Onomatopoeia's Best Music of 2012

Welcome to Onomatopoeia’s year-end best of 2012. This is our second year of producing a
best of list and we are sticking with the same formula as 2011. What’s that mean to anyone
reading this right now? We have come up with individual lists of 13 rather than one communal
list; we figured one choice per month at twelve months in the year with an extra 13th choice
thrown in for good measure.

For myself 2011 was a mixed bag for music, the merging of underground culture with the commercial trends of the mainstream was very apparent (The Weekend) and if you were into a very specific subset of electronic music, namely dub, it was a great year. But for my money it was honestly the worst year for music in well over a decade and while there were some truly stellar releases some of us here at Onomatopoeia had trouble even coming up with thirteen records that felt worthy of calling out as one of the best in the year. 2012 was a little more varied and exciting for me but as a whole probably belonged to the genre hip hop. That being said here is what we thought were the best albums of 2012….
I’ve never been one to number my lists; my mood determines what my preferred listening is at any given time so here are my top 13 music releases in no particular order…

Best 13 Albums of 2012...

Clams Casino – Instrumentals 2

New Jersey producer Mike Volpe really had a fantastic 2012 dropping both this Instrumentals mixtape and the Rainforest EP. In the 12 month’s that have followed Clams has gained much more attention and his sound is a well established one with copy cats to boot. In June of this year Volpe followed up his first mixtape with the inevitable sequel, simply titled Instrumentals 2, the free release once again showcased instrumental versions of his production work used in various collaborations in the world of hip hop, and this time as an added bonus, remix’s too. While some might say that the impact of the second round of beats wasn't as effective without the element of surprise, I’m going to have to be a dick about it and scoff at the very notion of such a statement! The first three tracks alone, all work that the producer has done in collaboration with A$AP Rocky, are some of the best Mr. Volpe has ever produced. Sure you know the songs in one form or the other and a handful of these instrumentals were available (if you took a moment to search for them, months prior) but I don’t see how any of that is relevant. A good song is a good song and this collection is full of them, in fact many of these compositions are great songs that feature all those elements that made you fall in love with the man the first time round. Manipulated vocal samples, church choirs, that fluid dreamy sound that has the power to feel epic and calming all at the same time, it’s all here and sounding better than ever. Clams manages to pull a back to back victory making appearances on both our 2011 and 2012 lists, can or will he pull a three-peat next year? I can only hope so.

Forss – Ecclesia

Nine years on from Soulhack, Swedish electronic artist and co- founder of Soundcloud, Eric Wahlforss, returns with a new album and moniker that was a year end pick from the moment I

heard it. Long fascinated by religious music, Ecclesia only runs at around 33 minutes but in that time we get something that is drenched in atmosphere and character. Constructed from samples of choirs, strings, organs and other sounds one would find in a church the religious inspiration is clear from the very beginning. Never lost on its own self-importance, given the source material, the songs jittery beats make the perfect combination of old vs. new world. Profoundly uplifting choruses are the highlight on this album in which voices twist upward and out in harmony. Ecclesia is an album that is brilliantly controlled, with the empty pockets of silence being just as important to the delivery as the ones filled with sound. Album highlights are many but some of my personal favorites include “In Paradisum” and closer "Lux Aeterna" which both handle the chopping and skewing of the vocals to perfection making me feel that this album was (personally) crafted to fit my tastes. Oh and just in case you didn’t have enough reasons to go buy this album the interactive app that provides the visuals for this release is stunning too!

Chromatics – Kill For Love

The Chromatics that formed in the Pacific Northwest as a punk band more than a decade ago are long gone; well at least their original members and sound is. The re-emerged, Johnny Jewel headed, slow, dreamy Italians Do it Better dance-pop group really are their own beast. With his contributions to the Drive soundtrack that paired airy, exposed, atmospherics with Nicolas Winding Refn’s visuals creating some truly epic cinematic moments, Kill For Love keeps things in the same spirit. Vocoders, vintage synth arpeggios delicate guitars soaked in reverb with some post punk trimmings make up the sound of this near one and a half hour listening experience and it's one that I have returned to throughout the year.

