So, now you’ve seen the results of our Albums of the Year post we want to share with you the selection of records that our writer’s personally thought were the best of the year. It’s an eclectic bunch, I’m sure you’ll agree. In no particular order…
Sander van den Driesche (Metal Editor)
This album is so heavy it almost sounds like the heaviest static electricity you’ll ever hear. I love it.
Gilbert Potts (Australia Correspondent)
Neurosis master what so many others attempt. Tremendous dynamics, power, balance, melody, tension, raw emotion and a couple of the best voices around.
A bleak, depressing ride into dark Americana, a masterpiece
By mixing 80s shoe-gazing with poppier aspects of a decade that’s found a new respectability of late, San Francisco’s Echodrone created something that was as light as it was dark on Bon Voyage, their third release. Every instrument, from fuzzy guitars to Meredith Gibbons and Eugene Suh’s hazy vocals, stretched the emotional reach of the album, while lyrically lines like “hold me, while we’re together, hold me with infinite arms” or “It’s so cold without you” were sung with a warmth that was indicative of the production by drummer Mark Tarlton. It was passionate and poignant throughout, and made me stop and pay attention like no other album this year.
Jack White – Blunderbuss
Didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but it’s just full of great energy. I’m probably biased because of seeing him perform at the very beginning of his tour and the live experience added to my infatuation. I love how he reaches out to American rock n’roll roots and makes them contemporary. Highlight: ‘I’m shakin’’, makes me wanna twist and shout.
Like an elbow smash to the bridge of the nose this album will make you take notice on first listen. So familiar but new in equal measures. Rocking out tunes that make you dance with wild abandon. A technicolour assault on the senses in total psych-hd.
Melodic metal/post-rock done right.
Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Converge just keep getting better! Fresh innovative and bruising.
Dan Salter – Editor
Simply one of the most beautiful and moving albums I’ve ever heard. With ‘For My Parents’ MONO pushed the envelope of orchestral post rock to it’s natural conclusion, creating what can only be described as a modern symphony. A truly staggering piece of work.
I’ve decided to nominate this for my album of 2012, despite it being an obvious choice to some. It’s not because of the ten-year anticipation that built up to it, nor is it because I hope that they read this and ask me to be their new favourite roadie for the next tour. It’s because, after a decade-long gap, they have still managed to create a powerful masterpiece, rich in detail. I believe that I will be listening to this album in years to come and still be noticing nuances in it that I hadn’t before. The slow buildups, the pacey hooks, the heavy and obviously dense parts and the sparse, ambient parts all are laden with an intricate attention to detail, which means that no single part of this album is empty, or even vaguely anything short of complex. They have shown us, and themselves, that they can still build on what made them such huge influences in the genre to begin with. I’m proud to be alive to have witnessed this album’s inconspicuous, but still widely celebrated, release.
How To Dress Well – Total Loss
An album which channels themes of sadness and fragility through a mixture of ethereal electronic and 90s-era R&B music to great effect. It’s in equal parts devastating, inspired, and beautiful. In a year so full of strong releases, this is an overlooked gem.
It is not uncommon for me to find the most challenging or difficult albums the ones that I grow to love the most. In the same way that I despised Mars Volta’s masterpiece ‘Deloused in The Comatorium’ I was equally overwhelmed with The Seer on first listen (and a few more after that). The key to the making the best record possible is to create something familiar but unique, challenging and difficult but still listenable and above all else: interesting, fun and powerful. The Seer displays Swans in, at times, their most introverted and aggressive, but also at their most beautiful and curious. Their endless repetition and improvisation leaves the performances as something to behold: Listening devotedly leaves you drawn in, hypnotised, confused and amazed. Featuring a beautiful song with Karen O and a handful of pieces that could be EPs in their own right, The Seer is varied, consistent and totally epic. If nothing else, the record is a spectacle, something to behold, like the first time Pink Floyd brought down The Wall, but with bigger hammers.
Unbelievably epic, fantastically huge, MONO have redefined the entire concept of “album” with what is, in essence, a truly symphonic work.
Slomatics – A Hocht
Combining their trademark earth-shattering riffage with some more expansive, experimental soundscapes, these guys totally blew me away this year. I was expecting great things, as I always do, but this was something else entirely. A record that sounds like it was composed by world-conquering Trolls from the planet riff. If you like sludge and haven’t heard this album, where the hell have you been?!
Susanna – Wild Dog
It’s interesting how some albums combined with special occasions seems to etch into my mind. Susanna’s latest album ‘Wild Dog’ did exactly that when I gave it a listen on my own wedding day. While seeking solitude in my old bedroom before all the stress kicked in I listened to Susanna Wallumrød’s darkly beautiful voice. Here’s what I found: Emotions. Poetry. Darkness. Tensions. Old and sweet memories rushed through my mind meanwhile Susanna prepared me for lots of new ones. Now, when listening to her gentle voice accompanied by simple piano melodies, crystal clear images from that day appears. Although I could mention several more reasons; that reason alone makes ‘Wild Dog’ worthy of a spot on this list.