Friday, 7 December 2012

Top 50 albums of 2012: 50 - 41

50. Glen Hansard - Rhythm and Repose

This is the first solo release from the lead singer of Irish rock band The Frames, and one half of the folk duo The Swell Season. The album itself is an eclectic blend of soulful vocals mixed in with sad folk songs about love and loss delivered in an eloquent and thoughtful manner reminiscent of Damien Rice. Even though this genre has been done to death it's always nice to hear a take on the genre that I haven't heard all that much before. Hansard is a skilled lyricist and composer and really knows how to draw you in with his warm voice. 

49. Poets of the Fall - Temple of Thought

2012 saw the release of the fifth album of the Helsinki based alternative rock/pop band Poets of the Fall. The album is a continuation of their established sound; complex and layered rock songs. Dramatic at times, upbeat the next, always intriguing. Say what you will about this band, they always manage do deliver very colourful music based around introspective lyrics and uncommon vocal lines. They are the embodiment of Finnish Rock music and have always been a more accessible alternative to Finnish Love Metal band HIM. This album features some of their best ballads and some of their most mediocre tracks but when all is said and done it doesn't matter. It's more PotF and that's more than enough reason for me to elect them for album of the year.

48. Chairlift - Something

Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly (known paired up as Chairlift) shimmer across eleven tracks on their latest release Something. And yet vagueness of the title truly belies the notion the duo haven't hit a definitive stride that matches Wimberly's 80s pop-inspired productions with Polacheck's unhinged lyricism and masterful vocals. As they contort a seemingly babble word about healing into an infectious hook with Amanaemonesia or plunge into a eurphoria on I Belong in Your Arms, it's clear Chairlift have certainly tapped into something good.

47. The Pines - Dark So Gold

The Pines are a two piece American new-americana act that specialise in putting the spirit of American countryside culture in music. Their newest release Dark So Gold being just about the best thing they've done yet. It's dark and longing with introspective lyrics that conjure up visions of an America when Bob Dylan was just a small boy. I loved the atmosphere on this album. It's deep, firmly rooted in American beliefs without forgetting its fragility. The album surpasses most of its peers and it shows that country is so much more than the mockery most of their contemporaries make of the genre. An amazing listen.

46. North Atlantic Oscillation - Fog Electric

If the Scottish trio's debut was a tepid shimmer of passable alt rock and experimentation, the band's follow-up was in no doubt a much-needed and much-to-the-greater chill of spacious electronic rock. Loaded with cosmic psychedelia, gaseous shoegaze and earthly drone, Oscillation's sophomore release was as much a realisation of one's self than it was a rediscovery of one's creativity as a band of musicians.

45. Alcest - Les Voyages De L'Âme

Out of France comes Alcest, an atmospheric black metal and post-rock project by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Neige. Drenched in reverb and delay, Neige transports its listener to his dream world while Celtic rhythms and dynamic guitar segments keep this album interesting. It's ethereal. It utilises every tool available to the modern musician and to top everything off he drenches everything in heavy FX and Celtic melodies. The black metal parts aren't really present apart from the way the guitar sounds. A very coherent and strong album which will prove hard for Neige to top.


44. Dragonette - Bodyparts

Even long after 2011's hit collab with Martin Solveig Hello, Dragonette aren't seeking to reproduce the same chart-topper, but rather focus their energies into tender toe-tappers (Run Run Run, Lay Low) to and letting it lose (Riot). To buzzing electropop (My Legs) to nu-disco (The Right Woman) And from a commercially-viable style and their characterically quirky pop (Giddy Up), the Canadian pop group flirt with diversity without coming off as disjointed. Perhaps their most cohesive album yet, Bodyparts is true to its name and works powerfully as a whole.

43. Marconi Union - Different Colours

Post-Rock-y goodness mixed in with a good amount of ambient music makes this album a pleasure to listen to. It's calm, soothing and overall a very strong release with jazz thrown in for good measure.I'm a sucker for ambient music with guitars. This has plenty of that and more! 

42. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

It seems a bit hard for most reviewers to discuss The Haunted Man without bringing attention to its stark cover of a nude Natasha Khan with a man draped over her shoulders (as well as other anatomical locations). But as one explores through the album, the photograph's poignancy and connection to the music becomes all the more evident. Even at its most bare, Khan's often vague but deeply-cutting lyrics and melodies hit at a more personal level all while carried by graceful, yet strong compositions.

41. Kwajbasket - The Gentleman

Kwajbasket is (to my surpise) an unknown guitar-based ambient producer from America. The Gentleman is a nine-part drone-like album full of beautiful hooks and textures. A must have if you're into a more natural take on ambient music. I loved it because it shows so much potential to be huge. It complex but not too complex and does exactly the right things at the right time. Take my advice for this one: buy it. 

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