David Goldfarb: Top Albums of 2012

Philadelphia, PA

top ten albums

10Beach House: Bloom

The biggest dissapointment of the year. But a measure of how damn good Beach House is: they turn out a dissapointing album, and it’s still one of my top ten.

Standout Track(s): Lazuli; Irene

09Four Tet: Pink

I still can’t get over that this album is a singles collection; it’s the best sequenced album of the year. Flowing together to the unwieldy beat of Four Tet’s far-flung electro heart. Sorry, Frank Ocean, this is the best “Pyramid” of the year.

Standout Track(s): Pyramid

08Cat Power: Sun

Ignore the lyrics of “Human Being.” Ignore her crappiness to her fans. Pay attention to how one of indie’s best songwriters brings her full force to psych-pop.

Standout Track(s): Cherokee; Ruin

07Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music

The Killer Mike album I’ve been waiting for; the production that has eluded El-P for a decade. Killer Mike’s voice has always been his most compelling feature, but he stretches it in so many different directions: always angry, always thoughtful, always warm. I never thought his could be the best ATL album in a year that included a Big Boi album. That the Big Boi album is terrible does nothing to weaken that praise: if it were not for a weak couple tracks towards the end, this would have a shot of being the best rap album of the year.

Standout Track(s): Reagan

06Barroness: Yellow & Green

If a metal album is going to hit my top ten, it better be damn good. A metal double album? Better be fucking great.

Standout Track(s): March to the Sea

05Cate Le Bon: CYRK

The Welsh weirdness of John Cale; the ice beauty of Nico. Only a Lou Reed away from perfection. Who cares about Moe Tucker or Holmes Morrison?

Standout Track(s): Falcon Eyed; Cyrk

04Father John Misty: Fear Fun

I know I’m in the minority in thinking this album a minor gem. J Tillman quits the Fleet Foxes, overdoses on early-’70s Beatles, and sardonically blisses out. Once you sand down the patina of Fleet Foxes-ish harmonies on a few tracks, you’ll discover a wonderfully fun and varied album. Well worth the elbow grease.

Standout Track(s): I’m Writing a Novel; Now I’m Learning to Love the War

03Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

What to say about this album? I’m not a fan of concept albums. I’m not a fan of rap skits. This is and has both, but is so daring, so good, so interesting that it’s impossible to look away, impossible to shut your ears.

Standout Track(s): Bitch, Don’t Kill my Vibe; Swimming Pools (DRANK); Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

02Tame Impala: Lonerism

The worst thing I’ve done to myself this year is read an interview with leadsinger Kevin Parker where he addressed how much he sounds like John Lennon. I hadn’t heard it before, and now I can’t not hear it: it’s remarkable. That said, it’s also easy to see (hear?) why I wouldn’t: the vocals are buried by a layer of explosively inventive pyschodelia that never detracts from an album full of earworm songwriting.

Standout Track(s): Why Won’t They Talk to Me; Elephant

01Sharon van Etten: Tramp

Saying I love this album doesn’t do it justice. Let me put it this way: I seriously considered putting the demo version of this album as my #2. The first couple times I heard it, I was distracted, and almost moth balled it. But then the lyrics of “Give Out” bore a hole in my brain, stuck a grappling hook in, and climbed aboard for the long ride: “You’re the reason why I’ll move to the city / You’re why I’ll need to leave.” Perhaps. But this album? Not going anywhere.

Standout Track(s): Seprents; Give Out

honorable mentions

My Philly album fo the year: J Kong and the Atomic Bomb, Manufacturing Joy
My comeback album of the year:Clinic, Free Reign
My screw Ke$ha, Rhianna, Fran Ocean pop album of the year: Jessie Ware, Devotion
The rest: Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light; Japandroids, Celebration Rock; Lower Dens, Nootropics; Lotus Plaza, Spooky Action at a Distance; TNGHT, TNGHT EP; Bear in Heaven, I Love You, It’s Cool

similarity to overall top ten: 63.83%, 7 matches

top songs

Top ten songs not in any of my top ten albums (otherwise this would likely be a Sharon Van Etten sweep). The order is loose. Except #1.

10Twin Shadow, “Golden Light”Xylophone Prince.

09Llana del Rey, “Video Games”Haters gonna hate on the album, but this song is pure bliss.

08Spiritualized, “Hey Jane”Psych-brit pop retro resurgence. I’m ready. Paging Kula Shaker?

07Japandroids, “The House That Heaven Built”I refuse to name that other (great) single from this album. Since, you know, it came out in 2010.

06Miguel, “Gravity”The second best pop abum of the year (see #1).

05Usher, “Climax”Ugh. I hate this song. But it’s a pop marvel.

04BJ the Chicago Kid ft Kendrick Lamar – “His Pain II”The first three minutes of this song are the best three minutes of the year; the rest… not so much.

03Lower Dens, “Brains”I am an all time sucker for motorik. Best use since the Flaming Lips’ last LP. This track takes my on a voyage I don’t want to return from.

02Major Lazer, “Get Free”Where did this come from? Can whatever planet sent this send more?

01Jessie Ware, “110%”I’ll keep the dancefloor warm is the perfect lyric for young modern longing. I love this fucking song.

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