Fifty Favourite Albums of 2012

So, here we are again. The time of the year when the internet is awash with best of lists, retrospectives of the year gone by etc. but I’m sure you’ve all been waiting, breath suitably baited, for the I Prefer Their Old Stuff favourite fifty!

As last year I will not be ranking the first forty, it’s too hard, this year especially it seems (or that might be just me!). The spreadsheet has them alphabetical so that’s how these first forty will appear.

2012 has been another year where I’ve listened to more new records than ever before (90 is the count this year!), this can’t possibly continue, there are only a certain amount of hours each day! I have thought that I should maybe restrict myself a bit but I just love listening to stuff I have never heard before. So cutting forty albums from the list was extremely hard at times, for example you may notice that the new Soundgarden album is conspicuous in its absence, it pained me to cut it but although it is good and I love Chris Cornell’s voice almost more than any other in rock it just hasn’t grabbed me enough to warrant inclusion. This says more for the greatness of the records that did make the cut more than any weakness on the part of the losers.

Last year I added a link to an mp3 for each album for you to listen but I noticed that the links only seemed to work on a browser, not on an iPad or mobile so I’m going to skip doing them this year as uploading each track took time and this task takes long enough as it is. There aren’t a team of folks working on this, it’s just me typing away one handed! If you used them last year and miss them let me know in the comments section and I can go back and add some of needs be. The more comments the better, I want to know what you think, criticise, praise, whatever!

Anyway, on with this year’s crop of musical delights! By the way, as per my highlights posts, links to the album in Spotify will be in the album title where available.

Alcest – Les Voyages Des L’Âme

Alcest - Les Voyages Des L'Ame

First on the list and pretty much the first new album I heard this year. Released in January Les Voyages Des L’Âme (Journeys of the Soul) is the third studio album by French band Alcest and their almost patented mix of shoegaze and black metal continues to work a treat. Although to be honest on this album the metal influence (black or otherwise) is reduced to nearly nil with only a few passages remaining of screamed vocals and the guitar work is far more post-rock, shoegaze feeling. Basically, what I’m saying is give this album a go, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Amenra – Mass V

Amenra - Mass V

The fifth album from Belgium’s Amenra stages a late entry into the list after only being released last week. The huge, crushing heaviness bears some resemblance to bands such as Neurosis, to quote their Last.fm page “Intense, heartfelt and atmospheric, rich with entrancing riffs, thunderous low tones, high impact percussion and cutthroat vocals, injected with a dose of religious iconography“. When I saw them at this year’s Damnation festival they had no lights except for a dim projection of barely visible crashing seas and landscapes, vocalist Colin Van Eeckhout with his back to the audience for pretty much the entire show, veins popping as his tortured vocals were spat out with such intensity you feared he might pass out from the effort! These guys work magic with a slow repetitive riff that just drags you in and then crushes you with its immenseness!! (the album’s not yet on Spotify but it is streaming via Soundcloud here)

Baroness – Yellow & Green

baronessyellowandgreencover

This was one of the albums that I was very much looking forward to, having fallen in love with the band via their previous two albums (Red and Blue) only a year or so previously. So, perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that this double album did not (or maybe, could not) fully live up to my expectations. They have really reigned back on the heaviness for this release, although there are still a fair few heavier numbers, such as lead single “Take My Bones Away”, there seems to be more concentration on song craft and accessibility, especially on the quieter of the two discs, Green. Not a bad album by any means but I just wish there were less ballads and more bangers on it!

Beach House – Bloom

beach house bloom cover

Dream pop loveliness from Baltimore’s Beach House now. Their fourth album Bloom invites words such as ethereal, blissful, sparkling and dreamy be used when describing their music. Put simply it’s just a beautiful album which you all should have a listen to!

