So there were a lot of “Best Of” end of the year lists and there was plenty of good music to go around, but this particular list for me, is mainly of music that stuck out to me and I’ve connected to in 2012. Some of the bigger albums of 2012 might have been left off (such as Channel Orange, Kaleidoscope Dream) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think they were great – actually it pretty much goes without saying, so I’m not saying it. Even though it’s officially 2013, here is a quick list of music you might have missed – because it’s never too late. Here are my top picks, in no particular order (well, everything besides this one..)
TOP ALBUM PICK: Pines by A Fine Frenzy
This is a later 2012 addition but this album has absolutely made my year. I really enjoyed Bomb In A Birdcage but it took me awhile to warm up to it. Over the course of two years though, it became an album that made it’s way into my regular rotation. When Pines dropped, I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first listen but by the second I knew it was something worthy of my ears. By the third listen of the album I was a solidified Alison Sudol fan. I love her, love her, love her. This album was just what I needed, at just the right time. The perfect balance between melancholy and jubilance.
Habits & Contradictions by Schoolboy Q
I’m down with most of TDE (except I’m having a hard time getting into Ab Soul, maybe next year?) I’m really glad Kendrick Lamar is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Schoolboy Q is well on his way. Habits & Contradictions is a nice progression from Setbacks. And anyone who samples an acoustic cover of Lissie singing Kid Cudi’s Pursuit Of Happiness is all good in my book.
Banshee by Kendra Morris
This album basically sums up my love life for the past two years, ha. This album is so beautifully executed, whether it’s the vocals, lyrics, production, etc. Her voice is a contrast between smoky and sweet with a an old school vibe thrown in there, especially when she harmonizes. I feel like everything she expresses is everything I didn’t say, did say, didn’t think to say and more. I honestly don’t know what I would do if this album never came into my life.
People Hear What They See by Oddisee
Before People Hear What They See I was a fan of Oddisee’s production but aside from features on Little Brother albums and mix tapes I hadn’t really heard him rap or knew much of what his style lyrically was. People Hear What They See is his first solo debut as an MC and it is definitely one of the BEST hip hop/rap albums of 2012. His flow is nice and he speaks on real issues (American greed, the economy, insecure women, insecure men, religion) A very nice surprise and a breath of fresh air musically.
Gone by Vacationer
Gone by Vacationer ended up being the answer to my Vampire Weekend withdrawal. Not that I’m trying to compare the two – but if I had to, Vacationer would be the slightly subdued, more chill, (possibly stoned) cousin to VW. And I like it. Definitely the perfect summer album. A nice, mellow, funky getaway.
Little Broken Hearts by Norah Jones
This is the perfect follow up to The Fall, which one will realize especially when listening to both albums back to back. Besides Norah Jones being one of my favorite artists, (and Danger Mouse being one of my favorite producers for this record) I loved this album because I felt like I was being told a story. A very, very specific story. Her sound has changed a bit since Come Away With Me, but I’ve been with her every step of the way and the same goes for Little Broken Hearts.
June 2009 – Toro y Moi
When I first heard June 2009 I practically shouted “Yes!” This sounds a little different from Chazwick Bundick’s usual style – because it is. It’s actually a collection of songs recorded in the summer of 2009, as the title suggests, before his debut Causers Of This. I like it’s super indie feel and it’s effortlessness, like it was one long jam session from start to finish. Whenever I listen, I feel like I should be cruising in some middle-of-nowhere desert passing one horse towns with one gas station every 50 miles and I dig it.
Against The Wall EP by Kat Graham
This year I became a newly minted Vampire Diaries fan and a Kat Graham fan as well. She’s like a Janet Jackson-Paula Abdul-Ciara hybrid (see what I did there VD fans?) Against The Wall is funky fresh poppy goodness. I like that she has an edge to her. Yes, it is pop music but there is a layer of fierceness that can’t be ignored.
1999 by Joey Bada$$
Okay, so technically, this isn’t an album but this mix tape was the best tape of 2012. PERIOD. Joey Bada$$ is such a talented MC and only seventeen. He spits over over Dilla beats, Freddie Joachim and Lord Finesse. Also on the tape, fellow rapper Capital Steez accompanies him on the track Killuminati and the pair go together like Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (okay, I couldn’t think of a better comparison) This is throwback hip hop (with a modern twist) at its finest.
The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle by Missy Higgins
Missy’s definitely stepped her game up on her third effort following On A Clear Night. It was long awaited (at least, for me) and it was worth the wait. Full of honesty and clever romantic metaphors, it tells of a relationship that has lost its spark and how to deal once you realized it has. Yet, another break-up (ish) album that spoke to me.
Yuna by Yuna
This self titled album by Yuna is one of my favorites from this year. Such a talent, organic and effortless. A unique voice and reflective lyrics – such a positive, fun, eclectic record.
Royalty by Childish Gambino
Another mix tape but a damn good one. Gambino has come a long way since rapping over indie tracks and I like his progression. Not going to lie, I had to adjust at first after going from Camp to this. But after getting acclimated, this tape was a nice listen. A lot of fans were taken aback because of it’s content (speaking on money, european vacations, name dropping designers, social classes, rolexes etc.) because they feel Donald isn’t being true to himself or speaking on things he isn’t familiar with. But have you kept up with Donald these days? I mean just take a look at his Instagram account and you can practically make a scrapbook of every European stop he made from the Camp tour. Also, last time I checked he wasn’t exactly a struggling actor/rapper/writer/comedian. I don’t like to assume but I think it’s safe to say he’s not hard up for cash. Also, you must be new around these parts if you have never heard him name drop anything or anyone associated with the fashion industry. Dude used to model for Band Of Outsiders and might as well have Commes de Garcons tatted on himself. Also, before he put the tape out he said he was only having fun with this and the concept behind it. Well if having “fun” includes having 2/9 of the Wu Tang Clan, Bun B, Beck, Tina Fey (rapping!!!) Schoolboy Q, Nipsey Hussle, Kilo Kish and Danny Brown guest on your mix tape I’d hate to see what he does when he’s being serious.
*Sidenote: Childish and Danny Brown need to make a joint mix tape/album like now.
The Lion The Beast The Beat by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Though I have a soft spot for their 2010 self titled album, The Lion The Beast The Beat is great step forward. I love me some Grace Potter so I’m down with any project she is a apart of. The last few years the band has seen a spike of success quietly going from a somewhat folkish group to a full fledge rock n roll band (but still with a folky edge) I put this on the honorable mention list because though a solid record it doesn’t have as many stand out tracks as their previous one – BUT I do believe a little track called Roulette has the power to take them into serious mainstream, crossover territory and could simultaneously make this album. Here’s hoping I’m right.
Old World Romance by Sea Wolf
Old World Romance is a nice little catchy album. One that catches on fast, before I knew it I already knew words to songs by the third listen. It still keeps in tune with the Sea Wolf signature sound, something new but still the same old same old – but definitely in a good way.
Hope everyone had a happy New Year’s! xoxo.