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2012 In Review

Originally I was gonna make a top 100 songs list, but I couldn?t be bothered to assemble something so tedious. In the end I?ve made this list, in some ways almost for my own reference in the future. Instead of going over one area, gigs, albums, songs etc, this is a review of 2012 in general (with its very own contents so I don?t get lost). Although I?ve probably missed out many releases which I?ll discover later, this is how 2012 looks to me right now. As a whole, I?ll probably look back at 2012 as the year I truly started listening to hip hop (which has taken up a significant chunk of what I?ve listened to over the past year). Otherwise, I spent a lot of the year listening to Bon Iver and The Weeknd. A bit late to the party, but had I gotten into those artists earlier, only one of the top 5 albums of the year for 2011 that I submitted at the time would still be there now.

2-12: Looking Forward To In 2013| 13-38: Top 25 Songs| 39-44: Top 5 Albums
2Stuff To Look Out For In 2013

Gonna start out with stuff I'm gonna check out/stuff I'm hoping will come out.
3 Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Even though they?ve only just released a new album, I?m hoping for more Godspeed material this year. After all, Allelujah! was only made up of older material and Behemoth was an incredible experience live. Can?t wait to hear it recorded.
4 Deltron 3030

I love their debut album?s gritty, sci-fi vibe- built upon fantastic production and some brilliant rapping & lyricism from Del the Funky Homosapien. Their new song, ?Pay The Price?, may not have the immediate impact of the likes of ?3030? but I get the impression its subtle production is a grower and Del?s rapping and lyricism are still great. I?m still hoping for a grandiose hip hop concept album.
5 Paramore

It?s been almost 4 years since Brand New Eyes. Possibly too long. Paramore?s demographic grow up quickly and while it looked like Paramore were poised to ?take over the world? in 2009/2010, many people may have already forgotten about them. I?m still hoping for a great album though, and the promo for their upcoming new single hints at something more mature than the likes of Riot! Possibly a good move, and it will be interesting to hear the new song soon.
6 Alice In Chains

I loved Black Gives Way To Blue. Probably more than I should. ?Hollow? is a great song and I?m hoping for great things with their new album.
7 Brand New

It?s also been nearly 4 years since an album from Brand New. In the time I?ve been a fan of the band they?ve never actually released an album and after they talked about having booked studio time last year I?m hoping something may crop up later this year.
8 Bring Me The Horizon

Loved their last two albums. ?Shadow Moses? is a great song. Hoping for good things.
9 A Day To Remember

Funnily enough, What Separates Me From You ended up being a grower for me. It?s now my go-to album for a bunch of catchy rock songs. Their new single doesn?t quite match up to them but I?ll still be giving their new album a shot when it comes out.
10 Glassjaw

Coloring Book was my aoty 2011 (and became available for CD on their webstore just after I grabbed one on ebay). That was only meant to be a taster for their upcoming album, and I?m almost losing faith, two years on, for that new album to actually come out. When and if it does, it should be worth it if it matches up to Coloring Book.
11 The Weeknd

Maybe it?s unfair to expect something from The Weeknd. He released 3 albums in 2011 and although he didn?t release any new music (apart from the new songs on Trilogy) he was busy having been signed up and promoting the compilation/?debut album?. Still, with that work ethic, it?s possible.

House of Stone was a fantastic and unique album, something everyone should give a shot. I?m expecting equally great things from Ego Altar.
13Top 25 Songs

Limiting it to 1 song per artist. Top 4 are almost interchangeable with each other.

25|Bad Girls|A catchy flow fed by a seething message, an interesting Arabic- influenced beat and one of the best music videos of the year (shot on site in Morocco make ?Bad Girls? one of the most refreshing songs of the year. A great hip hop song for a rapper in a genre dominated by men.
15Crystal Castles

24|Sad Eyes|Sad Eyes is the dancefloor track of Crystal Castles? 3rd studio album. Howling synths and Alice Glass?s vocoder-drowned vocals mix with the album?s overall dark sound to produce a vibe suited to the stupor of the night.
16The Tallest Man on Earth
There's No Leaving Now

23|1904|1904?s success is built upon its subtlety. The gently reminiscent melodies and nostalgia make the song a pleasure to listen to, especially with its softly uplifting chorus which creates an energy of sorts without relying on a sonic overload.
17Silversun Pickups
Neck of the Woods

22|Skin Graph|Immensely catchy chorus.
L'Enfant Sauvage

21|L'Enfant Sauvage|L?enfant Sauvage is heavy, and technical. Both in good ways. But what truly sets the title track of Gojira?s 5th studio album out as by far the best song on the album and one the best metal songs of the year is Joe Duplantier?s tempestuously strained vocals, accompanied by a hurricane of reverberating guitar in the background as he howls ?What lays inside of us won't last forever?.
19 Adele

20|Skyfall|Fantastic film with a fantastic theme song. I?ve always loved the epic, grandiose vibe of James Bond theme songs, and Adele has crafted a song which can sit proudly among the best.
20Devil Sold His Soul
Empire of Light

