This year has been more than gracious to my ears. I was fond of so many releases in 2012 that it was like pulling teeth trying to narrow this list down to JUST thirty. Since albums have the tendency to grow on me, this list was compiled without review ratings in mind, if I had a chance to review them that is. These thirty albums are the records that I continued to revisit throughout the year and have yet to stop jamming. These are the records that are still fresh and exciting upon the umpteenth listen. Without further adieu, these are my favorite albums of the year.
30. The Mars Volta-Noctourniquet
29. Fiona Apple-The Idler Wheel…
27. The Men-Open Your Heart
26. Xiu Xiu-Always
25. King Dude-Burning Daylight
24. Converge-All We Love We Leave Behind
23. Sharon Van Etten-Tramp
22. Killer Mike-R.A.P. Music
21. Earth-Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
20. Pig Destroyer-Book Burner
19. Cursive-I Am Gemini
17. Locrian & Mamiffer-Bless Them That Curse You
16. Kowloon Walled City-Container Ships
15. Death Grips-The Money Store
14. Fontanelle-Vitamin F
13. Bone Dance-Self Titled
12. Aesop Rock-Skelethon
11. Birds in Row-You, Me & The Violence
10. El-P-Cancer 4 Cure
Cancer 4 Cure sees El-P at the top of his game. His production is crisp and unique and his lyrical delivery is a the equivalent of being shot with a Gatling gun. Well thought and abstract lyrics and creative, complex beats are all over this thing. The contributions from Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Despot and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire in addition the album’s overall powerful sound really make this hip hop record shine among its peers. The best hip hop record this year by far in my opinion.
9. Cattle Decapitation-Monolith of Inhumanity
I didn’t think the badasses in Cattle Decap would top The Harvest Floor and boy was I wrong. Monolith of Inhumanity is ten times heavier, more complex, and an overall better written record than its predecessor in my opinion. This record takes you on a blood soaked journey through the bowels of some carcass and only after being beaten senseless will this record’s message of “humans are shit” will fully set in. Also, the record’s final moments are probably what made it for me.
8. Car Bomb-w^w^^w^w
The long awaited follow up to Car Bomb’s 2007 debut, Centralia, finally arrived this year. w^w^^w^w is a hodgepodge of complex rhythms, off kilter riffs, musical eccentricities all bound together in a raw and extremely heavy package. This fifty minutes of equilibrium shattering and skull crushing technical metal that makes Centralia look like a pop album in comparison. In short, it rips.
7. Lilacs & Champagne-Self Titled
Two members of Grails have taken their affinity for Eastern music, post-rock and hip hop and combined them all into what is known as Lilacs & Champagne. This instrumental hip hop record is trippy as hell. Lilacs & Champagne’s music features very minimal hip hop beats accompanied by layer upon layer of synth effects, Grails’ esque instrumentation and obscure samples and sounds. I honestly thought I was on acid the first time I listened to this thing. I always come back to this record because it’s so delightfully weird. I love it
6. So is the Tongue-A Child of Divorce
A Child of Divorce is the sophomore record from So is the Tongue and it bears such raw emotion that is uncanny. Beautiful and melancholic songs are woven with elements of post-rock, math rock, and jazz and ultimately result in one of the most powerful releases of the year. This album deserves a lot more recognition than it has gotten. A true tour de force.
5. Gifts from Enola-A Healthy Fear
Combine post-rock, progressive rock, post-hardcore, post-metal, hell, post everything into one and you’ve got one of the most interesting and catchy records of the year. Gifts from Enola’s A Healthy Fear showcases absolutely incredible songwriting and jaw dropping musicianship. These songs are wonderfully crafted into tunes that sound like nothing else I have heard this year. I cannot stop jamming this thing.
4. Deftones-Koi No Yokan
It’s ten times heavier and more well produced than Diamond Eyes. It’s dripping with ethereal atmosphere that Diamond Eyes lacked. It flows a lot more fluidly than Diamond Eyes. Heck, Koi No Yokan is just a superior album all around. This record shows Deftones continuing to evolve and craft more interesting songs. Koi No Yokan is ridiculously catchy to boot. But come one, it’s Deftones, what’s not to love?
3. Gaza-No Absolutes in Human Suffering
No Absolutes in Human Suffering is Gaza’s most vile album to date. It combines elements of the band’s previous efforts into an extremely pissed off monster. It’s full of ten ton riffs and hell raising vocals that will appease the little satanist teenager in everyone. This record was like crack for my ears. So far, these guys can do no wrong. Best heavy music record of the year, hands down.
2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor-‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s first record in ten years and it does not disappoint at all. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. It features some of the better material the band has written. Two hypnotic drone tracks and two twenty minute opuses that take the listener through different states of musical euphoria. This record is almost like a damn spiritual experience, the song “Mladic” in particular. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is in a league all their own.
1. SWANS-THE SEER
It should be no surprise that I chose this album as album of the ear. It’s not just worthless hype, this record really a masterpiece. The Seer culminates Swans’ entire career into a strange, heavy and dark album. The songs feature layer upon layer of varying instrumentation and feature some intense songwriting. The title track itself features so many different instrumental passages that it’s ridiculous. The songs are all different and are all strange but what would you expect out of Swans? It’s unique pieces of music like this that still give me faith in today’s music. The Seer blows my mind every time I listen to it. If you have two hours to spare, listen to this magnificently odd album. You’ll be glad you did. This is album of the year!
Between the Buried and Me-The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Mono-For My Parents
Dysrhythmia-Test of Submission