Best Albums of 2012



01) Rush – Clockwork Angels

Rush have been gracing the world of progressive rock/metal for over 40 years and with this, their 20th album, they hit a new high. The significance of this conceptual release for Rush is akin to that of 2112. They were both determined conceptual efforts that had a rejuvenating impact on their career. Clockwork Angels is simply a remarkable achievement. Taking all matters into consideration, it is one of the best recordings of their distinguished career. Congratulations to the band on their recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entry.  It was long overdue and Clockwork Angels put them over the top.

– Bill Pulice


Jack White "Blunderbuss"

02) Jack White – Blunderbuss

With a debut as gratifying as Blunderbuss, White’s star now shines brighter than  ever as this recording demands attention. White effortlessly delves into different musical styles ranging from Garage and Prog-rock to Blues, and Country Soul.  If Blunderbuss is an indication of what solo Jack White sounds like, we’re in for a real treat with future releases. Each track is so compelling it will force the listener to revisit the entire album over and over again, and with each listen you will uncover a layer of musical/lyrical genius you didn’t hear the time before.

– Sarah Geledi



Fiona Apple "The Idler Wheel..."

03) Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…

The Idler Wheel… sounds a barren affair in terms of production but the sparse orchestration is perfectly pitched throughout and serves to enhance every aspect of the songs with its minimalism. All of which leaves Apple’s vocal delivery to unsettle the listener while the piano jabs with menace. Her voice leads in every way. It rolls through the scales, hitting high notes perfectly and falling by the wayside in off-kilter minor keys and swooping moans. At times, she’s soft and gentle, a velvet-gloved iron fist; at others, she drags her voice like a three-pronged tattoo needle scratching quotes of heartache and anger across your skin. It’s innovative and unsettling, scuzzy free-form jazz swooping into bittersweet ballad on unsettling chord changes.  This release was worth the wait.

– Nick Amies



04) Grizzly Bear – Shields

By going deep into Shields, one is encouraged to follow the musical twists and turns, an 80’s sounding synth track may entice you into a sudden rock-tinged dead end while a pastoral coda may lead you round a corner to find that you’re right back where you started at a hook-driven intro which sounds like Fleetwood Mac. One can get lost in Shields trying to understand its route and making sense of its map. But instead on panicking, the overwhelming urge is to start again, to work out just what the hell is going on and to search for the record’s soul at the heart of this labyrinth with a perplexed smile on your face. This is an album that wills you to solve its riddle. Shields is a fluid, brave and deftly blended record; a winning combination of songs which give the impression that the three years spent ageing them was time well spent. This is a major step forward in the evolution of Grizzly Bear and a true artistic achievement.

– Nick Amies



05) David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and the enigmatic St. Vincent (née Annie Clark) teamed up to make what is possibly the best male/female musical collaboration since Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ King & Queen duet LP in 1967. Love This Giant is the fruit of a three-year collaboration between the two art rockers who were inspired by a Björk and Dirty Projectors’ one-off benefit gig.  Byrne and Clark created an album that has each artist’s distinct sound, yet sounds like nothing they’ve ever released before. Both performers are known to push the musical bar quite high and they somehow managed to push it even further on Love This Giant. It’s funky, catchy, poppy, and will have you tapping your toes from beginning to end thanks to the expansive brass section by the fabulous Dap-Kings and Antibalas backing every tune. The horns are the perfect backdrop to Byrne and Clark’s masterful vocals and quirky lyrics about topics such as nature, beauty, time and television. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a beautiful musical partnership. It would be a shame to stop this prolific collaboration so soon.

– Sarah Geledi



06) Baroness – Yellow and Green

The refinement, diversity, and compositional quality on Yellow and Green, especially for a double album, was a welcoming pleasure and a gripping trip to experience compared to their previous efforts. There was not much like this out there in 2012. Yellow and Green offers plenty of stoner, metal, alternative, psychedelic, progressive, post/ambient, and straight-up balls-out rock. Musically the grooves are all over the place, but the tracks feature a consistently interesting flow and it all manages to work. Baroness deserves a lot of praise for this record as it defines ground breaking in its own singular way. If there was such an award as “Most Improved Band,” Baroness’s Yellow and Green would win in spades. Wishing a speedy recovery to John Baizley.

– Bill Pulice



07) Tame Impala – Lonerism

Where its predecessor was a collection of weird, tripped-out flights of fancy and ballsy psych-rock workouts, Lonerism  gave Tame Impala the wings to fly in their own airspace – and it’s far from this world. There is freedom above these clouds, expansive panoramas conceived in the mind and released through this transcendental music. Where Tame Impala stopped and started to great effect on Innerspeaker, here they fly seamlessly through Lonerism, over and through its epic selection of soundscapes with the abandon which only the gloriously unconscious can achieve.Lonerism is beautifully crafted and a pure vision.

– Nick Amies



08 Metz – Metz

Unlike a lot of other post-punk bands that basically consist of noise, Metzcan actually play their instruments and engage the listener in a fury of noise and pain. Metz is angry and it’s great. The track names are suitably anarchic as well, but there is nothing formulaic about the tracks. Their sound builds through the album with each track, incorporating the furious vocals of front man Alex Edkins battling with the drums of Hayden Menzies. Interspersed with seemingly random chaotic mechanical sounds, Metz creates one of the most engaging rhythms heard in a long time.  One of the best debut’s of 2012, Metz is dynamic and quite welcomed.

– Allan Duncan



09) Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

As a departure from her previous records, much has been made of what Bat For Lashes, or Natasha Khan, has stripped away for The Haunted Man.  Some of it has been the artifice of stuffed owls, headdresses, and the kookiness; it’s been replaced by clarity or a renewed vision on this, the “difficult” third album. The stripping back suits her well, most notably on “Laura.”  She really shines on the acoustic tracks. While the unfinished sounds of tracks like “Oh Yeah” can frustrate, the highs of “Laura,” “Marilyn” and “The Haunted Man” are so good the album is able to break free. This is an interesting, rewarding, at times frustrating, but ultimately captivating album.

– Mat Riches



10) Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage

On L’Enfant Sauvage, the French quartet utilized the advantages of a major label through the development of technically precise compositions, sharp production and further emphasis on the auditory quality of their music. Setting aside inhibition, the band adopted a slightly new musical approach to L’Enfant Sauvage, enhancing an already-commendable sonic identity. Synonymous with the album title, Gojira embodies a sense of wilderness through sonic representations of fear, euphoria and isolation. Gojira captures a turbulent journey enjoyed vicariously through an auditory concoction of transcending volumes, speed and technical skill. The compositions are sharp, unique and creative, drawing on repetitive but also versatile auditory patterns to achieve highly engaging creations. Commendably, Gojira emerged successful in their transcendence from ‘all growling’ to a more progressive artistic direction – a direction that we can only hope continues for this continuously impressive band of Frenchmen.

– Lilen Pautasso



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