19|No Remorse, No Regrets|Almost in the same way as the aforementioned Gojira track, the best song on DSHS?s 3rd studio album is so due to its plunge into a storm of howled vocals and guitar distortion.
21Andy Stott
Luxury Problems

18|Sleepless|Sinking into its thick, bassy production, Sleepless makes for an intense experience. Seemingly on the verge of toppling at any point, it makes use of the tension of its jittery beats and the claustrophobic loops of techno to build up before the pummelling, groovy beat takes the helm- accompanied by a pitch shifted vocal sample which, unlike most, is founded on deep rhythm rather than melody. True to its name, ?Sleepless? feels like music in insomnia.
22Killer Mike
R.A.P. Music

17|Big Beast|?Big Beast? is exactly that. With multiple guest spots, all with their own brilliant flows, thick El-P production and an epic, Drive influenced 9 music video, it?s almost bursting at the seams with personality. Musically, it?s a fat, deep fried treat.
23Jessie Ware

16|Running|A thick, sexy, glamorous atmosphere carries a beautifully sung melody on this song.
24Every Time I Die
Ex Lives

15|Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space|This song, on the other hand. An intense riff, screamed mantra (?I want to be dead with my friends?), brief hint of melody and vicious breakdown are torn through in the space of just 3 minutes. Brilliant.
Celebration Rock

14|The House That Heaven Built|How can you not be uplifted, energised and singing aloud to every line when you listen to this song??
26Pierce The Veil
Collide With The Sky

13|Hell Above|A great drop, technicality and catchy melodies in both the verses and the immense chorus make sure this is one of the most fun songs of the year, especially when accompanied with its intro (as it is in the music video). I listened to this song over and over on the endless number of coach journeys I experienced when in South America back in the Summer.
27The Shins
Port of Morrow

12|Port of Morrow|Despite being relatively dull overall, Port of Morrow?s best songs were truly great songs. There was ?Simple Song?, an uplifting slice of pop goodness, and ?The Rifle Spiral?, but the best came in the form of the title track. A gorgeous melody floating above softly crafted instrumentation, ?Port of Morrow? is seeping with ideas but retains a sense of space and simplicity which it benefits from greatly.
Cancer 4 Cure

11|The Full Retard|Although, as a whole, I find El-P?s skills better suited to production in collaboration with rappers rather than as a solo artist, he can still write a banger on his own. ?The Full Retard? is a big, in-your-face, hip hop banger.

10|Oblivion|?Oblivion? is probably one of the simpler songs on Visions. It doesn?t have the quirkiness of ?Eight?, a beat like the one on ?Genesis? or ?Skin??s soft ambience, but Grimes is undeniably adorable as she ?lalalas? and sings sweetly about her own vulnerability (mockingly? perhaps?), with a music video to match. The catchy melody is a big help too, especially with the subtler, deeper chorus.
Koi No Yokan

9|Tempest|It?s all about the chorus here. Immense and atmospheric, Chino Moreno?s vocals give me goosebumps all over, every time.
31Lana Del Rey
Born To Die

8|Born To Die|Her image may be manufactured, but who gives a fuck? The title track to her major label debut and breakout album is deeply melancholic with a dazzling melody to match.
32GOOD Music
Cruel Summer

7|Clique|Much like the aforementioned Killer Mike track, ?Clique? feeds off its guest spots. Egos abound, each rapper has something to give with their own respective verse and Kanye West gives us one of the best lines of the year (?I know Spike Lee gonna kill me but let me finish?). With a pounding beat and production which manages to be both minimal and majestic at the same time, ?Clique? is a another collaboration which benefits from its bursting personality.
33Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d city

6|Swimming Pools (Drank)|That dark drunk vibe is back again. In combination with a great flow (?ima your conscious if you do not hear me then you will be history Kendrick?) and a striking chorus, ?Swimming Pools? is one of the best songs of the year despite its obvious pop sentiments.
34Godspeed You! Black Emperor
'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

5|Mladic|Refer to #42
35Death Grips
The Money Store

4|Hacker|gaga can?t handle this shit

3|Loner|Lodged between the longer tracks on the EP, Loner is probably the simplest of the three. Not that that matters. It opens with a deeply atmospheric and space-y vocal sample and synths, setting the tone for the rest of the track. The beat is one of Burial?s simplest, but it retains a firm grit and groove and after some flutters with the bass and airy vocal samples, the song progresses into a reverberating synth arpeggio, giving off the sense of being isolated, floating away in a deserted spaceship. It?s hauntingly gorgeous, especially in harmony with the bass and the whispering samples that dance around it (?there?s something on the ground?). Despite now making more complicated music in relation to Untrue, Burial reminds us that sometimes, the simpler methods are still the most effective.
37Frank Ocean
Channel Orange

2|Pyramids|A ten minute R&B epic. It?s all there- the longing in the gorgeous vocals, the sultry & majestic production, the bouncing beat, the synth riff. Pyramids doesn?t feel at all bloated or too long despite its running time and it almost doesn?t feel like a ten minute song at all, progressing through its various stages with a swift grace that drips in a gritty, muggy nightclub vibe.
38Beach House

