Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 30 Albums, 2012

At last, it's the end-of-year musical list that all stay-at-home dads long for and live for. I won't bore you with too much prose this time, having long since run out of new adjectives to describe sounds that deserve more than mere phrases. As always, this is in no way a professionally assessed list, it's a rundown of the recordings I enjoyed listening to most, in approximate order. My apologies to the thousands of artistes I never heard, or have never heard of. It was already a good enough year without me needing to hear any more.

30. Tift Merritt - Traveling Alone (Yep Roc)
Track: Traveling Alone
Listen to: ooh, I don't know. When traveling alone?

29. Cat Power - Sun (Matador Records)
Listen to: still traveling alone, dreamily driving across vast, unpopulated midwest landscapes (never done this, but it's a plan).

28. Air - Le Voyage dans la Lune (EMI)
TrackSonic Armada
Listen to: while watching the disconcerting 1902 sci-fi film of the same name that Air belatedly put a soundtrack to.

27. Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral (4AD)
Listen to: while celebrating decay.

26. Amadou and Mariam - Folilo (Nonesuch)
TrackOh Amadou
Listen to: when reading reports from northern Mali about how brutal Islamic fundamentalists are suppressing all forms of music beside religious incantations.

25. Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls (Ato Records)
TrackHold On
Listen to: for old-fashioned musical virtues - raw, head-ripping, down-to-the-bone brilliance.

24. Cate le Bon - Cyrk (TCG)
Listen to: when you're wishing the Velvet Underground and Nico had made a few more albums.

23. Brandi Carlile - Bear Creek (Columbia)
Listen to: for the voice, for the songs.

22. Laura Gibson – La Grande (Barsuk)
Listen to: when you want something quiet, but with just enough vocal edge to stop you falling asleep.

21. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas (Columbia)
Listen to: if you're feeling old and wise, or as wise as you think it's going to get.

20. Stereo Venus - Close To The Sun (Sudden Hunger Records)
Listen to: for pleasure. No other reason.

19. Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Crown and Treaty (Luxor Purchase)
Listen to: for all kinds of wonderful and unusual sounds and directions.

18. Efterklang - Piramida (4AD)
Listen to: on glacial, panoramic nordic vistas (as per the video above).

17. Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur (Zoe/Rounder)
Listen to: while heading south, watching Canada recede in your rear-view mirror.

16. Quantic and Alice Russell (with the Combo Bárbaro) - Look Around The Corner (Tru Thoughts)
TrackLook Around The Corner
Listen to: for the whole of soul.

15. Barbara Morgenstern - Sweet Silence (Monika Enterprise)
TrackSweet Silence
Listen to: because you can rarely go wrong with Berlin-manufactured electronica.

14. Deepchord - Sommer (Soma)
Listen to: you know, in a field or a warehouse, or wherever it is those young folk trance around nowadays.

13. Anna Ternheim - The Night Visitor (V2/Cooperative Music)
Listen to: late at night, of course, nursing melancholy and a glass of something strong.

12. Bob Mould - Silver Age (Merge Records)
TrackThe Descent
Listen to: for he's made a record like Hüsker used to dü.

11. The xx - Coexist (XL)
Listen to: with a drum-box and a synth in your bedroom, wondering why you didn't think of this first. But you didn't, did you.

10. Calexico - Algiers (ANTI Records)
Listen to: their most complete record so far (and there have been several good ones).

9. Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself (Mom and Pop Music)
Track: Danse Caribe
Listen to: dancing wildly under the moonlight with raven-haired gypsy women. Should you get the chance.

8. Staff Benda Bilili - Bouger le Monde (Crammed Discs)
TrackOsali Mabe 
Listen to: because a group of paraplegic street musicians and abandoned children from the Democratic Republic of Congo will give you much more reason to hope than that crappy sports team you waste your time following. Best album ever made with an electronic one-string tin-can lute. 

