Favorite Albums of 2012 (so far)

This post has been in the forefront of my mind, but somehow didn't get posted before July 1st. As I have been mining through my seemingly endless archive of new music, it is evident that 2012 has already been a fantastic year for music.  I have narrowed it down to fifteen records that made the cut so far, and I have only represented albums that were released from January through June. Unfortunately, this meant that certain albums like Aesop Rock Skelethon, Beak-S-T and Mission of Burma Unsound didn't make the cut, but they will more than likely have a spot on the year-end list. This list is also not comprehensive, as it does not feature singles, compilations or reissues that were released this year.  What I am featuring here is a distillation of the year's full-length records according to my taste, so this will not necessarily appeal to everyone, though it does feature a diverse assortment of hip-hop, garage rock, shoegazer rock, psych-folk, jazz and African-folk.

Favorite Albums of 2012 (so far)

1) Lotus Plaza- Spooky Action at a Distance- Lockett Pundt's sophmore release didn't grab me on the first couple listens, but over time this has become my most frequently played record of the summer. Lyrics and melodies that embed themselves into your mind and shape the trajectory of your dreams.

Strangers and White Galactic One

2) Spectrum Road- S-T- With a super group of sorts (Jack Bruce on Vocals/Bass, Cindy Blackmon-Santana on drums, Vernon Reid on Guitar and John Medeski on keyboards), this record is a jazz-fusion juggernaut from beginning to end, with blistering guitar solos and thunderous drumming that never lets up. 

Vuelto Abajo and Where

3) Sir Richard Bishop- The Unrock Tapes- Sir Richard Bishop is back with more scintillating 12 string bravado that ranges from contemplative folk to rapid-fire flamenco. Bishop remains one of the most consistently great musicians out there who continues to crank out stellar records year after year.

Boxcar Serenade and Empty Quarter

4) Rayon Beach- This Looks Serious-  Catchy, raw unadulterated garage rock that is seriously in the mood for a good time! 

Some Fun Before We Die and Jacuzzi Limo Explosion

5) Ty Segall and White Fence- Hair- Tim Presley from White Fence and Ty Segall teamed up for the first time on this year's Hair, and let's hope that this is the first of many collaborations between these two garage rock heroes. This one is cleaner than most of the White Fence records, and represents a good mix of the raw sound of Ty's earlier albums with the more mellow stylings on Goodbye Bread.

Time and Scissor People

6) Neneh Cherry and the Thing- The Cherry Thing- I'm a sucker for anything that The Thing does, so I was willing to give this a chance even though it features Neneh Cherry who had a popular hit back in the 80's called "Buffalo Stance". Most songs on this album features a mind-bending mixture of melodic jazz vocals that build into a swirling, discordant mess of horns and clattering percussion.

Dream Baby Dream and Too Tough To Die

7) Eternal Tapestry- Dawn in 2 Dimensions- This is much more of an epic stoner-rock record than last year's Beyond the 4th Door, and it more accurately reflects the sound of an Eternal Tapestry live experience.

Wholeodome and Marrow of the Wand

8) Sidi Toure'- Koi'ma- Hypnotic African folk tunes that sound like an unplugged version of Group Doueh.

Ni See Ay Ga Done and Ishi Tanmaha

9) Crash Normal- Your Body Got a Land- Distorted, reverb-drenched tunes that straddle the fine line between crunchy noise and melodic garage rock.

Kinder Country and Moon Food

10) Young Mother- Future Classics-Fascinating juxtaposition between free jazz and moody art-rock with vocals often buried beneath the mix. 

The Well Tempered Male and No Straight Lines

11) THEESatisfaction- awE naturalE- This is the debut full-length from the female protege's of Ishmael from Shabazz Palaces. It features a neo-soul sound with vocals that often trade off between singing and rapping, and a heady mixture of esoteric samples and electronic drum patterns.

God and naturalE

12) Lower Dens- Nootropics-  On the 2nd record, Jana Hunter and company have opted for more of an electronic sound with much less focus on the guitar. At first, I wasn't into this new direction in sound, but over time I have grown to love this record almost as much as the first one.  Deep, introspective tunes with a powerful vocal presence.

Alphabet Song and Propagation

13) Kelan Philip Cohran and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble- S/T- With a band comprised of eight of Philip's sons along with the master trumpeter himself, you can't go wrong here. This album has a mix of upbeat, horn-heavy tracks and mellower, trance-inducing songs.

Cuernavaca and Spin

14) Cate LeBon- CYRK-This record came out pretty early in the year, and I knew it would be on my list from the moment I heard it. LeBon's second record is more diverse, featuring a wide array of sounds and styles such as jazz, psychedelic, folk, and electronic. Undoubtedly one of the best records of the year!

Falcon Eyed and Greta

15) Hush Arbors-Aboretum- Aureola- This is a split LP between Hush Arbors and Arboretum which features five tracks from Hush Arbors and three from Arboretum.  On the Hush Arbors tracks, the band pick up where Yankee Reality left off and take their psychedelic folk sound in a slightly darker direction. Arboretum's sound is more heavy and psychedelic, with all three songs clocking in at over five minutes and featuring extensive guitar solos.

Prayers of Forgetfulness and People and Places

This concludes my Favorite Albums of 2012 (so far). I hope you enjoy the music on this list, and I encourage you to drop a line in the comments with your favorite albums of 2012.


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