Blacklisters – BLKLSTRS

Blacklisters - BLKLSTRS

Ethereal, blissful, sparkling and dreamy are four words that categorically could NOT be used to describe Blacklisters’ debut album! The Leeds four piece produce a sound that although confrontational, noisy and chaotic, is just downright fun! One is unable to avoid comparisons with The Jesus Lizard or Shellac when describing their sound or their live act, in fact their live act is possibly the best, most engaging, entertaining and simultaneously threatening I’ve seen since David Yow leapt into the crowd on The Jesus Lizard’s first number at The Forum in London a few years ago! Regardless of whether you like their musical output or not, you should try and catch them live as they are just electric!

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

Cloud-Nothings-Attack-on-Memory

Ohio’s Cloud Nothings released their third album Attack on Memory back in January, produced by the legendary Steve Albini, it is much grittier than their previous output. Grungy, crunchy guitars and slightly snarled vocals propel you through the sprightly 33 minutes, my favourite bit of which is probably the way “Wasted Days”, initially a fast quick thrash extends into nearly nine minutes of guitar histrionics. An excellent indie rock album.

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

Converge-All-We-Love-We-Leave-Behind-album-cover

Brutal, pummelling and adrenaline pumping. Mathcore stalwarts Converge’s eighth album may only be thirty eight minutes long but it packs in more fury than an album twice its length. Technically dazzling guitar riffery and drumming, so fast at times you can barely keep up, combined with Jacob Bannon’s visceral roar, this is an album to frighten children and old people with! Out of all the albums in this year’s list this one shouts “FUCK YOU” the loudest!

dEUS – Following Sea

deus-following_sea

Last year’s Keep You Close was not the Belgium band’s best by a long shot, so when they brought out their seventh album Following Sea, apparently made up of tracks that didn’t make the cut for the previous album I was naturally tentative. But I think this must have been internet bullshit because Following Sea is far better than Keep You Close, it’s possibly their best since 1999’s The Ideal Crash!

Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky

ibetonsky.textoptions2

A band that’s been going for 28 years, produce their tenth album and not only does it make this list, it’s possibly the best thing they’ve done in nearly twenty years! This is the third album since the band ‘reunited’ as the original trio of J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph, and it is by far the most accomplished. It also has possibly some of the best artwork of any album released this year!

Disappears – Pre Language

disappears-pre-language

Krautrock and the whole motorik beat are usually words associated with more electronic acts such as Neu!, Stereolab or Beak>, but Disappears have fused it with sleazy garage rock and it’s a combination that works an absolute treat. When I first heard this back in the summer I was hooked, listening to it again and again, downloading their previous two albums in quick succession to keep my addiction fresh! Listen to this and lose yourself in its glorious hypnotic groove!

Django Django – Django Django

djangodjango

The debut album from this Edinburgh four piece immediately catapulted them into the public consciousness via glowing reviews in the mainstream press (5/5 in The Guardian, 8/10 on NME) combined with pretty heavy airplay on radio. Later in the year it was also a Mercury Prize nominee, widening their fanbase even more. Rightly so, as this album is an extremely listenable slice of psychedelic, indie pop. At times sounding like a more accessible cousin of The Beta Band, this is one of the best debuts I’ve heard this year.

Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense

future_of_the_left_plot_against_common_Sense

More vitriol and razor sharp wit from Falco and crew on the third album from the band that were once McLusky. Bearing in mind the fact that their previous album Travels With Myself and Another made it to number 2 in my list of 2009, this is another album that arrived with a fair amount of unfair expectations piled on it. And yes, although it might not reach the heights its predecessor did it’s still a very fine album with its fair share of excellent moments, such as Sheena Is A T-Shirt SalesmanSorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots and Robocop 4: Fuck off Robocop

Gallows – Gallows

gallowsselftitled600

Up until now Gallows had never really interested me, they just seemed another run of the mill punk band. But following a change of vocalist (Frank Carter left last year to be replaced by ex Alexisonfire vocalist Wade MacNeil) I thought I’d give their new self titled album a go. MacNeil’s harsher vocals sound a bit like Pink Eyes from Fucked Up and give the music a bit more of an edge. Victim Culture with its shoutalong refrain of “Victim Culture’s on the rise!” starts the album off at a furious pace that keeps up the momentum for its suitably brief punk rock 32 minutes. It’ll have you pogoing round your living room!

