Tuesday, December 18, 2012

[BEST OF 2012] Best albums of 2012!

blog 2012/12/18 - [BEST OF 2012] CPI's favourite albums

This year I wrote a lot about the crushing realization that there is just far too much music to ever really listen to.
I also lost my capacity to concentrate and keep swimming upstream.  We had a baby, and I find myself here in December having only dipped my toes in to the stream of releases.
But I still listen to far more music than the average human, so I will keep at this for a bit.  The mp3 blog will be maintained for as long as I still listen to music while at work, it seems.

As a DJ, I was thinking this would be a GREAT TIME to retire.  I released my magnum opus series (Chosen Families), and went out on a 2-part dance party that summarized my live party sets from the past year or two.
But I am really not brave enough to just cut myself off.  I lack that discipline and that conviction.
And in my head I have been formulating a long, multi-part series of drone ambient mixes, so that might still have to happen.  And I want to do more with noise...  SO yeah.
My cachet as a live DJ has never been more than a blip, and I imagine the attention I garner online will slowly dissipate as I peter out of existence over the years.
CPI:  not with a bang, but with a whimper.

And again, big thanks to anyone who has hired me in the past, especially for chill gigs, and everyone who bought me a book from my wishlist.  Your attached notes of gratitude were also appreciated.

I'm still around.  I'll still be in your life if you let me and keep coming back around these parts, but entropy always wins.

CPI'S top 20 albums of 2012

01) Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Someone else said it best:  The Dirty Projectors are unable to resist any moment that allows them to display how ridiculously talented they are.  This is 4th dimensional chess pop music,

02) Japandroids - Celebration Rock
The giants of Canada, and rightly so.  The emotional catharsis of the first album, wasn't a fluke.  They manage to expand upon it perfectly, and from the start of the fireworks to the end of the fireworks, some how a year has gone by in your heart.

03) The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth
Like my favourite MG records, this one was a slow roll, tumbling in to my brain and just building up steam as the narratives soaked in.  The horns sections remind me of the highlights from They Might Be Giants' John Henry, the melancholy rich, but not to be outdone by the characters and concern.

04) Purity Ring - Shrines
Canada's best debut for 2012, by far.

05) Aesop Rock - Skelethon
Aesop is back on his stride and has released an album that is simultaneously mature and his funniest/goofiest album ever.  He even drops a beat-free streaming narrative of a heroic dog saving a drowning child.  He even writes songs about goofy haircuts, and brings in some Kimya Dawson.  And it all gels with the density and precision that will have you coming back for more, picking apart his flow line by line.

06) Best Coast - The Only Place
There is a schoolgirl joy that I only before found in the likes of that dog. that is so well represented here.  Not only is it summer shining fine, but also great diary-writing reminiscing music.

07) Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
A world of emotion and struggle are laid bare in my perfect rainy-day driving soundtrack of the year.  Oh and wait, what's that?  The guy from Beirut is here to party? Oh hell yes.

08) Passion Pit - Gossamer
Passion Pit are back and do exactly what you want them to do, except are even tighter.  That is all.

09) Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It
The tender emotional weight of this album just envelopes you.  It has the eery spaciousness of the Weeknd, the dark edges of Xiu Xiu, and an unapologetic effectiveness that will help you get to the bottom of those lonely nights.

10) Kid Koala - 12 bit Blues
This is the album that Kid Koala was born to make:  A studio-based turntable composition that mines classic blues and reconstructs them as a contemporary opus that pays so much loving homage and has a blast doing.

11) Swans - The Seer
OH DEAR LORD IT IS GOING TO EAT ME OH GOD NO!   The scariest album cover of all time.  And an epic dark blues goth romp that fuses progressive noise metal structures with Pink Floyd bombast.  Listening to the 33-minute title track alone and naked should be requisite for entering in to the year 2013.

12) Fiona Apple - Idler Wheel
At the dawn of 2012, no one ever expected to be one of the hottest acts of the year, but here we are.  A critical darling of the indie press, and a critical darling of the mainstream rock mags.  WHO'D HAVE THOUGHT?

13) Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
The oscillation between goofy fun and intense aggression is what makes Cloud Nothing so enthralling, and they have even improved on what they laid down on their past album.

14) The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now
There is nothing staggeringly new about this album.  I don't listen to it and think MY GOD, HE'S CHANGED!  No, it is the steady work ethic that provides a reliable brilliance that endears this album to me.  It is all the goodness of this Swedish folkster that is highlighted, underlined, and reworked in to new forms. 

15) Ryan Hemsworth - Last Words
Electronic albums like this are my favourite:  5 hot tracks, 5 hot reworks.  It's the perfect format.  An EP of genius, tucked in with an EP of genius reworks.

16) Niki And The Dove - Instinct
Remember that Kate Bush meets The Knife erotic fanfiction you always dreamed of writing?  Well lucky for you, here it is!  With a generous dash of Young Galaxy contemporary pop, this album hits all sorts of nodules in your brain that you probably haven't jumped at in years.

17) Death Grips - The Money Store
The energy of a first listen to Death Grips is what it was like to listen to Atari Teenage Riot back in their debut.  A cacophonous intensity you probably weren't used to before.  The kinetic percussion is all over the place, and I do recommend grabbing the insutrmental version as well.

18) Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Canadian folk can breed a deep resonance from the unlikeliest of places.  There is a tremble and roar in this album, and it just leaves you excited to hear what she will do next.

19) Hot Chip - In Our Heads
I kind of imagine Hot Chip as just the singer, going around performing with a microphone and a laptop.  He'd be the perfect travelling crooner.  Like with the beats, you can almost here the timecode in Ableton ticking ever forward.  Hot Chip have that reliable simplicity about them.  But they are also reliably one the best pop albums of the year.  Every time I expect a hint of complacency or compromise, they continue doing their thing, continue producing absolutely fun and satisfying pop albums. 

20) How To Dress Well - Total Loss
With all of the hot future RNB out there, this one is the pinnacle for me.  It captures the emotion, the space, the lust, all without being all douchey.  Good job.

in summary...
CPI'S top 20 albums of 2012

01) Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
02) Japandroids - Celebration Rock
03) The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth
04) Purity Ring - Shrines
05) Aesop Rock - Skelethon
06) Best Coast - The Only Place
07) Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
08) Passion Pit - Gossamer
09) Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It
10) Kid Koala - 12 bit Blues
11) Swans - The Seer
12) Fiona Apple - Idler Wheel
13) Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
14) The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now
15) Ryan Hemsworth - Last Words
16) Niki And The Dove - Instinct
17) Death Grips - The Money Store
18) Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
19) Hot Chip - In Our Heads
20) How To Dress Well - Total Loss

One thing to note, to clear up some confusion:  I personally rate albums in regards to how good they are as a full album.  As something I want to put on and listen to from start to finish.
Where is Frank Ocean???  I know, I know.  I love Ocean too, but after listening to channel orange 10 times, there was only 4 tracks I actually cared to ever hear again.
So here are a handful of runner-ups.  Albums that have greatness on them, I have just been skipping around in them a bit too much.  Extra credit for the keeners.

Honorable mentions that you should definitely also pay attention to:
Antony and the Johnsons - Cut The World
Beach House - Bloom
El-P - Cancer For Cure
Frank Ocean - channel orange
Xiu Xiu - Always


Aesop Rock - 1000 O'Clock
Aesop Rock - Crows 1
Aesop Rock - Zero Dark Thirty
Antony and the Johnsons - Cripple and the Starfish (orchestral)
Antony and the Johnsons - Cut the World
BADBADNOTGOOD - Earl ft Leland Whitty
Beach House - Lazuli
Beach House - The Hours
Best Coast - The Only Place
Best Coast - Up All Night
Cloud Nothings - Our Plans
Cloud Nothings - Stay Useless
Cold Specks - Elephant Head
Cold Specks - Winter Solstice
Death Grips - Get Got
Death Grips - I've Seen Footage
Dirty Projectors - Offspring Are Blank
Dirty Projectors - The Socialites
Dirty Projectors - Unto Caesar
El-P - $ Vic _ FTL (Me and You)
El-P - The Full Retard
Fiona Apple - Hot Knife
Fiona Apple - Werewolf
Frank Ocean - Lost
Frank Ocean - Pyramids
Frank Ocean - Sweet Life
Frank Ocean - Thinkin Bout You
Hot Chip - Flutes
Hot Chip - Let Me Be Him
How To Dress Well - How Many
How To Dress Well - Running Back
Japandroids - Fire's Highway
Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built
Japandroids - Younger Us
Kid Koala - 2 bit Blues
Kid Koala - 7 bit Blues
Niki And The Dove - Mother Protect
Niki And The Dove - Tomorrow
Passion Pit - Carried Away
Passion Pit - Constant Conversations
Perfume Genius - No Tear
Perfume Genius - Take Me Home
Purity Ring - Belispeak
Purity Ring - Crawlersout
Purity Ring - Obedear
Ryan Hemsworth - Colour & Movement
Ryan Hemsworth - Overthinking (Supreme Cuts Remix)
Sharon Van Etten - Kevin's
Sharon Van Etten - We Are Fine
Swans - Avatar
Swans - The Seer Returns
The Mountain Goats - Cry for Judas
The Mountain Goats - Spent Gladiator 2
The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth
The Tallest Man On Earth - Bright Lanterns
The Tallest Man On Earth - Revelation Blues
Xiu Xiu - Hi
Xiu Xiu - Honey-Suckle

Hold on to your loved ones and rock out with naked dance parties:  http://thetastates.com/mp3s/blog/blog20121218-bestof2012.zip

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