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25 Best albums in 2012 – douginstereo

November 21, 2012

My top 25 best albums of the year

1. Death Grips – The Money Store
Holy fucking shit. Here’s something you’ll never hear, “Death Grips sound like…..” No, they don’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard. It’s offensive, in your face, dark, unsettling, disorienting and prompts middle fingers to extend. Not since Rage Against the Machine have we seen such a polarizing group of non-conformists. We can’t release two records in the same year? Fine, we’ll give the second (No Love Deep Web) away for free. Suck on that record execs. Who’s running the show? You are either going to love them or hate them but really, they don’t give a shit. Neither do I for that matter. My middle finger is fully extended and it means number 1.

2. Beach House – Bloom
This is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year. It boasts one of the best dream pop songs you will ever hear, “Other People”. If you haven’t heard this album yet you simply must. Since hearing the first few records I thought their sound might get a little too repetitive but I was wrong. They find new sounds and melodies that are sweeter than the ones that have preceded them. How is this possible? Apparently with Beach House, anything is. Can’t wait for the next trip to the beach.

3. The Walkmen – Heaven
LOVE this album. I have been listening to this album constantly and it appreciates over time like a rare baseball card. I never really liked The Walkmen before this album(I know, I know, I’m nuts) but that’s a testament to how good this album really is. Now, I’m a huge Walkmen fan. Heaven was my introduction and its their most stripped down set of songs. These songs get stuck in your head for days like a Carly Rae Jepsen pop song minus the suicidal thoughts. I wish I was Hamilton Leithauser because I’d sing these songs to myself. If you don’t know who these guys are, turn off the radio and put on your hipster pants.

4. The Lumineers
The Lumineers will illuminate your soul. The hand claps and sing alongs are littered everywhere on this debut album. Think Mumford and Sons but from a better time and place. A place where it was all about picking up classy girls (but not in bars) while here it comes, a big parade, watching with flowers in your hair. You’ll laugh (Submarines), you’ll cry (Stubborn Love), you’ll smile (Hey Ho) from ear to ear. Give these guys an Oscar!

5. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. City
“I pray my dick gets big as the Eiffel Tower so I can fuck the world for 72 hours”. Move over Kanye and Jay-Z, this is Kendrick’s throne in 2012. It’s a story book mega hit about a young mans rise and sometimes fall on his way to fame. Kendrick Lamar is for real. He’s a chameleon of sorts with his delivery so guest artists are never needed even though he has a few. I do have one piece of advice – Kendrick, you don’t need Dre in your corner. He’s old and slow and a drag to be around.

6. Tame Impala – Lonerism
And the clouds parted and the heavens shone down upon us. If God had a iPod Tame Impala would be on his playlist. (Sorry Kanye, your album didn’t make this list). Psych rock that is as good as it gets. There’s a 1-2-3 song punch, mid-record, that will absolutely knock you the fuck out. “Why Won’t They Talk to Me”? Because we are speechless man.

7. Baroness – Yellow and Green
This thing just slams and….jams and…..mellows out…..and keeps on Marching to the Seas. It’s a maze of sorts in the sense that you never really know what turns its going to take. But its a maze you are not looking to exit once you start listening. This double album is meticulously put together and well thought out. Though its long on time it’s also long on great melodic rock tunes for the heavy metal fan and the hardcore rock fan or any rock fan because it just flat out…..rocks.

8. Cloud Nothing’s – Attack on Memory
How does a kid go from making music in his parents basement to making a universal top 10 album of the year? Oh, I don’t know, talent? “Wasted Days” was one of my favorite songs of the year – damn near nine minutes of ass kick. When Dylan Baldi bursts into screams of “I thought I would be more than this!” that pissed off teenager awoke in me and I’m 38. If you can’t relate to this album then you’ve lead a privileged life and you should stick to listening to Train or LMFAO or whatever bullshit is in heavy rotation on your local radio.

9. The Shins – Port of Morrow
Put all the song titles from Port of Morrow on a dart board. Toss your dart and no matter what song you land on – bullseye. You cant miss! This is the best Shins album ever. No, it won’t change your life like Natalie Portman says on Garden State, the film that shoved The Shins into the spotlight. But damn if it won’t improve it. When Mercer hits his signature falsettos while gold is pouring out of his instruments you know you’ve entered a musical utopia of sorts. This is the work of one of music’s greatest talents. If this guy gets any better, he will jump 8 spots.

10. Chromatics – Kill for Love
The absolute best electronic album to come out in 2012, er, or….EVER! How these songs have not exploded yet is beyond my comprehension. Kill for Love is still in heavy rotation for me and its staying for quite a while. Listen to “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” and “Lady”. The samples alone will have you typing in your iTunes password. “Once you’re gone you can never come back”.