Grimes – Visions

Grimes-Visions-608x608

Grimes is the moniker of Montreal’s Claire Boucher and Visions is her third album but first on the 4AD label. It’s a bit of a marmite record, in that people tend to either love it or hate it and for a few weeks at least, I was definitely in the former camp. Electronic pop that I have previously likened to a slightly less sinister Fever Ray.

Hawk Eyes – Ideas

HawkEyes_Ideas

Formerly known as Chickenhawk, the Leeds four piece changed their name to Hawk Eyes and released Ideas in March. Along with the name change they have developed their sound to include more melodies than before but still with a lorry load of riffs to go with them! As main support to Therapy? on their current tour is hopefully opening more ears to their infectious tunes.

Killing Joke – MMXII

killing_joke_mmxii_2012

Another band on the list that could be described as a bit “long in the tooth” (formed in 1978!), also another band that are, once again, in their original line up. Another thing they have in common with Dinosaur Jr is that this is the best thing they’ve done in years! This, their fifteenth album (!) is entitled MMXII (2012) referring to the apparently impending Mayan predicted apocalypse and I can’t think of a better soundtrack to the end of the world!

Liars – WIXIW

liars_wixiw

With a title that is guaranteed to fox most people unless told how to pronounce it (it’s “wish you”), Liars’ sixth album is yet another swerve in style for the never predictable Brooklyn three piece. A band I’ve never truly managed to love despite a fair bit of listening, I found myself wanting to listen to this one quite a lot and although I am still yet to fall in love with their other material, WIXIW is a dark mysterious album that really rewards repeated listens.

Lone Wolf – The Lovers

Lone Wolf

Paul Marshall’s crowd sourced second album (as Lone Wolf) was released last month, a good few weeks after the lucky pledgers (myself included) got their limited goodies (blue vinyl, yum) and digital downloads. It has a far more personal, lo-fi feel to it than it’s highly polished predecessor The Devil & I, but because of this it feels far more honest and heart-felt. I love this whole crowd sourcing thing, as a fan it makes you feel like your genuinely helping the artists and they’re actually there updating you on the progress of the thing you want to hear, everyone’s on the same page! This is the second Pledge campaign I’ve contributed to (I Like Trains’ album He Who Saw The Deep being the other) and I would happily do it again.

MAKE – Trephine

make_trephine

I came across North Carolina’s MAKE via the excellent metal column on The Quietus, and boy am I glad I did! MAKE, er, make heavy, atmospheric, sludgy post-metal that veers from crushing heaviness a la Neurosis to longer, gentler passages in the vein of Grails or Minsk. If that doesn’t immediately interest you, go and have a listen on their Bandcamp site (link) and at the moment you can download the whole album for $5!

Metric – Synthetica

metric-synthetica

From post-metal to Canadian indie pop. Metric released their fifth album in the summer and it’s an album full of the band’s trademark hooks and infectious melodies. Although each of their previous four albums have drawn accolades they still seem relatively unknown amongst the mainstream which mystifies me, I would have thought their brand of electronic/guitar pop mix would be huge, but what do I know?

METZ – METZ

metz

Toronto’s METZ are signed to the legendary Sub-Pop label and their sound is not a million miles away from early output of certain bands who made the label famous (*cough*Nirvana*cough*). Their scuzzy lo-fi guitar squall flies in the face of the ever present doom-mongers of guitar music’s future, sounding a bit like DFA 1979 without the groove, they stand shoulder to shoulder with bands such as Pissed Jeans or The Icarus Line in annoying your neighbours and not playing nice!

MONO – For My Parents

TRR213_CD_Booklet_RE21003_OUTSIDE

The Japanese post-rock quartet have morphed over the years into almost modern classical, moving away from the increasingly cliched quiet/loud guitar dynamics to include strings and more orchestral arrangements. On previous album Hymn To The Immortal Wind this approach did not work for me and I found the album, frankly, pretty boring, but on For My Parents they have brought back more of the soaring guitar sections alongside the more orchestral dynamics and have created a rather beautiful album that swells and ebbs and they have now crafted a rather unique sound. Not a bad thing to try and stand out now the post-rock genre is looked on with a fair amount of derision from certain quarters.

