My Favorite Records of 2012

Helm's Impossible Symmetry—one of my favorite records of 2012.

In the January 2013 issue of Stereophile, I list my 15 favorite records of the year (p.53). Here is an expanded, slightly more detailed list.

Note: Due to the timing restrictions of our January 2013 issue, which went to press in the beginning of November, this list is mostly limited to records that were released through October 15, 2012: There are probably another dozen or so LPs that would have otherwise made this list—Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and Andy Stott’s Luxury Problems are two that would have certainly been in my top 15—but will instead find a place on my 2013 list.

1. Swans: The Seer (LP, Young God YG45)

I’d known about Swans forever, and while I was often curious about their work, for some reason, I’d never actually listened to them until this, The Seer, their 12th full-length album. A part of me wonders why I waited so long, but, ultimately, I think that an artist, or a piece of art, sometimes has a way of entering our lives at just the right moment. When that happens—when art and context seem perfectly suited to one another—we experience that art as a truly memorable work, a masterpiece. That’s what The Seer is for me—a powerful, unsettling, and beautiful masterpiece, perfectly suited to its time in my life. I’m now motivated to explore the band’s entire catalog, and I’m looking forward to the journey.

2. Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (CD, Def Jam 001578802)

When it comes to music, Ms. Little and I have nothing in common. Except for Frank Ocean. While The Seer is the 2012 album that hit me hardest, Channel Orange is the album that most readily and reliably got me on my feet, dancing, singing, and laughing. This is funky, intelligent, and adventurous R&B—thoroughly modern, youthful, and surprisingly sophisticated. Frank Ocean is an enormous talent.

3. Drake: Take Care (LP, Universal Republic 001613502)

When it comes to music, Ms. Little and I have nothing in common. Except for Frank Ocean. And Drake. I blame my girlfriend for my obsession with this former teen idol, but, really, I was hooked from the moment I heard “Headlines.” The ease and grace with which Drake moves between sung and rapped lyrics, matched with Noah "40" Shebib's understated, expert production, make for consistently compelling listening. Take Care also features significant contributions from Jaime “XX” Smith, Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, The Weeknd, Rick Ross, and Gil Scott-Heron, among others, and includes a remarkable cameo (“Buried Alive”) from the brilliant young rapper, Kendrick Lamar. An awesome album from beginning to end.

4. (tie) Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland: Black is Beautiful (LP, Hyperdub HBD012)
Dean Blunt: The Narcissist II (mixtape, download)

Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland (individually and together as Hype Williams) are two of today’s most polarizing and confounding artists. They’re mysterious, silly, weird, and at times purposefully obtuse; and their music, while often difficult, messy, and ugly, is also some of the most adventurous and rewarding I’ve experienced. Its insights come in blinks, when I’m least prepared, when I’ve almost given up, leaving me with no choice but to listen again and again. Happily, each listen reveals new treats and keeps me coming back for more.

Black is Beautiful is a success, but Dean Blunt’s solo mixtape, The Narcissist II, feels more important, more desperate, more lustful, disturbing, coherent and compelling. Listening to it is like eavesdropping on a deeply troubled relationship, one that was built on passion, but too quickly dissolved into codependency, addiction, and abuse. It’s horrible and terrifying, yet, as work of art, it’s gripping, fragile, beautiful—a noise rock bastardization of deep funk music.

Originally released as a mixtape and available as a free download, The Narcissist II has now received a proper, limited-edition vinyl release through Hippos In Tanks. Get it while you can. I think you’ll see this one on my 2013 list, too.

5. Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (LP, Warp WARP230)

If Flying Lotus’ 2010 album, Cosmogramma, soared ambitiously outward, up and up into the heavens (and it did), then this follow-up turns deeply inward, sounding like the music of dreams, fairytales, and childhood fantasies; and, while Cosmogramma was sometimes distractingly dense and showy, Until the Quiet Comes is far more subtle, spacious, and modest, but no less compelling.

