Albums of 2012: Steven

1. Grizzly Bear – Shields
The epitome of a grower, this album hasn’t been off my stereo since I got it and only seems to get better with each listen. The title of “modern classic” was attributed to their last album Veckatimest but Shields sounds just as strong to me now. I like to get an album that I can listen to as a whole as opposed to for certain tracks; every time I put this on I have to listen to it all. If I was pushed I would say highlight tracks for me are Sleeping Ute, What’s Wrong? and the single Yet Again.

2. The Walkmen – Heaven
Not necessarily their best album by a fair whack, but even when treading old ground The Walkmen still sound like a better class of band than most and only ever like themselves. This one has a warmer, more confident sound to previous releases and Hamilton’s voice has never been stronger- which fits with their career trajectory of growing from underdogs to now almost-weathered heroes of the 00s indie scene. It also features a couple of their strongest songs to date in We Cant Be Beat and the title track Heaven.

3. Francois & The Atlas Mountains – E Volo Love
I saw these guys at Great Escape festival in May: they were the first band I saw of many and by far my highlight of the weekend. I don’t speak French so there is a kind of ambiguity for me as to what some songs are about, but melodically it’s just a really nice album with lots of strong off kilter moments to enjoy. Favourite parts for me would be opening track Les Plus Beaux’s, Edge Of Town’s percussion and tick-tock drums combo, the Smith’s-like guitars and moment where the horns/strings come in on City Kiss, and finally the way Piscine builds from a simple keyboard phrase to almost a dance song.

4. Stanley - Animals With Amazing Disguises
I have always loved Stanley and in particular Steven’s voice, so it was great to get a chance to hear and own their debut album this year. They have a pretty unique sound and are a really hard band to pinpoint without semi-lazily mentioning Divine Comedy or Radiohead. In truth, there’s a lot more going on there than just that and I can’t wait to hear what they do next!

5. CS Buchan – Nothing Left To Steal
As with the Stanley guys, CS Buchan and I are admittedly good friends. However, I’m trying to be honest with this list and put in what I have listened to most, and I have barely had Charley’s second LP off my stereo either. I think Charley is a massively underrated talent and probably the most prolific writer I know. Before this even came out he had another one ready, plus a side project album. Check out A Thousand Years or Here Is My Life for some lovely folky heartfelt goodness.

6. Drive – OST
Technically this came out in America in 2011 but it was only available to buy here in 2012... I think... Well, I hope! Anyway, yes it’s a total hipster’s paradise of a name-check but if Tick Of The Clock by Chromatics doesn’t make you want to jump in your mate's Rover and head to the beach for a cruise past Asda then you maybe need to watch the film again.

7. Tame Impala – Lonerism
Just got into this and it's growing on me more and more every day. There is a kind of 60s/70s experimental production feel running through this album which is pretty infectious, and the single Elephant is probably the coolest thing I have heard in ages.

8. Andrew Weatherall – Masterpiece
In production and DJ circles, Andrew Weatherall is a pretty big deal. This compilation for Ministry Of Sound (part mixtape/part remix collection) has several examples that show exactly why, and I like how eclectic the range/style of the tracks and contributors are.

9. Beach House – Bloom
As with The Walkmen’s latest album, the album Bloom is (in my opinion) not as good as Beach House’s previous offering Teen Dream. The songs Myth and On The Sea, however, are absolutely outstanding and the album is worth a buy for those alone.

I was totally surprised  how much I liked this album as I’m not normally a fan of hip-hop, but the production, lyrics, choruses and beats on this are spot on. Not only does it get you dancing but it gets you thinking too!

Honourable Mentions
Peace - EP Delicious
Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital EP
Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/Golden Mile


No comments: