Sunday, January 6, 2013

Most Pleasurable Albums of 2012

Alright. Bringing this blog back, but it's not going to just be about food. I don't write anymore, and it's making me stupid.

2012 was a very rewarding year to keep up with new music. I don't believe in ranking art, so this list is not numbered. There are a few albums that I was really into this year that I wouldn't necessarily put on my year end list. The honorable mention: Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense, Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay, Die Antwoord - Ten$ion, Graveyard - Lights Out, Tame Impala - Lonerism, Baroness - Yellow and Green, Action Bronson - Rare Chandeliers, Trash Talk - Awake, Grimes - Visions, Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy, Mr. MFN eXquire - Power and Passion, Pig Destroyer - Book Burner.

And in no particular order:

Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid M.a.a.d. City (Top Dawg, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope)

I don't think that there's a record that I listened to more this year than Good Kid M.a.a.d City. It's an album about Lamar growing up in Compton. The album was put together by a team of producers headed up by Dr. Dre. Predictably, it boasts a sound heavily associated with Compton. To me, it barely feels like a rap record. I would even go as far as to call it progressive hip-hop (prog-hop?). Many have drawn comparisions to Outkast.

Kendrick Lamar - Money Trees (Feat. Jay Rock)

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore)

Little Rock quartet Pallbearer aren't necessarily trailblazers. They play a style of metal (doom, specifically) that bands have been playing since Sabbath and Pentagram spread the seed more than forty years ago, but they play it with so much emotion and sincerity that the metal community couldn't help but be utterly captivated by their debut LP.

Lyrical themes of death, sadness, fear, pain, and ultimately strength in acceptence of sorrow and grief, invoke a mood within me that I associate most strongly with romance era poets such as Blake and Browning. Brett Cambell's soaring wail is the perfect delivery system for such profound lyrical content over a soundscape of beautifully heavy instrumentation. Sorrow and Extinction is an instant doom classic.

Pallbearer - Devoid Of Redemption

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)

R.A.P. Music (Rebellious African People) hits hard lyrically, thematically, emotionally, musically and politically. The record is entirely produced by the prolific Brooklyn emcee/producer El-P. Killer Mike's skillful southern-fried delivery, and thought provoking lyrics, make this album a powerful statement. El-P and Killer Mike share the same rebellious, revolutionary mindset and it really shines through on tracks like "Reagan."

"Four words: I'm glad Reagan dead."

Killer Mike - "Big Beast" (Official Video, ft. Bun B, T.I., Trouble, & El-P)

Captain Murphy (Flying Lotus) - Duality (Brainfeeder)

When this record was released for free via with a long-form video companion, Captain Murphy's identity was unknown. Later in the year it was revealed that Captain Murphy was none other than avant-garde producer/emcee Flying Lotus. Duality is a hypnotising and dark example of what it sounds like when a genius makes a rap record. The record also acts as a guide to becoming a cult leader.

Captain Murphy- "Shake Weight" TNGHT

Krallice - Years Past Matter (self released)

This release from the Brooklyn black-metal/next level shit quartet blows my mind. It's a swirling technical black metal explosion packed with churning instrumentation and compositional genius. It's hard to wrap your brain around it, but it's a rewarding listen when you realize that nothing sounds like this and everyone making the music is smarter than you.

Krallice - Years Past Matter - IIIIIIII - 2012

Aluk Todolo - Cult Rock (Ajna Offensive)

I didn't "get it," at first. This album is so repetitive and noisy that I started to write it off half-way through the first track. As I continued to listen I settled into a trance and was completely immersed. Cult Rock creates a mood that I have never experienced before while listening to music. It takes patience, but once you are drawn in, the music brings you to a different level of consciousness. This isn't just music, it's an experience.

"The requested conditions to play our music is to get in a trance and forget everything... when the musician finally disappears behind the forces he does summon." - Antoine Hadjioannou (drummer)

Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock I

Torche - Harmonicraft (Volcom)

The third full-length record from Torche marks their first release as a four-piece since Juan Montoya parted ways with the group. On Harmonicraft, Torche embrace hooks again (their previous EP, Songs for Singles was basically hookless). I got exactly what I wanted from this record: pop songs dripping with sludge.

Torche - Solitary Traveler

Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE (Def Jam)

This is the studio debut from Frank Ocean, and already I can't wait to hear more. channel ORANGE is a soul-tinged genre bender. The instrumentation is largely electronic. Some tracks are atmospheric, some slow, and some are club bangers. If Frank Ocean can consistently put out material on par with channel ORANGE, he will be our generation's Prince.

Frank Ocean - Thinking About You (Official Video)

Swans - The Seer (Young God)

Writing a small blurb trying to describe this album would be an exercise in futility. It's special. It's the 12th studio album from Swans. Just listen to it.

Swans - Avatar

Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)

The 8th studio album from legendary Massachusetts hardcore/metal group serves as a reminder of why these guys are still around. They still make music as intense, compelling and relevent as any of their contemporaries.

Converge - "Vicious Muse"

Death Grips - No Love, Deep Web

Death Grips released No Love, Deep Web for free on the internet without the permission of their label (Epic) with the intention of severing their ties with the company. The album cover featured a boner with the name of the record written on it.

The producer/emcee duo of Zach Hill and Stefan Burnett are known for their intense, abrasive experimental hip-hop sound sometimes reminiscent of jungle and drum and bass genres. While their early 2012 record The Money Store is noteworthy, No Love, Deep Web feels more raw and visceral to me.

Death Grips - No Love

Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl Record Company)

Celebration Rock is the 2nd release from this Vancouver two-piece. Japandroids deliver an album full of high-energy, high-emotion rock tunes. The album is aptly titled. If you wanted to play the genre game with Japandroids, they already did all of the work for you when they named their record.

Japandroids - "The House That Heaven Built" (Official Music Video)