6a. Grizzly Bear: Shields (LP, Warp WARP229)

Grizzly Bear hone the beautiful sound they first demonstrated with 2009’s wonderful Veckatimest, somehow seeming simultaneously jubilant and sorrowful. Emotive but never cloying, artful but never artificial, the music moves in bold, graceful leaps and turns and is filled with gorgeous, thoughtful texture and detail. Lovely stuff.

6b. Sharon Van Etten: Tramp (LP, Jagjaguwar JAG201)

I regrettably forgot to include Tramp in the print version of my year-end list, so I’ve included it here. This Jersey girl is beautiful, charming, talented, and has a pure, powerful voice and remarkable way with words, able to communicate the depth and power of everyday events and encounters. The LP tells a good story, but her live performance is one you’ll never forget. See her next spring when she opens for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

7. Lorn: Ask the Dusk (LP, Ninja Tune ZEN187)

Daniel had Ask the Dusk spinning one evening in Other Music, and it kept distracting me from the task at hand, until I realized that it was exactly what I was looking for: Heavy, dark, and dirty, with memorable electronic beats and riffs.

8. Mohn: Mohn (LP, Kompakt 258)

High Water Sounds’ Jeffrey Catalano introduced me to Mohn at some hi-fi show, and while I can hardly remember that show, I certainly remember the feeling created by this album—by turns disorienting and soothing, always hypnotic and alluring.

9. David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant (LP, 4AD 3231)

David Byrne, St. Vincent, and an awesome horn section add up to sophisticated harmonies, sweet melodies, and intelligent songwriting. This is easy to love, accessible and rewarding. Great sound, too.

10. AtomTM: Winterreise (CD, Rater-Noton R-N140)

After reading an interview with the eccentric Uwe Schmidt in The Wire (May 2012), I kinda had to buy everything he’d ever recorded. Worked out well for me. AtomTM’s Winterreise is pristinely recorded and apparently includes fragments of Schubert, which makes sense: The work is heavily romantic, charming, melancholic but playful.

11. Dan Deacon: America (LP, Domino DNO319)

I’m a sucker for big themes, and they don’t get much bigger than America. Right? I like playing this one back-to-back with Fahey’s 1971 masterwork, the latter quiet, brooding, almost mournful; the former indulgent, excessive, filled with major-chord ecstasy; both of them exactly right.

12. Laurel Halo: Quarantine (LP, Hyperdub HDB014)

It was late at night in Ottawa and I was in my hotel room, winding down after a long day at the NRC, when Laurel Halo’s Quarantine came streaming from my laptop. As soon as I heard Halo’s voice—a voice that sounded almost afraid of itself, uncertain, newborn—I knew I had to have this record.

13. XX: Coexist (LP, XL 46-080)

I came late to the XX and vowed I wouldn’t make that mistake again. I enjoy this record, but honestly not as much as I had hoped I would. A band that was already impressively mature and restrained now sorta sound as if they’ve taken one step too many toward the Adult Contemporary racks, but, still: I adore the space, the mood, the beats and riffs.

14. Eric Chenaux: Guitar & Voice (LP, Constellation CST088)

Simply and perfectly titled, this album immediately bowled me over with its expert guitar work and its sensuous songwriting. Chenaux is always inventive and often virtuosic, and I love his explorations into rural blues and torch songs. And, like just about everything from Constellation, Guitar & Voice is carefully recorded and beautifully packaged.

15. Dope Body: Natural History (LP, Drag City DC513)

Clearly fluent in the language of punk, Dope Body fuse Nirvana’s fury, Television’s majesty, the Clash’s soul, Fugazi’s sharp-edged power, and probably a bunch of other stuff I’m missing. This smells like dank, sweaty suburban basements, tastes like blood, and gives me hope for rock music.

