Saturday, December 22, 2012

My 5 Favorite Albums of 2012

My 5 Favorite albums of 2012 (aka. O Canada!)

2012 was the best year in music since 2009 - The only disappointments: still no new stuff from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (hello??), LadyHawke's sophomore album was a huge letdown and Lady Gaga is still around. But - luckily - the great far outweighed the bad thanks in large part to the guys below.... the best of this year's crop...

5) ‘Bodyparts’ – Dragonnette

These Canadians’ last album, ‘Fixin’ To Thrill’ was my pick for 2009’s best album. It was impossible for them – and most artists - to match it. But they do come very close with the perfect harmony of ‘Lay Low’ - or when Martina brings on the sass on ‘Right Woman’. In an alternative universe where tween boys with vocodered voices and silly hairdos don’t rule radio with the same exact David Guetta-ish song, Dragonette would be pop kings. Until then, they remain our best kept secret.

4) ‘MDNA’ – Madonna

If you said - once again (yawn) - ‘crap album, she is over’ – then you surely missed some of her most personal, often progressive music ever  - like ‘Love Spent’, ‘Gang Bang’ and ‘I’m Addicted’.  MDNA is not her best album, nobody can put out a ‘Ray of Light’ or a ‘Like a Prayer’ or even ‘Confessions’ that often, even M. But it does stand proudly within her awesome-albums-with-filler-songs category (ie. ‘Erotica’, ‘Music’). The big difference here is that she inexplicably chose to promote MDNA with the filler songs themselves – she released the songs you skip yet forgive because the rest is so good - the songs she seems to have called in from her Learjet because she had to. Arguably, ‘Gimme all your lovin’, ‘Girl Gone Wild’ and ‘Turn Up the Radio’ are not only the worst songs on the album, but some of the worst songs she has ever put out. And, sadly, it’s the impression most people were left with of MDNA.  But take a look below at the live version of 'Love Spent' and say, again, 'it's crap.. she is over'.. go on, I dare you. 

3) ‘Halcyon’ - Ellie Goulding

While obtuse, corporate US radio is still stuck on 2010’s ‘Lights’, the fact that this woman has put out a new collection of pulsating, smart pop tunes may fall through the tracks. ‘Dead in the Water’ is mournful and haunting, and first single ‘Anything Could Happen’ should be burning the airwaves by now…Ellie Goulding can turn ‘dear diary' music into cool like nobody else.

2) ‘Instinct’ – Niki and The Dove

Mix Stevie Nicks with Kate Bush and add a touch of Scandinavian kookiness and you get close to what these guys are all about. Perfectly poppy and sing along, perfectly strange. Perfect.

1) III – Crystal castles

My Favorite album this year - hands down - belongs to this Canadian electronica duo. They took a slight departure from their earlier, dancier stuff and created a space that packs in the lovely, the exhilarating, the cinematic and yes – the creepy. Good move. Even if you don’t understand what lead singer Alice Glass is screaming about – you get it – you don’t need to have it all spelled out for you. And that – to me - is what great music is all about.  See 'Pale Flesh' below... one of the best tracks of the year also.

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