2012 Top 50: 50-41

Today is the very last day of 2012. In terms of music, it hasn't been the most illustrious 12 months. There have been a few big albums released, and a few big bands have disappointed, but in all competition for the top 50 wasn't too hotly contested. The positive of this is that we have a year where everyone's final list is quite different and diverse, as critics and lovers express themselves and their individual opinions more than previous, when the weight of the latest trending bands have influenced everybody's choices. Pitchfork was the leader again for me, their top 50 was solid if not outstanding. Rolling Stone proved once again that it is woefully out of touch with modern day music by naming Springsteen as it's top album and managing to somehow sneak Greenday in to it's top 10 and reprehensibly listing John Mayer at 17. SPIN is probably the most spot on.

As for my list. Well the problem with year end lists is no-one seems to know the criteria. For this, the only thing I will say for mine is these were the 50 records I liked the most this year in order. Enjoy.

50. Solar Fields - Random Friday (Solar Fields – Random Friday)
Attacking a genre he hasn't visited since 2007's Earthshine, Magnus Birgersson melds deep house and trance elements to create another essential 4am record. More dynamic than previous drone work, the energy created and maintained is infectious. The groove of the title track highlights his adaptability. Could become the best driving record of all time. Best Tracks: Random Friday, Swoosh

49.  Ladyhawke - Anxiety (Ladyhawke – Anxiety)
 The best way to tackle a subject: brilliantly accessible pop music. The tortured synths that surround each song build tension and restlessness as Brown complements this beautifully with honest narration of her mental health and it's associated pitfalls. Refreshing, this isn't a mopey record. Best Tracks: Sunday Drive, Black White & Blue

48.  Ricardo Donoso - Assimilating The Shadow
(Ricardo Donoso – Assimilating the Shadow)
What sets this record aside from other ambient-focused releases is momentum. Without exploding, Assimilating The Shadow surges forward relentlessly, carrying it's wide sonic vista's with it. More than background music (as all good ambient is), you could just as easily wake up as go to sleep to it. Best Tracks: Reflection & Rotation, Chemical Structures

47.  Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music)
 As illustrious as his career has been, Killer Mike hadn't released a truly brilliant album. Until now. Teamed with El-P, who is in a rich vein of form in 2012, Mike delivers the record we all knew was coming. Politically charged, but not to excess, and a brilliant example of technical prowess, R.A.P. Music is  the album Lupe Fiasco always wanted to make, but wasn't good enough. Killer Mike is. Best Tracks: Reagan, Go!

46.  Bloc Party - Four (Bloc Party – Four)
An exercise in patience, Four will endear itself to you if you allow it to. Carrying on from Intimacy, this record ROCKS. Still tackling the decidedly high school issues of people telling on you and tough talking for appearances, the whole album grooves and attacks, and grows. Trust me. Best Tracks: Octopus, We Are Not Good People

45.  Seams - Tourist/Sleeper (Seams – Tourist/Sleeper)
 More delicate than any electronic release I've heard this year. A lovely combination of light and airy instruments backed by a strong and hulking drum and bass routine. Think Four Tet levels of skill, the synths are manipulated brilliantly. Best Tracks: Hung Markets, The Glow

44. Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance
(
Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance)
 On Heat Lightening, you're rarely left wondering what occupies the mind of Patterson Hood. A far more personal experience than his contributions to Drive-By Truckers, each track feels as though it's soul intention is not to enliven you but to immerse you in the struggle. Not to say Heat Lightening is a depressing experience, it is executed in such a way as Hood's strength of character always shines through despite forces in his life conspiring against him. Best Tracks: Better Off Without, Disappear

43. Born Gold - Little Sleepwalker (Born Gold – Little Sleepwalker)
Synthesizers are so common now it's a wonder pop music even existed before their almost universal take up. Because of this, it's hard to stomach anything too reliant on the instrument. Born Gold, however, use the perfect amount of tact and hold just enough back to create excellent electronic music. A similar muted or muzzled force upon their instrument of choice tones the whole experience down, making it the perfect dance record for 2012. Best Tracks: That Way, Dawn Tunnel

42. Slaughterhouse - Welcome To: Our House (Slaughterhouse – welcome to: OUR HOUSE)
Super groups can be hit and miss. Slaughterhouse ARE hit and miss. But on Our House, the lyrical dexterity of Royce Da 5'9", the skill and aggression of Joe Budden and the essential influence of Eminem combine to hide the groups shortcomings and create another Bad Meets Evil, just with a wider and more diverse line of targets. Certainly not short on punchlines, the only area they may have fallen away is hooks. But thankfully Eminem is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and his influence propels this record to great heights. Royce's strength as lead-off rapper on most tracks also helps immensley. It does drag, but there are enough excellent tracks here to stop album fillers ruining the record. Go straight to the brilliant Throw That for Eminem and Royce magic.  Best Tracks: Hammer Dance, Throw That

41. Grimes - Visions (Grimes – Visions)
With the world of Pop Music hurtling down a worryingly awful path of Flo Rida's and dubstep drops and degenerates like Chris Brown, Grimes is an absolute joy. Rather than curb her pop music leanings, she indulges them, in a restrained manner, to great effect. Tracks like Circumambient and Be a Body, despite being relatively hook-less so to speak, are so accessible and light the entire song is catchy. Not quite the saviour of 2012 that some publications have claimed, Grimes still creates one of the tighest packages of the year, never really stepping outside of her comfort zone but drawing us all in to it with her. It's a lovely warm place, most people are sitting around chilling but a few get up and dance and that is normal, accepted. Withdrawing in to this album is a joy. Best Tracks: Oblivion, Genesis
 


 

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