breakingthefragile
Alex Beebe
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Last Active 01-26-14 9:00 pm
Joined 04-07-12

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 Lists
10.18.14 Aesop Waits07.04.14 Breakingthefragile's 2014: First Half
02.23.14 Farewell Sputnik12.29.13 Breakingthefragile's 2013 Of Pretty Coo
09.23.13 Breaking Bad...Bad Episode?04.07.13 One Year Sputnik Anniversary
02.07.13 breakingthefragile's 91 Favorite Albums 01.09.13 Breakingthefragile's Top 50 Albums Of 2
12.15.12 20 Favorite Double Albums06.29.12 The 10 Best Albums Of The First Half Of

Breakingthefragile's Top 50 Albums Of 2012

2012 was a great year for music in my opinion, and a great year for my rlife's involvement in rmusic. I'm glad I joined the Sputnik community, as it's rmade me aware of a lot of new artists rand albums, and I'm grateful to be rstarting a brand new year with the site as a contributing rreviewer.
50P!nk
The Truth About Love


Four years after her album Funhouse, - which ironically wasn't as fun as she commonly is - P!nk has returned with [i]The Truth About Love[/i], which is arguably her most untamed album to date. Pop music designed with partying in mind has been sorely missing the amount of attitude showcased on this album. P!nk gets freaky and undisciplined with her undeniably lovable smartass personality that is supported by her usual precisely layered harmonies, and is backed with the crisp and well-articulated production that beckons back to her earliest albums. [i]The Truth About Love[/i] has much more powerful energy than the average pop album from a female singer-songwriter, and its impressive how P!nk can still be this revved up this late into her career. P!nk truly does keep making unique pop albums, and this is a real treat for anyone looking for pop music with a charming punk demeanor.
49Anders Osborne
Black Eye Galaxy


Gary Clark Jr. made a bit of a splash this year with his classic blues throwback debut, [i]Blak and Blu[/i], and while that was just a splash for blues music, this album is the cannonball plunge the genre needs. This is true rhythm and blues music, a genre that is sparse nowadays to say the least. Osborne?s guitar erupts like a volcano with sooty, gritty, grimy grooves, wailing croons over distorted feedback, and stomping jams that show he knows how to make that guitar sing. Garage rock better step up its game, because with albums as raw and musty as this, the genre as a whole hardly has a chance of even comparing.
48Dylan Mondegreen
Dylan Mondegreen


Beautiful lyrics supported by impeccable production. Dylan Mondegreen?s self-titled album has a level of compassion and sentimentality that ignites soul-warming feelings like no other album, and trumps any other singer-songwriter album this year at tugging at the heartstrings. The lyrics to ?Life As a Father? show brutal honesty, doubt, but never wavers in the feeling of a confidence and determination for the future that ultimately triumphs.
47The Men
Open Your Heart


The Men try to do a lot with their music. They try to cram a ton of genres into a single song, and I didn?t think their approach to doing so was very cohesive at all on their debut, [i]Leave Home[/i]. Everything the band tries to include thankfully comes together superbly on [i]Open Your Heart[/i] though. They took what they experimented with on their debut, and refined, mastered, and reworked their methods to result in crafting the noisy little gem we have here.
46Grimes
Visions


I love this album because I can?t call it anything exactly. It?s something special to cherish when you wrack your brain trying to think of how to specifically describe an album?s sound just right, and then you chuckle and realize you can?t because what?s so great about the sound is that there isn?t a name for it yet. The digital dance beats are kind of reminiscent of electro-pop, but no, it?s not quite that. The sonic scope is has a faint lo-fi edge, but nah, that?s not it. There?s a little bit of folk, a little bit of indie, hell, maybe even a dash of disco to the mix, but above all, its the sound of something new that you can?t quite put your finger on. I think I got it, I think I finally know what to call this album: ?ingenuity?.
45Raime
Quarter Turns Over a Living Line


