Top 10 Albums of 2012 Revisited

Now, Now - ThreadsAs is my yearly tradition prior to posting my top 10 albums list, I look back at my top album from the previous year and tweak it with things I missed or ended up growing on me. Looking back on 2012, there’s one album that was on the list that jumped a few spots, and new entrants barely knocked out the previous slot holders at the list’s bottom.

The Original Top 10 Albums of 2012

1. Celebration Rock – Japandroids
2. Negotiations – The Helio Sequenc
3. History Speaks – Deep Sea Diver
4. Threads – Now, Now
5. Fear Fun – Father John Misty
6. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
7. Tramp – Sharon Van Etten
8. Touch Screens – Erik Blood
9. On the Impossible Past – The Menzingers
10. North – Stars

The Updated Top 10 Albums of 2012

1. Celebration Rock – Japandroids
2. Threads – Now, Now
3. Negotiations – The Helio Sequence
4. History Speaks – Deep Sea Diver
5. Fear Fun – Father John Misty
6. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
7. Tramp – Sharon Van Etten
8. We Don’t Even Live Here – P.O.S.
9. The Kaleidoscope – Lemolo
10. Visions – Grimes

Advertisements

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Recap for Rolling Stone

Macklemore Key
Over at Rolling Stone, I wrote a recap of the final night of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s sold out run of shows at KeyArea. It also touches on how much the duo has come to mean to the Seattle. Check it out.

A Year+ of Macklemore Coverage

Photo by John Keatle.

With Macklemore and Ryan Lewis returning to Seattle for three sold out show at KeyArena, I rounded up all of Seattle Met’s coverage of the hometown heroes. Check it out.

Fiendish Conversation with Mary Lambert

Mary LambertBefore her appearance at the VMAs, I chatted with Mary Lambert about the whirlwind that has surrounded her part on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s hit single “Same Love,” her spin-off song, and her future plans. Check it out.

Seattle Met’s 50 Most Influential Seattleites

Image by Brett Affrunti.I wrote about four musicians as part of Seattle Met‘s feature on the “50 Most Influential People in Seattle Right Now”: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Cuong Vu, and Erik Blood. Check it out.

Ryan Lewis Cover Feature from The Inlander

Photo by John Keatle.I wrote the first major feature on Ryan Lewis, the hip-hop hitmaker and Macklemore’s partner in crime. It’s the cover feature for the latest issue of The Inlander. Check it out.

Top 10 Albums of 2012

Stars - North10. Stars – The North

Compared to previous Stars records, The North is positively joyous. Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan’s dual vocal attack remains as tight as ever, but there’s more hope in the words they’re singing. The instrumentals are also more upbeat with shimmering indie pop backings being boosted by deep groves. It’s a sweet collection of love songs that begs listeners to sway along.

Menzingers - Impossible Past9. The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past

The Menzingers is the band I thought I was getting when people first started raving to me about The Gaslight Anthem. The music wonderfully blends an angry punk sound with lyrics the pine for the elusive American dream in a way that’s Springsteen-esque. On the Impossible Past fiercely kicks off with “Good Things,” one of the year’s best songs, and barrels full steam ahead from there.

Erik Blood - Touch Screens8. Erik Blood – Touch Screens

Touch Screens is the classiest, most polished filth of the year. Erik Blood’s ode to pornography mixes a variety of guitar-driven rock styles while (naughtily) touching on everything from porn star biographies (“The Lonesome Death of Henry Paris”) to selecting a daily dose of smut (“Today’s Lover”) to the complexities of porn actor’s relationships away from the job (“Share Your Love”). Each song is fine tuned with the deft production skills that have made made Blood one of the go-to producers in the Seattle scene. Touch Screens may leave you feeling dirty, but it’s too pleasurable to deny.

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp7. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

There’s beauty in stability. Sharon Van Etten wasn’t shy about letting her personal pain spill out on her first couple records, but Tramp finds her exploring music with a new sense of poise. It’s much more of a full rock record than her previous efforts and the fleshed out sound shines on songs like “Magic Chords” and “Warsaw.” While her words can pack an emotional, cutting punch (“Serpents”), its pleasant to see that Van Etten has found some personal peace of mind.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist

After spending years of honing their craft and slowly building their brand, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis finally delivered their breakthrough record. Macklemore is equally deft at deft at delivering swagger (“Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us”) and vulnerable reflections (“Same Love,” “Neon Cathedral”) and Ryan Lewis’s sample-free compositions help The Heist have a feel that’s distinctly it’s own. When you add a host of terrific guest choruses (Allen Stone, Mary Lambert, and more) to that mix, the result is the most solidly diverse hip-hop album of the year.

Father John Misty - Fear Fun5. Father John Misty – Fear Fun

No one bombastically burst onto the scene in 2012 quite like Father John Misty did. Fear Fun is a wildly entertaining drug-fueled ride through L.A.’s underbelly in a manner that would’ve made Jim Morrison proud. Whether he’s dwelling on darkness (“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”), the tragic absurdity of art (“Now I’m Learning to Love the War”), or the chemical substances in his system (“I’m Writing a Novel”), FJM does so with a sly sense of humor and bravado. It’s a throwback rock album that revels in how silly the very idea of a throwback rock album is.

Now, Now - Threads4. Now, Now – Threads

With the aide of producer Chris Walla, Now, Now found its tonal sweet spot on Threads. Everything the band did well on previous records is distilled into an immensely accessible album full of superb vocal and guitar harmonies and unintrusive drum beats. And while the band still excels at slow jams (“School Friends,” ), it’s also great to hear the band unabashedly rock out for once (“Thread”).

Deep Sea Diver - History Speaks3. Deep Sea Diver – History Speaks

While Deep Sea Diver frontwoman Jessica Dobson served a stint as The Shins’ lead guitarist this year, her own band’s first LP History Speaks was clearly her crowning achievement in 2012. The album bursts with lively energy while blending melodically tight guitar rockers (“Ships,” “You Go Running”) and piano pop ballads (“NWO”). The entire package is crisp, clean, and undeniably hooky. One listen to History Speaks and you’ll be humming the melodies for days to come.

The Helio Sequence - Negotations2. The Helio Sequence – Negotiations

With each passing album, The Helio Sequence’s music has become more focused on atmosphere and flow. Drummer Benjamin Weikel’s synth backings now feature much more open sonic space and frontman Brandon Summers’s guitar work also no longer forces the issue. As a result, the band keeps getting better and better. Negotiations almost feels more like a single composition featuring a series of movements instead of a traditional rock record. No individual track reaches out and grabs you, rather they all welcome you warmly into their collective embrace.

Japandroids - Celebration Rock1. Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Celebration Rock got me back in the pit. While my body and age had kept me on the pit’s fringes for years, this record made my instinctively rush into the sweaty throng to thrash, bruise and scream along when Japandroids came to town. Every note on Celebration Rock pulsates with youthful electricity: every thundering drum beat, every massive split-signal guitar riff, every “woah-oh-oh-oh-oh” chorus — all of it. Japandroids elevated its game to a new level. It’s as if your favorite dumb punk two-piece band suddenly got arena rock ambitions while making a record and somehow nailed it.