7. Beach House - Bloom (Sub Pop)
Track: Lazuli
Listen to: loud, for total pop-symphonic immersion.

6. Rumer - Boys Don't Cry (Atlantic)
TrackP F Sloan
Listen to: because you loved The Carpenters and miss them badly.

5. Ben Zabo - Ben Zabo (Glitterhouse)
Listen to: for moments of transient joy on greyer days.

4. Gemma Ray - Island Fire (Bronzerat)
Track: Flood and a Fire
Listen to: lurching around the indie-pop dance floor you had built in your basement, but never got round to using.

3. Four Tet - Pink (Text Records)
TrackPeace For Earth
Listen to: while spacing.

2. Samuel Yirga - Guzo (Real World)
TrackSamplings from the whole album/interview
Listen to: when someone tells you there's nothing new or exciting happening in music any more, and to marvel at this extraordinary, precocious jazz pianist from Ethiopia.

1. The Touré-Raichel Collective - The Tel Aviv Session (Cumbancha)
Track: Azawad
Listen to: while floating in a sea of sonic perfection.

Bubbling under:
Metric - Synthetica (Mom and Pop Records)
Ane Brun - It All Starts With One (America)
James Yorkston - I Was A Cat From A Book (Domino)
Rudi Zygadlo - Tragicomedies (Planet Mu)
Band of Horses - Mirage Rock (Columbia)
Lambchop - Mr. M (Merge Records)
Liars - WIXIW (Mute)
Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes (Warp)
John Foxx and the Maths - The Shape of Things (Metamatic)
Antibalas - Antibalas (Daptone)
The Shins - Port of Morrow (Columbia)
Suzanne Vega - Close Up, Vol. 4: Songs of Family (Razor & Tie)
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar (Wichita)
Trembling Bells feat. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Marble Downs (Honest Jon's Records)
Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't (Secretly Canadian)
Jim White - Where It Hits You (Yep Roc)
Jeff Lynne - Long Wave (Absolute Marketing)
Mirroring - Foreign Body (Kranky)
Jason Lytle - Dept. of Disappearance (ANTI Records)
Sun Kil Moon - Among The Leaves (Caldo Verde)
Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man (Parlophone)
Damien Jurado - Maraqopa (Secretly Canadian)
Ben Kweller - Go Fly A Kite (The Noise Company)
David Byrne and St. Vincent - Love This Giant (4AD/Todo Mundo)

Reissues/compilations etc.:
1. Various - Metal Dance Industrial/Post-Punk/Ebm: Classics & Rarities (Strut).
2. Can - The Lost Tapes (Mute)
3. The Durutti Column - Short Stories For Pauline (LTM)
4. Various - This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark (Icehouse Music)
5. Various - Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974 - 1984 (Chocolate Industries)


AMD said...

Nice list. It includes some contenders for my list. Though I was a little disappointed by the Edwards and Carlile albums, owing to the quality of previious efforts.

Did you miss Mindy Smith's new album, or were you underwhelmed, as I was?

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

@AMD: Both of those took a while to grow on me over the year - and yes, I think it was due to over-familiarity with the style, but in the end I realised they've both still 'got it' because the songs were more than strong enough after repeated listens.

Missed the Mindy Smith completely, but she's not come close to bettering or even repeating her incredible debut, and your comment isn't exactly whetting my appetite. Will look forward to your end of year blog, as always.

AMD said...

Well, after my comment I played the Mindy Smith again. I was awfully wrong, I'm afraid. It's a fine album, with some moments that touch the greatness of the debut.

No Good Boyo said...

Massive list as ever, Pop. I'm delighted that you can rarely go wrong with Berlin-manufactured electronica. Did you see the BBC4 "Krautrock" documentary? Most splendid.

Nathan said...

Nice list Ian. Some of my favorites, in no particular order.

TINDERSTICKS - The Something Rain
BURIAL - Kindred EP
RAIME - Quarter Turns Over a Living Line
HOWSE - Lay Hollow
MIRRORRING - Foreign Body
CUT HANDS - Black Mamba
LOSCIL - Sketches Of New Brighton
THE CARETAKER - Patience (After Sebald)
MATT ELLIOTT - The Broken Man
VATICAN SHADOW - Ghosts of Chechnya

Big fan of The xx, but the second record did not resonate for me like the debut did.