The most pitch black dark ambient songs straight out of an infinite chasm of darkness. [i]Quarter Turns Over a Living Line[/i] is grounded in the influence of the most disturbing of industrial music pioneers such as Coil, Current 93, Nurse with Wound, and of course, Throbbing Gristle. This is a droning, foreboding album that grips you from the shadows, and the fact that an ambient atmosphere this thick and hypnotizing was made using only live instruments only heightens the awe and fascination [i]Quarter Turns Over a Living Line[/i] emits.
44 Kristina Train
Dark Black


Train?s leisurely neo-soul vocals burns like a cigarette in an ashtray. Subtle streams of smoke rise from the ashes as the subdued flame resonates in the embers. This is a set of reflective adult contemporary pop with an arena-country edge that mourns the death of love by singing out of heartache. Listening to [i]Dark Black[/i] is similar to sitting in a bar in a city and pondering on whatever issues and regrets you may carry as this alternative diva sings away on the stage and matches your feelings with her lyrics.
43 Sam Lee
Ground of Its Own


Very organic british folk music. This album feels as healthy and bright as a green garden, Lee doesn?t feel the need to make the quality of his debut muddy and sullied like most neo-folk artists do in order to achieve a rootsy atmosphere. This is as rich and crisp as ripe soil, so to me, this is quite the outdoorsy record. Also, is that an Asian pan flute I hear as well?
42Adam Lambert
Trespassing


Most singers who rise to fame through American Idol never shake the attachment their identity has to the show, but Adam Lambert has already managed to do that on only his sophomore album. This is one of the most outgoing, bombastic, unchained albums from any Idol star. It?s made abundantly clear that Lambert is his own man, and his own artist, and he has just as much chops for singing talent as any other Idol star, but he has something that most of them lack, and that?s a vision and ambition to guide his voice to something truly unique and separate from conventional pop music. The sheer strut of [i]Trespassing[/i] alone can?t be contained, and furthermore, it?s a danceable, glammy, and funky joyride through influences ranging from Michael Jackson and Prince to David Bowie and Queen, holding absolutely nothing back along the entire way.
41The xx
Coexist


The mainstream?s recent interest in cerebral indie music has led to the influx in popularity of artists like Foster the People, Gotye, Fun., Imagine Dragons, but The xx sticks out in their own way. The sugary and bubbly songs hooks produced by artists like Fun. understandably have an appeal to mainstream because while their music has artsy integrity, it also has very a accessible and infectious pop nature. I?m sure The xx is good for both pop radio and alternative/indie radio because, it?s very simple music. Though, this is the kind of music that achieves simplicity while avoiding being bereft of substance. This is very downtempo, soothing, minimalism. Simple and straight-forward, but there?s a bleak grace about this; a calm and soft- spoken tenderness that says all that?s necessary, hits it right on the money, and then leaves you to reflect on how powerful the effect of so little can be.
40 Poolside
Pacific Standard Time


The artwork of this album is exactly the setting I imagine myself in when I listen to [i]Pacific Standard Time[/i]: at the poolside in someplace warm with palm trees. Laid back funk lines as smooth as the sand between your toes, chilled out jazzy production as sexy as the people walking the beach, and hints of reggae in the island drumming, this is music made for paradise. The soundtrack to your party in the sun, rather than in the club at night.
39Katatonia
Dead End Kings


This album isn?t particularly inventive in any way. It doesn?t do anything new for the band?s sound, and it doesn?t push their music in any new direction, and I actually omitted a few albums from this list because while they were inventive, they weren?t inventive [i]enough[/i], but I?m an absolute sucker for the swift and clean production on these grey and sorrowful melodies over alternative metal that?s heavier than most alt metal because these same guitars used to pump out doom riffs. It may be too sterile for some, and it being more of the same can be viewed as a hindrance, but I have an admiration for band?s like Katatonia that can keep consistently churning out multiple albums of the same sound without the quality deteriorating and the awesomeness of the music getting boring. After making the drastic change from gothic doom to metal that could potentially get airplay, they?ve found a sound they?re currently content with, and it?s a damn good one at that.
38Sleigh Bells
Reign of Terror