11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Transcend!
Epic, grand, overwhelming, orchestral rock from one of the biggest bands on the planet. You really have to set aside some time to hear this album but be prepared to take some breaks. And during those time outs limit the number of times you say “Wow” if you can. I said earlier this year as i listened to “Mladic” that if I were in medieval times slaying a dragon, this would be the music playing in the background. Oh, and I’d win.

12. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
Intimate masterpiece from a very tortured soul. But wait, this album is beautiful and optimistic. Yeah shit happens in life but we can all get through it as long as we have each other. That’s the message I got listening to this piano driven album. Mike Hadreas covers some pretty touchy subjects such as child abuse and drug addiction but he will take the dark parts of your heart into his. And that’s just a beautiful, beautiful thing.

13. El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
Damn. This is a true blue hip-hop album for the ages. It’s gritty, filthy and ready for war. El-P has something he’d like to get off his chest so you better listen up, as if you have a choice. Crank this epic and pump this shit like they do in the future. Everything is not alright.

14. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
ROCK – RECORD – OF – THE – YEAR! Hands down. This album opens with the sound of fireworks and they launch at you grand finale style from beginning to end. “The House That Heaven Built” is worth the price of admission alone and also a contender for song of the year. And to think these guys were going to hang it up before giving it one last shot. Well fellas, you fired a canon! From beginning to end this album never takes its foot off the gas. Why would you when you are having this much fun?

15. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
It took me a while to get to this album, but it quickly became one of the best I have heard all year. Macklemore doesn’t rap about the same old shit (bitches, hoes, making money, busting caps). He takes on religion, same sex marriage, his battles with drug addiction, love and…..shopping at thrift stores with $20 bucks and how fucking awesome that is. The production by Ryan Lewis is catchy, hooky, and flashy. Macklemore’s lyrics are the star here though. On the stand out, Starting Over, he raps “I’m just a flawed man, man I fucked up, Like so many others I just never thought I would,….. Doin’ it by myself, didn’t turn out that good”. If he can be an example of getting sober then he can be an example of starting over. Word.

16. DIIV – Oshin
I can’t decipher many of the lyrics on this album but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. It’s a clinic in sonic guitar melody. “Doused”, “Sometime”, “Air Conditioning” don’t carry much in terms of lyrics but these are songs I found myself revisiting often. Perfect for an afternoon drive through some horrendously shitty traffic. Their guitars soar and bend into time and space. Words? Who needs words?

17. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
A feel good, classic rock album, like they don’t make anymore. The revival is here and it’s return is lead by a bunch of people you might see at your next family reunion. They are some of the most unassuming rock stars you’ll ever see but the album will blow you away. Brittney Howard, the lead singer of the Shakes, sings about somebody up above saying, “Come on Brittney, you’ve got to come on up!” Listen God or whoever you are, hold on…..she just got started.

18. Grimes – Visions
This came out early in the year, January to be exact but its withstood the entire year without being shelved. It’s that good. And this woman made the album on her damn iPad. It’s electronic/dance music that never irritates. I don’t know what Grimes looks like but based on her sweet voice I hope she’s as hot as her album is.

19. Aesop Rock
Also one of my favorite hip hop albums of the year. Every song is amazing. The lyrics may not always make sense but the production is flawless. Aesop’s lyricism is mind bending. Did this guy get a degree in literature at Harvard? Who talks like this? “M-m-moral compass all batshit
Spinning in the shadows of immoral magnets, Ever sporting the artist or enable in the attic of me”, Now I don’t know what any of that means but that’s part of the fun! Its like you need a lyrical decoder ring. It’s a hip-hop diamond in the rough. Dust it off and let it shine. Just don’t forget to say “Grace” and stop being a total pussy.

20. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
I think this album is a bit over hyped but its got some genuine classics such as “Forrest Gump”, “Lost”, “Bad Religion” and “Pyramids”. He recalls some of R&B’s best like Prince and Stevie but he makes it all his own. Had he edited a few of these 17 tracks out he might have earned Classic status. Sometimes less is more Frank, but you are certainly here to stay. I think he’ll end up on top of a lot of critics’ top 10 lists. But…..I’m no critic.

21. TNGHT – EP
Hard hitting, booty slammin’, trunk thumping, party beats. It’s an EP and its a bomb that is ready to drop. Quick run for shelter! Scratch that, pop it in and lets get the party started. Is it fair that an EP with only 5 songs made this list? I’ll stack these five against any other five on any other album in 2012.

22. Metric – Synthetica
A pop rock album that is as addictive as it is, well….relative. It’s easily accessible and that’s not a bad thing in Metrics case. “Youth Without Youth” is a hard hitting, fist pumping single. Emily Haines sings about her being “as fucked up as they say” on the album opener. Lets keep it that way Ms. Haines. With lyrics like, “Call me out, my regret only makes me stronger yet”, I’m all ears.

