2012 Album Reviews: Listened To Music In 2012
By: KM Anderson
The most difficult thing about compiling a year-end list is the consideration of ‘the year.’ Life moves in moments due to the precedence of the present in current culture. August seems like a year ago. Within the occurrences of a day, from social network updates, work deadlines and dramas, relationship temperatures, and children things, it is hard to recall the year. The criteria that I follow are: If I put on this album/song right now, would I play it through or skip through it? If I skip through it, I remove it from the list. Granted, there are things on this list that have the sheen of newness, which may give them the advantage of proximity, but based on my idea of a cultured taste, I will trust my gut feeling. So here it is. I hope you have an opinion…
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR (no particular order)
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 (Epic)
Intimate. Big in emotion, sparse in production. Direct. The complex musings of someone at odds with their complexities within the sphere of a relationship. Marvelous.
Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope)
A journey through the day of a kid in Compton. A proclamation of life in strife, struggle, and aspiration. The internal battle versus the outer world. Martin had a dream. Kendrick had a dream.
Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)
Every time I hear this album, I love it more. It’s sonically, lyrically, musically perfect. The beauty is in the restraint, the commitment to the song. Every note, every word accents accurately.
Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)
At one time rap was angry, unapologetic, honest, and not as populist as its current incarnation. This is a return to a time when rappers were not funny. I enjoy anyone who says fuck the police, the Forbes list, the government, and the president (yes. the black one, too).
Twin Shadow: Confess (4AD)
Take everything you loved about the anthem songs of the ‘80s—the keyboard sounds, the drum sounds, the soaring chorus, the cocaine guitar, the magic, the feeling like this night is forever— THIS is the moment. Now add a dude singing detached love songs, and you have this album. Wonderful all year, every time.
Frank Ocean: channel Orange (Def Jam)
Think Prince Sign ‘O’ The Times. Think an album that defies all trivializations and hype. Think maybe one of the best albums ever. I think that.
Grizzly Bear: Shields (Warp)
You look out the window and see a butterfly, you notice the beauty in its wing pattern. The picture widens, the sun illuminates the backyard, all the colors blossom, your chest swells with emotion… ”endless abundance overflows.”
Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dreams (RCA)
A sexy album about actual sexual feelings. Lust, confusion, insecurity, bravado, innocence. It’s not just about getting it, it’s about liking them too. But, mostly about getting it.
TNGHT: TNGHT EP (Warp)
This is an instrumental album of trap beats that are large. It is like Optimus Prime Crip Walking.
Chris Cohen: Overgrown Path (Captured Tracks)
Mellow but psychedelic. Barrett’s Floyd more than Waters’ Floyd. The album you play on a slow Sunday, a rainy day, a cool morning, a buzzed night - while making a sandwich or cleaning the house.
Diplo crunked it up, Usher smoothed it out. The constant release and crescendo mirror the ebb and flow of the relationship. My first favorite of the year.
Solange: “Losing You”
A song I could listen to 10 times in a row and have. It is enough-one more anything would have thrown this song off. Its simplicity, its breezy sensibility, it’s not “the one you should be making your enemy.”
G.O.O.D. Music: “Mercy”
The music for this song is epic. The lyrics are epic. It is a moment every time a new verse begins, each dude bests his predecessor, from “roll my weed on it, that’s an ass tray” to the coupe the color of “man-naise.” It’s evident why this song was a summer anthem.
2 Chainz: “Dope Peddler”
If one song could explain the genius of 2 Chainz, it is “Dope Peddler.” The cartoonish chorus, the trap beat, the line, “I’m in the trap cause I work dere.”
Thee Oh Sees: “Will We Be Scared?”
It is Buddy Holly underwater.
Divine Fits: “Flaggin’ A Ride”
Grooves so hard. Britt Daniel is a bad, bad man.
(Looking forward to one album in 2013: Kanye West.)