Ryan’s Top Ten of 2012

So, this week, we here at Stereo Control will be giving you all our favorite albums of the past year.  In my eyes, 2012 has been a mix-and-match type of year for music.  We’ve had some great things happen: Godspeed You! Black Emperor reformed, Fiona Apple came back, Hurricane Sandy brought us closer together with benefit concerts, and Whitney Houston died (paving way for so many great Too Soon jokes — Have you heard?  Whitney Houston’s been eight months sober!).  Of course, on the flip-side, 2012 was also a year in which horrible things happened in music: Tupac came back from the dead in the dumbest way possible, Steve Albini was a dick to Amanda Palmer for no reason, Taylor Swift never ever ever wants to get back together, and Justin Bieber shows he either has no fashion sense or no respect…

I’m surprised the Canadian Prime Minister didn’t immediately quit.

However, the greatest thing to happen in music this year was the return of Stereo Control.  We added three new writers (Nick, Mike, and Evan), had more views than ever, and even started a podcast (yes, we’ve only done one so far, shut up).  Excited for the future of this site, we’d like to first look into the very recent past and give our unasked-for opinions on albums.  So, my picks of this year are:

–10–

What Comes After

The Honeydogs

2012

Grain Belt Records

The Honeydogs have been around since like 1995, and yet they still haven’t managed to find a solid foothold in the world of indie music.  Which is a shame.  With their new release (their first for the awesome label Grain Belt Records), What Comes After, The Honeydogs have another record of indie-pop confection complete with their style of genius intellect.  I wouldn’t say it’s as great as some of their previous efforts, but What Comes After is definitely an appealing album with some great rock songs.

Best Tracks: “Aubben,” “Death by Boredom,” and “Particles Or Waves”

–9–

The Carpenter

The Avett Brothers

2012

Universal Republic

I honestly have not heard anything by The Avett Brothers before this release, The Carpenter.  However, now that I’ve listened, I need to go back to their earlier stuff. In the same folk vein as the increasingly popular Mumford & Sons, this album felt like it had slightly more depth to it than the other band’s Babel.  With the two brothers Seth and Scott trading off vocals, The Carpenter can be warm and inviting with the acoustic songs and yet hard and rocking with some grunge coming in from left field.

Best Tracks: “Live and Die,” “Pretty Girl from Michigan,” and “Paul Newman vs. The Demons”

–8–

Reign of Terror

Sleigh Bells

2012

Mom+Pop

I did not think that Sleigh Bells would be a band around for a while after their debut a few years ago.  I thought they’d be a flash-in-the-pan type of thing, another band from Brooklyn that everyone loved for a moment that would fade away.  I’m glad they proved me wrong.  Reign of Terror takes the stylistic clipping audio of their first album and combines it with ’70s and ’80s guitar-driven rock.  It’s weird, it’s arena-rock worthy, and it’s sexy.  Give it a chance, and you’ll be sucked in.

Best Tracks: “Leader of the Pack,” “Demons,” and “Comeback Kid”

–7–

CVI

Royal Thunder

2012

Relapse Records

Speaking of sexy, the metal band Royal Thunder’s debut full-length is awesome.  It’s doom with a girl singer, and it’s way better than you can ever imagine.  Nick and I saw them back in September and they captivated everyone in the audience with their Sabbath-like riffs.  It’s just fucking cool.

Best Track: “Parsonz Curse”

–6–

Attack on Memory

Cloud Nothings

2012

Carpark Records

Cloud Nothings surprised everyone with this release.  The indie scene wasn’t ready for this kind of aggression, and it fell accordingly to its knees in awe of Attack on Memory.  As it should have.  Dylan Baldi sought out the aforementioned curmudgeon Steve Albini to produce this record, and Cloud Nothings turned from a power-pop band into a fully fledged grunge/punk/hard fucking rock band.  The songs have wonderfully ranging dynamics, which make for one of the most interesting albums of this year.

Best Tracks: “Wasted Days,” “Fall In,” and “No Future/No Past”

–5–

Shields

Grizzly Bear

2012

Warp

Grizzly Bear have somehow created a better album than Veckatimest.  The band’s latest release is layered with texture upon texture; you could listen to Shields hundreds of times and still be intrigued by the originality in it.  It’s a bit heavier than previous albums, which is a cool shift for Grizzly Bear, pushing them into uncharted territory for their brand of experimental indie whatever-you-want-to-call it genre.  I could go on, but seriously, just listen to it and have so many eargasms by doing so.

Best Tracks: “Yet Again,” “Sleeping Ute,” and “Gun-Shy”

–4–

Reverence to Stone

Samothrace

2012

20 Buck Spin

I’ve already discussed this album.  It’s awesome doom metal.  The subtle changes on this record make for really interesting, long songs.  “Long” being important here.  Don’t worry, they make both fifteen plus minute tracks worth the listener’s time and patience.

Best Tracks: Seriously, there’re only two tracks and they’re both awesome.

–3–

Lonerism

Tame Impala

2012

Modular Recordings

Man, was this a great record.  Tame Impala’s pysh-rock, indie-folk Lonerism is sure to reach a ton of year-end lists, and it completely deserves to.  A good half of the tracks on here are fragile, barely held together in any coherent sense, but these arrangements are what make this album so friggen’ interesting.  And yet, there’s a real pop sense apparent on top of all the peculiarities.  Kevin Parker’s voice is like a disembodied imitation of John Lennon’s.

Best Tracks: Almost every one, but “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is the most standout one.

–2–

Synthetica

Metric

2012

Metric Music International

Another album that I’ve already reviewed,  Synthetica was dark and catchy at the same time.  A study in reality and artificiality, this indie-rock record shows Metric at their most playful and at their most mature.  Repeated listenings are a must, but it’ll only take one to get seduced by Synthetica.

Best Tracks: “Dreams So Real,” “Breathing Underwater,” and “Youth Without Youth”

–1–

‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

2012

Constellation

Nope, I’ve got nothing else to say about how perfect ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is.  Godspeed made the best record of 2012 by a long shot.

Best Tracks: Shut up, all four tracks are great.

Honorable mentions: Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion, Paul McCartney – Kisses on the Bottom, Mumford & Sons – Babel, Maps & Atlases – Beware and Be Grateful, Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself, Band of Horses – Mirage Rockand Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

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4 Responses to “Ryan’s Top Ten of 2012”

  1. Most pretentious list.

  2. Amanda Palmer FTW. Awesome sound live. Her new boys are great for her. All multi-talented!

  3. […] me anyway) are great, big Royal Thunder fans.  Their debut CVI ranked on a couple of our year end lists.  This time the group was rocking their somewhat new drummer and down their second guitar player. […]

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