I think 2012 was a good year for music, a strange year, as 2012 was the year of both the fist pumping, foot stomping anthem and what I like to call nouveau music; insanely catchy songs with minimalist beats, that don’t really fit into what we usually associate with popular music. Bands like the mediocre Alt-J, and the my first band, the band that practically invented the genre.
10: The XX- Coexist
I must admit when The XX came about with their brilliant, mercury prize-winning album, I didn’t understand it, at all, in fact when this album came out… I still didn’t get it, it was foreign to my ears; but slowly it wound me down to the point, when I realised why everyone loved them so much, they’re fantastic, and different to anything that is on the radio… Well except for Alt-J, but these guys are in a different league to them. I think I prefer their debut, but that’s a hard choice, this is a fantastic ambitious piece of music, and these guys deserve all the praise they get.
9: Amy Macdonald- Life In A Beautiful Light
Wow, this was a hard choice, I knew that either her or Paloma Faith would be on this list, but the more I thought about it the more this choice made sense, Paloma may have an album full of interesting lyrics, but the music is just, lacking really, think of that album as number 11. I like this album a lot, it’s a very pleasant positive album that really lifts you if you’re feeling down, I will admit that at times it sags (human spirit springs instantly to mind), but in generally she keeps a good pace and as I said is very nice easy listening music.
8: Qat, Coffee and Qambus- Raw 45s from Yemen
I love this album, it’s a great compilation of Yemeni music that everyone should listen to, in fact this is the only album on here which my love has nothing to do with the lyrics as they are in arabic, it is all down to the grove of the music and that is where the LP shines. It’s not perfect but no album on here is, the vocals on the first track of side A and side B are slightly to sharp for me, but really that’s a minor gripe. This is a fantastic introduction to the music of Yemen and should be heard by anyone who has an interest in “world music”, whatever that means.
You can order the vinyl record here. go for it, it’s fantastic.
7: Counting Crows- Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)
Counting Crows are back! With there best album in quite a while, I love Counting Crows I have done for a long time, but frankly when I heard that their new album was a cover album I was gutted, but I was wrong, so wrong this is fabulous, it starts with a bang and ends with a touching little ballad that I can’t help but love, there last album was a let down, because it had a fantastic first half but then, it committed the worst sin music and film really can commit, it was boring; this isn’t, ok there are a couple of duff tracks but the bigger numbers more than make up for that.
6: Muse- The 2nd Law
So Muse… I’m not a huge fan of them, all of their albums frankly are pretty much all the same, albums with enough ear pleasing anthems, that kind of balance out any buyers remorse you may have when you realise that all the good songs you’ve already heard on the radio a million times.
This is very much not so here this there best, most evenly paced, least Radioheady album yet, this Muse, the band on this album, I’m a fan of, I like the use of dubstep in some of their songs it’s used very well and never feels out of place, the big songs are huge and the smaller songs, bar one, are nice and help you not to feel too drained, the only bad song is “explorers”, an unbearably slow and boring track, that has nothing to say lyrically and when it finishes you immediately think “why the hell was that on here it has no place on this album”, but really one bad track is nothing is it?
5: fun.- Some Nights
When I first heard fun.’s first single I just thought they were a flash in the pan one hit wonder, I really hope they aren’t I really like this album, this is the first of the anthem albums, yes muse has some big numbers but none of them make me want to dance as much as almost any of the tracks of this album, or the next two albums on this list for that matter, my problem with this album is simple, autotune it is overused on this album, but only on two tracks does it bother me, one instance on “Some nights” and the final track “Stars”, but this album has the second best intro to any album I have ever heard, (the first being on Tinie Tempah’s Disc-Overy which you should definitely check out).
4: Florence+ The Machine- Ceremonials
When I heard “Lungs” I liked it but it didn’t blow me away, but this album did, it surprised me, it was brilliant, the first time I put it on I listened to it from start to finish over and over again, this album is fantastic both lyrically and musically, from the amazingly triumphant feel of “Shake it out” to the almost The XX like dark synth beats of “What the water gave me”, this is one album that you can’t miss.
3: Mumford & Sons- Babel
I’m not gonna try to sound like a hipster here but… I loved Mumford & Sons before they were famous, I loved the debut, it was so different, it was a welcome change of pace, this album is no exception, full of banjo; I don’t think the criticisms the album got were valid, the fact is, much like The XX this album misses the shock of being new, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s not that different from their debut, but what did you expect some heavy dubstep beats? Maybe Mr Mumford should do some rapping, would that make you happy? I don’t think the bonus tracks add very much so I would recommend buying the vinyl, which comes with a free digital download.
2: Norah Jones- Little Broken Hearts
Oh Norah Jones, how did I ever dislike her? This album was a huge surprise, as I was just getting into her and wow what an album, a review I once read of this album said “Norah Jones was the queen of the dinner party, now wouldn’t feel out of place on a David Lynch soundtrack”, I think that pretty much sums up the album for me, you’ve just got to listen to it, oh that cover look familiar to you? That’s because it’s a pastiche of the Russ Meyer exploitation film “Mudhoney” that’s pretty cool.
before we get to number 1 there are a couple of honourable mentions I thought I should give a shout out to:
Taylor Swift surprised me with her best, most grown up album yet, “Red” is a sweet slightly bitter album that you should give a listen to.
Frank Ocean had probably the strangest hit album of 2012, with “Channel Orange” a genuine soul album, something which we don’t get very often anymore.
1: Lucy Rose- Like I used Too
Yes you all saw this coming this was both the most surprising and best album by a long way, this album really was a gigantic breath of fresh air, I covered her pretty well in my “Something different” post, this is in my opinion the closest to perfection any album has come to this year, it’s just brilliant, if you just check out just one album on this list make sure it’s this one, thank you and here’s to another fantastic year of music.
Oh and as I don’t seem to be able to end a post these day without mentioning her Charlene Soaria has a new song out called “Ghost which is very good so check that out here.