What? An article that has no correlation to videogames?! Say it isn’t so! Well it is, I’m posting a list of my favorite albums and artists of 2012. Don’t expect this to be a long list either (ha) considering that I still have a pretty meaty ‘Best of the Year’ list coming for videogame scores/music as well.
However just to give you a perspective of how I choose these albums, okay, there is no exact order on how I choose these albums. Basically it’s stuff I’ve been keeping an eye out on that’s been overshadowed by, let’s say, the latest Justin Bieber or Wiz Khalifa album release. Anyway, you’ll see for yourself, also FYI…there’s a lot of indie names on here!
Lana Del Rey (Born To Die) –
Don’t let the luxurious and classy image fool you, this isn’t some artist who presents herself as a vapid personality just to make a quick buck. In fact the lyrics in most Del Rey’s songs (especially ‘Born to Die‘) are pretty meaningful and have a sense of ‘lost’ to them. Most of the tracks on here have a slow trip-hop rhythm, and that works excellently with Lana’s graceful vocals. Tracks to check out: ‘Video Games, Born To Die, Off To The Races, Summertime Sadness‘.
Gotye (Making Mirrors) –
Now this shocked the hell out of me, mostly because the first track I listened from Gotye was ‘Somebody That I Used To Know‘ and I was expecting more of the same from this album. I’m happy to say that’s it’s way more diverse and upbeat than what you’ve listened to with ‘Somebody That I Used To Know‘, in fact you’ll probably be doing a double-take and saying, “Am I listening to the same artist?” Just a very good indie pop album that doesn’t contain a lot of sap, and that’s very much for adults. Tracks to check out: ‘I Feel Better, State Of The Art, Easy Way Out‘.
Sleigh Bells (Reign Of Terror) –
Sleigh Bells is one of those artists that merge two unlikely concepts and manages to make them work together. The concepts here being ‘cheerleader anthems’ and ‘metal riffs’, along with several bombastic cues here and there. With ‘Reign of Terror’ they managed to amp it up all the way to 11 and keep it there for a majority of the albums time-length. Tracks to check out: ‘You Lost Me, Demons, True Shred Guitar, Road To Hell‘.
Miike Snow (Happy To You) –
With their second album, Miike Snow transitions to a softer side, yet still maintaining their experimentation within certain tracks. Although the one thing they certainly aren’t lacking is any groove within their chorus’s, basically it’s really fun to listen to. There are even points where the songs start to feel hallucinatory, which in my books is an ‘A+’. Tracks to check out: ‘Devils Work, Black Tin Box featuring Lykke Li, Enter The Jokers Lair‘.
Of Monsters and Men (My Head Is An Animal) –
While at first they may seems like an exact clone of ‘Mumford & Sons’, over time you’ll find that ‘Of Monsters And Men’ manages to go beyond just copying and pasting. Mixing folk jams with elevating rock riffs, and inserting some refreshing imagery in some of their songs. It’s just a really nice and simplistic album, with a lot of heart thrown in. Tracks to check out: ‘Paws, Mountain Sound, Little Talks‘.
fun. (Some Nights) –
Just like with Gotye, a lot of people mostly remember fun. for a certain song that got played a ton through the radio, in this case the song being ‘Tonight‘. And, once again, like with Gotye if you expect to hear the same type of tracks from this album, well, you would be wrong. It’s very reminiscent of a Queen album mixed with baroque pop music, and it works wonderfully. Tracks to check out: ‘Carry On, Some Nights, Why Am I The One‘.
Electric Guest (Mondo) –
If there is one word to describe ‘Electric Guest’, it would be ‘smooth’. The songs on this album just flow together so well it’s disgusting! Just a very pleasant mixture of soul, indie pop, and even some funk! Tracks to check out: ‘Amber, Under The Gun, Awake‘.
Santigold (Master Of My Make-Believe) –
While not a perfect album, Santigold definitely still makes a pretty solid entry here. Songs here range anywhere from ‘punk’ to ‘rock anthems’, which is impressive considering that Santigold is known for being mostly an indie pop artist. There are a few, personally saying, duds in here like ‘Look At These Hoes’ and ‘Freak Like Me’, but as I said it does’t bog down the rest of the album that much. Tracks to check out: ‘Go!, Disparate Youth, God From The Machine‘.
Norah Jones (Little Broken Hearts) –
I cannot tell you how much I hate ‘break-up’ songs, not because of personal past relationships, but because they’re just generic as hell! However there are some damn good artists who manage to produce some pretty compelling, entertaining, and complex break-up/relationship songs. Such is the case here with Norah Jones and her ‘Danger Mouse’ produced album, titled ‘Little Broken Hearts’. Overall though, the album has songs that range from mellow guitar riffs to jazz rhythms, having it equal out to just a very enjoyable easy-listening album. Tracks to check out: ‘She’s 22, Take It Back, Say Goodbye‘.
Silversun Pickups (Neck Of The Woods) –
I don’t exactly love the lead vocal here, but if there’s one thing I can say about Silversun Pickups is that they can make some very atmospheric tracks. The whole album feels very ‘driven’ by the guitar riffs and drums, and adds a lot to the moodiness of it. It’s definitely not the most ‘glowing’ album, but that still doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Tracks to check out: ‘Skin Graph, The Pit, Mean Spirits‘.
Lupe Fiasco (Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1) –
Yay, I have a rap album on this list! Lupe Fiasco was an artist I probably should have caught on to a long time ago considering that my enthusiasm for rap/Hip-Hop was dwindling at a very fast pace. And Lupe certainly doesn’t bullshit around, if he has to something to say he’ll say it and do it in a way that’ll sound catchy as hell! Another thing Lupe is known for is sampling very famous songs, one of them being “They Reminisce Over You” by Pete Rock & CL Smooth, but I have little reason to complain here considering that he does it in a respectful way. Tracks to check out: ‘Audubon Ballroom, Lamborghini Angels, Around My Way [Freedom Ain’t Free]‘.
Tenacious D (Rize Of The Fenix) –
After a long break, Jack Black and Kyle Gass return with an extraordinary album! ‘Rize of the Fenix’ also contains a couple of skits in there, and the good part is that they’re really funny. It’s a very humorous and epic list of tracks that just add up to an experience you don’t want to miss out on. Tracks to check out: ‘Rize of the Fenix, Roadie, Deth Starr‘.
The Heavy (The Glorious Dead) –
I just want to start out by saying, if “What Makes A Good Man?” was just the only song on this album I would still buy it! This album should be titled “Great Hooks” because of how much these songs just draw you in, and even maintain a good amount of garage rock in there. It’s what you would expect from ‘The Heavy’, and even more! Tracks to check out: ‘What Makes A Good Man? (obviously), Big Bad Wolf, Be Mine‘.
David Byrne and St. Vincent (Love This Giant) –
Like peanut butter and chocolate, David Byrne and St. Vincent make a tasty, uh, I mean a great combination! Both of them bring a sense of creativity to this album, including funky beats and vibrant lyrics. It’s also, how should I say, very odd in certain spots, but that is in no way a knock against this great album. Tracks to check out: ‘Ice Age, Lazarus, Who‘.
Muse (The 2nd Law) –
While not as fantastic as their previous efforts, Muse still manages to make a pretty good album. The main thing I can say that’s both a compliment and a negative is that they do try some new things with dubstep, the best example of it being ‘Madness‘ and with ‘Follow Me‘ being the disappointment. Though there’s still enough variety on this album, and Muse guitarist Matthew Bellamy still knows how to put on a great performance. Tracks to check out: ‘Madness, Panic Station, Big Freeze‘.
Kimbra (Vows) –
One of my favorite new artists of this year, Kimbra brings a wide range and creative energy in her album ‘Vows’. And the best part about this album is that you’re not sure what to expect when you first listen to it, like is it just another pop album or some Gotye rip-off? However it fully delivers, even her weakest songs on here are still better than most of the stuff I hear on the radio…which is usually static, but whatever! Tracks to check out: ‘Warrior, Posse, Come Into My Head, Good Intent‘.
The Hundreds In The Hands (Red Night) –
Another moody entry on this list is ‘The Hundreds In The Hands’ latest album, titled ‘Red Night’. Most of the tracks on here have a dark and industrial feel to them, which is a part of what makes this album great. Merging electronic and rock, ‘Hundreds In The Hands’ definitely knows how to make a very atmospheric product. Tracks to check out: ‘Tunnels, Keep It Low, Empty Stations‘.
Memory Tapes (Grace/Confusion) –
There may be 6 tracks on here, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great electronic release on ‘Memory Tapes’ part. Keep in mind these songs take a while to build up, but once they do the outcome is really worth it. It goes in a lot of different directions, however it still manages to sound great no matter what part it’s at. Tracks to check out: ‘Safety, Let Me Be, Sheila‘.
And there it is, my favorite albums/artists of 2012! I know I probably may get a lot of disagreements here, but keep in mind this is just stuff I conjured up in my head. If you have a favorite artist/album this year, then post it in the comments below. And as I said, keep an eye out on my ‘Best of the Year’ list for videogame scores where hopefully I can make as many cheap jokes as I want. Especially about you ‘Warfighter‘, especially you.