Sometimes it is best to not change a thing when you have a winning formula and that is exactly the way we felt about the sophomore outing from Chicago’s Archie Powell & The Exports titled Great Ideas In Action. Great Ideas In Action came at you with a batch of modern day Elvis Costello that was tighter and more focused than their debut. Archie Powell & The Exports perfected their verse chorus verse approach here and made for an entertaining listen front to back which is exactly why it landed in the Top 50!
Confess is an album full of songs about Love, Lust, not being in Love, maybe hoping George Lewis aka Twin Shadow could find love, maybe hoping you could love him. He’s a mess, and he lays it all out for us to hear which is exactly why this record turned out to be one of the best albums of the year. Confess is full of sampled beats, synths, and more guitar than Twin Shadow had previously used which made for a very dense record sonically that grabbed hold of you. Ultimately this portrait of an artist going through an intense inner turmoil and laying it all out for listeners to share with him made for such a brutally honest record that it made it hard to turn off and an automatic for our Top 50.
Right from the opening cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” you had a good idea that the new Chromatics album Kill For Love was going to challenge, reward and challenge your ear again right up to its conclusion. Kill For Love is a record that you needed time to inhale and just sit with. The Chromatics formed more than a decade ago and Kill For Love was five years in the making so this record was a true labor of love that could be heard on every song. The emerging retro-synth genre got a huge boost from the Chromatics as Kill For Love had plenty of highlights and is a solid listen all the way through!
Stockholm’s Holograms were not messing around and their post-punk self-titled debut was loud, punchy and downright addicting. It is the type of modern gritty album that gets under your skin in a good way, makes your blood pump quickly and instantly has you wanting more. With sure-fire sing-a-longs, guitar solos and up in your face vocals Holograms released a working man’s album. Every song here sounds like it might be the bands last and possesses an intensity that keeps the listener on the edge. Holograms never became dull or tiresome with their solid execution and their straightforward no-nonsense approach is exactly why they landed at #37.
I am not sure if there were any expectations for Bob Mould’s new full length, Silver Age, but I guarantee it still will surprise a lot of fans with its pedal to the floor rock attitude. The Sugar/Hüsker Dü founder has always went back n forth with his styles when it comes to his solo material, but I think that Silver Age’s turned up amps is one of his best. The record benefited from the addition of Bob’s live band in the recording studio as each track was rich and spontaneously full of energy. Silver Age is exactly the Bob Mould I wanted to hear and rightfully earned its place on our Top 50!
Titus Andronicus delivered on their third record, Local Business, with older familiar themes while remaining fun and fresh the whole time. The album was not full of the most uplifting premise as most of the time Titus Andronicus discussed how everything is inherently worthless but with big bar stomping anthems, thundering slow building movements and over eight minute theatrics Local Business had plenty of replay value. Titus Andronicus’ Local Business was the most fun loathing record that we heard in 2012 and its strength easily retained the band’s strong indie cred and place in our best of the year.
Right from the opening pounding drums on first track “Headache” you just know that the Canadian outfit METZ is totally going to kick your ass! The noise rock band’s self-titled debut was some of the best 30 minutes of controlled chaos we heard in 2012 as their post-punk style is both ferocious and addicting. METZ are in fact a post-punk band to the core and this record was not for humming along to in the car, playing on date night or using to impress your jam band friends. Instead METZ provided a record that will shake every aggressive bone out of your body, get you in the mood for going out and is perfect for testing out your maximum speaker volume. It is not a record that you will play all of the time but its memorable timeless quality is solid and perfect at #34!
I don’t believe that most people think of albums as sequels but that was exactly the way to categorize Perfume Genius’s sophomore record Put Your Back N 2 It. This album was not just a progression in lyric content but also in production as their debut’s lo-fi sound was replaced with a superior instrument clarity and memorable hush like vocal melodies that supplied the album with depth, warmth and an irresistible draw. Put Your Back N 2 It played even better upon repeat listens and truly became stronger every time you heard it. Perfume Genius created a record that is a mesmerizing listen and easily was placed on our Top 50 list!
From start to finish, Dan Snaith—the lone ranger behind both Daphni and Caribou—delivered beat-heavy perfection on Jiaolong (pronounced JOW-long). It is an album that did not have any unnecessary tracks and there were no missteps. It’s sweaty, it’s pulsing, it’s moist and holds two conflicting ideas in mind with perfect equilibrium. Dan Snaith is a madman; Dan Snaith is a genius. And Dan Snaith may have found his ideal creative outlet in Daphni while releasing one of the best albums of the year.
Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound was a fun roots romp all the way through its eleven tracks that successfully harnessed its talent right into the music. The self-titled sophomore record from Mae was an album that you picked up with little expectations and left with quite possibly one of your favorites this year! With Mae’s backing band, The Almighty Sound, added to the billing the temperature instantly shot through the roof. Mae took command of your ear and never let it go with a new found attitude and swagger that not only infected every song on the record but made the album one of the surprising releases in 2012!