My Sleeping Karma – Soma

my-sleeping-karma-soma-cover-art

Proving that it is always worth catching the support act at gigs, Germany’s My Sleeping Karma have managed to sneak their new album into my favourite fifty mere weeks after seeing/hearing them for the very first time in Manchester when they supported Monster Magnet on their Spine of God twentieth anniversary shows. In a similar vein to bands such as Russian Circles, Pelican, Karma To Burn and others of their ilk, they know how to craft instrumental music that has you headbanging one minute and closing your eyes and drifting away the next! Their eastern influences remind me of a heavier Grails but with more hypnotic riffing over the top. Lovely stuff. I cannot find this streaming anywhere but their previous album TRI is on Spotify here.

Orbital – Wonky

Orbital-Wonky

Eight years after the slightly limp Blue Album, the Hartnoll brothers returned in April with Wonky and as a lover of their albums prior to the aforementioned Blue Album I was naturally apprehensive as to whether they should have just left their keyboards in the attic! The only new material they had produced in the eight years between albums was the Don’t Stop Me/The Gun Is Good double A side in 2010 which showed they still had stuff to give and thankfully Wonky proved to be a bit of a hands in the air, dancing like you just don’t care treat! Good to have you back lads!

Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love

pulled-apart-by-horses-tough-love-2012

Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses released this, their second album, way back in January. It displays a marked progression from their self titled debut of 2010, the songs all sound more cohesive and, dare I say it, better, but still retain the fury and urgency of the former album. As one of the best live bands out there at the moment (not quite up there with Blacklisters but it’s close!) I was hoping to catch the new material at their show in Leeds in November but unfortunately it was cancelled.

School of Seven Bells – Ghostory

school-of-seven-bells-ghostory

SVIIB’s third album was released in February and the first without founding sister Claudia Deheza who left in 2010, leaving the band as effectively a two piece, Alejandra Deheza and Benjamin Curtis (once of nu-prog band Secret Machines). This is an album of electronic, anthemic pop tunes, sometimes straying into shoegaze territory that proved rather addictive earlier in the year. I had initially discounted it as their previous two albums had never really grabbed me but after reading the effusive praise heaped onto it by Drowned in Sound (a website that, in the past, has lead me to many great discoveries, so I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt) I gave it a listen and was rather glad I did.

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Sharon-Van-Etten-Tramp-608x608

The singer songwriter genre is not one that tends to get a huge amount written about it on here, but now and again I will hear something that really strikes a chord (pun not intended!) and the third album from Brooklyn singer Sharon Van Etten was such an album this year. Written at a tough period in her life (check the 9/10 DrownedinSound review for more details) the songs here are not happy ones and it seems to me that when a singer songwriter does get to me they are always unhappy artists or themes eg. Elliot Smith or Lone Wolf (on The Devil & I), or maybe it’s that anguish produces more heartfelt, beautiful music, after all that’s how the blues were born! To quote the closing line from the DiS review “It’s a wonderful record, a colossal achievement, and features some of the most breathtaking, moving and downright beautiful music you’ll hear all year.”

Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods

Silversun-Pickups-Neck-Of-The-Woods

The third album from LA’s Silversun Pickups was released in May. Following on from 2009′s Swoon, an album that, although pretty well received, was slightly weighed down by its high production values and the overt grandiosity of a lot of the tracks. It had lost some of the charm of the band’s 2006 debut Carnavas. However, Neck of the Woods, drops some of the anthemic leanings of its predecessor and the songs seem a bit more heartfelt, and although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of their debut, and still wears its arena ambitions proudly on its sleeve, it’s still a very enjoyable slice of unchallenging, radio friendly rock.

Stumbleine – Spiderwebbed

Stumbleine-Spiderwebbed

Another late entry to the list. Stumbleine is a producer from Bristol (home to the more familiar, yet still relatively mysterious Burial) but Spiderwebbed is no urban dubstep banger, but a gentle, dreamy, indie fused comedown album. What I know about the whole urban, dubstep scene could be written on the back of a postage stamp and have space left over, but I know my dreamy shoegaze and this seems a nice mixture of the two. It’s not an album that demands much of the listener, it washes over you very pleasantly and you’re unlikely to find yourself whistling any of the tunes in the shower in the morning, but as a headphone experience it can be extremely nice.

The Men – Open Your Heart

The_Men_-_Open_Your_Heart

Brooklyn band The Men’s third album Open Your Heart is a real mixed bag of styles, the first two tracks on it will lead you into thinking it will be an album full of straight up punk rock, then third track Country Song throws a curve ball with it’s slow build of slide guitar, then next track Oscillation sends you on a seven minute krautrock journey with no vocals appearing until the five minute mark! As one review put it, this is a band doing what they want, this record’s not for you it’s for them, and as such is an unpredictable 45 minutes that shouldn’t work but does!

The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

The-Mountain-Goats-Transcendental-Youth-608x6081

John Darnielle’s The Mountain Goats released their fourteenth (yes, 14th!) album in July and if you know anything of their/his prodigious output this is more of the same folk tinged indie with Mr Darnielle’s unmistakeable voice. Fourteen albums, mainly written by the one band member, The Mountain Goats are like the Guided By Voices of folk rock! Although he’s got some way to go to match Robert Pollard’s insane level of output (GBV have released three full studio albums during 2012, plus two Robert Pollard solo albums!!)

The Sea and Cake – Runner

the sea and cake_runner

A band I was hitherto unaware of, The Sea and Cake’s ninth album (which means I have some catching up to do) Runner, is a lovely album of quite gentle indie pop. An album that suits being put on early in the morning when you’re not yet ready for anything harsher, maybe to sooth a hangover or just as an alternative to annoyingly chirpy radio DJs! Fans of bands such as Buffalo Tom should find something to love here.

The Soft Moon – Zeros

The-Soft-Moon-Zeros-608x608

The Soft Moon is Luis Vasquez from San Francisco, Zeros is the follow up to 2010′s self titled debut. Like the debut it is a album of dark, gothy, fuzzed up, synth-driven post-punk, with barely there vocals invoking comparisons with early material by The Cure or Joy Division. I caught them live a few weeks ago in Leeds, wreathed in fog at the Brudenell and although they drew a rather small crowd, they were suitably excellent.

The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know

The-Twilight-Sad-No-One-Can-Ever-Know

Third album proper from none-more Scottish indie kids The Twilight Sad, and it shows a huge stylistic shift away from the guitars to a much more electronic, krautrock inspired sound. As a big fan of their impressive wall of sound approach (especially live) I was initially sceptical but one listen to No One Can Ever Know convinced me that this new direction is a very positive thing. They’ve not cheered up though, the songs here do not paint happy pictures!

The Wedding Present – Valentina

the-wedding-present-valentina

After twenty seven years and around ten albums, David Gedge and co are still coming up with the goods! Although they may have lost a lot of the acerbic wit and  lo-fi aggression of albums such as Bizarro or George Best, and although the last couple of albums have sounded a lot more like Gedge’s Cinerama side project than The Wedding Present of old, new album Valentina manages to span the two. The last minute or so of “The Girl from the DDR” are pure Weddoes!

Tindersticks – The Something Rain

Tindersticks-the-something-rain

Stuart Staples and co return with album number nine and it’s a real cracker, with some reviews saying it is their best in many a year! 2010′s Falling Down A Mountain never fully grabbed me all the way through and predecessor, 2008′s The Hungry Saw had a lot of good tracks but it felt a bit “light”, The Something Rain however feels like a complete experience with the nine minute spoken word opener Chocolate leading us into the songs proper.

