I hate when I have to go back to the explanation for why I ignored an artist for so long and it’s “Because they were over-hyped”.  Sometimes I really hate myself.

When it comes to music that’s almost solely labeled as “Indie” (and let’s face it, Sharon Van Etten is one of those artists), I almost immediately turn my nose up at it because I am a pretentious ass.

Then of course an album like this comes along every now and again to put me in my place and humble me and I accept it because I deserve it.

Sharon Van Etten’s album is nothing but a good time.  A really talented musician with a lot going for her and I now seriously regret not seeing her when she toured here with one of my favorite bands ever (The National).

The best part of ignoring an artist and then learning my lesson, of course, is that it means I have that much more catching up to do and anticipate the journey greatly.

Favorite Song:

31) Bloc Party – Four

Tron called they want their...power ring...things back!

Tron called they want their…power ring…things back!

I never feared that these Brit Rockers would never get back together, but I won’t pretend like the mere possibility didn’t make me a little depressed.  Especially having never had the opportunity to see them live.

Thankfully, 2012 alleviated all fears. Four was a worthy return album and I finally saw them live.  Two birds.

Four mixed together pretty much every sound the band has ever experimented with, from the heavy industrial-ish music from Intimacy (3×3, worst song on the album) to the brash rockers the first two albums did so well (“So He Begins to Lie”, “Octopus”).  There were the tear-jerking ballads, as well, of course, and they did their job well (“Day Four”).

But above all else, a band I love returned to me, and when I was able to stand there and hear them sing “This Modern Love” it was one of those moments that reminded me forever that music is a beautiful, wonderful powerful thing and I’m glad that something I care about came back.

Favorite Song:

That’s all for today, looking over these ten albums, I again marvel at how much music I downright  loved this year. It’s funny, because this may be the year I was most out of the musical loop, starting a new job and all.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve been in such a positive mood, musically. Life is pretty good right now and its making my views on everything cheery.  Disgusting.

Tune in Tomorrow? (hopefully) for the next batch of ten.  There are some great ones in here and everyone else will probably disagree with that sentiment.  STAY TUNED!

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3 Responses to “Ashley’s Top 50 Albums of 2012: 40-31”

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

    […] ← Ashley’s Top 50 Albums of 2012: 40-31 […]

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

    […] 40-31 […]

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

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