Best Albums of 2012

So here we are again folks…. list time.  A little later than planned (I did want to do it on January 1st - there’s the whole month of December out there listmakers!) but here we are.

And what a list.  It was hard enough getting it down to a top twenty five let alone a top ten, five, three or number one.  But unlike DiS, who somewhat took the easy way out by claiming five equally placed top records, it’s been whittled down to the list you see here.  If you’re a reader of this blog you know what I like and you know what you like and hopefully there’s some crossover, particularly within this list.

As for themes within this list, apart the lowest ever reviews-to-records ratio that this blog has endured in its short and tumultuous time, there are few.  Simply amazing songs, songwriting and production from across the genres of indie rock, pop, blues, folk, goth rave, soul, punk, psychedelia, house, garage rock and the like.  Perhaps the one overarching theme is of an uplifting yet wry take on the world.  One that carriers the spirit of 2012 and HSM quite nicely indeed.

So, are you ready? Good, then let’s get started: 

25. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
24. Crystal Castles - III
23. Jack White - Blunderbuss
22. Actress - R.I.P.
21. Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky’s Edge
20. John Talabot - Fin
19. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
18. Mac Demarco - 2
17. Cat Power - Sun
16. Chairlift - Something
15. Ty Segall & White Fence - Hair
14. Dan Deacon - America
13. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
12. Foxygen - Take The Kids Off Broadway
11. Gashcat - Reunion

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      10. Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe

      The painful and proud realisations of one of music’s elder statesmen.

      9. The Divine Fits - The Divine Fits

      Wearing the supergroup tag pretty well, The Divine Fits is a slick and solid album.

      8. Grizzly Bear - Shields

      Nothing more or less than you’d expect from the boys from Brooklyn: shimmering, epic and beautiful sounding pop music.

      7. Father John Misty - Fear Fun

      Throwing off the morose and abashed side of his persona, Josh Tillman’s Father John Misty is hilarious and heartfelt.

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      6. Django Django - Django Django

      Ever complex and inventive, Django Django’s debut record is a sparse but funky affair.

      5. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

      Simple the sound of rock music done right.  Very right.

      4. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

      Translating the Dirty Projectors’ baroque sound into something more accessible proved to be a stunning success.

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      3. Grimes - Visions

      An ethereal, sensual release, Visions fulfils the promise of Grimes’ previous releases.

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      2. Tame Impala - Lonerism

      Making a psychedelic rock record sound fresh and exciting in 2012 is no mean feat and Tame Impala do it with such verve and aplomb

And finally, introducing HotSpotMusic’s favourite album of 2012:

Kishi Bashi - 151a

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Kishi Bashi’s debut release, 151a, wins this year’s prize (there is no actual award nor cash prize) as HotSpotMusic’s best album of 2012.  And it wins for the simple fact that, amongst very tough competition, it was the one record I kept coming back to over and over again.  It’s only nine tracks and thirty four minutes but within that short time it manages to transport you to another world, a world that is a complete melange of chaos and creativity but one where the end result is one of pure beauty and joy.  It’s not been featured on many end of year lists and that’s a shame because, in this humble writer’s opinion, it’s an epic, orchestral masterpiece.

So there you have it: 2012’s best releases in a nutshell.  And now here they are in a lovely playlist: 


Here’s to 2013.

Halloween full moon festival preparations at the #ChapelofSacredMirrors.
#AlexGrey is a visionary artist and philosopher, best known for being the only person on earth able to illustrate what #Tool are trying to say. If you have a creative or questioning soul, his stunning art sanctuary in upstate New York is like being in heaven. Even better, it’s like coming home.
And it’s always full of music. #2012best

More photos of this event are on CoSM’s Facebook site:

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This one got missed right at the beginning of the year but was a consistent repeat-player throughout.  The second album in Chairlift’s career is a clear refinement of the first (2008’s Does You Inspire You) in which they marry the arty, Brooklyn-esque affectations with classic eighties-inspired big pop song songs.  The vocals are charming, the rhythm constantly tappable and the after-taste one of simple joy… Something is a significant step up for this band.

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Cast your minds back to the beginning of 2012.  Who was your favourite act named after a keyboard shortcut?  You can’t remember can you?  I bet you can now, in these late, cold days as 2013 appears on the horizon.  That’s because Alt-J (or ∆ as their instructions suggest) have had a stellar year, coming off the back of a debut EP late last year, signing to Infectious Records and putting out An Awesome Wave which eventually scooped the Mercury Prize against serious competition.  The album itself is an exercise in sparseness as they emptily search for space and for meaning in that space and it is perhaps best summed up for me in Tesselate, a slow rhythmic groover that imagines what would happen if Prince and James Blake had an unholy union produced by Steve Mason.  ∆ are certainly not to everyone’s tastes but I, for one, have kept coming back to this album throughout the year.

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