THE REST, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

Masaki Batoh: Brain Pulse Music (Drag City)

Rainbow Arabia: Boys and Diamonds (Kompakt)

Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (Mute)

Shintaro Sakamoto: How to Live with a Phantom (Zelone Records)

Dirty Three: Toward the Low Sun (Drag City)

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, & The Congos: Icon Give Thank (RVNG)

Nite Jewel: One Second of Love (Secretly Canadian)

Grimes: Visions (4AD)

Chrysta Bell & David Lynch: This Train (Rose Noire)

Demdike Stare: Elemental (Modern Love)

Carter Tutti Void: Transverse (Mute)

Schoolboy Q: Habits & Contradictions (Top Dawg Entertainment)

Mirroring: Foreign Body (Kranky)

Lee Ranaldo: In Between the Times and the Tides (Matador)

Black to Comm: Earth (De Stijl)

Dr. John: Locked Down (Nonesuch)

Cooly G: Playin Me (Hyperdub)

Bobby Womack: The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL)

Grasscut: Unearth (Ninja Tune)

Fay: Din (Time No Place)

Liars: WIXIW (Mute)

Julia Holter: Ekstasis (RVNG)

JK Flesh: Posthuman (3by3)

Celer: Evaporate and Wonder (Experimedia)

Zelienople: The World is a House on Fire (Type)

Adrian Sherwood: Survival & Resistance (Warp)

John Talabot: Fin (Permanent Vacation)

Lone: Galaxy Garden (R&S Records)

Neneh Cherry and The Thing: The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)

Mount Eerie: Clear Moon (P.W. Elvertum & Son)

Keith Fullerton Whitman: Occlusions (Editions Mego)

Maria Minerva: Will Happiness Find Me? (Not Not Fun)

Peaking Lights: Lucifer (Mexican Summer)

Mirror to Mirror: Body Moving Slowly (Preservation)

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (4AD)

Wiley: Evolve or Be Extinct (Ninja Tune)

NHK’Koyxen: Dance Classics, Vol.1 (Pan)

Chris Lee: Bury the Kings (Vampire Blues)

Rocket Juice & the Moon: s/t (Honest Jon’s)

Cat Power: Sun (Matador)

Reines D’Angleterre: Globe et Dynastie (Bo’ Weavil Recordings)

VCMG: Ssss (Mute)

Silent Servant: Negative Fascination (Hospital Productions)

Josephine Foster: Blood Rushing (Fire Records)

Gareth Davis & Frances-Marie Uitti: Gramercy (Miasmah)

Shed: The Killer (50 Weapons)

Beach House: Bloom (Sub Pop)

Oren Ambarchi: Audience of One (Touch)

Valgeir Sigurdsson: Architecture of Loss (Bedroom Community)

Ab-Soul: Control System (Top Dawg Entertainment)

Burial: Kindred (Hyperdub)

The Shins: Port of Morrow (Columbia)

Shackleton: Music for the Quiet Hour/The Drawbar Organ (Woe to the Septic Heart!)

Ben Vida: esstends-esstends-esstends (Pan)

Main Attrakionz: 808s and Dark Grapes (Type)

Father John Misty: Fear Fun (Sub Pop)

Slant Azymuth: s/t (Pre-Cert Home Entertainment)

Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason: Solaris (Bedroom Community)

John Avery: Jessica in the Room of Lights (Forced Nostalgia)

Last Step: Sleep (Planet Mu)

Sir Richard Bishop: Intermezzo (Editions Mego)

Thomas Koner: Novaya Zemlya (Touch)

Sidi Toure: Koima (Thrill Jockey)

Hot Chip: In Our Heads (Domino)

Helm: Impossible Symmetry (Pan)

Actress: R.I.P. (Honest Jon’s)

Gonjasufi: MU.ZZ.LE (Warp)

Berangere Maximin: No One is An Island (Sub Rosa)

Usher: Looking for Myself (RCA)

Daphni: Jiaolong (Jiaolong)

TEEN: In Limbo (Carpark)

Robert Hampson: Repercussions (Editions Mego)

Various Artists: Lost in the Humming Air: Music Inspired by Harold Budd (Oktaf)

Bill Ryder Jones: If (Double Six)

Dakota Suite/Quentin Sirjacq: The Side of Her Inexhaustible Heart (Glitterhouse)

Sophie Hutchings: Night Sky (Preservation)

Stian Westerhus: The Matriarch and the Wrong Kind of Flowers (Rune Grammofon)

Hildur Gudnadottir: Leyfdu Ljosinu (Touch)

Monolake: Ghosts (Monolake)

Philip Glass: Symphony No.9 (Orange Mountain Music)

Erland Dahlen: Rolling Bomber (Hubro)

Beirut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

Tenniscoats: Papa’s Ear (Hapna)

Porter Ricks: Biokinetics (Type)

Mouse on Mars: Parastrophics (Monkeytown Records)

From the Mouth of the Sun: Woven Tide (Experimedia)

Nuojuva: Valot Kaukaa (Preservation)

Motion Sickness of Time Travel: s/t (Spectrum Spools)

Well. That’s a lot of records. I certainly love music and feel some great, irrational pull to hear as much of it as I possibly can, and, while I managed to listen to more new music this year than ever, I still feel an annoying regret and frustration over all the records I failed to hear. And yes, doctor, “fail” is an interesting choice of word.

I guess, for now at least, this is simply a part of being me. I suspect this condition is not unique, and that I may someday overcome it. I’ll look forward to that day, endeavoring to listen to fewer records while forming a stronger connection with, and understanding of, those records that I do enjoy.

Before I get “serious” about that, though, please feel free to share your own favorites in the Comments section and send me to the record store in search of all those records I missed. Thanks!

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COMMENTS
Ariel Bitran's picture

I second the following nominees:

1. Drake: pretty sure i have to put this on again now.

2. FlyLo: his best arrangments yet, in terms of his tactful using of silence vs. beat dropping and off-kilter samples to propel momentum of the track; while not every track is perfect, we see FlyLo turning into a master of his craft.

3. Lorn: his jazz influence creeps in and makes his industrial house and grime organic and woody

4. David Byrne and St. Vincent: I think RB puts it perfectly. It's all about those horns!

 

Not making my list:

1. Frank Ocean: the only good songs on that record are the buttery "Thinkin Bout You" and the Stevie Wonder rip-off "Sweet Life"  -- past that, the best part of the record is the Playstation sound at the beginning.

2. XX = BORXXING

 

bitch. don't kill my vibe.

Stephen Mejias's picture

1. Frank Ocean: the only good songs on that record are the buttery "Thinkin Bout You" and the Stevie Wonder rip-off "Sweet Life"  -- past that, the best part of the record is the Playstation sound at the beginning.

Ha! Your download must've been broken. "Pyramids" alone should grant Channel Orange a spot on most year-end lists.

2. XX = BORXXING

Accepted.

smittyman's picture

I only recognize the names of a handful of artists or albums on your list and have actually heard even fewer.  And that's a GREAT thing.  Audio writing is all too often left in the hands of people who think music stopped being written and recorded sometime in the seventies.  We need to hear from more people like you and Ariel who are still exploring new voices; some will be great and you will love them for years; some of them will have you wondering what you were thinking when you look back a year or ten years from now.  The main thing is to keep exploring and don't heed the negative comments that inevitably follow posting any list like this one.  Keep listening with an open mind. 

FSonicSmith's picture

Stephen, without a shadow of a doubt, your 20 something Jersey City self is far more with-it and cool compared to this 53 year old midwesterner and father of two college boys. I have tried some of the records you have touted and uh, I don't have the same tastes. I sure do enjoy your writing though. I don't pretend that my favorites for '12 have any significance whatsoever and granted, I have not even heard of many of your listed releases, let alone having heard the content. But my list is;

James Mercer's (he is The Shins after all) Port of Morrow is my numero uno for '12. Why is hard to explain. There is nothing particularly exciting about it perhaps, but it has good staying power. It is well crafted without being too well crafted if that makes any sense.

Django Django. Buy the French pressing if you can find it. My number 2. Lots of really fresh stuff.

Speakiing of fresh, Firewater, baby!!! Firewater's Agent Orange will get you dancing. Guaranteed.

Fiona Apple's "Idler Wheel.............................."  (elongated elipses intentional and necessary). You don't experience this, you take it in, like James Joyce's Ulyses, and hope you can slowly absorb it. Shame on you young Stephen for not being onto the importance of this. Shame, shame, shame.

The sophomore jinx hit XX hard and the new Mumford and Sons might as well be called a sophomore flop too.

I don't particularly care for Jack White but Blunderbuss can't be ignored.

After that, things trail off a bit. Being twice your age, I have to give honorable mentions to Alejandro Escovedo's Big Station and Aimee Mann's Charmers and be sure to give the unestimable Rosie Flores' new release, Working Girl's Guitar a try. And for something truly fun and different, give a listen to Reverand Peyton's Between the Ditches. Every one of these is on vinyl. I don't buy anything that is not available on vinyl.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks for the recommendations, FSonicSmith. I like what I've heard from Django Django and Firewater is really cool, though I haven't really kept up with them since 1998's The Ponzi Scheme. (Yikes!) 

I'm actually not so young anymore: I turned 35 in September. (Double yikes!)

And I admit that I haven't given Fionna Apple's new LP a chance. I'm not sure if I can do it!

paul candy's picture

And I thought I listened to a lot of music;) I'd add Wild Nothing's Nocturne to your list, which I think I picked up here via one of your posts. That album reminds of all those great bittersweet 80's British bands I grew up listening to. Love the Flying Lotus and Grizzly Bear too. So much music, so little time....

ken mac's picture

Wow, would love to see soundcloud links to some of these lesser known artists. 

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks, Ken. I'll add some links over the next couple of days.

popluhv's picture

...but 2012 didn't do much for me. I was as introduced to Sebastien Tellier however, and the bombastic "Russian Attractians" from My God is Blue certainly floats my boat.

Glad to see Tutti and Carter are still at it too.  Transverse is great, I just wish there was more of it. Almost as exciting was the re-release of "the Space Between" and "Heartbeat".

I certainly encourage you to check into the Swans (and Angels of Light) catalogue, starting with the Various Failures 2xCD.

Keep meaning to check out the Eric Chenaux album, thanks for the reminder!

How would you compare Richard Bishop's work to previous stuff?

himynameisjuan's picture

on all the releases I neglected this year.

My picks for this year (besides some of the aforementioned ones) are:

Blaudzun - Heavy Flowers

Electric Guest - Mondo

Eliza RickmanO, You Sinners

Ariel Bitran's picture

that was a very fun record. very hard not to like. Danger Mouse's hand claps and snare sound are iconic at this point in pop recordings. they should have given him credit on the freaking album cover.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks! I haven't heard any of these. I'll check them out.

torturegarden's picture

Not a bad list. My top ten are:

1. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing
2. Julia Holter – Exstasis
3. Les Momies De Palerme - Brûlez Ce Coeur
4. Holly Herndon – Movement
5. Nuojuva - Valot Kaukaa
6. Valgeir Sigurðsson – Architecture of Loss
7. Brian Eno – Lux
8. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
9. Melody's Echo Chamber – S/T
10. Bérangère Maximin – No One Is An Island

I have my full list of 50 + 20 reissues etc. on my blog at: 

http://davepolak.blogspot.com/2012/12/thebest-records-of-2012-in2012-i.html

cgreen416's picture

Thanks for posting Stephen, you always have an interesting collection. It is a ton of albums that would take me almost another year to get through (seeing as I only own about three of them).

Not much of a fan of Frank Ocean (I first thought he was Billy Ocean's kid). Only saw his SNL performance and it ranked up there with Lana Del Ray's as one of the worst that I have ever seen.

