Despite my lack of writing in 2012, traditions must be respected. Outside of the music itself it was another year where I effectively only listened (and paid) to music from Spotify (some Rdio, etc), and bought a Sonos Play 3 in part to more easily stream Spotify to home speakers. Below are a few of the albums I enjoyed most in 2012, and a Spotify playlist of selected songs from them. This year there was a lot of albums I liked but few I deeply loved.
10. The Shins, Port of Morrow - Their latest felt like a welcome return to the early Shins. "The Rifle's Spiral" and "September" are both solid, but "Simple Song" is the obvious standout. Fantastic song.
9. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror - Only a couple tracks, like "Comeback Kid", reach what they nailed on "Treats" but even slowed down their dynamics are great.
8. Metric, Synthetica - They have developed an interesting synth/new-wave-ish sound that keeps it interesting. Not as rocking as "Fantasties" although found its way into regular rotation.
7. Cat Power, Sun - My favorite Cat Power album to date. She's had moments of brilliance in the past and I think this album flows from start to finish.
6. Japandroids, Celebration Rock - It took me a while to get into this album before it clicked. Their energy is infectious. They remind me of what I once loved about Piebald and how they crashed forward.
5. Kanye West presents Good Music, Cruel Summer - I think I have to admit I'm a fan of whatever Kanye puts out. The album has a mix of styles and some of the best lyrics ("I believe there's a god above me / I'm just the god of everything else"). Even features a Ma$e appearance! Oddly one of the duds is the Kid Cudi track which feels recycled.
4. Frank Ocean, channel Orange - Plenty has been written, understandably, about this captivating album. It feels almost sneaky how good it is since it comes in such a smooth package.
3. Electric Guest, Mondo - In reading a few year end round-ups I thought this album deserved better that it received. The Danger Mouse-produced album has his signature style of a mix of throwback and modern production. Bottom line is that it kept my foot tapping and stayed in my head.
1. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city - If Dre likes him, how can I not? Songs like "Backseat Freestyle" and "m.A.A.d city" are amazingly catchy, and the album is surprising in all the best ways when so much of hip hop isn't.