As I’ve stated before, each year seems to have more and more great music to listen to as the ease of recording and distributing art is increasing exponentially. The industry as a whole is hurting, but listeners have a pretty sweet deal going. This year is no exception whatsoever. The amount of fantastic new releases was almost overwhelming.
These are my favorite albums of the year. This is not a list of the best albums, as, in the words of Jeff Ament, “An award for art is ridiculous.”
You’ll also find honorable mentions, my favorite EPs from this year, and what I’m looking forward to next year at the bottom of this post.
As per usual, I do not include descriptions or reviews with my year-end lists. One reason is that I think when looking back on a list like this, it’s best to let the music speak for itself and encourage unbiased listening. Another is that it would simply be a daunting task to do so.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!
25. P.O.S. - We Don’t Even Live Here
24. Passion Pit - Gossamer
23. The Shins - Port of Morrow
22. Breakbot - By Your Side
21. The Men - Open Your Heart
20. Macklemore - The Heist
19. First Aid Kit - The Lion’s Roar
18. Big Boi - Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors
17. Wild Nothing - Nocturne
16. Chairlift - Amanaemonesia
15. Chad Valley - Young Hunger
14. Jessie Ware - Devotion
13. DIIV - Oshin
12. California Wives - Art History
11. Purity Ring - Shrines
10. Niki & The Dove - Instinct
9. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
8. fun. - Some Nights
7. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
6. School of Seven Bells - Ghostory
5. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
4. Union - Analogtronics
3. Frank Ocean - Channel ORANGE
2. Tame Impala - Lonerism
1. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Beach House - Bloom
Poolside - Pacific Standard Time
Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Sigur Ros - Valtari
Cody ChesnuTT - Landing on a Hundred
Jack White - Blunderbuss
Santigold - Master of My Make-Believe
Birthmark - Antibodies
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble
My Favorite EPs of 2012
The Antlers - Undersea
St. Lucia - St. Lucia
The Neighbourhood - I’m Sorry…
Wildlife Control - Spin
School of Seven Bells - Put Your Sad Down
Most Anticipated Albums for 2013
Foals, Free Energy, Ra Ra Riot, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Local Natives, Sound City Soundtrack (Dave Grohl & Friends), Sun Kil Moon+The Album Leaf
If you’re familiar at all with my music taste and approach to DJing, you know that I seek a perfect balance of new trends and nostalgic classics. My favorite remixes and edits are tastefully updated classics - all the old songs we love but retrofitted for modern consumption. Enter Virgin Magnetic Material, my newest favorite DJ collective, out of Tel Aviv, Israel. A quick scan of their repertoire is like digging through my personal iTunes collection. This brilliant Living Colour remix is the supreme example. They don’t simply turn every song into a hacky electro-house jam, they capture a completely new feel for each song. These mixes are tasteful and classy takes on nostalgic jams.
You will definitely be hearing these jams in my live sets. Enjoy and stay cool.
Friend-of-a-friend and frequent dude-I-talk-music-with Ben Decker of mash-up kings Ridgewood Social Club out of NYC and Tel Aviv just released a killer new mixtape for Concrete Jungle. Their current efforts are to bring back How To Make it in America. In tandem with this mission, they are raising awareness for The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, an organization who helps show disadvantaged kids that they should stay in school and that there are career options and opportunities for them. Concrete Jungle created a T-Shirt representing these efforts, and 100% of the proceeds go to NFTE. Check it out here.
In Ben’s own words:
"To help celebrate the launch of this campaign, I’m releasing the first in a series of many monthly mixes with Concrete Jungle, to honor the New Yorkers, who, with unrelenting and contagious passion, rise above, no matter how competitive their environment may be. As an homage to the city that never sleeps, we’re calling this one ‘1625’, the year our great city was established."
Anyone with whom I have discussed the new Passion Pit record (which is splendid, by the way) knows that my favorite track is the smooth ’90s R&B-laden “Constant Conversations.” Many also know that St. Lucia’s music makes me feel like I can fly. Jean-Phillip must have been reading my mind, because he remixed this slow jam and left it dripping in sunny, warm synths and flourishing percussion. See for yourself.
As house and nu-disco grow longer legs in the mainstream, it leaves more room for perfection. That’s exactly what Moon Boots is doing. This track is a JAM and will be played in tonight’s set at Jack & Ginger’s in Chicago.
RAC Releases First Single - "Hollywood (featuring Penguin Prison)"
What’s that? My favorite DJ collective RAC is releasing an original album? Oh, and the new single is out? Cool. Oh, you’re saying something else? One of my favorite new singers, Penguin Prison, is the vocal? Ok you have my attention tenfold.
Morgan Page feat. Lissie - "Strange Condition" (Pete Yorn cover)
Apparently this track is pretty popular, so I have no idea how I never heard it until now. This is one of my favorite Pete Yorn songs from his classic 2001 album Musicforthemorningafter. Not only was I intrigued that there is an electro-house cover of this song, but mostly that Lissie, a blues/rock singer with a killer voice, is featured. I’m a big fan. Check it out.
I’m psyched to see Minneapolis’s Polica tonight at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. This band’s atmospherically urban, distorted trip hop has Justin Vernon saying they’re his favorite band right now. Good call, bearded one.
Here it is: the much-hyped (and three tracks so far into it, rightfully so) second album from Fun., the project from The Format’s Nate Reuss, Steel Train’s Jack Antonoff, and Anathallo’s Andrew Dost. Of course, it features the ubiquitous single “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae (which is currently #1 on iTunes), along with nine other anthemic, grandiose pop songs worthy of associations with Queen, Elton John, and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Cocaine Mortgage performed their live 2+ hour Homecoming set for Big Meadow Sessions in Harrisonburg, VA in October 2011 to a sold out crowd. This video is a montage of the night, accompanied by an audio track (created by CoMo) that is a short compilation of some of the songs they played…
Once again my favorite DJ collective chooses to reanimate a song I personally love. I have the strong inclination these guys and I are kindred musical spirits. I’m always astounded by their song selection and am rarely disappointed by their remixes. Here is their new remix of one of my all-time favorite songs, and coincidentally the first song I actually remember hearing as a youngster. It’s simple but intricate and provides a fresh approach to a bonafide electro classic.