1|Myth|Let?s make things clear: ?Bloom?, Beach House?s 4th studio album, is boring as fuck. For nine tracks it drowns in its own reverb, lacks completely in musical substance and relies on its own superficial prettiness to make things interesting. Unsuccessfully. Apart from ?Myth?. I guess the 10% success rate is worth it when you listen to this song. Melancholic, longing with a hint of nostalgia, for once the melody manages to stay on the tight rope of subtle-yet-incredibly-effective without becoming insipid. The result is incredible.
39Top 5 Albums

I may have come upon Grimes a little later than everyone else, but for me, Visions quickly became one of the most refreshing releases of 2012. Her contradictory persona, juxtaposing a sense of innocence alongside bizarre antics, may come across as gimmicky to some, but twinned with her equally weird music- cute with flittering beats, babyish vocals and hints at darker imagery, it?s just the icing on the cake. Musically, Visions is built on flittering beats, immensely catchy melodies and an endearing lyrical cheekiness. Grimes has hit her sweet spot and made one of the most interesting albums of 2012.
41Andy Stott
Luxury Problems

I almost can?t remember what Luxury Problems sounds like. It?s not an album built around the ?moments?- the hooks, the gimmicks, etc. Rather, the music is mechanically repetitive, deeply layered and strongly atmospheric. The beats are relentless, pounding, and almost overwhelmingly claustrophobic. Twisted among the grimy gears are the vocal samples, desperate to claw at some shred of humanity while the instrumentation attempts to shut it out. Every part of the music fights for the spot light, and together they end up in some kind of tense, precarious equilibrium that threatens to collapse at any moment. Luxury Problems is beautifully haunting, and whilst it could be treated at a superficial level with its vaguely catchy vocal samples and groovy beats, it?s so much more than that.
42Godspeed You! Black Emperor
'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Let?s get this out of the way first: GY!BE?s first album in ten years is their worst release so far. But fuck, it?s still amazing. Certainly less focused on atmosphere than any of their previous releases, this is in some ways the most typically ?post rock? of their releases so far. But if anything, they just show the rest how it should be done. The immense build up on ?Mladic? is captivating and irregular, winding through multiple paths and ideas. The harmonies are exciting and the guitar play equally so. And even after the inevitable climax Godspeed are able to throw a few curveballs all the way to the very end, including what is possibly their best riff since The Sad Mafioso. We Drift Like Worried Fire seeps into more ambient territory, with minimal instrumentation acting individually around each other to form a sparse, sinister vibe before drifting together and apart. Perhaps a more concise release for the normally grandiose Canadians, but there are interesting and multiple ideas here aplenty, and after hearing Behemoth live back in November, I remain expectant for their future endeavours.
43Death Grips
The Money Store

If you?d told me back when I first listened to this album that it would be, barring EPs, my album of the year, I would probably have wondered how much shitter 2012 could get. Nevertheless, I found myself returning more and more to The Money Store, each time falling in love with another track among its 13. I loved the over the top instrumentation, intense beats, even the nonsensical rapping/lyricism, and of course the hooks. From the dance-floor-esque ?I?ve Seen Footage?, to the intense paranoia of ?Lost Boys?, to the pounding musical effects on ?Blackjack? and of course, the immense ?Hacker?, this became an album, almost guiltily, to lose control to. Immensely fun in its extremes but containing enough variety to remain interesting, The Money Store may divide those who listen to it, but the key is just to throw yourself in.

In some people?s eyes, an EP is automatically inferior to an LP. No matter the quality of the music, it will never satisfy the idea that the 40-50 minute release is the pinnacle- the standard- of music, and that anything else is just a gap-fill of B sides, live recordings and remixes until the main event is unveiled. Not for Burial. For him, the EP allows him to progress steadily but swiftly into new ground, new sounds and new styles. His movement into more progressive, space-y and textured music started immediately post-Untrue with collaborations with Four Tet, remixes for Massive Attack and 2011?s stellar Street Halo EP. But Kindred is the pinnacle, the Goldilocks of his now trilogy of EPs. If Untrue is the sound of contemporary London, Kindred is the sound of Ridley Scott?s 2019 Los Angeles or Bioware?s Mass Effect universe. Winding, grimy, all consuming and chaotic yet completely mesmerising, Kindred takes the ideas of Street Halo even further but not so far as to fracture them apart, as started to happen with his most recent Truant EP. The sounds almost transcend the idea of music, with the stuttering bass beat of the title track to the use of trains running over train tracks and lighters as beats. It?s dark. It?s beautiful. It?s immense. It?s every bit the genre defining classic Untrue has become and it?s possibly Burial?s best release yet and the album of the decade so far. No gap is left to waste throughout the album?s 31 minute runtime, whether in silence or occupying some of the music?s incredible depth. Fractured vocal samples with suggestive but vague lyrics, orchestrated crackling, atmospheric synthesiser harmonies and every perfectly positioned sound in the background come together to perfection. By a mile the best musical release of 2012. Truly, a modern classic.
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