The 12 Best Albums of 2012

January 25, 2013 6:20 pm

2012 has quite simply been a momentous year for us Human beings; we’ve had the Jubilee, experienced an unforgettable Olympics in London and witnessed a man break the sound barrier as he skydived from the edge space. As well as all this, our ears were also delighted with the some of the freshest and best sounds of the 21st Century. Now in the embryonic stages of 2013, it would be rude not to celebrate some of the finest albums that made their way into our lives and as a result I have comprised a top twelve of what I believe is the crème de la crème of releases in 2012.  Admittedly it is very much dependent on personal tastes – but hey, what are you going to do?

12. Plan B – Ill Manors

Ben Drew’s choice to revert back to his original rap roots allowed for a grim reaction to the current state of our nation, producing some deep hip-hop that speaks nothing but the brutal truth.  The album coincided with a film directed by Drew that gained an equal amount of public attention due to its gritty portrayal of urban England notably inner London. The album itself features several collaborations with important artists in the UK urban scene as well as featuring a vocal appearance from punk poet John Cooper Clarke.


11. Grimes – Visions

Canadian artist Claire Boucher, known by her stage name as Grimes, released her third album this year and has given us a truly digitally psychedelic piece of art. Although not to everyone’s taste, there is no doubt that what is being achieved in this album is a glimpse as to the future of electronic music. Her sound is a great leap from the generic ‘Dub-step’ sounds that plague the radio at the moment and provide a refreshing taste of digital music.


10. The Maccabees – Given To The Wild

Released at the very beginning of the year, this third studio album established the Maccabees at a mainstream level. The album, notably the song ‘Pelican’, gained a substantial amount of radio airplay, as well as being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Previous followers of the band will appreciate just how much their sound has developed and matured since their first album. Nonetheless, there can be no question as to how elegantly structured this album is. Arguably it is the reason the band climbed so high on this year’s festival bills – with the band headlining the NME stage at Reading and Leeds Festival.


9. Graham Coxon – A+E

This eighth solo release from the Blur guitarist is a synth-powered masterpiece, demonstrating an elite sense of musicianship and mastery of the trade. The album itself sounds world’s away from anything Coxon has ever produced with Blur or done at a solo level with its energetic grunge feel. In fact it draws more similarities to band mate Damon Albarn’s band Gorrilaz. Coxon, despite being into his 40s, still demonstrates strong anarchic and anti-social tendencies throughout the album that we would other wise have been familiar with during the peak of Blur.


8. Django Django – Django Django

Django Django’s debut album release was a much-anticipated release of 2012 having received much hype from broadcasters and critics alike and its safe to say they did not disappoint.  The Scottish quartet, who are clearly products of their Art College education, show a mastery of the psychedelic genre infused with electronic flavours. Their sound is saturated with reverb throughout the album, which adds to the already present chilled vibe to the music. The album just seems effortless in its composition, which really highlights them as the unsung heroes of 2012 and anticipates what can only be a bright future for the band.


7. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

Odd Future associated singer Frank Ocean provided some of the finest R&B music that has been released for some time in 2012. Choosing to steer away from the generic auto-tuned harmony to which the vast majority of his competition is steeped in, Ocean displays a far more in touch and raw output from a vocal perspective. The controversial vocalist gained attention early in the year when he came out as bisexual, in many ways this allowed his audience to access his sensitive more down to earth persona which would have otherwise been overpowered by an alpha-male dominated scene shrouded in homophobia.  Still, while not to everyone’s taste, the musical and song writing ability displayed in this album is something that will be etched into R&B history.


6. Tame Impala – Lonerism

Echoing the sounds of the Beatles at their psychedelic peak, Tame Impala provided us with a dreamy sound that seems to mesmerise its listener in a way that seductively layers whirling guitar sounds, entrancing melodies and the hallucinogenic vocals of front man Kevin Parker. Listening to the album from start to finish the band take you on this expedition back in time which is seemly gratifying for fans of good old-fashioned rock n’ roll music. Tame Impala really breaking the mould of the music that surrounds them at the moment, if there’s only one thing you do today spend three minutes and thirty-one seconds listening to their song ‘Elephant’, stand by to be blown away.


5. The Cribs – In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull

This fifth album from Wakefield based indie rock outfit The Cribs was one of the most refreshing points of 2012, providing a grungy energy that dominated the festival season. The three Jarman brothers, have undoubtedly progressed their sound since their debut album, creating a far more edgy and blunt sound that is laced with punk riffs and seems to stumble about like some sort of middle–aged drunkard. The Cribs really display their natural song writing ability in this album, proving themselves as potential headline acts at this year’s major festivals. There is an obvious element missing from the band’s sound after Johnny Marr’s departure but this was always going to be the case after, arguably,one of the best indie guitarists there has ever been leaves your band.


4. Muse – The 2nd Law

After much hype and controversy in the build up to its release Muse this year provided us with their classic stadium filling sound, whilst adapting a whole new dimension to their practice. Their surprising choice to jump aboard the Dub-step craze came as surprise to many die-hard fans, but there is not doubt that Matt Bellamy and company took their own distinct twist to the movement. It’s by no means the best thing Muse have ever put out, but there’s no doubt it is still worth some recognition if only for the second single ‘Madness’ which is, to put it quite simply, just captivating.


3. Jack White – Blunderbuss

Jack White once again proved his god-like status in the world of Rock and Roll with his debut solo album this year carrying his trademark raucous sound. Having been involved with seven bands throughout his career, White finally sought the opportunity to produce a solo record of his own and we receive a far more personal insight into his world. It would be ignorant to compare the raw smoky sound of this album to any of his prior projects; the album alone is a masterful construction by one of the most respected musicians of our generation.


2. Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

This debut album from singer-songwriter Jake Bugg was one of the most talked about albums of the year, gaining mass praise from critics and fellow musicians. It has undoubtedly been a spiralling year for the Bugg, featuring on the BBC’s introducing stage only Summer last year and gaining a number one album with this self titled first release. Many rightly describe his sound as being Dylan-inspired and his ability to single handedly break through into a market dominated by electronic music with a Folk/Blues Rock album is something that must be given some serious credit. His music has a refreshing sense of simplicity to it, three chords and the truth as a great man once said.


1. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Their stripped back, almost calculated melodies, have proved to be by far of some of the most fascinating music to be released in 2012. Shunning aside the expectations of pop music, Alt-J have arguably given birth to whole new genre of music.  The collisions of meditative harmonies, fluctuating drum patterns and Joe Newman’s poetic vocals release a heavenly infectious sound with real vigour and beauty. Their at times their formulaic sounds are evidence of their intelligent approach to producing music, no wonder really that they pride themselves on their ‘geek’ heritage. Overall, the debut album from Alt-J rightfully deserves its place at number one – and what its worth it did win the mercury Music Prize 2012.


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