In comparison to 2011, 2012 was a bit of a lackluster year for music but there are some albums that are worth playing on repeat. Here are the best in my opinion:
1. Chairlift’s Something dominated my speakers in the early part of 2012 and I go back to it time and again. I caught them live at The Troubadour and front woman Caroline Polachek gave one of the best vocal performances I have ever witnessed. Total perfection, not one note out of place. I also want to have her baby but I promise I’m not biased. Their songs are super unique and amazingly catchy. This will probably end up being one of my favorite albums of all time.
2. For me, Metric’s Synthetica was a grower, not a shower. At first listen I wasn’t sold but there were a few tracks that captivated me enough to prevent me from dismissing the record as a whole. As I listened more I soon began pressing repeat obsessively and now here it is at number two on my list.
3. Santigold’s Master of My Make-Believe is simply awesome. Got to see her live at Nokia Theater and it was a ridiculously great show. Listen and be prepared to run it back over and over.
4. Oh Frank, I love you. Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange is delicious. To be honest, I wasn’t convinced at first. There was so much hype surrounding this album but I wasn’t immediately feeling it as I started to dive in. Then I heard the track “Pyramids” and everything started to fall into place. Frank Ocean is one of the best storytellers in music today.
5. Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die is good. Just accept it. Yes she’s a crappy live performer, yes she’s somewhat ridiculous and manufactured, but she has some damn good songwriters and producers working with her. I fully embrace all of it. The songs are good and LDR executes them well (in the studio at least).
6. St. Lucia – St. Lucia. Thank you, St. Lucia for renewing my faith in music this year. My hope for the future of music was waning when I was putzing around on Spotify and heard “We Got It Wrong.” This lil CD is a breath of fresh air. They even managed to put on an AMAZING show at The Echo which has the worst sound in town. At six songs this mini album is a total tease. I can’t wait for more from St. Lucia.
7. Twin Shadow – Confess. This album is a dark foray into the 80’s. His compelling lyrics and lush instrumentation draw us into his web of destructive lust. On “I Don’t Care” he sings, “Before the night is through I will say three words/ I’ll probably mean the first two and regret the third.” Ouch, George Lewis, Jr., ouch.
8. Tanlines’ Mixed Emotions is tropical indie dance pop at its finest…whatever that means. One thing it does mean is these two dudes know how to put a great song together. Also saw them at The Echo and they put on a great show despite the vocals being too low and the usual crap sound that the venue provides. I hope to see them on the Coachella 2013 lineup.
9. Kendrick Lamar is Dr. Dre’s protégé and his album good kid, m.A.A.d. city makes him worthy of that distinction. good kid is refreshing in its realness. Lamar takes the listener on a journey through his life growing up in Compton. He raps about heavy material over the top of great hooks, nasty beats, and shiny production making this album multifaceted yet approachable to the masses. Still kicking myself for not getting to the polo fields early enough to see his solo set at Coachella, but it was really really hot that day and our pool was so so nice.
10. Milo Greene – Milo Greene. Last year their track 1957 was one of my most-played and Milo Greene’s 2012 full-length album did not disappoint. The self-titled album is a gorgeous and cohesive piece of sound.
11. Hot Chip knows how to make me move and In Our Heads is no exception. I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl with Passion Pit and HC stole the show. Get ready to dance your face off because In Our Heads is slick.
12. Grimes – Visions. The track “Genesis” is one of the best things to happen in music all year. This album is distinctive and awesome although let’s be honest, Grimes would be nothing without Ray Lynch’s Deep Breakfast (see below and witness magic).
13. Wild Nothing – Nocturne. This album would be an amazing soundtrack to an angsty teen movie. Nocturne is a beautiful, ethereal, and cohesive album. Push play and go on a journey through lush and dreamy songs while you construct a melancholy movie montage in your head.
14. Kanye West – Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer. Yeah I know I used to hate Kanye West. I still kinda hate him but I can’t help but like his recent music. KWPGMCS is a killer compilation of songs and I mean, come on, he has my namesake Ghostface Killah on a track. People say this album lacks cohesion but who cares? I don’t. If the songs are good, the songs are good people.
15. Chromatics – Kill For Love. This album is killer and more importantly is finally on Spotify. Kill For Love is the Chromatics’ signature sound at its absolute best. I can’t seem to pick a favorite track from this album—it’s almost like one giant continuous song. Push play and find someone to make out with.
15.5. Ok so technically HAIM’s Forever EP is not really an album but I don’t care because it’s so awesome. If Wilson Phillips came out of 2012 Silverlake this is what they might sound like and trust me that’s a huge compliment. So so good.
Passion Pit – Gossamer
First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
Miike Snow – Happy To You
The XX – Coexist (Just kidding that album was lame. I guess their boringness finally reached the tipping point.)
Stay tuned in the coming days to see my top 100 songs of 2012 as well as some top lists from guest contributors.