From the opening track, a synth heavy, deconstructed, cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" to the comfortably familiar "Edge of Seventeen” like rhythm guitars on "These Streets Will Never Look the Same", Kill for Love maintains a sense of grandeur and attention to detail simply not found on most albums today. Singer Ruth Radelet has mastered the delicate balance of conveying some sort of warm emotion while still maintaining an intentionally sterile-electro facade that traditionally should transport you into the future but instead somehow and most masterfully seems to capture the past. Kill for love is an unapologetically ambitious record that sees a band equally at home in extended ambient pieces like the forebodingly pulsing “Broken Mirrors”, and the foggy haze of gorgeous slow numbers like "The River" with equal perfection and which happens over and over again until those 90 minutes are up.

Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory 

The second proper album from Ohio's Cloud Nothings is similar to the life of a caterpillar. In other words, this is a band transformed. Dylan Baldi has upped the manpower on the sophomore effort, going from the solo process of recording pop-punk songs in his bedroom, to Cloud Nothings 2.0, a permanent four-piece group that has produced a blustery, melodic, punk rock record in the form of Attack on Memory. Similar to the indie-rock/post-hardcore bands from the US midwest in the late 90’s (think Cap'n Jazz) the Steve Albini engineered record is not the most original album of 2012 but that doesn’t mean it’s not good - after all it’s on this list. What we get here is a record full of youth and energy and while Baldi's vocals sometimes retain that snotty teenager delivery, on the whole the record is a giant leap forward for the Nothings. With a large choice of first class tunes tunes like the anathematic “Fall In”, the gruff “Our Plans”, and the airtight “Stay Useless”, Attack On Memory peaks with the nine-minute “Wasted Days” reminding you why you might have loved this type of music in the first place and that there are younger generations carrying the banner into the future without embarrassing those who came before. On last year’s list I posed the question that Youth Lagoon might be the new emo. Cloud Nothings seem to think there is nothing wrong with the old version and when it’s done this well and with taste they could very well be right.

Death Grips - The Money Store/No Love Deep Web

It was a pretty bonkers year for San Diego Experimental hop hop group Death Grips. The trio that is vocalist Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett, Zach Hill and Andy "Flatlander" Morin released not one but two albums in 2012, The Money Store in April and No Love Deep Web in October. The group signed with Epic Records under the recommendation of Epic's then-executive vice president of marketing Angelica Cob-Baehler and on the strength of one of my favorite records from last year’s list, Exmilitary, but it was a partnership that only lasted a heartbeat as the band quickly managed to infuriate the label by releasing music for free on the web. First up were the instrumentals from The Money Store, which the band encouraged remixers to have at, and secondly by self-releasing their sophomore effort via a website which they linked to from Twitter, Soundcloud, and various filesharing services. This was apparently an effort to bypass the fact that their record label was unwilling to release the album until 2013. The band was dropped by Epic Records on November 1 due to the issues surrounding this incident in a game of he said/she said but one has to think the ultimately in the age on the internet Death Grips came out on top further growing their legend that in actuality probably has more in common with punk rock than hip hop.

Then there was the music itself. The Money Store and No Love Deep Web are some of the most intoxicating, invigorating, envelope-pushing long-players of the year. Their collection of sharp, bombastic, cacophonies are both alarming in their hostility and wholly captivating in their execution; they are the car wreck on the side of the road you can’t help but stare at as you drive by. There is a single-mindedness without humor or nuance; a one-dimensional bleak inevitability to their sound, which is made up of disjointed samples and a rapping style that some would compare to a dog barking.  

They might be the very definition of acquired taste and will most likely alienate the vast majority who attempt to give it a spin but in today’s music climate of easily disposable free music it’s a quality you don’t encounter much and a welcome addition.

Captain Murphy - DU∆LITY

The debut mixtape from the one-time anonymous Emcee, Captain Murphy, later to be revealed as the multi-talented Flying Lotus, is a colorful disjointed ADD infused sound collage filled with equal parts dark and moody themes as well as bright soul-infused psychedelic production. The pitch shifted vocals add to the megalomaniacal cartoony vibe that Murphy surrounds himself with and could be compared to other emcees that enjoy their alter egos like MF Doom and Quasimodo. Some might find the mixtape to be completely off-kilter and all over the map, constantly puzzling with its pop culture samples that act as extremely creative segways in what is ultimately a collection of very short songs, but for my money the whole thing works extremely well. The music is eerily beautiful, the cult theme very entertaining and the video that accompanied the original seamless mix a first-class example of tv carnage. You’ll have fun picking out all the little moments with each listen, recalling their point of origin whether it be a b-movie, video game or tv news report featuring interviews with members of Heaven’s Gate. If you are the type of cat who likes to find a lot of meaning behind an emcee’s lyrics you might not be as impressed, although the very fact that Captain Murphy is who he is should shoot down any question of talent right away. But in the end this is a producers type of record first and foremost with the rhymes coming in second. For the purists out there that grew up on NAS, Biggie or Jay-Z this will probably be too goofy but if you are more about Kool Keith than any of those aforementioned names than this should be as entertaining and memorable as the first time you heard Dr. Octagon. Best mixtape for me this year.