Torche – Harmonicraft

Torche-Harmonicraft

Sludge-pop is not a genre crammed with bands, in fact it may have been made up solely for Miami’s Torche. They returned in May with their third full length, Harmonicraft, the cover of which, with its cutesy cartoon animals vomiting rainbows across the firmament, gives a fair representation of the music contained within, prettiness mixed with oodles of uurrgghh! Aggressive yet pleasant, heavy yet groovy, dirty yet polished, and plenty of other pleasing contradictions!

Turbonegro – Sexual Harassment

Turbonegro-Sexual-Harassment-Artwork

Norway’s self styled Death Punks Turbonegro return with their eighth album plus a new vocalist, brit Tony Sylvester taking over from Hank von Helvete. His rawer vocals give a much needed edge to their unique brand of sleazy punk rock. Their tongue is still placed firmly in their cheek, evidenced by lead single I Got A Knife with the marvellous lyric “he’ll euthenize you, he’ll eunuchize you” and the charmingly titled Shake Your Shit Machine. They seem to have reigned back on the more directly sexual(ly ambiguous) songs (I Got Erection or Rendezvous With Anus anyone?) but there is still plenty of sleaze contained here, you may be bouncing round your living room to tunes such as Mister Sister but when it’s all over you’ll still feel the need for a good wash! 🙂

VCMG – SSSS

VCMG-Ssss-album-cover-445x400

This album is a collaboration between Vince Clark (Depeche Mode, Erasure, Yazoo) and Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore. Reuniting for the first time since Clark’s departure from the ‘Mode in 1981 and despite having over 100 hit singles between them, this is no attempt at chart success but an album of meaty European techno made for themselves, pass me that bottle of water and smiley face t-shirt and let’s go!

Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph

Winterfylleth Threnody of Triumph cover

Finally in the list of forty we have the UK’s black metal stalwarts Winterfylleth’s new album The Threnody of Triumph. Anyone who has heard these guys before will know what to expect, longer than average tracks, copious blastbeats, shrieked/growled vocals and fast tremolo picked guitars. Initially an imposing wall of sound, the ear gradually picks up the hidden melodies and when I’m in the right mood I can just get lost in this stuff.

10. I Like Trains – The Shallows

iliketrains-theshallows

Third full length album from Leeds’ own I Like Trains, The Shallows, has become without doubt my favourite album of theirs since their debut mini album/EP Progress:Reform. Based around a Pulitzer nominated tome (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains) regarding the increasing intellectual complacency in the internet age, it sounds as if it could be a ponderous, preachy album, but it is just the opposite. With glorious guitar work plus more electronic aspects than on previous releases, it’s another album this year that seen a band’s third album moving into new territories (The Twilight Sad’s No One Can Ever Know being the other).

9. The Invisible – Rispah

The_Invisible_Rispah

Rispah gradually wormed its way into my psyche and on every listen I fell for it a little bit more! Although the second album from London’s The Invisible is an album borne out of grief and loss (Rispah was the name of vocalist Dave Okumu’s mother who died while the album was being written) its breathy vocals, ethereal beats and glitches alongside heavily effected guitars make it an involving, very pleasant listen. Bookended by recordings of African chanting the album gets under your skin and really rewards repeated listens. If you want comparisons, the only one that immediately jumps to mind is Radiohead, the guitar fill on track Wings is very evocative of something circa In Rainbows which I can’t quite place. But ignore comparisons, enjoy this for what it is, a rather special 49 minutes of music.

8. Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

BluesFuneral

Owner of one of my favourite singing voices in music, Mark Lanegan has not been idle in the years since 2004′s Bubblegum, The Twilight Singers, Soulsavers, The Gutter Twins, Isobel Campbell and others have all benefitted from his gravel laced rumble and has made it feel less than eight years since we had a Mark Lanegan album proper, but Blues Funeral is a fantastic welcome back!

7. O. Children – Apnea

o_children_apnea_artwork

Can’t for the life of me remember how I stumbled across this album, but I’m bloody glad I did. Named after a Nick Cave song and sounding like a cross between The National and Interpol, the baritone of vocalist Tobi O’Kandi’s sounding not a million miles away from Matt Berninger’s, I initially thought this was a pretty nice album but nothing to blow me away, but over the subsequent weeks and months I kept gravitating to it whenever I was looking for stuff to listen to in the car and I just kept putting this album on again and again.

6. Deftones – Koi No Yokan

deftoneskoinoyokancover

Deftones’ seventh album arrives with a bang, no gentle opener, Swerve City crashes into your ears like a wake up call, an aural slap ensuring you are well and truly awake for the next 52 blistering minutes! Koi No Yokan is Japanese for the feeling of love at first sight and as such this album is very well named, it is an album showing a band at their absolute peak in my opinion, every track is perfectly realised, mixing their familiar heavy riffs alongside more delicate patches and gorgeous melodies. Just brilliant.

5. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs

Trail-Of-Dead-Lost-Songs

I have said before on here that Trail of Dead are one of those bands that I have a long held soft spot for, from first hearing “Prince with a Thousand Enemies” on the John Peel show in 1997, I have followed the Texan art-rockers ever since. Even their widely derided fifth album So Divided holds a place on my CD shelves (admittedly it doesn’t get the same amount of replay as the other 7). So whenever a new album appears I’m all over it like a cheap suit! The last couple of albums have been tinged with a fair amount of prog but newie Lost Songs harks back to their early few albums in that it eschews the more fantastical elements and has been stripped back to an album full of downright bangers! In fact you’ve got to go back to their peak around albums like Madonna or Source Tags & Codes to see a similar album structure to Lost Songs, and all the better for it! Regardless of how good recent albums have been, those two albums are up there as the best in their ouvre.

4. Crippled Black Phoenix – (Mankind) The Crafty Ape

cbp-mankind-the-crafty-ape-

In 2010 I, Vigilante the third album from post-rock/prog collective Crippled Black Phoenix made it to number 5 in my end of year favourite 50. With their latest (Mankind) The Crafty Ape they have moved up a place to number 4! This 85 minute double album was one of those rare albums that I needed to listen to every day for a week so after I first got it, not something that happens very often these days. One thing I didn’t discover until I listened on headphones was, what I thought was five minutes of silence at the end of the last track is in fact the quiet sounds of a thunderstorm, rain pattering on a roof, gradually fading out. Giving, in headphones, a marvellous feeling of closure to what is their finest album to date. Also, while writing this I have just discovered they have just released a new 50 minute EP called No Sadness or Farewell! Like I didn’t have enough new stuff still to listen to! 🙂

3. Goat – World Music

Goat World Music cover

Off the wall, joyous chaos from Sweden’s Goat. I wrote about it more here.

2. El-P – Cancer 4 Cure

El-P-Cancer-For-Cure-2012

Five years after I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, Brooklyn hip-hop artist El-P (aka Jaime Meline) returns with the spectacular Cancer 4 Cure. I am not a massive hip-hop fan, my tastes are usually more rock/guitar oriented, but now and again certain hip-hop artists really light my fire so to speak. Roots Manuva, The Roots, Cypress Hill (many years ago!), Jurassic 5, Buck 65 and more recently Death Grips and Doc Waffles are pretty much the only other hip-hop acts that grace the shelves of my CD collection. But since its release back in May this CD 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!

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

GY!BE Allelujah Dont Bend Ascend

It probably won’t be a surprise anyone who comes here regularly to find this album at the hallowed number one spot. Following their reunion last year I was not expecting to see any new material released, yet in October we were treated to the news that a new album was imminent and two weeks later this appeared, fully formed and fearsome! The furious building guitars of the first epic track Mladic convinced me immediately I had my potential favourite of the year right here, and numerous enraptured listens later, nothing has given me cause to argue with my initial reaction. This is, for me, the album of the year.

So there we have it for another year, I know there are more albums that would have made the list had I heard them in time, listening to The Quietus’ huge Spotify playlist has already highlighted two or three. Speaking of playlists, here’s one containing a track from each of the fifty on the list (where available);

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: