Music Albums of the year 2012

Regular readers know I like a music post from time to time. This one is my end of year look at this years best albums. For me, this year had plenty of good albums, but not one I think that stood out as something really special, or ground breaking. Mojo magazine went with Jack White’s album, as their number one which shows what I mean. Good, but a bit retro. I like this album, but I haven’t played it in a few months. So for my number one, I went with something different.

Fiona Apple - The idler wheel. Best of the year?

Fiona Apple – The idler wheel. Best of the year?

Album of the year

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

For the second year running, I’m selecting an album by a female artist (last year it was PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake”). This one a more unusual choice for me in the respect that I had never bought anything from Fiona Apple before, prior to this year. This means to me she was pretty much a new artist, albeit one with a back catalogue to explore. However with running this blog this year, I took more of an interest in poetry, short story, song lyrics and that whole area. Fiona’s album has a clever mix of intelligent lyrics. and phrasing, and the way she delivers or sings them, with subtle adjustments in her voice, mean there is lots to continually find. It made a good balance for me against the aforementioned interests. Musically it is also pretty subtle, a little low key, a lot of percussion, but it lends a touch of freedom which shows through in the album as a “whole” (speech marks intended). Try “Werewolf” or “Regret” as examples.

Runners up, were Bat for Lashes (another female artist), which I like a lot but as a fairly recent release, I’ve not lived with it long enough. Tame Impala with its neat way of live band dance music, and rolling drum beats, is also pretty cool, and a good soundtrack to various things going on in my life.

Further close calls include Bob Mould’s “Silver Age” (regular readers will know I’m a big fan and only recently saw him live for the first time). Bruce Springsteen also had a good, accessible record in “Wrecking Ball” which seemed to fit in with this election year (in the US). See also honorary mentions which I think are all good albums work checking out.

Runners up

    • Tame Impala – Lonerism
    • Bat for Lashes – The haunted man

Close calls

    • Bob Mould – The Silver Age
    • Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
    • Japandroids – Celebration Rock
    • Ty Segall – Twins

Honorary mentions

    • Bob Dylan – Tempest
    • Cat Power – Sun
    • Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
    • Elbow – Dead in the Boot
    • Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral
    • Michael Kiwanuku – Home Again
    • Orbital – Wonky
    • Sharon van Etten – Tramp
    • Damien Jurado – Maraqopa
    • Spiritualised – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
    • Jack White – Blunderbuss

Re-issue of the Year

Blur “21” – Although I do love the Sugar remasters, with added B sides and live gigs, and these are two of my favourite all time albums, the Blur box set with all the B-sides, fan club singles, demos and more, takes the crown. It might simply be that there is more of it. Blur were, and are a big band for me, especially through the college and university years and this set has a remastered pretty much everything along with a book, and loads of unreleased tracks. The 21 refers to both years and discs.

Runner up Re-issue

Sugar – Copper Blue / Beaster

celebration day

Music DVD of the year

Led Zeppelin, “Celebration day” – Like most everybody, I didn’t get to go to the gig itself, but this really is the next best thing. Beautifully recorded and shot. Plus what a performance. Sure they rehearsed, but given they had pretty much not performed together in front of an audience, since they split (ignoring disjointed performances at Live aid and Atlantic records 40th), it was clear they had something to prove. Or maybe to state, or maybe to remember them by as a closing statement. Will they perform together again? Who knows, maybe not, and if not, this is a much better closing statement than pretty much any other band will manage. If you like Led Zep, then I would definitely recommend this.

What is your album of the year? Or failing that, what is the best thing you heard this year?

Lexicon word of the day: absense (not absence).

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21 comments on “Music Albums of the year 2012

  1. I am always impressed by your knowledge of music. I’ll have to check some of thse out, being grossly uninformed about most of them. Thanks!

    • Elliot says:

      I’ve been buying music and reading about it for so long, and I normally try to keep up. The good thing is there is so much of it that there will always be something I haven’t discovered or overlooked when it came out. These days it is also easy to listen to a preview or watch / listen to a video online, to see if it is in the ball park of what you might like.