Lunice and Hudson Mowhawke of TNGHT emerged this year with their self-titled EP that aimed to give the boys some notice as very capable producers of hip hop music for any willing emcees out there, blurring the lines between UK and North American club sounds, and what they lose on time (the EP clocks in at 16 minutes) they make up for in sheer power. The five songs that make up the release are some of 2012’s most bold, positively huge hip-hop sounds. The simplicity is almost deceptive but their minimalist approach is more about perfecting and tweaking each theme to meet its full potential rather than throwing every idea they could into the mix, consciously trading in complexity for immediacy. The scale of carnage on the EP is championed by Chasm-deep 808 basslines, spacious marching-band drums, super-crisp snare rolls and quirky snatches of electronic squeals that bring the tension to near-unbearable levels before collapsing into frenzied, ground-shaking dance floor anthems. But TNGHT’s rise this year shouldn’t come as any surprise after all, HudMo and Lunice have both been doing their thing in the dance scene for quite a while now and ep highlight “Higher Ground” is a cleaner natural progression of “Thunder Bay” from last year’s HudMo EP Satin Panthers that also made out best of list just twelve months ago. What is surprising is how well each producer compliments each other in a way that seems to have made this release all killer and no filler. Bring on the LP!

∆ alt-J – An Awesome Wave

British band ‘s debut album, An Awesome Wave, packs a whole lot of genre mashing into its relatively short listening time. It is a rock album, a folk album, an electronic album, a pop album and at times a hip hop album but above all it’s a great album. Like many great albums this one grabs you from the get go and doesn't let go until it’s all over, often leaving bits and bobs stuck in your head to hum to yourself throughout the day. Alt-J seem to be concerned with the geometry of things. “Triangles are my favorite shape,” lead vocalist Joe Newman sings on “Tessellate,” but the math isn’t only lyrical in theme; each song on the album seems to correlate to a specific equation, with the complex drum patterns and precision percussion acting as the perfect complement to the falsetto coos, finger picking guitar work and intertwining synths and bass. The band also do a fantastic job of marrying organic with synthetic or old with new, something that is all too often done poorly these days with each element making an appearance in order to enhance rather than compete with what’s already there. By the time the left-field Bhangra rhythm of album closer “Taro” arrives all you can think is of course, a lesser band would have made you scratch your head in confusion. Which brings me to my last point. Most importantly while An Awesome Wave sees the band mix a vast range of styles and instruments it never feels forced or over-complicated and instead evokes a sense of familiarity, comfort and warmth like that of an old friend.

Purity Ring – Shrines

Montreal duo Purity Ring entered the scene with a simple formula that they have stuck with since those first singles started appearing on the web. Their debut LP, Shrines, is essentially the same song eleven times in a row but it’s a great song so luckily the formula works . Born out of the frenetic glitch-pop outfit GOBBLE GOBBLE Corin Roddick’s twitching, hip hop-inspired percussion layered in stylized icy synth creeps, creates quite a backdrop for Megan James’ panicked-childlike vocals, surprising with their unusual cohesion. A few lines into "Fineshrine," the second track on Purity Ring’s debut, the group’s mission statement is clear. A stuttering intro gives way to the words “Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you”. The imagery is bold and memorable and it’s not just the words that make an impact, the layers of sound help create a mixture of fleeting emotions that is equal parts sharp and clinical, but also dense with human emotion.

Shrines definitely has a fairy-tale like, chilling dark undercurrent to it. “Grandma, I've been unruly… drill little holes into my eyelids,” sings James coyly on “Belispeak." The lyric is a perfect example of Purity Ring’s ear for the slightly twisted.

The album as a whole functions very well as a collection of Purity Ring’s work thus far, but it also functions as a singular, cohesive artistic alma mater for the band's school of thought and that’s much more rewarding when trying to build a spot for yourself in a crowded scene. So don’t call them one-trick ponies, call them focused.

