The Best Albums of 2012…So Far

As we plough into the depths of winter battling cold winds and our secret desire to purchase a scoodie, there is no better time to look back on the summer that was and reminisce about those thong-friendly months when Lana Del Rey promised she would “love us to the end of time” and we all wanted to grab Jack White’s fingers gently and “slam them in a doorway.”

While Hollywood is busy hyping 2012 as our last year on earth, it is also shaping up to be one of the most exciting years for musical debuts since the last time apocalyptic horsemen were due (circa 2002). So far we’ve been introduced to Quakers, Alabama Shakes, Michael Kiwanuka, Django Django and Grimes, while locals Catcall, Bleeding Knees Club, Iowa, DZ Deathrays and Hunting Grounds have spoilt us with their debut long plays.

With debate already heating up in the FL forums about this year’s best releases we present our Top 20 favourite albums of 2012, so far.

Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

Blues Funeral works because it stepped outside its boundaries and tried something new, all the while still bearing Mark Lanegan’s well-loved craggy fingerprints. This is not a reinvention, or Cornell style bandwagon jumping, but a natural expansion on a strong foundation. We can only hope it’s not another six years before we see where he goes next.

Grimes – Visions

Visions is a fun, intelligent and nuanced album that moves the dialogue of pop music forward a step, and that is no small thing.

Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

The theme of redemption and resurrection is a strong one across the album, especially in the context of saving yourself from your own sins. Pierce, as always, heavily populates his lyrics with references to Jesus, God, the ‘light’, shooting up and finding and losing love. Most of the time it works as he marries the grand lyrical gestures with swelling strings, ponderous drums and some wonderful piano playing.

Jack White – Blunderbuss

White never seems out of his depth with the album’s twists and turns, nor does he sound like he is just rehashing the familiar. A record that can both shake your foundations and lull you gently, Blunderbuss is perfect for previous fans of Jack White’s work and those who are just discovering him.

Quakers – Quakers

The debut album from this hip-hop collective – which boasts 35 members and orbits around a core of three producers: Fuzzface (aka Geoff Barrow from Portishead), 7-Stu-7 and Katalyst – is a dark collection of tunes that are as inspired as they are unpredictable. A divider among fans the record is an uneasy listen the first time through but on second spin draws you in to its rough and tumble beats, acerbic lyrics and schizophrenic collage of instrumentation and samples.

Dirty Three – Toward The Low Sun

By the end of You Greet Her Ghost which closes out the album you are left satisfied, emotionally charged or depleted (depending on your ‘glass half full/empty’ approach) and content in knowing that Dirty Three are still Dirty Three – still investing their music with subtle explorations and diversions while retaining the qualities that makes them so unique.

Catcall – The Warmest Place

The Warmest Place gleams with a pristine electro-pop finish (and an icey varnish). It sounds so unquestionably slick, modern and refined that it’s poised to suck in anyone with a penchant for contemporary pop.

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