  2. Margarita says:

    I still live in Golden Oldie land. And I’m grateful for your guidance in venturing out of there! xoM

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m going to put Fiona Apple’s album on my wish list for my hubby right now. You’ve sold me. I bought Alanis Morisette’s recent one, and I wasn’t too enamored with it.

    I’ve heard so much good music this year that it’s hard to choose my favorite, but I have to say the couple new bands I’ve heard (well, new to me) are Young the Giant and The Decemberists. And, of course, The Black Keys had a great year.

    • Elliot says:

      The Decemberists changed track a little bit on that last one, so I would be interested to know what you think if you went a bit further back in their catalogue.

      Check out some of the Fiona apple videos on youtube or the alternative (vimeo? I forget), then you’ll have a better idea if she is for you.

      Oh I like that Black keys album but it came out at the end of last year so didn’t make this years choices!

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    My husband and I are trying to come up with new music to download, so I think we’ll take a look at some of these. We are terribly out of date when it comes to music. We’re not “stuck in a rut.” It’s more not knowing where to look to hear something that we might like.

    • Elliot says:

      The good thing is there are plenty of places to try tracks (e.g. youtube, vimeo, amazon or itunes previews) and see if it is in the ball park for something you listen to. I know what you mean though about knowing where to start. There is so much out there that if you are unfamiliar, you have to wonder where a good entry point is.

  5. Smaktakula says:

    Unlike the TV list from your previous post, I recognize every name on here (which is not to say I know all all the artists musically, but I do know most). The only album on your list that I own is Dylan’s Tempest. I listen to a lot of music, but it tends to be from my collection. I don’t listen to the radio (internet or otherwise) except for ball games, because invariably, I’m disappointed in the musical selection. I listened to KROQ 106.7 for about a year my freshman year of college, because as it happened, the programming at that time dovetailed remarkably with my musical tastes.

    I’m pretty happy with the way I listen to music, but I’ll admit that it makes it difficult to be introduced to new artists (that comes mostly from friends, but also from lists like yours and from articles). As a result, i don’t buy as much music as I used to. In the last year, I’ve purchased Muse’s “The 2nd Law,” “Battle Born” by the Killers, deadmau5’s “, Dylan’s “Tempest,” and “Handwritten” by the Gaslight Anthem. There have probably been a couple others, but those are the ones which spring immediately to mind.

    • Elliot says:

      I was a little disappointed with this Muse album, and I haven’t played the one by the Killers much yet. I buy a lot of music out of habit, as I have been doing it for so long. Sometimes I think I know nothing about it, then other times I realise that I know quite a lot. But I think we have mentioned before that there is a lot of cross over in our tastes as regards music. The only one I do not have out of those you mentioned is the deadmau5 one.

      • Smaktakula says:

        I really like “Battle Born” and “Handwritten.” “Handwritten” in particular is the best Gaslight Anthem album so far, in my opinion. It’s aching, un-selfconsiously heart-on-your-sleeve rock & roll. Battle Born is good too, although I don’t think it reaches the consistent highs of “Day & Age.” Still, some of the songs–Flesh & Bone, Be Still, Miss Atomic Bomb, are as good as anything the Killers have done.
        My wife and I will be seeing the Killers for the first time in Vegas later this month. I’m pretty excited about that. It’s been ages since I’ve seen an artist perform who had hits in the 21st Century.

  6. I know you’ve already seen this but I’m gunna do the official bit anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hi honey ๐Ÿ™‚

    Iโ€™ve nominated you for Blog Of The Year 2012!

    http://the-view-outside.com/2012/12/16/im-collecting-stars-update/

    Hope you decide to accept ๐Ÿ™‚

    Xx

  7. So many of these bands are unfamiliar to me, it makes me feel old and square! I think I have some music exploration to do over holiday break. Thanks for the leads.

  8. Hmmm. That’s a tough one. Right now I’m obsessed with Marina and the Diamonds. I tend to fall in love with an album for a few months and then move on. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. DyingNote says:

    Good choices. Happy to see Damien Jurado and Mark Lanegan in here. Didn’t realize Elbow had released an album this year

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