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Best albums of 2012

10-Best-Albums-of-2012Subscribe to our Spotify Playlist “Best Albums of 2012.”

2012 has been a rich year for music, and our consensus top 10 albums show diverse musical selections. Each Showbams contributor selected their top 10 albums from 2012, and we averaged them together to create Showbams’ Best Albums of 2012:

1. Tame ImpalaLonerism
2. Passion PitGossamer
3. Kendrick LamarGood kid, m.A.A.d city
4. Jack WhiteBlunderBuss
5. The xxCoexist
6. Father John MistyFear Fun
7. Frank Ocean channel ORANGE
8. The PresetsPacifica
9. JapandroidsCelebration Rock
10.TanlinesMixed Emotions

Honorable Mention:
Dr. John – Locked Down
Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

Take a look at our contributor’s favorite albums of 2012 below:

Tame ImpalaMike Frash San Francisco
1. Tame ImpalaLonerism
It’s rare to find an album that grabs you from the very beginning and compels you to listen beginning to end, the first time you spin it. Lonerism is timeless; you could convince someone that it’s from the late 1960s if they didn’t know better. “Apocalypse Dream” sets a masterful psychedelic-sad tone, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is the type of song people dreamed Oasis would create 10 years ago, and “Elephant” just flat out rocks.

2. The xxCoexist
Coexist grew on me more than any album in recent memory. It’s about love, regret, angst, pain, and forgiveness. “Angels” begins the album with one of the best love songs ever (no hyperbole), and after 30 minutes of intense back and forth emotion, “Our Song” brings our two characters back together. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are the two main characters in the this story, and they play off each other even better than their first record. Jamie xx brings it all together with his subtle beats and sounds. This album is a love story for the ages.

3. Sun Kil MoonAmong The Leaves
Mark Kozelek’s fifth studio album under the name Sun Kil Moon combines masterful lyricism and captivating cadence to the point where it becomes addictive. The songwriting is creative and pretty out there at times, and is mostly self-reflexive and literal. The instruments are kept to a minimum – most of the album is Kozelek singing over acoustic guitar, but this minimalist approach just works for me.

4. Frank Ocean channel ORANGE
5. JapandroidsCelebration Rock
6. Passion PitGossamer
7. John TalabotFin
8. ChromaticsKill For Love
9. Wild NothingNocturne
10. Delicate StevePositive Force

Honorable Mention:
The Presets – Pacifica
Purity Ring – Shrines
Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Neil-YoungPete Mauch Los Angeles
1. Neil Young and Crazy HorsePsychedelic Pill
When someone as legendary as Neil Young puts out an album with timeless songs like “Ramada Inn,” “Walk Like A Giant,” and “Twisted Road” there is absolutely no other album I can put in front of this list. Psychedelic Pill may be Neil Young’s best effort since the 70’s.”

2.Tame ImpalaLonerism
This sophomore album oozes with psychedelic-laced pop tunes that are very reminiciant of The Beatles, especially after they experimented with mind altering drugs. From the opening track of “Gotta Be Above It,” you know you’re in for quite the mystical journey.

3.Father John MistyFear Fun This Fleet Foxes outcast may have one-upped his former band with this debut album. “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings” is quite possibly my favorite song of the year as well.

4. Kendrick LamarGood kid, m.A.A.d city
5. Dr. JohnLocked Down
6. Jack WhiteBlunderBuss
7. Gary Clark Jr.Blak and Blu
8. Alabama ShakesBoys and Girls
9. Grizzly BearShields
10. LumineersLumineers

Honorable Mention:
Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
Django Django – Django Django

The xxMolly Kish San Francisco
1. The xxCoexist
Coexist was an extremely strong and highly anticipated sophomore effort. I was so excited
about this that I listened to it immediately when it became available. Coexist continues the journey
initially set out on the band’s debut album and brings the music to an even more provocative
soundscape, highlighting Jamie xx’s production skill and minimalistic dance beats.

2. StarsThe North
“The North” is Stars’ 7th studio album and it delivers an infectious and comprehensive survey of
the band’s 12 year discography. The lyrical collaboration of Torquil and Seligman remains
at the forefront of the songs and it exhibits a maturity in both range and content. Stars have set the indie rock standard on everything from synth heavy pop songs to piano rock ballads, and they continue to lead and influence.

3. Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel…
Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…” was an album I have wanted to hear since 1999”s
“When the pawn.” Along with exhibiting her talents as a pianist and blues rock vocal ingénue,
Apple’s inclusion of samples and entrancing drum beats brings her work to a whole new level.
The album is one you could play on repeat for days without realizing it, and you might continue
playing it anyways.

4. YeasayerFragrant World
5. Dr. JohnLocked Down
6. Passion PitGossamer
7. The LumineersThe Lumineers
8. TanlinesMixed Emotions
9. The PresetsPacifica
10. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere

Honorable Mentions
Animal Collective, Centipede Hz
Hot Chip, In Our Heads
Bloc Party, Four

Tame-ImpalaKevin Raos San Francisco
1. Tame ImpalaLonerism
Tame Impala has created the definitive psychedelic rock album of 2012. Taking what they did with their debut album, Innerspeaker, and infusing it with more fuzzy guitar and Beatles-esque vocal style, Lonerism takes the listener on a mind-altering, hallucinatory, psychotropic exploration that is unlike anything in 2012. Flashbacks to this album will be frequent and intense.

2. Passion PitGossamer
Another sophomore success, Passion Pit’s Gossamer is an electro-pop marvel. I think this album will remain one of the more memorable albums beyond 2012 for its pure pop and danceability. Catchy hooks and upbeat melodies make this one of the best indie pop albums of the year.

3. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Everything Jack White touches turns to gold, and this time is no different. It’s hard to think that with as much as we’ve heard from Jack White, that this is his solo album debut. I have the feeling that Jack White is going to be around for a long time, and this is only the beginning of a successful solo career.

4. Grimes Visions
5. Sigur RosValtari
6. John TalabotFin
7. Step DadWildlife Pop
8. Electric GuestMondo
9. The Big PinkFuture This
10. Kishi Bashi151a

Honorable Mention:
Memory Tapes – Grace/Confusion

Passion-PitEric Shaden San Francisco
1. Passion PitGossamer
For me, a great followup to Manners. This avoids the sophomore slump with a good mix of tracks. My favorite of the year.

2. Kendrick Lamargood kid, m.A.A.d city
With so many hip hop albums released annually it takes something special to rise above the fray. Kendrick Lamar does this on good kid, m.A.A.d city. My best hip hop album by far.

3. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Great to hear such a solid rock album, especially in 2012. This reminds me of the White Stripes while still sounding fresh and new. I knew after one listen that this would be one of the top albums of the year.

4. JapandroidsCelebration Rock
5. Miike SnowHappy to You
6. Hot ChipIn Our Heads
7. SantigoldMaster of My Make Believe
8. Frank OceanChannel ORANGE
9. ChairliftSomething
10. Purity RingShrines

Father-John-MistyKevin Quandt San Francisco
1. Father John MistyFear Fun
Josh Tillman left his post as drummer for Fleet Foxes only to create his best solo material to date under the moniker, Father John Misty. This rousing tale of drinking, womanizing and tripping his way down the West Coast is full of catchy hooks and twisted lyrics that are perfect for an easy escape from the norm. Don’t sleep on seeing Tillman and his merry pranksters live as he commands a stage with the best of them.

2. Tame ImpalaLonerism
This sophomore effort from the lads down under takes their already stellar formula, utilized on InnerSpeaker, and polishes it even further. A wider breadth of sound is the result on Lonerism, as Kevin Parker gains more confidence as witnessed in more robust melodies brought up in the mix, larger crescendos and bolder subject matter in his lyrics. A deeper range of sound has also come through as these guys continue to only get better with age.

3. DIIVOshin
Beach Fossil’s Zachary Cole Smith released a whopper of a solo effort this year under the aquatic-name, Diiv(Dive). Heavy on the reverb and not lacking any quality of pop shoe-gaze mentality, this album has a way of grabbing you and holding on for a few months as the infectious guitar hooks play over and over in your skull. Though they may not break the mold for a certain brand of Brooklyn meets hip ocean beachside sound, they certainly put out one of the better records in that style.

