The Best Albums of 2012 (So Far)

A Finely Crafted Long-Player

record-playerI feel like my music collection is stuck in a bit of a rut lately. Nothing I’ve got on the ‘Pod is really catching my fancy and requiring constant listening and re-listening. The only real exception is Black and White Town by Doves, which is an absolutely fantastic song, but I am very much an album listener. I love nothing more than the ebb and flow of a finely crafted long-player. Don’t get me wrong – some great music has been released this year, but all of the albums I have on hand are feeling a bit stale. Any good recommendations?

Other Great Albums of 2007 (A Few Late Additions)

After reading through the various year-end lists, I tracked down a few of the interesting-sounding albums I hadn’t had a chance to listen to yet, and I discovered a few gems that I’d like to recommend as a sort of coda to my top 10 list:

Iron And Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

1) Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

The Iron and Wine cover of “Dark Eyes” from the I’m Not There soundtrack is one of the standout songs on that album, so I decided to give Iron and Wine another listen-to, despite the fact that their Postal Service cover from the Garden State soundtrack was a bit mopey. This album is uniformly great, and if I had started listening to it earlier in the year, it would easily have been in my top 10 list. Rootsy, organic, full of beautiful harmonies and melodies, and highly recommended.

Battles - Mirrored2) Battles – Mirrored

My first exposure to this album was the video for Atlas, which I saw on Subterranean, i.e. the one hour a week (including 20 minutes of commercials) when M2 plays interesting music videos. The video is fairly minimal – just a shot of the band playing in the odd glass cube pictured on their album cover – but it fits the music, which is (mostly) instrumental rock, most of which is also very minimal, and generally composed of repeated percussion and industrial sounds. I’ve been drawn to more and more instrumental music in the past year or so, just because I find it hard to listen to vocal music when I’m reading (even though this was not an issue in my younger years when I had more brain cells…) Anyways, this one has really grown on me, much like similar music by Liquid Liquid did a few years back. “Atlas” and “Race: In” are the standout tracks here, although the band’s sound is a bit abrasive and may not be to everyone’s tastes.

LCD Soundsystem - 45:333) LCD Soundsystem – 45:33

This is actually a re-issue of an iTunes exclusive in a CD form. The new version splits up the formerly 45 minute first track into six parts (essentially the “movements” of the song) and adds on three bonus tracks (two b-sides and a remix). As you might imagine from my top 10 list, I’ve become a huge fan of LCD Soundsystem thanks to their second album. Much like the Battles album, this is primarily instrumental music (kind of a departure for the band), and I actually prefer it for reading because it’s a bit more soothing whereas the Battles album is more up-beat and rock-and-roll. Maybe I’ll use it for walking music when it isn’t so cold outside…

My Favorite Albums of 2007

Alright, in order for an album to end up on this list, it had to be an album that I find myself listening to regularly, even though time may have passed since it was released. I have several pretty great albums on my iPod that will end up on other end-of-the-year lists that haven’t quite grabbed me like the ten below.

This list isn’t perfect, of course, especially because I also limited myself to albums released in 2007. I guess including The Beatles album is kind of fudging things a bit, but it was a pretty amazing compilation that totally redefines what you can do instead of a vanilla “greatest hits” album.

1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
2. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
3. Various Artists – I’m Not There (Soundtrack)
4. The Beatles – LOVE
5. Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is
7. Field Music – Tones of Town
8. Idlewild – Make Another World
9. Caribou – Andorra
10. Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger

To see what some of the professionals think, I recommend the AV Club Best Music of 2007 list. Much better than Pitchfork (even though I’ll read that one, too).

Tones of Town

I know we’re only a few short weeks into 2007, but I think I may have already found my most favorite album of the year:

Tones of Town

Field Music – Tones of Town

I discovered Field Music thanks to a little show on MTV2 called Subterranean. Believe it or not, MTV’s second channel still devotes about an hour a week to cool new music very late at night when noone is watching! According to the WikiPedia, Subterranean plays an average of nine videos in every hour-long show!

But… I digress! Field Music’s self-titled debut was easily my #1 album of 2006 (edging out The Obliterati by Mission of Burma by only a small margin, mind you!) According to iTunes, I’ve listened to their first album an average of about 50 times, and I still love listening to it! Few albums have achieved that kind of staying power with me… I admittedly have a verrry short attention span for music nowadays, and it’s an achievement if an album stays in heavy rotation for about 3-4 weeks.

The ultimate example of an album completely dominating my time was during the summer of 1997, when our friend OK Computer was pretty much the only thing I listened to for several long months. (This was, of course, back in the days of Discman, so the singular musical focus of that summer is perhaps a relic of the pre-iPod years.)

There have been few albums since 1997 that have captivated my attention span to such a level, but Field Music has definitely proven their staying power to me… and I think they’ve hit it out of the park again with album #2 – I bought this album last night, and I’ve already listened to it five seven times

So, the moral of this story is… in general, ignore Pitchfork. In specific terms, go buy yourself some Field Music. You can also check out some of their songs at their MySpace page.

…And you should definitely check out this awesome video for “In Context”:

i am internet hip now

I contributed to a Boing Boing post! I feel validated by the internet. Check it out!

Remember that band Harvey Danger? They’ve released their new album in MP3 format, for free, on the internet, using BitTorrent, working on the principle that this is actually a good way to promote your album, especially if you’re a little indie band. I’ve only listened to one song so far, but it was pretty cool. We’ll see how the rest of the album turns out.

i was going to post this on omni-fan, but…

…apparently the sql is fucked somehow. anyways, i spent some time thinking about my “best” albums of 2004. the top 3 are easy. they go:

1. the arcade fire – funeral
2. sonic youth – sonic nurse
3. mission of burma – onoffon

the rest vaguely go like this, with very little order to them.

elliott smith – from a basement on a hill
interpol – antics (how passe of me! indie-dance is _sooooo_ over!)
nick cave & the bad seeds – abbatoir blues/lyre of orpheus
blur – think tank (it’s weird that i like this, cause i really hated it the first time i heard it…)
four tet – pause
loretta lynn – van lear rose
the kinks – are the village green preservation society (remaster)
of montreal – satanic panic in the attic
wilco – a ghost is born
brian wilson – smile

unabashed “guilty” pleasure:
kylie minogue – body language

selected songs from:
kanye west – college dropout
joanna newsom – whichever weirdness i ran across

older stuff:
sonic youth – daydream nation, murray street, a thousand leaves
mission of burma – s/t
gang of four – entertainment
jim o’rourke – bad timing
morphine – cure for pain

single most played song of 2004:
“sunday” by sonic youth, at a grand total of 35 times.

best advance album illictly downloaded last week:
lou barlow – emoh