Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2012 Review: Top 60 Albums of the Year (1 to 30)

Happy New Year to everyone! And what better way to start off 2013 than with the presentation of our 30 favorite albums of the year that was.

All the albums that occupy the first five positions of our list equally deserve the honor of being crowned "Album of the Year". In the end, we decided to make 2012 the year of the Cat and give our Number One to "Sun" (Matador), Cat Power’s ninth studio album, which quickly became my personal favorite of her outstanding discography (along with 2003’s "You are free"). Chan Marshal took the risk of trying a new, electronic-based sound for her first album of original material in six years and the end-result is truly refreshing. Despite the various personal troubles that she went through in that time, "Sun" turned out to be her most optimistic sounding record to date, showing us a more mature Chan, ready to deal with the problems of this ruin we’re all living on and to give out some good advice in her most soothing voice.

A good year for a record company is of course defined by its financial results. I have no idea how 4AD is doing in that department, but artistically the historic label has had an outstanding 2012, reflected by the fact that three of its releases are in our Top 5, between the second and fourth place:

"Visions" by Grimes earned much deserved high praise all around and ended up at the top of many year-end lists, while fellow Canadians Purity Ring have also done well with their debut album "Shrines" (our Debut of the Year). If you are looking for a fresh sound that defines 2012, I think the majestic synthpop hybrids concocted by both Grimes and Purity Ring have the answer. The sound of Mark Lanegan and his band, on the other hand, comes from the glorious past of guitar music. It is definitely not new but only a fool would take its classic quality for granted. Best guitar rock record of the year featuring perhaps the greatest singer of the last 25 years in superb form!

As for our fifth "Album of the Year", "Bloom" (Bella Union / Sub Pop) is the record that proves that Beach House are on their way to becoming one of the most important bands of this decade. The continuous evolution of the duo’s sound has driven them to new heights on their fourth and best album so far, a magnificent work that shows it is not impossible to improve on the perfection of "Teen Dream".

Here is the top half of Cool Music Central’s Top 60 Albums of 2012 (for the second half, click here):

Top 30 Albums of 2012

1.   Sun - CAT POWER

2012 was the Year of the Cat: Our Album and Single of the Year belong to Chan Marshal!
2.   Visions - GRIMES

"Grimes' vision for a perfect electropop future takes shape and form in the glorious 13 tracks of Visions" (complete post here)
3.   Shrines - PURITY RING

"Shrines is one of the albums defining the electronic sound of 2012" (more here)
4.   Blues funeral - MARK LANEGAN BAND

"All the different musical elements from Lanegan's many collaborations are weaved together in Blues Funeral, making it one of the most diverse sounding records of his career" (more here)
5.   Bloom - BEACH HOUSE

"A majestic record that may prove to be the duo's finest hour" (more here)
6.   Attack on memory - CLOUD NOTHINGS

"The intense, hard-hitting sound of Attack On Memory is inspired by groups like Wipers or Husker Du and this young band’s true achievement here is that they are able to follow in the footsteps of such legends without missing a beat" (more here)
7.   Silver age - BOB MOULD

"Bob Mould’s Silver Age is a return to the sound of his Sugar years, a record that proves he can still produce the same fire and fury that inspired the early '90s alternative rock explosion" (more here)
8.   Blunderbuss - JACK WHITE

Jack White offers a record that musically may be a little more laid back than his previous work but is no less striking, exhibiting once again his admirable skill of making music firmly rooted in rock tradition that sounds fresh and forward-thinking.

9.   Kill for love - CHROMATICS

The sleeper hit of the year - a cinematic synth pop epic that gets better and better every time you decide to immerse yourself in its  lush sounds.

Their journey to the heart of darkness continues (more about (III) in our next "Listening Habits" post, coming soon).

11. Give you the ghost - POLIÇA
12. Cancer 4 cure - EL-P
14. Celebration rock - JAPANDROIDS
15. I bet on sky - DINOSAUR JR.
17. Metz - METZ
18. 2:54 - 2:54
19. A thing called Divine Fits - DIVINE FITS
20. The bears for lunch - GUIDED BY VOICES
21. The seer - SWANS
23. Reign of terror - SLEIGH BELLS
24. Lonerism - TAME IMPALA
25. Our house on the hill - THE BABIES
26. Twins - TY SEGALL
27. Open your heart - THE MEN
30. Swing lo Magellan - DIRTY PROJECTORS

For our Top 50 Singles of 2012 click here.

Highlights from our Top 20 Albums of the Year:

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