Powerviolence-esque shredding, thrashing noise rock guitar riffs contrasted by the serene, levitating whispers of female dream pop vocals alternated with riot grrrl shouts that pack a kick to the shins. This album is differently worth a listen in just how well it marries harsh and soft textures while keeping the two distinct throughout. Think of it as sort like a really heavy cheerleading pep rally.
37High on Fire
De Vermis Mysteriis


Stoner metal that will burn you alive and then melt your face off into a puddle of the very sludge used to craft this eviscerating titan of a record. Just get a load of the loose concept behind it from front man Matt Pike: ?I got this idea about Jesus Christ and the Immaculate Conception: What if Jesus had a twin who died at birth to give Jesus his life? And then what if the twin became a time traveler right then? He lives his life only going forward until he finds this scroll from an ancient Chinese alchemist who derived a serum out of the black lotus?which is actually in Robert E. Howard?s ?Conan? stories?and then he starts traveling back in time. He can see the past through his ancestors? eyes, but his enemies can kill him if they kill the ancestor that he?s seeing through at the time. Basically, he keeps waking up in other people?s bodies at bad times. It?s kinda like that old TV show Quantum Leap. Kurt actually pointed that out to me after I told him the idea. But whatever?time travel is a killer concept.? If that premise isn?t sheer epicness, I don?t know what is.
36HEALTH
MAX PAYNE 3


Though it is technically a video game soundtrack, my argument for this score being able to qualify for a position on a ?Best Albums? end of the year list is that much like what Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross did with their soundtracks for [i]The Social Network[/i] and [i]The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo[/i], HEALTH has created a soundtrack that beautifully blurs the line between score music and music you would find on an official album from the band. As a band, HEALTH works stunningly as composers, perfectly finding a way to match their music?s signature sound with the attitude of the Max Payne series, while pushing their sound in new directions and showing off their composing skills in how well they comfortably adapt to the score music format as well. This is a sweeping soundtrack that has a cinematic flow with an identifiable introduction, climax, and conclusion, much like the video game?s narrative itself. The score track dedicated to each unique level introduces the chapter to listeners by setting a distinct tone and then surrounding and immersing listeners by masterfully conveying the mood and even scenery of the game only through music alone. The soundtrack matches the visuals of the game and equates to the personality of Max Payne?s cynical hero character well, ranging from disorienting spasms of the distorted color schemes from a drugged-out haze, to looming and brooding piano symphonies that wallow in feelings of a mournful past, and violent, vengeful wails of noisy feedback over guitars that chug like bullets being pumped out of an assault rifle, and tribal jungle drums that pound like a racing heartbeat in the feverish overcast of the atmosphere in the setting of a hectic Brazil.
35ZZ Top
La Futura


This album is a success because they sound like ZZ Top again, and nobody else. They aren?t trying to compete with the desert rock and stoner rock scenes, they?re just doing what they do and inviting you to boogie with them like it?s the 70?s all over again, and [i]La Futura[/i] sure as hell makes a convincing case that it is.
34Grizzly Bear
Shields


Just how much [i]Shields[/i] shows all the possible places that Grizzly Bear can take their sound is truly something to behold. They're very exploratory artists, finding a place to firmly plant their sound where they can cast a line out to delve into other areas. [i]Shields[/i] has a consistent central texture that is earthy and organic, yet its vast atmosphere is flourishing with the decorative color scheme of baroque pop, which makes for a contrast that is distinct and works. [i]Shields[/i] is many things; it's artsy, colorful, rustic, rocking, deep, psychedelic, and it all works together well because Grizzly Bear layers all these elements with remarkable craft in a way that is above all, ridiculously hooky and infectious.
33Karriem Riggins
Alone Together


At 34 tracks, this is a generous helping of precious little left-field hop hop treasures. Being the multi-instrumentalist that he is, Riggins? live percussion accompanies the beats a thousand times better than a drum machine or sampled drums ever could. J Dilla would be proud.
32Actress
R.I.P


Recalling the golden days of Autechre and The Orb, [i]R.I.P.[/i] is an assortment of what may be Cunningham?s most spacious sonic soundscapes to date. Ambient techno, left-field house, call it what you want, I call it the soundtrack to an expedition on the surface of Jupiter.
31Death Grips
The Money Store