Drake, I think is awful, but that's just me.

My favorite thing with your list is looking for the albums I may have missed. I'd really like to hear David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant I like her work and I've also heard good things about the Cat Power record. I will pick my way through the rest and hopefully find a few more to enjoy into the new year.

For what it is worth, here is my list for 2012:

1              Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts in Snow

2              Mumford & Sons - Babel

3              Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes - Baby Caught the Bus

4              Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls

5              Heartless Bastards - Arrow

6              Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur

7              Adam Arcuragi - Like A Fire That Consumes All Before it

8              Jack White - Blunderbuss

9              Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

10           Mount Carmel - Real Women

 

Other notables:

Great Bloomers - Distant Fire

The Lumineers - The Lumineers

Japandroids - Celebration Rock

The Mynabirds - Generals

Tift Merritt - Travelling Alone

 

Have a safe and happy holiday Stephen!

Cheers.

Ariel Bitran's picture

I saw the Alabama Shakes this summer. They deserve their hype. I don't think their recording lives up to the all-out gospel shake-down that happens at their shows.

smittyman's picture

Thought it was good but not great.  Could have partly because CBC Radio played Hold On every freakin' morning for the entire summer; its not the only song on the record.  I know it was the hit, but CBC is supposed to play stuff other than the hits.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Hey C! It's always great to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your list. There's a lot of stuff there that I need to check out; I was really impressed by what I heard of Michael Kiwanuka -- super soulful and groovy.

I think you'll enjoy both the David Byrne/St. Vincent and Cat Power records, though, in my opinion, the latter isn't as well produced or consistently solid as some of her earlier work.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy holidays to you and your family and friends.

LA mitchell's picture

Hey Stephen, 

 

Thanks for the list. It's just what I needed to get over my upgraditus (concentrating on the tunes makes me forget about that new Dac/Amp/cables/etc that I've been wanting!!)

 

Appreciatively,

LA Mitchell

 

p.s. if you and your girl don't gel on the same kind of music, how do you find time to listen to your albums?  (serious question actually)

Stephen Mejias's picture

I'm glad you enjoyed the list, LA.

if you and your girl don't gel on the same kind of music, how do you find time to listen to your albums?

Lately -- and I think this is a trend that will continue for a while -- I've been listening a lot through headphones, as I'm still fine-tuning the sound of the new room. But I do almost all of my "serious" listening during nights and weekends, and when my girlfriend is out.

philcryer's picture

 

Nice list, thanks for it, and I too share the feeling of guilt of not hearing enough new music. My list from my blog, fak3r.com/2012/12/08/best-music-of-2012 ::

Cloud Nothings “Attack On Memory” 

Deep Sea Diver “History Speaks”

Father John Misty “Fear Fun”

Four Tet “Pink”

Future of the Left “The Plot Against Common Sense”

The Hives “Lex Hives”

Japandroids “Celebration Rock”

The Shins “Port of Morrow”

Sleigh Bells “Reign of Terror”

Spiritualized “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”

Swearin’ “Swearin’”

Tame Impala “Lonerism”

Rufus Wainwright “Out Of The Game”

Stephen Mejias's picture

Great list. Thanks for sharing it. I forgot about Four Tet's Pink! I LOVE that record, but I don't actually own it -- I had purchased several of the 12-inch singles prior to the full-length release and was hoping that Pink, released as a download only, would be released on a physical format. I'm still holding out hope for a full-length vinyl edition.

mraudio's picture

Stephen,

I love your writing and your column very much, however, your taste in music sucks.

Sorry, but I guess I've lost my inner youth.  At 52, I just don't get this kind of music?  Seems more like noise to me than anything else.

Maybe, that's why there is so many different types of music.  To each their own.

Please keep up the excellent writing and reviewing.  Happy Holidays!!!

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks -- I'm glad you enjoy the column. But I really think there are several types of music listed here -- something for everyone, I hope.  If you give me an idea of what you like, I'd try to offer a recommendation.

Long-time listener's picture

Stephen, my most heartfelt thanks for all these reviews. In the past you've helped me find a lot of great new music.

 

But sometimes you don't really do the most basic things a reviewer should do. In your review of Atom's Winterreise, for example, you describe the mood, and mention that it includes fragments of Schubert. But, excuse me--Is is rock? Electronic? Classical? Instrumental? Vocal? I would like to be able to tell from your review what is actually on this CD, but can't really get the slightest clue. Please describe for us in more concrete terms what we'll be hearing, to help us find some direction in looking for music we might like.

 

But again, thanks. I wish Stereophile had more people like you who made so many contributions about the music as well as the equipment.

 

Long-time listener

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks very much, Long-time.

With this piece, I didn't intend to write proper reviews of any of the albums, although I have reviewed many of them in our print issues. I only intended this to be a list. And I think the best way for anyone to understand the music is to listen; for this particular blog post, I'd rather people not be turned off by genres.

However, Atom's Winterreise is mostly very sparse electronic music, mostly lacking vocals, somewhat in the ambient / modern classical vein. If you're curious, you can find more info and listen to samples at Forced Exposure and Boomkat -- two of my favorite places on the Web.

Ladyfingers's picture

Huge, 15-year Swans fanatic here, so I think you may enjoy Matt Elliott's "The Broken Man".

Sample track for you: Dust Flesh and Bones ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CCw6ZgWk-U )

R Browne's picture

I acquired only a few new discs this past year so I'll add some favorites from them:

Greg Haines - Digressions

Bersarin Quartett - II

Ryan Teague - Field Drawings

Ex Confusion - Embrace

Olan Mill - Paths

Olan Mill - Home

José Luis Montón - Solo Guitarra

tjeven's picture

Swans album was my favorite of the year as well. Glad to see good taste stretching to the audiophile realm (of course Im young at 28, which is prob why I loved your list). I was a little surprised to not see Bat For Lashes album on your list considering your taste, the song Laura alone moved it into my top 25 for the year and also give the Fiona Apple album a chance. Its great. And your right about the Andy Stott album, its incredible and unfortunate it couldnt be in your this year list. Here's some I loved that werent on your list that are similar tastes,

Tame Impala - Lonerism (Rock)
Holy Other - Held (Electronic)
How To Dress Well - Total Loss (Electronic/R&B)
Angel Olsen - Half Way Home (Female Vocals)
Julia Holter - Ekstasis (Female Vocals)
Max Richter - Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons (Modern Classical)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Post Rock)
S U R V I V E - S U R V I V E (Synth/Electronic)
High Aura'd - Sanguine Figures (Ambient/Electronic)
Mac Demarco - 2 (Rock)
Bee Mask - When We Were Eating Unripe Pears (Electronic/Abstract/Synth)
Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi - Imikuzushi (ROCK/Avant Garde)
DIIV - Oshin (Rock/Shoegaze)
Jim O'Rourke - Old News #8 (Abstract/Electronic/Reissue kinda)
The Men - Open Your Heart (Rock)

Theres so many more from this great year for music lovers, but I'll stop there.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thank you, tjeven, and thanks for sharing your own list. There are lots of records there that I've been meaning to check out; hopefully, I'll get to a few (if not most) of them in 2013. I'm also a big fan of Julia Holter, and her Ekstasis was a big part of my year. Her live show (I saw her in an extremely cramped, hot Other Music) was also captivating and charming.

I keep hearing positive things about the Fiona Apple record, and my girlfriend is a fan of Fiona Apple's early stuff, so I think I'll have to pick up the new one.

I contribute a more formal review of Andy Stott's Luxury Problems in our upcoming March 2013 issue.

Cheers! Here's to an equally wonderful 2013.

MorbidToaster's picture

I'm so glad to see someone else appreciating the amazing album that was Ask the Dust. 

Shame more people aren't repping BT, too. My favorite album of last year was Morceau Subrosa.

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