Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guest Post: Albums of the Year

The illustrious Justin Thompson (@JustThompson) has agreed to grace Truly Unruly with his annual Albums of the Year List.  He happens to be my boyfriend, but don't take my word for his good taste.  His reputation speaks for itself-he's booked FUN., Wale, Taking Back Sunday (and others) in addition to paying his dues at the 9:30 Club in D.C.  So without further ado,  here are his favorites of 2012 in no particular order:  

Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE

Behold, the future of R&B and the first real icon of our generation.  Channel ORANGE is a great album, but not as perfect as adoring critics will have you believe.  Can I complain about an album because it’s too deep?  Because it’s too cerebral?  Because that’s the only thing holding me back.  Regardless, you need to listen to this.  It’s a staggering work of young genius.
Essential tracks: Sweet Life, Pyramids, Lost

Circa Survive – Violent Waves

This record was born in the wilderness, raised by wolves, and cursed to walk alone, away from the sun, forever in darkness.  This is easily my favorite atmosphere record of the year.  When you listen to this, you’re in it.  It’s a gorgeous, immersive experience.
Essential tracks: My Only Friend, The Lottery, Sharp Practice

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D. City

Alright, this is the best album of the year.  You’ll never be on Kendrick’s level.  He bangs like an indie Waka Flocka Flame while dropping some of the best socially conscious rap you will ever hear.  This is the renaissance of West Coast Hip Hop; it’s also one of the definitive rap albums in the post-The Chronic era.  Put this record head-to-head with any of the modern classics we have today (yes, even Dark Twisted), and I’m confident it will beat it.  In twenty years kids will be rolling joints on this vinyl cover, what else do I need to say?
Essential tracks: Backseat Freestyle, Money Trees, m.A.A.d City

Bahamas – Barchords

When you first listen, you might not catch it.  Breezy is the first word that comes to mind.  This Canadian singer-songwriter has a once in a lifetime voice and wrote my vote for song of the year (Caught Me Thinking).  At its best, it’s a brand new take on pop hooks with surf guitar.  At it’s worst, it’s bad M. Ward, which is pretty bad.  It’s the one album you should listen to that you probably haven’t heard of.  Don’t let this fly under your radar any longer.
Essential tracks: Caught Me Thinking, Lost In The Light, Okay, Alright I’m Alive

Bad Books – II

Comeback player of the year.  Their debut lacked everything: hooks, substance, legitimately interesting harmonies.  This follow-up improves on all the things their first album neglected.  It combines all of the pieces that made their primary endeavors (Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra) so great without sounding like a collaborative side project.  This is a band, and a damn good one at that.
Essential tracks: Forrest Whitaker, Friendly Advice, It Never Stops

Milo Greene – Milo Greene

This album is harmonies stacked on more beautiful harmonies.  There's not much more to explain.  At first listen, everything seems to blend into one big song, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Repeated listens will show some of the nuance; and, it’s worth the extra work to decipher.
Essential tracks: Son My Son, 1957, Cutty Love

Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dreams

No pop record should be this good; and [almost] every song on this album should be a Top 40 hit.  Do you remember the first time you heard “Adorn”? It’s neo-90’s soul, and it’s a legitimate LOVE SONG.  It’s rare and a fantastic opener to the incredible sex carnival that’s about to commence.  I’m serious.
Essential tracks: Don’t Look Back, Use Me, The Thrill

Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Our heavenly father, who will be known from this day forward as Father John Misty, invites you to live vicariously through his drug-addled romp though Laurel Canyon.  Care to join? This is what Edward Sharpe dreams about being every night, except Josh Tillman actually lives it.
Essential tracks: Nancy From Now On, Tee Pees 1-12, I’m Writing A Novel

Schoolboy Q – Habits and Contradictions

If Kendrick Lamar didn’t release his masterpiece in 2012, this would be the best rap album of the year.  Schoolboy will fuck your bitch, and then tell you about it; simple as that.  At first glance, this is standard smoker’s fare, but something about Schoolboy’s presence raises this album to the next level.  It’s raw and ferocious- a too hard, eternal party, never ending, hangover record.
Essential tracks: There He Go, Hands On The Wheel, Nightmare On Figg St.

Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits

This is a more than worthy holdover album to the new Spoon record that will (FINGERS CROSSED) arrive in 2013.  It’s also a hell of a lot more than just the sum of its parts.  Divine Fits have crafted a cohesive 80’s tinged, percussive album. Britt Daniels once again proves his legendary stature. 
Essential Tracks: Flaggin a Ride, Would That Not Be Nice, My Love is Real

To sample, check out Justin's Best of 2012 playlist on Spotify:

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