2012 is dead in the cold ground, so the only thing left to do is say – hey, look at these albums, ranked in order of aceness; read their reviews and who knows, maybe even give them a listen. Perhaps you can make your own end of year list. That sounds like a fun activity doesn’t it? Listening to over 12 albums a week of varying quality; finding time in a hectic schedule to write something suitably funny about them; learning complicated web design and publishing skills from scratch… Well guess what, buster, it’s not fun; it’s hard thankless graft, and only the truly determined, fully trained professional can be up to the task. How else do you I survived listening to Jake Bugg? I wouldn’t wish that darkness on anyone.
So here is a Spotify playlist of all 20 albums: Best Albums 2012: #20-1 and you may also note that I’ve been terribly clever and each album listed below is a clickable link to Spotify too. Thank you, HTML. If you weren’t already capitalised, I’d damn well capitalise the shit out of you now.
I’ll be back next year, with a snazzier website and a new name, but in the meantime, enjoy The Best of RTWS:
Jack White. He’s better than you at everything. Yes, even that. No go on, what is it that you do better than Jack White? Release six increasingly brilliant albums as part of one band, four as part of two other bands, and then this year a solo album that is the best of your career? Yeah I thought so. He can even make lemon drizzle cake better than you.
Please note, the above imagined conversation doesn’t work with Neil Young. He makes a lemon drizzle cake that will tear your fucking face off.
Here’s a Bloc Party joke with reference to the above bands’ similarity to said bands angular sound: ‘Bloc Party’s fifth album is released early, under a different title, a different band name and with a complete change of line-up. No one is surprised that it’s much better than the last four Bloc Party albums.’ There, that was funny wasn’t it?
The word beguiling is bandied around so much in music journalism these days that the word has lost all meaning. Personally I don’t know what the word means, and nor do I have the volition to move the cursor to the Google search box, inches away from where I’m currently typing, to check the definition. That’s because by listening to this album I feel I have already truly learnt the real meaning of the word beguiling.
A beguiling debut. (Not Beagling, that’s a different thing.) I also don’t know the meaning of the word volition. Or Beagling.
17) Grimes – Visions
It was the only good album to come out in March. You’ve already heard it. She was on Jools Holland. She was good. You’ve now heard the album between 8-10 times. You like it. You haven’t listened to it since April. You should listen to it again.
Like being shaken awake by an 8 year-old.
It’s 6am, it’s cold, you’re very tired. However the 8 year-old has a friendly Australian accent, a cigarette in his mouth, two cans of lager in his hand – one for you, one for him – and he wants you to take him to Thorpe Park.
A good old fashioned rock and roll album like I would listen to when I was fifteen and tear my bedroom apart to. Mostly enjoyable it because it starts off at its most confrontational and least accessible within its opening tracks and then eventually turns into the best Strokes album they never released.
Like if your Apple Mac became sentient, then just spent all day sighing.
I rock back and forth on my chair with the Deftones 7th album playing loudly behind me and I’m grateful that a band I loved when I was 16 continues to make brilliant music without losing any of their credibility or majesty, just some stupid trousers, and in 2012 have released their best album yet.
Chino Moreno’s my hero, and in my own small way, I’m a bit like a non-Hispanic version of him. Plus he’s seven years older than me, and if I get to work now, I too could reinvent heavy guitar music with seven consecutively brilliant albums by the time I get to 39 as long as I average one a year. In all likelihood though I’ll probably just fart out a Stylophone rework of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ in 2016.
Quieter, more contemplative than their previous albums; yet somehow upbeat. The Walkmen are happy men. Don’t hate them for it. Just go round to their house for a cup of tea, a lovely chat about music & telly, and then at the end you’ll be rewarded for reigning in you enthusiasm for The Rat with a strong yet sensitive embrace.
‘Come back soon, you’re always welcome‘ they’ll say. You’ll really want to, but you won’t, because that afternoon was so perfect you don’t want to ruin the memory with a further, possibly more awkward encounter.
You‘ll post them a link to a lolcat from time to time, and they might click the link underneath that says ‘like‘ and sometimes, just sometimes, that’s all you need.