You either love it or hate it. I for one, love it. I?ll ask the same question I posed in my review of the album: has anyone ever taken into consideration just how scarce of a sub-genre industrial hip hop is? That?s not to say that [i]The Money Store[/i] is automatically good just because it?s unique, but it?s undeniably unlike anything else. Indeed, there?s really nothing quite like [i]The Money Store[/i], it takes the blistering punk-paced fury of Atari Teenage Riot?s digital hardcore music, and then sticks a dirty, used heroin needle in it, and injects it with so many samples, experimental mannerisms, and industrial noise that it practically reinvents alternative hip hop from the ground up and creates a morbid and disturbing portrait of an unstable psyche, and inhumanely cold emotion in the process. Think Throbbing Gristle as a hip hop outfit. Hip hop has never been this nonsensically aggressive, unintelligibly unhinged, and just plain violent; and the beats have rarely owed this much to raw noise music. MC Ride?s lyrics are barely comprehensible and are breathlessly delivered straight out of his strained throat in nearly schizophrenic behavior, but it doesn?t take itself too seriously in a way, or delve into the underlying emotion too much, making all the blind rage in MC Ride?s cryptic chants catchy and hooky fun. Since there?s not too much concentration on MC Ride?s lyrics, and just his flow, Death Grips kind of resemble a rock band in this way as well. It?s hard to get into, it can even be viewed as detrimental by some, but this is a rare example of music that can be despised for the same exact reasons it can be adored, and that?s a really noteworthy case.
30Killer Mike
R.A.P. Music


I can?t stress enough how well El-P?s production goes with Mike. He?s never sounded as good as he does here with El-P backing him, and who would have even thought of a collaboration like this anyway? Heavily electronic based alternative hip hop beats behind an MC with a burning southern flame; and they actually complement each other flawlessly. Since his debut, Killer Mike has made an effort to make the production on each of his albums a different flavor than the last, and who would have guessed the perfect match would be with production that?s drastically different from his usual style? As Sobhi has stated, the collaborative sound displayed on [i]R.A.P. Music[/i] truly does push not only musical boundaries in new directions, but cultural boundaries as well.
29Mission of Burma
Unsound


Modern post-punk albums don?t always have to come with new wave as a package deal. This is anything but New Order, but it?s not so much Joy Division either. 33 years later, Mission of Burma is still Mission of Burma on [i]Unsound[/i]; still showing strong influences from Wire and Talking Heads, but their latest album shows their music has some more surprises for us. Right off the bat, it?s a very immediate album, just as hard-hitting as they were in their prime in fact, which may come as a surprise to some listeners considering the band?s age, but fans shouldn?t be doubtful of that energy lasting, as [i]Unsound[/i] shows just how spry Mission of Burma still is at doing what they do best. It?s actually pretty impressive how young they sound on this album, it?s almost like being transported back in time to a punk lover?s idea of the 70?s.
28Moritz von Oswald Trio
Fetch


Techno that has such a vast and complex array of instruments involved in the layers of these experimental suites that you might as well refer to this album as ?orchestral techno?. Listening to these songs unfold is a treat, because it really explodes past the boundaries and constrictions of what can be classified as electronic music.
27 Kelly Hogan
I Like to Keep Myself in Pain


This is a pristine example of a singer-songwriter making creating top notch alternative music that can?t be pigeonholed, and doesn?t favor one element of its sound over another. This album is such a comfortable sounding fusion of country, folk, indie, R&B, and jazz. It flows as naturally as a river, and there?s serious talent to be appreciated in how Hogan can masterfully convey her riveting heartache in multiple genres, and frequently all at once at that.
26Elle Varner
Perfectly Imperfect


I wish that more female R&B solo singer?s debuts were like this one. Even though this is only her first album, Varner sounds years ahead of her actual level of experience on [i]Perfectly Imperfect[/i]. She?s impressively formed a mastery and individuality of her own very early on into her career that most artists in her field don?t get a hang of until about their third album or so.
25Jessie Ware
Devotion


It?s amazing how an album can be this reserved, mature, and sophisticated, but also this rambunctious, energetic, and invigorating at the same time. I don?t know how Ware pulled off opposites like that going on at once, but it works.
24Miguel
Kaleidoscope Dream


What I like the most about [i]Kaleidoscope Dream[/i] is that it?s not immediately identifiable as ?artsy R&B? like The Weeknd. Much like The-Dream, this is really above-average contemporary urban music on the surface at first, but once you spend a lot time with this music and truly get a chance to know it and understand it, you begin to fully understand and appreciate the subtle ambitions that closely lie just beneath the surface.
23Chromatics
Kill for Love


As hazy and dreamy as modern dream pop gets. It?s not as saturated in the bold, glossy colors that Passion Pit?s album [i]Gossamer[/i] is gushing with, as this album is much more subtle in how it projects thin, light shades of pink and red that waft over you as the delicate synths beats and electric guitar strums ring on into perpetual space and gently lift you into a cloud 9 of its own. While [i]Kill for Love[/i]'s songs have a clarity about them that prevents the album from achieving the effect similar to being submerged in an infinite pool, an effect that records from My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive are well-known for producing, this still acts as a great tribute to the synthpop, and shoegaze scene of the mid 80?s. And the best revivalist albums are the ones that craft atmosphere?s that are able to vividly instill the feel of an era into listeners, which this goes above and beyond in doing.
22Pig Destroyer
Book Burner


Their last EP, [i]Natasha[/i] in which the band experimented with making one giant song, just ended up as a big sludgy glob of thrashing noise and droning doom ambience that contrasted terribly with the heavier parts. [i]Book Burner[/i] sees Pig Destroyer getting back on track with what they?ve always done best: obliterating your eardrums with the breakneck speed of their drilling audio assault, plain and simple. One of the most iconic grindcore bands haven?t lost their demolishing touch one bit, and longtime fans couldn?t be more in heaven with [i]Book Burner[/i].
21 Dion
Tank Full of Blues


With most blues artists being as old as they are, age sets in usually and makes their bluesy work especially blue, but it's really the same old (and I mean old as dirt) blues we've all heard from them. Dion is the only blues artist who feels really spry and still ambitious. He clearly loves his influences, presenting these historical sounds without feeling the need to retread through the same waters of his past work, and he manages to be cool and restless at heart in his attitude. The world needs more blues artists that have this flame that won't go out.
20Anathema
Weather Systems


At this point it seems as though Anathema have completely dropped the doom and gloom of Gothic death metal in favor of now fully embracing the crisp melodies and soaring production of new age prog rock. These guys adapt so well to any booming progressive atmosphere, whether it be overbearingly dark or in this case sweepingly majestic; painting vividly visceral portraits of authentic detail to fill the length of their compositions.
19Earth
Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II


Earth definitely aren't just churning out mind melting distortion with no purpose anymore like they did in the lower moments of their career. There's an apparent concept for your imagination to go wild with when projecting it upon these expansive sound plains of winding feedback. They have a point to their sound again, and it doesn't hit you in the head or change what they're known for, it betters it with a sense of direction.
18Bobby Womack
The Bravest Man in the Universe


Bobby and Damon Albarn are a match made in heaven. This album shows that with a little help from a producer as more of a friendship than a professional relationship, magic can truly conspire for everyone involved.
17Robert Glasper Experiment
Black Radio


Kind of set up like a radio. Which is a good idea for an album full of different guest artists. Even though each track is different from the other, there's an underlying current of sensualism that consistently runs through the album, making it relaxing and cool experience that?s a lot like actually sitting back, and chilling out to jazzy late-night radio.
16THEESatisfaction
awE naturalE


How many hip hop duos nowadays have personalities this sly and cool, recalling a certain swing that beckons back to doo-woop? Now, how many FEMALE hip hop duos do that? This is unique and diverse in ideas and attitude, never letting the mood it sets die or get interrupted.
15Quakers
Quakers