4. Frank OceanChannel Orange
5. The WalkmenHeaven
6. Kendrick LamarGood Kid, m.A.A.d City
7. PondBeard, Wives, Denim
8. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
9. White FenceFamily Perfume Vol. 1
10. Dr. JohnLocked Down

EPS
How to Destroy Angels – An Omen
TNGHT – TNGHT
Captain Murphy – Duality

PresetsSean Little San Francisco
1. The PresetsPacifica
I have to admit the first time I heard it I was a bit let down. I was expecting something more akin to Apocalypso and wasn’t sure if I was into the fact it wasn’t a very indie dance forward album. The more I listened though the more it grew on me, and the more I started to appreciate the way they took chances and pushed boundaries. Songs like Ghosts and A.O. are a far departure from their last album, but still have an infectious quality to them that is at home in headphones or on a dance floor. The more I hear this the more I like it making it my number `1 album.

2. Kendrick LamarGood Kid, M.A.A.D. City
An all-around amazing album. Most rap now is so over produced and homogenized it’s great to see someone make an album that reminds you of the old days, where beats were thoughtful and albums had an overall story arc, not just one single after another. Kendrick is going to be doing big things and holds the torch as the only real west coast rapper pumping out thoughtful tracks that make you pay attention to the lyrics as much as move. Probably the only rap album I listen to regularly these days.

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperer – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!:
Trippy, heady stoner metal that you can listen to pretty much anywhere and vibe to. It isn’t for everyone, but the way the craft songs that stretch and grow creating a real atmosphere is unique and not seen as often in a world where few have the attention span for a 25 minute song. Few others know how to build on just one note and continue to grow a vibe until it crashes like a wave, taking the listener with it. A great album to listen to no matter what your mood, just hit play and let it take you wherever you want it to.

4. TanlinesMixed Emotions
5. LindstromSmall Hans
6. Cat PowerSun
7. Frank OceanChannel Orange
8. Hot ChipIn Our Heads
9. ScubaPersonality
10. Scissor SistersMagic Hour

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Comments

  1. Mike- Funny thing, I am one of High Sierras staff photographers so you know Ill be there.
    Good call.

  2. I dont get all the love for Frank Ocean. Ive tried a few times. Not for me.

    • For me it’s a grower. It plays really well as a whole album, and Pyramids is one of the sexiest jams I’ve heard in a long time. To me, it’s become an addictive album I want to hear all the time.

      • I find it more comical than anything. super rich kids is hilarious. It def has some sexy vibes to it tho. Baby making music if you will.

      • I agree some lines are outright laughable. like the beginning of Sierra Leone: “And I just ran out of trojans” – “Horses GALlup to her throne.” Reminds me of R Kelly. But so many more moments redeem it and make it great.

    • im with you on that one Pete.

      i dont get it. but then again, (Showbams will think im crazy on this one) but I also dont get Lonerism. Im not hatting on Tame Impala at all but top 10? maybe. sounds like they are trying to take psychedelic Beatles to modern times utilizing new technology. I have given them countless re-listens on a count of my most trustworthy fellows snobs are eating them up. i dig it, but not top 10 for this bias self-absorbed critic.

      • What are your favorite albums of the year Sam?

      • thats exactly how i described that album.. Beatles After the Drugs.. I like Lonerism a lot. Music is subjective I love that about it..Would love to hear your top 10 sam!

      • well damn. i have a new appreciation for you guys. a Top 10 is a no easy feat. take into consideration how you were feeling at the moment of hearing the album, the impression it made, lasting or not. remembering albums that came out in January and February. I almost forgot about #3. Without any descriptions, though much is to be said about each album:

        1.Positive Force- Delicate Steve
        2.Who’s Feeling Young- Punch Brothers
        3.The Russian Wilds- Howlin Rain’
        4.Fear Fun- Father John Misty
        5.Boys and Girls- Alabama Shakes

        6.Tigerface – Marco Benevento 
        7.Locked Down-Dr. John
        8.Be the Void- Dr. Dog
        9.An Awesome Wave- Alt-J
        10.The Bloom and the Blight-Two Gallants

        can i do honorable mentions? ok.
        Tempest-Bob Dylan
        Blunderbuss-Jack White

        that was hard.
        thanks showbams

      • Nice list! Delicate Steve made my top 10 – just listened to it again this morning. And that Punch Brothers album is inspiring – much better album than Mumford & Sons. You should go to High Sierra every year based on your top 10!

  3. Kishi Bashi album is incredible. How did i not listen to this until today?

    • easliy one of my favorites, hard a hard time omitting it from my top 10. “Bright Whites,” definitely down for a favorite track of the year.

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