Not so much of a Top Ten, more of a list of favourites.
I have to say that musically, in my opinion, it's been a very good year. Whilst there have been some albums released that have failed to live up to their hype, and others that should have by all sense and purpose been stonkers, yet turned out to be stinkers, overall 2012 has delivered some absolute gems.
Not only would I find it very difficult to limit my favourite albums to a Top Ten, but to then distinguish between those titles and produce an ascending order to reach an ultimate winner would have been impossible. I know this because I've tried several times. So my conclusion being....it's been a bloody great year for music releases.
In no particular order, here's my favourite album releases of 2012:
Bloc Party "Four"
Not so much a return to form, but a much more confident sounds from them. I think it might have something to do with the lead singer getting his 'electronica' solo album out of the way. The rest of band seem to have pulled him back into their guitar and rollicking drum reigns, whilst occasionally allowing him some programming.
Elbow "Dead In The Boot"
Yes, I know it's not new stuff. But it's a brilliant collection of Elbow b-sides and unused tracks. It's Elbow doing what they do best. Soooo much better for me hear this album than struggle with "Build A Rocket, Boys", which I just can't get into.
Lucy Rose "Like I Used To"
Things to know about Lucy Rose....She's probably never gonna be a big name in the music world, she's best know for singing backing vocals with Bombay Bicycle Club, she's unbelievably cute and a lot of this album is about her broken relationships.
Purity Ring "Shrines"
Electronic jiggery-pokery, with samples, loops and a delicate girly voice. Nothing deep within the lyrics here, but it's pure bliss to listen to. Hooks a plenty can be found here, along with dreamily delicious vocals. It's a totally me album, this one.
Tame Impala "Lonerism"
This would have been in my top 10, but where...I dunno. A mashed up combination of spaced out hippies playing garage music, but who haven't grown out of listening to late Beatles stuff. It's trippy, it's psychedelic and it's bloomin' catchy.
Bat For Lashes "The Haunted Man"
I can't quite put my finger on just what I like about her style, but there's something deliciously different....something that sets her aside from many other female singer song-writers.
Martha Wainwright "Come Home To Mama"
I have to admit, this year has been the year I've really discovered Martha. I've listened to her previous albums, but never really been taken by them. After the second play of this latest album, I felt an urgent need to delve back into her past, and in doing so, I think it just made me love this new release even more.
Beach House "Bloom"
I don't really know anything about these guys, and I've been happy to keep it that way. It's an easy album to listen to, with some great hooks buried within the tracks. One of those albums that's all of a sudden over, and you realize you've quite happily listened to ten tracks and enjoyed all of them. It's quite a rare thing nowadays. Sounds like an album that was confidently recorded in somebody's bedroom. It's good and well worth a listen.
Two Door Cinema Club "Beacon"
Follow up to their excellent "tourist History" album and every bit as good. Whilst they haven't really matured in their sound, this is a good thing because I think they sound great just as they are. They were great to watch on Jools Holland a few weeks back. There's just something about them. It's pure guitar, driving drum patterns and clever lyrics all the way here.
Alt-J "An Awesome Wave"
Ohhhhh man, what a fantastic album. The production is just genius. The over-dubbing....the preciseness of it all. I bloody love it. This would certainly be a contender for top 5, if not top 3. Superb vocal performances from all, not just the lead singer. The harmonies are just bliss. Some of the song arrangements are truly bizarre, but it so works. They must have loved every minute of recording this album. Fantastic!
Aiden Grimshaw "Misty Eye"
Yes, I know....a previous X Factor contestant, but don't hold that against him. An album full of deep hooks, a slight Moby tinge on the sound and production, some very clever lyrics and he's got a pretty good voice. I like it.
Cat Power "Sun"
Another album full of catchy numbers, showing some of the upcoming singer songwriters how it's done. Hypnotic and often random, she reminds me of Tori Amos, but in a much lower key. I can imagine her being a great live artist.
Lana Del Ray "Born To Die"
Video games was a great song. Blue Jeans was a great song. This album is choc full of great songs. Her vocal style isn't to everybody's taste, but I find it silky smooth, with a dollop of Marlboro Lights on top. Sensual and sexy. Some great lyrics to be found on this album.
Dry The River "Shallow Bed"
This album is just fantastic. Absolutely....amazing. There's a great review on this very blog, earlier on this year. Go read it. Then get the album.
Delilah "From The Roots Up"
I first stumbled on Delilah when she sang vocals on Chase & Status's "Time" track last year. Since then, I've been following her to see what she would produce in her own right, and whilst a lot of the album seems reliant on good producers behind the deck, she's released an album full of great tracks. The main focus seems to be on Low-Fi, chill out kinda vibes. There's a handful of uptempo tracks on here, but the overall feel is intense grooviness. She has....an amazing voice. And "Go" is just a genius song.
Maverick Sabre "Lonely Are The Brave"
Another singer I picked up from involvement with Chase & Status. Again, a great voice in the old skool soul style. Passionate and emotive in his delivery, and that's where he wins me over. Groovy soul and beats are the main focus here. Tipping many a hat to sixties and seventies soul, whilst borrowing a little from Plan B and even Amy Winehouse, it's been done before, yes....but he does it well, save for a totally unnecessary cover of an Otis Redding track.
The Maccabees "Given To The Wild"
A very well produced sound...Mature, accomplished, yet still a little edgy and raw. Very much the feeling of a concept album here, and yes, it totally sounds better played in full in the correct order, but that said songs like "Pelican" and "Child" stand their ground very well. Great orchestrations on this album. And I do so love great orchestrations.
Tina Dico "Where Do You Go To Disappear?"
She has a voice that just makes me wanna fall in love with her. There's lots more piano than acoustic guitar on this album. There's also a sharper production feel, not that that's a bad thing. The songs feel more comfortable, and her voice sounds more....relaxed.
Lianne La Havas "Is Your Love Big Enough?"
She's got a lovely voice, she plays guitar, she writes great songs. A mixture of styles on this album adds to its appeal. She touches jazzy, soul, rock and ballads with ease and grace....like it's just...one of those things she does. The album sounds like it's been done by someone who's been recording and releasing for many years. Her lyrics can really touch the listener, so be warned.
Jake Bugg "Jake Bugg"
What's there to say about this guy. He's been all over the radio this year. His album was much anticipated. More importantly, it delivered. It touched Country, it's very ballady, it gets all twangy in places. He certainly doesn't 'fit', much to the annoyance of the pigeon-hole crew. Some great lyrics are buried in this collection of songs. The album is totally listenable and once again, this would probably be in my top five....somewhere.
Polica "Give You The Ghost"
Whooooooah. That's what I though when I first heard this band. I saw them on Jools Holland. Rewind. Watched them again. I couldn't quite make my mind up. Two drummers....great idea, yeah I like that. A girl on vocals who uses pedal effects as such to make her voice another instrument.....interesting. The album is what you would expect if you knew there were two drummers and a vocalist who really, really plays around with her vocals. Sometimes....sometimes, I find the drumming a little frustrating, because the timing doesn't feel right to me. It's probably intentional, those slight missed beats. It's bloody infectious though. There's some fantastic bass play on this album. A totally enjoyable ride of an album.
The Walkmen "Heaven"
Another album that would be very highly ranked in my list, if I could actually do one this year. The Walkmen have delivered a fantastic album this year, filled with great guitar riffs, melodic harmonies and twanging riffs and hooks that all sound like they've been chucked in a food blender along with Phil Spector. It's modern sounding, yet it sounds like it's been recorded on 2 pick up mic's in a garage on somebodys reel to reel tape recorder. Genius. It's probably their most commercial release, so for anybody that's been wondering about The Walkmen, this is the album to listen to.
So....I thought 2012 was a great year for music.
Agree or disagree?
I have some high hopes for 2013....