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Old 12-12-2012, 10:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default duga's Top 25 Albums of 2012

If it really is the end of the world, then I'm fairly satisfied with the quality of the Earth's last year of music. There have been some truly great albums this year.

Here I present to you what I find to be the best 25 albums this year, 5 at a time, for your pleasure.


25. Swans – The Seer

I’ll be the first to admit…this album is not for everyone. If the words progressive, drone, doom, or metal don’t do anything for you, feel free to pass this over. This album makes the list, however, because of just how intriguing it is. Michael Gira has been recording as Swans since the 80’s, and if you haven’t heard of him or Swans, there is probably a reason for that. While wholly unclassifiable in general, Swans has created some of the most disturbing and emotionally straining music ever committed to tape. Just listen to Children of God and you will know what I mean. With that in mind, The Seer acts as both the most easily accessible Swans album to date and also their most polished emotional rollercoaster of an album. It took a couple listens, but once this album crept into my subconscious, I had to keep listening to it. If this sounds interesting to you just check out the song “Mother of the World”. Then you'll know if it's worth proceeding.


24. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber

Oh, man am I a sucker for shoegaze. Especially hooky psych-tinged shoegaze that doesn’t fall into the “let’s see how many effect pedals we can use” trap. Unfortunately, it is so easy to fall into that trap that most bands take several albums to reach the craftsmanship Melody’s Echo Chamber have achieved on their debut. While this is nothing groundbreaking, it’s catchy as hell and sure to leave you in a good mood.


23. Tamaryn – Tender New Signs

Yes, it’s another shoegaze album. However, these guys take themselves a little more seriously than Melody’s Echo Chamber. While Tamaryn’s vocals drive the music, it’s Rex Shelveron’s incredibly creative and fresh take on shoegaze that really kept me coming back to this album. Ultimately, that’s what makes or breaks a shoegaze band. Rex explores chord progressions with Robin Guthrie-like ease (all without being derivative). This guy has proven he has enough chops that I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this band.


22. Beach House – Bloom

If Jim Morrison was reincarnated as a woman in the 21st century and discovered dream pop, he would most certainly be in Beach House. Victoria Legrand’s effortless synth melodies, her hazy vocals and Alex Scally’s easygoing but catchy guitar lines have seemed to create a truly winning formula…a simple formula that –in my opinion - only the Doors had previously mastered. For four albums now, I’ve felt their next would be the one that flops. But for four albums now, I have consistently been impressed with how they can keep this formula sounding fresh. While Bloom is not as strong as either Devotion or Teen Dream, the fact that it still made this list says something about the talent this band has (and how good those other two albums are…).


21. Oddisee – People Hear What They See

This album is just great downhome R&B heavy hip hop. Nothing spectacular, but the beats and Oddisee’s even-keeled flow make this a very relaxing album to just sit and unwind to. When I think of this album, I think of warm apple pie. There’s just something very comforting in this music.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Look forward to the rest of your entries. Strong start
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2. What was the strangest/best/worst party you ever went to?
Prolly a party I had with some people I know
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Frank Ocean and El-P hopefull coming up. Maybe even SP if I'm lucky.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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This thread should keep my Spotify busy over the next few weeks
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hopefully no Frank Ocean, but I can't wait to get Spotify Premium for Christmas
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I really need to give the new Swans album a listen. I also agree with your assessment of the Oddisee album, it is very relaxed and something good to put on at the end of a hard day; and now I want apple pie.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I only listened to Beach House once and, while it was fine, proved pretty forgettable for me. I have only listened to Swans latest once too but I dig that. I might have to check out the shoegaze albums.

Really looking forward to the rest of this, duga.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks, guys...I hope everyone finds an album or two they didn't think of listening to.

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Hopefully no Frank Ocean, but I can't wait to get Spotify Premium for Christmas
This may be me selling out, but Spotify is the best 10 bucks I spend every month. I'm constantly amazed at the library of music they have. There are some key hold outs (notable Pink Floyd...when I get into a Pink Floyd mood and I can't listen to them, people better stay out of my way) but for the most part they don't disappoint.

And I really liked the Frank Ocean album, but alas, it did not make my top 25.

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I really need to give the new Swans album a listen. I also agree with your assessment of the Oddisee album, it is very relaxed and something good to put on at the end of a hard day; and now I want apple pie.
Did you like any other Swans albums? If you did, you are sure to enjoy the Seer...it really is everything good about the last 20 years boiled into one album.

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I only listened to Beach House once and, while it was fine, proved pretty forgettable for me. I have only listened to Swans latest once too but I dig that. I might have to check out the shoegaze albums.

Really looking forward to the rest of this, duga.
I find a lot of people feel that way about the Beach House album, but there is just something very hypnotic and appealing about their music to me. And I do highly recommend that Tamaryn album along with their debut the Waves. Syncopation and counterpoint are key to keeping a shoegaze album interesting, and Rex really knows what he is doing.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok...next 5


20. Chairlift – Something

There are not many bands out there these days that are willing (or able) to clearly grow from one album to the next. Chairlift has done exactly that. They have gone from the 80’s reverence of their debut Does You Inspire You to full on mastery of everything the 80’s did right on Something. While some could argue that such emulation signifies a lack of creativity, when it is done with such purpose and creativity it’s clear that this is simply the music they want to create. My ears find nothing wrong with that. From the full on new wave pop on “I Belong in Your Arms” and “Ghost Tonight” to the very convincing Cocteau Twins inspired “Turning”, this is a very entertaining album.


19. Com Truise – In Decay

After his debut EP Cyanide Sisters, I lost track of Com Truise. That’s a shame because that EP was really good. In Decay is my reintroduction. While electronic music has saturated the market for a while now, there are still a few breaths of fresh air. Com Truise is one of the breaths. Combining Boards of Canada atmospherics with a more danceable approach, this album will hold me over until the new BoC album comes out (if it ever does). Is it bad to say I like Com Truise because there isn’t a new BoC album out? Maybe…but this album is still very enjoyable nonetheless. Turns out this is an odds and sods collection, and its still way better than their previous full length Galactic Melt.


18. Jack White – Blunderbuss

As much as I'm sure Jack White wants to carve out a new image separate from the White Stripes, he'll never really get away from that music. So I'll go ahead and say this…Blunderbuss is what the follow-up to Elephant should have been. While I respected Jack White's attempt at progression and Get Behind Me Satan had its interesting moments, it wasn't interesting enough to keep me hooked. I almost completely lost interest after Icky Thump and his other bands never really did much for me. I listened to this because I was bored one day and was pleasantly surprised. Everything Jack White does best is on here…heavy rockers like “Sixteen Saltines” and “Freedom At 21” hold up with the best of his past work. Slower acoustic numbers like “Blunderbuss” mesh nicely with the faster numbers. It’s hard not to enjoy this album.


17. THEESatisfaction – awE natural

Something I’ve been really interested in recently are the few artists out there proudly holding down the R&B fort. The genre has so much room for innovation, but the lack of interest in it has created a very stagnant genre. Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, and a few others come to mind…but it was THEESatisfaction that most impressed me this year. While the artists I just mentioned have expanded the genre, they still sound like a nostalgia act. THEESatisfaction have transcended that and brought R&B squarely into the 21st century. The songs are generally short, much like the attention spans of most listeners these days but they are somehow fully realized. Now that takes skill. Just try not to enjoy “Existinct”.


16. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

As much as I love a smooth rap album (just give me some Tribe and I’m a happy guy), sometimes I like it to be really ghetto. Killer Mike provides that fix and then some. It’s not just aggressive, but really catchy and memorable. There aren’t many instances where I’m inspired to memorize the lyrics to a particular song, but there are few occasions here where I really want to rap along to it and pump my fist. Just try “Go!”. I’ve also noticed a lot of rappers these days going into stuff about Reagan…why is he so popular to talk about now? “Reagan” is the one low-point of the album (but it is still mildly entertaining to hear Reagan being compared to the devil). Aside from that misstep, this is a really great album.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I quite enjoy rapping to "Go!" in the car, it reminds me of that scene early on in Office Space. As far as the song "Reagan" is concerned, I think it's a result of many of these rappers growing up in ghettos during the '80's and the Urban blight that resulted in some of the policies Reagan enacted. Urban blight is actually one of the aspects I really love about low grade '80's action movies like The Toxic Avenger and Street Trash.
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