24. Field Music – Plumb
23. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
22. The Gathering – Disclosure
21. Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – Rot Gut, Domestic
Listen: Deftones – “Rosemary”
19. Astra – The Black Chord
18. Ghost Mice – All We Got Is Each Other
17. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
16. Racing Heart – To Walk Beside That Ghost
Listen: Ghost Mice – “John and Jodie”
14. Papercranes – Three
13. Beach House – Bloom
12. Killing Joke – MMXII
11. Farewell Republic – Burn the Boats
Listen: Papercranes – “Save Us”
9. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
8. Tigers on Trains – Foundry
7. Anberlin – Vital
6. Yellowcard – Southern Air
Listen: Tigers on Trains – “Mont Ventoux”
Album of the Year
Godspeed You! Black Emperor are no strangers to post-rock success. They found their calling early, with 1997s F#A#∞, an apocalyptic journey that painted the end of times as both a thing of beauty and an unspeakable calamity. Over time, their name has almost become synonymous with post-rock, and “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” only furthers their legacy. The gorgeous opening track, Mladic, is more aesthetically pleasing than most GY!BE works – a trait that infiltrates the three songs that follow. Perhaps the crowning achievement here is We Drift Like Worried Fire, a harmoniously moving opus that is both masterfully crafted and flawlessly executed. When we talk about album of the year, GY!BE have brought everything you could want to the table in 2012.
Listen: “Their Helicopters Sing”
Regina Spektor: What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Spektor is all about the quirks. The way she mimics a drum solo with her lips on Oh Marcello, the way she dramatically inhales as if gasping for one last breath on Open, or how she buzzes her lips like a harmonica to create a perfectly fitting outro to The Party. Like anything outlandish, it can be annoying if overdone, but Regina has made a career of walking the fine line between cute and agitating. “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats” sees the songstress master her craft while adding in some of the most gorgeous moments that 2012 pop music has to offer (listen to Firewood). If you like your female artists to be creative, spazzy, and tremendously talented all at the same time, then I can’t imagine how you can do much better than this record.
Listen: “Oh Marcello”
Swans: The Seer
With a length that exceeds two hours, almost nothing about “The Seer” is inviting. The repetitive drone style will turn off many listeners within the first couple tracks, but to those who can endure this massive thing, they will discover that it is perhaps one of the greatest albums to be released in the past few years. Michael Gira’s master mind is in full swing, concocting haunting chants, harrowing atmospheres, and disturbing lyrics that will make you feel like you are slowly descending into hell. “The Seer” is meant to be heard all at once, and if you can find a free two hours in your day, you might also discover your soundtrack to 2012.
Converge has developed something of a reputation. Perhaps the most accurate analogy I’ve ever heard was when one of our very own staff members likened the band’s fourth album, “Jane Doe”, to getting the crap beaten out of you by a bully at school. That has always been Converge’s identity: they are going to whoop your ass, and masochist as you are, you’re going to love every second of it. Many hardcore/metal bands slowly curb their anger over time and begin to create music that is more accessible to the public. Luckily for us, “All We Love We Leave Behind” continues the brutal onslaught of “Axe to Fall” and “Jane Doe” before it with some of the angriest, loudest, brain-off-its-hinges music that you will ever hear.
Ten Stories is the album that mewithoutYou needed to make. It’s not that there was necessarily anything wrong with “It’s All Crazy! It’s All False!…”, but I think one album of campfire sing-alongs was enough to leave mewithoutYou diehards longing for the days of “Brother, Sister.” And that’s exactly what they get here. Weiss wields prophetic lyrics through a cracking, intensely emotional voice that often shouts and spews messages as if taking the time to sing them is a luxury that no one can afford. The band’s highly successful formula of old is blended with their newly found melodic side to create a best-of-both-worlds scenario, “Ten Stories.” Having Hayley Williams in the studio to perform backing vocals never hurts, either.
Listen: “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume”
#5 Godspeed You! Black Emperor
#4 Regina Spektor
#1 AOTY WINNER: SWANS
In my mind, there was little doubt all along that Swans would take the figurative 2012 cake. It is just so massive – and not just in terms of run time, because it contains so many different styles within its vast scope. Disc one and disc two both possess a unique identity: the first gives off a dark, brooding vibe while the latter bucks that trend from the opening second of Karen O.’s guest vocals on Song for a Warrior. “The Seer” is a little bit of everything: it is post-rock, alternative rock, stoner rock, industrial metal, drone music, and more. Sure, it is a little rough around the edges, but just like any great work, it needs some time to sink in. If you are willing to brush aside its rough exterior, you will be richly rewarded by all of the gems that this absolutely great album has to offer.
Listen Again: “The Seer Returns”