20 Best of 2012 – So Far

I’ve decided instead of doing the usual June highlight post this month (that I should have done last week!), that as we’re halfway through the year of twennytwelve I’d do a post detailing twenty of my favourite albums released so far this year.

Looking at the list of albums I’ve listened to this year (got to write them down as my flaky forty something memory forgets what I’ve heard almost instantly!) it tells me I have heard fifty new albums since 1st January (blimey, could we be heading for 100 by the end of the year?) so picking twenty should be pretty easy, you’d think.

Here we go then, in no particular order, twenty albums from the 1st half of 2012 that, if you’re looking for something to listen to, you could do worse than investigate these. As usual, Spotify links in the name where possible.

Crippled Black Phoenix – (Mankind) The Crafty Ape  Double album of prog tinged anthems from Justin Greaves’ ever evolving band of miscreants.

Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral New album of downbeat, dirty but ultimately fucking fantastic songs from my favourite singing voice in rock, possibly one of his best yet!

Killing Joke – MMXII Album number fifteen from the post-punk legends, sounding more like their old selves than ever with the return of the full original lineup (except of course for the late Paul Raven). For me their best since 1990’s Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions

Orbital – Wonky While we’re talking about legends, the return of the Hartnoll brothers. An absolutely joyous return it is too.

El-P – Cancer 4 Cure This album from the Brooklyn rapper El-P (aka Jaime Meline) has been (and still is) consistently blowing me away each time I listen to it’s dark but downright groovy beats and sharp as a razor, spat out rhymes! Seriously, listen to this album, you can thank me later!

Disappears – Pre Language A nice surprise this one, out of nowhere after reading about it on the ever excellent Symbiotic Reviews, it’s mix of krautrock and sleazy garage rock have, ironically, kept me returning over and over again to its addictive repetition.

I Like Trains – The Shallows The third album proper from the Leeds band, and again possibly one of their finest moment to date. Track highlights are The Hive and Reykjavik, I still miss the historical story driven songs though!

MAKE – Trephine Sludge, Stoner rock, Doom, Black Metal, Psychedelia are just some of the genres that this album dips its, probably chipped, manky and possibly smelly, toe into. Awesome!

Django Django – Django Django Debut album from this London quartet. Psychedelic art rock/pop that is nowhere near as pretentious as I’ve just made that sound!

Tindersticks – The Something Rain Ninth album from Nottingham’s finest purveyors of smokey late night croons about the grittiness of everyday life.

School of Seven Bells – Ghostory Each year for me seems to have at least one album of electronic pop that sneaks its way into my more usual heavy guitar laden stuff. This year Ghostory is destined to be one of these albums.

Grimes – Visions Third album by the alter ego of solo artist Clare Boucher from Montreal. Her quite unique brand of electronic pop sounds at times like a less scary Fever Ray, but is beautiful, at times unsettling and downright addictive.

dEUS – Following Sea Seventh album from Belgium’s dEUS, god it seems a looong time since I was leaping around a Belgian dancefloor to Suds ‘n’ Soda one mad New Year’s eve in 1995/96 (?). This one comes rather close on the heels of last year’s Keep You Close, they apparently had loads of stuff left over and wanted to release it. Good move, this is better than last year’s effort!

Blacklisters – BLKLSTRS The debut from this Leeds band of noisy buggers is raucous, chaotic, funny, at times scary but ultimately FUN! Reminding me a lot of a young version of The Jesus Lizard, this album repeatedly punches you in the face and then immediately kisses it better!

Meshuggah – Koloss Album number seven of brutal, face melting, downright groovy aggression from Sweden’s djent masters.

Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense Falco and crew release the follow up to 2009’s Travels With Myself and Another that almost made it to the top of that year’s list for me. Acerbic, witty and brilliant!

Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods Third album from the LA alt rock band. The songs here are perhaps a bit less immediate and anthemic than on predecessor Swoon, but that’s possibly for the better in terms of longevity. Probably one of the more mainstream albums on the list so far!

The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know The third album from Scotland’s ‘Sad sticks to vocalist James Graham’s promise that it “…is not going to be anything like the first two.”. Using more synth and reducing their now trademark wall of sound has given this album a much more considered , evolved sound.

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory The Cleveland, Ohio band’s third album of lo-fi indie rock, with a bit more aggression and poise than I’ve heard on their earlier stuff, this is just a great (if a bit short) indie rock album!

The Invisible – Rispah I am including this here as, although I have only given it a couple of listens, I can sense that this album is going to really open up on repeated listens to become something pretty special. A bit like the Destroyer album Kaputt was last year.

So, plenty there to keep you busy. It’s been another great year so far and with upcoming releases from Baroness (imminent!) and unscheduled but mooted ones from Lone Wolf, Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace, Soundgarden, Deftones, Tomahawk and Tool (yeah right Wikipedia, unlikely but I can hope!) this year could go stratospheric!

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  1. #1 by Kuz on July 9, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    Nice list. How do you manage to listen to 50 new releases? Blimey.

    Queued up on the basis of your recommendations are: Mark Lanegan Band; Make; School of 7 Bells and Blacklisters.

    Those that didn’t connect: CBP (strange as I liked that last one) and Grimes (boring).

    Agree with you on: El-P and Silversun Pickups

    Dubious about: Twighlight Sad (more synth is never a good thing); Meshuggah (awful, awful band!);

  2. #2 by IPreferTheirOldStuff on July 9, 2012 - 9:48 pm

    cos I have no life and do little else?! 🙂

    I just heard the new Baroness album! Will need more digesting, but some very promising moments, I do miss the heavier stuff though.

  3. #3 by Kuz on July 10, 2012 - 8:49 pm

    Yeah, I did a very quick and dirty post last night on my first listen on the NPR stream. I really want to like it but the vocals on so many of the tracks are grating a little. I also think it’s telling that my favourite moments are the heaviest. I have the nagging feeling that it’s not going to live up to past glories. Everything from First & Second onwards is so effortlessly heavy yet graceful while Y&G seems a little laboured. Still it’s only 2.5 listens on a stream so I haven’t given up hope. I’m still amped for Thursday’s gig!

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