Fuck yeah! This is wonderful. I’m not even going to write something stupid about it. Just envelop yourself in its epic loveliness. Like an electronic ‘Illinoise’; just as heart-breaking, just as pretty, slightly less Mormony.
Giving prog a new and better name, this debut uncovers new layers with every listen, and what sounded slightly knockabout and amateurish at first is actually pure charm. Hey come on guys, let’s get some pots & pans and let’s all have a go.
Brassy as fuck, zig-zagging wildly through pop convention until it finds a lovely spot in a highly tasteful garden party, populated with wildly stylish celebrities from the New York art world, and, most surprisingly of all, you. More than likely due to a clerical error or through pure dumb luck; here you are, wandering among the beautiful and highly literate like a feckless, doe-eyed fawn. The artistes at the party – Byrne and Vincent included – all pay attention to your naive ramblings. They politely keep conversation to simple, mainstream topics for your benefit and they even sound like they actually care about the toxoplasmosis your own cat infected you with last week. It’s bliss. The album ends.
Elegant and uplifting pop, made by a band who probably live just over the road from you. That’s galling isn’t it? I even once heard you say “Nobody who lives just over the road from me could be that good at making music”. What’s even more galling is they asked you to play bass with them a year ago and you said no. You didn’t like their hair. That would be bad enough but the exact same thing happened last year with the Dutch Uncles. They moved into the flat below, asked you to play keyboards, and again you said no. You didn’t like their inappropriate use of time signatures.
It also happened the year before that with Pete and the Pirates: You didn’t like their lyrics.
And again, years before that, with the Mystery Jets: You didn’t like their dad.
What Alice Glass from Crystal Castles would sound like if she hadn’t grown up shoplifting Jim Beam and cutting herself with razors, instead discovering an enchanted forest on the doorstep of her childhood home in Toronto, and stumbling across a magical set of talking racoons at war with a greedy, millionaire aardvark.
She makes friends with the racoons, they tear the aardvark apart with their sharpened racoon teeth, they celebrate with Jim Beam and razor blades. It’s messed up, but at least she has friends now. Lessons learnt: Friendship; Teamwork; Environmentalism.
A bit frightening, in all honesty. Like the older boys in school whose existence you’d try to block out because they just spent all their time smoking crack and wanking each other off without punishment from an equally intimidated faculty.
Eschewing their jazzier past; this is a more contemplative, melodic affair. Playful and powerful in equal measure, this is graceful and grown up music for graceful grown-ups that I have no business listening to.
Pretty. Expansive. Poetic. Epic. Beguiling. Foreign. (I let the my new automatic ‘synonym-algorithm’ write this review… An old, white-haired, maths professor called Hubbins moved in downstairs and he developed the software for me in exchange for cuddles. He says he’s also invented a time machine. But I won’t tell you what he wants in return for a ride in it.)
2012 was fast becoming a barren place for albums that you unconditionally loved without question, but holy crap look what came out in February. Like an Alt-Folk Talking Heads, with rocket-fuelled melodies, an old fashioned sense of hope and a fantastic sense of pace. Fanfarlo have far out-stripped their debut and made, quite profanely, a fucking great album.
The first album I’ve listened to since I was a teenager where I’ve opened the inlay sleeve and fantatically read the lyrics of every single song. Christ this is good; as mental and voracious as Faith No More and as funny as Art Brut. They talk about modern Britain with a gloriously savage and satirical snap, that is more Douglas Adams or JG Ballad then any actual musical influence.
From time to time, when I need cheering up, I like to imagine a room where Future of the Left are locked in together with The View, The Enemy, Kasabian and, oh let’s see, The Pigeon Detectives, and it’s only Future of the Left who leave unharmed. It’s the details in between that are my own private fancy.
Containing at least seven brilliant ideas for other songs in every single track, nobody this year captured indie brilliance in an album with more imagination, spark or cultural relevance. I wish I’d listened to this album at the start of the year, when it was released, just so I can say at the end of my life that I lived with it longer.
And there you have it… 2012… It’s over. Now go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.