With this many tracks that are this short, it kinda has this on the street freestyle beat vibe, this is a hip hop album that definitely has enough hip to it, and enough hop to the beats. Reflective of the coolness of the golden age, while still showing desire to be alternative, this has one of the best grooves of any hip hop album this year.
14Hot Chip
In Our Heads


Hot Chip have dropped the awkwardly shy indie innocence that was budding behind their dance beats in the past, and acquire honest emotion, a change that makes them successful in creating the album they've always envisioned.
13Tame Impala
Lonerism


Mainly taking influence from [i]Revolver[/i], arguably the most purely psychedelic era for The Beatles, [i]Lonerism[/i] is music that?s themes are drawn from the well of loneliness and detachment from society, but oddly, it can work both ways. Listen to this at gatherings or in self-solitude, it?s appropriate in all cases.
12Scott Walker
Bish Bosch


2012 might go down as the year of mind-blowing conclusions to epic trilogies of albums, and Scott Walker?s [i]Bish Bosch[/i] would be among those albums no doubt. This is roaring, booming avant-garde music, kind of like an avant-garde opera in a way. Every track is different from anything I?ve heard this year, and as if a 69 year old guy to have this much creativity left in him at this point wasn?t unbelievable enough, the fact that this is his most creative and experimental album that he?s ever put out in his entire career and he made it at the age of 69 is even more unreal.
11Andy Stott
Luxury Problems


I have many ambient albums on the list this year, but I think this album encompasses the best of every ambient side-genre at once, and then combines all those possibilities through a central, ethereal vibe. This album should cover the needs of anyone who?s a fan of electronic music, no matter how specific and picky someone?s preferences may be. It?s definitely got a little bit of something for everyone.
10David Byrne & St. Vincent
Love This Giant


There?s been a lot of exceptionally outstanding collaborative efforts this year, whether it be an artist and their producer, or two artists joining forces all together, these outings have yielded great results. Though, to me, the best of all the team- ups is the brazen [i]Love This Giant[/i]. David Bryne and St. Vincent are so good together, they just work so well with so each other, and it?s instantly clear only one song in. He?s quirky, she?s quirky, they bring both their similarities to the table, as well as their differences, complementing each other with such ease that it seems like they almost effortlessly mesh with one another, and both adding their own unique ingredients that makes [i]Love This Giant[/i] a unique experience that quickly finds middle ground between the two and displays the best traits of both artists involved.
9Why?
Mumps, Etc.


This indie hip hop group?s best album since 2005?s [i]Elephant Eyelash[/i], because they finally once again feel like the unique band they were on that album. Yoni Wolf fluently flows like the hipster MC he?s been straining to be on the Why??s previous efforts, delivering quirky spoken-word poetry comprised of bouncing metaphors that illustrate imaginative imagery that make the verses of every song like flipping through a children?s picture book where every page is a different and fantastically creative. The backing beat to the introduction track ?Jonathan?s Hope? sounds like eggshell?s crunching; a very unique sound that?s unlike anything I have ever heard employed as a beat.
8Blut Aus Nord
777 - Cosmosophy


An absolute mammoth of a conclusion to Blut Aus Nord?s symphonic black metal [i]777[/i] trilogy. Delving into industrial metal, thrash, post-metal, Gothic metal, and even post-punk, 777 - Cosmosophy is a pummeling titan that will easily appeal to fans of any type of metal, no matter how tame or extreme.
7Laurel Halo
Quarantine


Abstract, avant-garde, dissociative space-dub with some Detroit techno inspired elements thrown in the mix. [i]Quarantine[/i] literally feels out of this world, as if its primary influences were from the extraterrestrial life forms that must of abducted Laurel Halo for this amalgamation of offbeat and unsettling hissing and whirls straight out of an abandoned space station to come into existence.
6Flying Lotus
Until the Quiet Comes


Jazz-fusion, avant-jazz, electronic jazz, free jazz, it?s a pretty jazzy deal in electronics. [i]Until the Quiet Comes[/i] is like lucid dreams in jazz. These are scratchy, fuzzy, curious sound experiments that can be as weird as Aphex Twin, and are mind-altering without the need for the aid of psychedelics.
5Torche
Harmonicraft


An incredibly unique metal album, [i]Harmonicraft[/i] is an epically heavy titan, but it has the texture of a cotton candy. This album demonstrates a perfect dynamic of bludgeoning riffs and heavenly harmonies, it makes sludge metal significantly more poppy and catchier, and pop rock significantly more heavier and bombastic. There really is no other metal album with an atmosphere as grand and awesomely cartoonish as the candy dragons in the pink sky on the album cover, and Torche have managed to paint a colorful new avenue of their own for metal, while not losing an ounce of effectiveness.
4Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel...


Fiona Apple returns from a seven year absence to bring her unique brand of smokey, jazzy, and quirky piano music back to contemporary pop. [i]The Idler Wheel?[/i] showcases the best parts of Fiona Apple?s music, organic alternative music that can evolve into rock at will, bursting with personality and plenty of sonic variation along the way. [i]The Idler Wheel?[/i] is another proud case where Apple has resumed her course after a long stretch of time and is still putting pop music on a track that is inventive and surprising.
3Frank Ocean
Channel Orange


It?s difficult to remember the last time R&B music has been as intimate, honest, vulnerable, and genuinely sincere as it is on [i]channel ORANGE[/i]. While most R&B singers of the modern age go ridiculously over the top, egotistically wailing their hearts out about their cars, yearly earnings and numerous sexual escapades over processed and overly polished pop beats, Frank Ocean is only concerned with purely expressing his inner self; neither acting victimized or placing himself above his listeners, but working as a story teller, an approach the genre has been short on for quite some time. Ocean?s delivery is direct and captivating, unafraid to reveal every side of him. [i]channel ORANGE[/i] makes listeners feel a personal bond with Ocean, as if he is addressing them and them alone. [i]channel ORANGE[/i] is as heartfelt as albums get, and that paired with some intriguingly experimental musical pursuits firmly cements Frank Ocean as an individual artist of his own, being barely dependent on his association with the hip hop collective Odd Future.
2Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d city


The internet?s effect on hip hop culture has been blurring the line between the underground and the mainstream for quite some time now. Unsigned MCs with indie- inspired ambitions now have a much easier time spreading their mixtapes and getting their work noticed with the the aid of cyberspace, and with the more well known icons in hip hop integrating those underground musical flavors into their mix, Kendrick Lamar?s album, [i]good kid, m.A.A.d city[/i] may just be the album to act as the final bridge between the underground and mainstream scenes. From the concept to the verses and the beats, this is one of the most cinematic hip hop albums in years, and one that has a lot of left-field integrity, but is infectious and hooky enough to be more accessible to mass audiences without giving a remotely commercialized impression. With a narrative that?s witty, clever, humorous, fun, ambitious, and never too self-serious, [i]good kid, m.A.A.d city[/i] will likely be remembered as one extremely moving and important hip hop album for many years.
1Swans
The Seer


Gargantuan, monolithic, colossal, whatever words you use to describe it, [i]The Seer[/i] is a humongous album, and it?s better for it. Despite being one minute shy of a two hour running time, [i]The Seer[/i] never feels bloated or draining, it immediately engulfs listeners and casts them into its unsettling nightmare universe; maintaining an immerse stranglehold on listeners throughout. Shedding most of their industrial layers for post-rock composition methods, [i]The Seer[/i] is a frighteningly effective album that proves Swans are still at the apex of their talent thirty years into their career. Fans debate about how Swans crafted much ?better" albums than this back in their heyday, but main reason why [i]The Seer[/i] is so impressive is because it?s a different beast entirely from their earlier masterpieces like [i]Soundtracks for the Blind[/i] and [i]White Light from the Mouth of Infinity[/i]. The fact that this band can completely reinvent themselves and their sound this late into their career by accumulating all of what has gone into their ever-evolving sound over the course of thirty years, and then still manage to produce something out of it that?s new and changes their direction, while retaining a core identity and sacrificing none of their power, is a truly remarkable achievement. Especially for a group that is only on their second album after a 13 year hiatus.
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