For the rest of the year, we’ll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2012, leading up to our 2012 Top Album Countdown, as voted on by our listeners! Tune in on Friday, December 28th to hear if your picks made the list!
Sean’s 2012 Top Ten Albums
1. Grimes — Visions (4AD)
I don’t want to too my own horn (although I would if I could), but it was immensely satisfying to see Grimes break out in such a big way this year with Visions since discovering her music in early 2010. Claire Boucher pulled off an amazing feat in releasing such an experimentally-accessible album, one that synthesized its influences into something not necessarily ahead of its time, but certainly sounding so.
2. Wild Nothing — Nocturne (Captured Tracks)
If I were magically (scientifically?) whisked back in time Star Trek IV-style to, say, mid-80s era Britain, and I still had all my modern music on me, I would definitely start a zine singing Wild Nothing’s praises and try to earn them a spot on one of those NME compilation cassettes. As a sucker for this kind of music, it was great to see Jack Tatum and co. build on their previous work and deliver a wonderful collection of indie pop songs on Nocturne, ideal listening material whether you’re feeling exultant or maudlin.
3. Actress — R.I.P (Honest Jon’s Records)
A truly beguiling album start to finish from Briton Darren Cunningham. I highly recommended taking a trip on your friendly neighbourhood Metro bus with a good pair of headphones and allow yourself to be lost to its otherworldly charms.
4. Julia Holter — Ekstasis (RVNG Intl.)
I want to live inside this album.
5. Kingdom Crumbs — Kingdom Crumbs (Cloud Nice)
At times soulful, fun and aggrieved, Kingdom Crumbs S/T debut was a real standout in a crop of excellent Seattle hip hop releases in 2012. Find, and then lose, your bearings with lead single “The Mezzanine” (shouts Jarv Dee) and go from there. Also, damn, those Tay Sean beats…
6. Laurel Halo — Quarantine (Hyperdub)
Both cosmic and grounded, Quarantine is an excellent showcase for Halo’s ability to suffuse fragments and sketches of the psyche with great curiosity and wonderment. Quarantine gets my vote for best album cover of the year too.
7. John Maus — A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material (Ribbon Music)
Lo-fi synth savant John Maus often straddles the line between absurd and crazy – sample song title: “I Don’t Eat Human Beings” – but his gloriously off-kilter sensibilities make for some damned moving skewed pop ditties.
8. Fort Romeau — Kingdoms (100% Silk)
A delicious 12″ slab of simple deep house cuts that ebb and flow seductively and naturally. Perfect soundtrack for woozy, late night dancing in one’s room or any other woozy, late night activities done in one’s room.
9. Daughn Gibson — All Hell (White Denim)
One of those left field surprises that, uh, came from left field, Gibson reached mightily in transposing country songs into spare electronic beats, but somehow it works, and quite well.
10. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma — Faceless Kiss / Blut Mond (Emerald Cocoon)
“Faceless Kiss” was the most sublime piece of music I heard this year, hands down. If you’re a fan of Slowdive and psychedelic, sun-washed spiriutal awkenings, it behooves you to cop this single on L.A.’s Emerald Cocoon label.
Other Great Releases from 2012
• Motion Sickness of Time Travel – Motion Sickness of Time Travel
• Human Teenager – Animal Husbandry
• Traxman – Da Mind of Traxman
• Francis Bebey – African Electronic Music 1975-1982
• Merchandise – Children of Desire
• Panabrite – Soft Terminal
• Grass Widow – Internal Logic
• Cleaners from Venus – On Any Normal Monday
• Konx-Om-Pax – Regional Surrealism
• Sand Circles – Motor City
• Todd Terje – It’s the Arps EP
• Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – Black Is Beautiful
• Pye Corner Audio – Black Mill Tapes Volumes 1 & 2
• Mac DeMarco – 2
• The Durutti Column – Short Stories for Pauline