Logan’s Top 10 of 2012
Hyperbole aside, 2012 may have been the best year music has ever had. The envelope was pushed, welcome new trends started, and most of all, narrowing it down to ten albums was near impossible. But I managed, and as a result, have come up with the following list. Feel free to tell me my opinion is wrong. You probably love some albums that I overlooked.
Honourable Mentions (in no specific order):
Beneath the Massacre – Incongruous
Nutty tech death band all of a sudden learns how to write music. The results are…catchy?
Purity Ring – Shrines
Hipster lovekids release an album of minimal, haunting beats. What La Roux should have been.
Extra Life – Dream Seeds
A genre-pushing – nay, music-pushing release.
Aesop Rock – Skelethon
I can’t believe that this isn’t in my top ten. One of my favourite artists putting out one of his best efforts, and its all self-produced!
Nas – Life is Good
His best release in a very long time. Honest, raw, and emotional. “Summer on Smash” is a label-forced piece of shit though.
El-P – Cancer for Cure
Great release, but he saved his best material for one of my favourite releases of the year (more on that below).
Rise and Fall – Faith
Chaotic, surprising hardcore.
Baroness – Yellow & Green
Loved the direction they went in with this release. Great hooks with a signature sound they can finally call their own.
THE TOP 10
10. Death Grips – NO LOVE DEEP WEB
While The Money Store showed promise, Death Grips really pushed the envelope with NO LOVE DEEP WEB, the record they released because they fucking felt like it (their label dropped them soon after). Punk rap, experimental, angry, original. Call it whatever you want. In the end, Zach Hill and MC Ride made one of the year’s most unique and important records.
9. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
No individual artist had a larger impact on their genre than Frank Ocean. Prior to the release of Channel ORANGE, Ocean took to his Tumblr to reveal his bisexuality, a major deal in an urban culture that is largely lyrically homophobic (including fellow Odd Future members using “faggot” as a word of choice). But it was musically where Ocean proved himself as one of the most important artists today. His take on r’n’b is unlike any other, demonstrated by his atypical choices of features and song structure. Whether you appreciated Frank Ocean in 2012 for his honesty or his music, Channel ORANGE is a record that will significantly alter the r’n’b landscape.
8. Enabler – All Hail the Void
With the fantastic Eden Sank to Grief and War Begins With You EPs under their belt, few debut LPs in 2012 intrigued me as much as Enabler‘s All Hail the Void. It ended up being for good reason – it is twelve tracks of blistering metallic hardcore. The sound is different than that on their EPs – more mature, one might say. And while All Hail may not be as straight up “brutal” as their earlier work, it should be recognized as an obvious overall improvement for a band that has shown lots of promise.
7. Gaza – No Absolutes in Human Suffering
It is obvious that No Absolutes demonstrates a band on the top of their game, but where this record sets itself apart from previous Gaza releases is in the production. The Salt Lake City foursome teamed up with Kurt Ballou to record the album, and if anything was missing from the band’s previous work, it was top notch production that would compliment their heavy, dissonant mathcore. Every release that Ballou touches ends up a brilliant piece of work, and this is no different. Simply, this is one of the year’s most important releases – bleak, brutal, and chaotic. Just like the world we live in.
6. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Converge once again delivered a hardcore masterpiece with All We Love We Leave Behind. In fact, if it wasn’t a Converge record, and rather some other hardcore band, it might have been my AOTY. I don’t generally like listening to a new record with expectations from the band’s previous work, but Converge are kind of, well, legends. And after the first single (and album opener) “Aimeless Arrow” promised weird, fresh hardcore, the album being more of a straight up punk beatdown was a surprise. Still, it’s a great fucking record. And when a Converge record is not my AOTY, you know that it has been an amazing year for music.
5. Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
If someone had told me a year ago that I would like the new BTBAM record more than the new Converge record, I would have unfriended them (in real life!). But BTBAM separated themselves by taking huge risks musically, and having them pay off. Where previous gimmicks (horse neigh, elmo part, hoedown, etc.) ruined songs, Future Sequence uses them to its advantage, pushing songs along and taking you on the band’s first honest journey since Alaska.
4. Grizzly Bear – Shields
What can I say about Grizzly Bear that hasn’t already been said by Pitchfork? Shields is beautiful, and manages to balance happiness and despair simultaneously. An honest, unique journey that no other indie band can give you.
3. Code Orange Kids – Love is Love // Return to Dust
Love is Love is the release I thought All We Love was going to be – a record that is totally different than anything before it. Code Orange Kids are true to the meaning of “punk”, changing things up (tempo, chord progressions, styles) on a whim. Not giving a fuck. It’s fresh, innovative, and brutal. I truly believe that this is the Jane Doe of the next decade.
2. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
I still can’t figure out how a southern rapper with production entirely from El-P made a record this powerful and important. Like Love is Love, it is a gamechanger. Every lyric is important, every beat better than the last. And song of the year candidate “Reagan”, much like the rest of the record, is politically charged and full of emotion. In any other year, I’d have no problem giving R.A.P. Music my AOTY nomination.
1. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.a.a.d. city
I wish a day in my life could be made into a near perfect record. Yeesh. Kendrick Lamar managed to be entertaining, thought-provoking, emotional, and real – all while stringing together a cohesive narrative. That, plus standout features and stunning production makes good kid, ma.a.a.d. city the easy choice for 2012’s Album of the Year.