23. Burial – Kindred EP
A soundtrack for the apocalypse. It’s only three songs long but it’s such a remarkable listen. It’s dark, twisted, eerie and trippy. You think you are only going to listen to it once but then one lonely night you hear it calling for you. Put on some headphones, turn up the volume and let your imagination run wild. Well, what are you waiting for?

24. The XX – Coexist
The masters of minimalism are back again but this time a bit more expansive and experimental with the emphasis on ‘a bit’. The XX are never going to overwhelm you. Rather they sneak up on you like the tortoise in the race against the hare. Before you know it they’ve won you over and you have no idea how! From the track, “Swept Away” they sing, “I’m soothed by you, you take it all away, I lose to you, surrendered at the start of the game”. I can’t help but think we should be singing that to them.

25. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Great folksy record with life affirming lyrics. They are relatable and cerebral, yet they are teenagers. WTF? Teenagers are not supposed to make music this good. There are some great tunes on this album from “The Lion’s Roar” where they sing about being cowards and fools but then again so are we, to the “Emmylou” country twang tribute, and “This Old Routine”, which will drive you mad it’s just a mumble never spoken out loud. This is an album you need to have in your car, just like a real first aid kit.

*25. Mick Boogie & the Beastie Boys – Grand Royal
The Grand Royal is a mix tape of Beastie hits. There’s nothing on here from Licensed to Ill because you might get sued! Licensed was a classic and like any valuable artifact you see in a glass case in a museum you simply treat it as such. You can take it out but don’t fuck with it. So Mick Boogie got his hands on all of the Beastie’s other greatest hits from Paul’s Boutique to Hello Nasty and made a tribute album of sorts that is filled with remixes of hits from said albums. Somehow Boogie makes Beastie sound fresh and new. He managed to make a new mix of my favorite “So Watcha Want” that made me feel like I had just heard the song for the first time. Then I immediately listened to the original and tipped my cap. A Grand Royal tribute indeed.

Honorable mentions

A. Tennis – Old and New
Some really great songs that blend a 50’s sound with indie pop. But like any tennis match you have some good shots, some great shots and some real stinkers.

B. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel….
I’ll say this, if I was a Fiona Apple fan she would be high on my list for albums of the year. She’s not my cup of tea but I can appreciate a good cup when I taste one.

C. Purity Ring – Shrines
Not sure how you classify Purity Ring, call it what you like – dubstep, electronic, trip hop, whatever it is will perk up your ears. They are definitely on a planet all their own. It almost sounds as if you are drifting in and out of consciousness and you just pray you don’t lose it. Keep your eyes open! Keep them open!

D. Best Coast – The Only Place
Bethany Cosentino sings “There’s No One Like You” and its so warm and mellow like one of those Corona commercials. She’s right, there is no one like Best Coast. If you long for warm sunny days spent on the coast of Cali, with your swimsuit on, a beach towel in hand and a great group of friends to spend a day at the beach with, this is the album for you. And a few Corona’s couldn’t hurt either. Why would you live anywhere else?

E. Jack White – Blunderbuss
There are some classic Jack White guitar riffs on this album (Freedom at 21, Sixteen Saltines) that I’m still listening to. Jack has many musical personas. If you like them all then you will enjoy every track on here. But I still long for Jack White and his ass kicking White Stripes to reappear for an entire album. He only shows up on 3 or 4 songs here. Not sure what a Blunderbuss is, but its a blunder nonetheless. Bring back Meg White and the Seven Nation Army!

F. Fun. – Some Nights
It was just that, a FUN album. Not to be taken too seriously, especially since the radio absolutely murdered “We Are Young”. But man that opening intro of Some Nights, boy does that belong in a broadway musical.

G. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
I like to think the band name really means Alternative Joy rather than that triangle thingy that symbolizes change or whatever the hell. It’s hard to place this band because they are as unique as the lead singers voice, which is an instrument of its own. Upon completion of this album I immediately hit restart – maybe that’s what Alt-J really stands for.

The OVER – RATED!
Grizzly Bear “Shields”
Look, I tried okay. I just don’t get it! I like a few songs here but aside from “Sleeping Ute” and “Yet Again” the rest is just fucking noise.

Jessie Ware “Devotion”
Just calm down. Just because we lost Whitney does not mean we need to replace her.

How To Dress Well “Total Loss”
One of the best songs of the year, “Cold Nights” is on here but the rest fails to capture any of its magic. You’d need a magic wand for that.

Of Monsters and Men “My Head is an Animal”
One single does not make one album good. Too repetitive, lacks variation, lyrics fall short. It’s just not the year for Monsters and Grizzly Bears. Sorry.

***These opinions are that of douginstereo’s and should be taken very seriously because he knows what the hell he is talking about. Until next year……

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From → my love of music

2 Comments
  1. Shanie permalink

    Your exclusion of The Seer is a little glaring, but in time I will learn to forgive you.

    • Had I made a top 50 list The Seer would definitely be in there. I enjoyed the album quite a bit. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

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