Grimes – Visions

Montreal’s multi-platform artist Claire Boucher wears many hats, in addition to making music under the Grimes moniker she also is an artist (she designs her own album covers), a filmmaker (she directs her own music videos), and a dancer (she choreographs said videos). But she is probably most well-known for the Grimes project which has only grown stronger since 2010’s LPs, Geidi Primes and Halfaxa. Accessibility has done Claire well and while her 4AD debut, Visions, isn’t necessarily accessible by mainstream terms it never the less is far

more hook and pop oriented as a record than anything else she has ever released. There is apparent growth here alongside an intriguing mixture of bravado and naïveté that make up a perfect storm. Visions was written and tracked in Boucher’s bedroom and pieced together on GarageBand, but you wouldn't know listening to it as it sounds positively big budget compared to those earlier releases. Adjectives like otherworldly, ghostly, slinky and eclectic, come to mind when listening to Visions. The record's a showcase both for Boucher's agile, flexible voice, of which there seems to be three or four different personalities, all of them equally essential to the experience of her music, and her arrangements which are laced in psychedelia and dancey ‘80s synth-rock, with a little performance art thrown in for good measure. It’s artsy but accessible, it's bubblegum electro pop and a bit of K-pop but with emotion. Tracks "Genesis" and "Oblivion" offer the best examples of this infectious side of Grimes' experimentation and neatly sum up the combination of nervousness and ecstasy that is the crux of her excellence. Let’s hope that LP number 5 continues down the same path because so far it’s been a great journey for the listener.

Baroness –Yellow & Green 

Yellow & Green, Baroness’ new 18-song, 75-minute double album offers a varied, rich expanse of psychedelic, pretty, and occasionally heavy but mostly straight-up rock that make for a very rewarding listen. This is the bands Song’s For The Deaf if you will in that it’s a very straightforward record that is instantly accessible to most but doesn’t sacrifice any of the artistic elements in doing so. The band has always played with new ideas of what makes a heavy band heavy on their growing color series but I found their last record, Blue, to be a cold (like the color of which it was named) uncomfortable balance. I’ve always preferred extremes when given the choice and considering the band’s catalogue I would say this is an extreme shift in sound yet impressive in how well it all works. Single "Take My Bones Away" is a great foresight into what the four-piece have grown into, and the following track “March” To Sea” make the albums tracking the best one-two punch combo of the year. The songs do a great job introducing the more melodic aspects that the band focus on this time out. Another victory for the group is that given that the record is presented as a double LP there's pretty much no filler, as every song has its place. Front man John Baizley has said that although it's a double LP, Yellow & Green is not a concept record - but that’s not say that there isn’t a unifying theme in the sound and lyrics stating that the tunes themselves reflect the feeling of the moment before or after a disaster and you can feel it throughout because much like the moment after a disaster the album is rich in atmosphere, with huge highs, and crushing lows.

With Yellow & Green you get the symbolism that the colors represent, warmth and growth, and while the album may not connect with those unwilling to grow with them if you are open to the new sound you will ultimately be treated to what is the another great chapter from a band who have already had many.


EL-P – Cancer4Cure

Cancer4Cure see’s EL- P in peak form in what is his first album in 5 years and also his first since putting the seminal Def Jux label on hiatus in 2010. While Fantastic Damage served as an introduction to the label and what it would come to represent and I'll Sleep When You're Dead reflected the uneasiness and paranoia of George W Bush’s second term, Cancer4Cure represents the here and now and of course with its tales of robot soldiers, spaceships, aliens and dystopia even a little bit of the future. For the emcee/producer’s first album on Fat Possum there are refreshingly few guest spots, the only former Def Juxie to appear is Despot with Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, who has one of the sickest flows I have ever heard on “Oh hail No”, Danny Brown, and a throwback worthy of a Tarantino career revitalizing casting via Killer Mike rounding out the bunch. Cancer4Cure weaves dense, claustrophobic, intellectual verses packed with internal rhymes accompanied by a classic New York sound infused with industrial edge—part Public Enemy, part Throbbing Gristle. The textures and tones are distinctly different from past releases but still uniquely characteristic of El-P, pushing the sonic envelope of hip-hop beyond its contemporaries by miles.

El-P is the master of super saturated compositions where seemingly every bar is stuffed with a worthy element, but it’s not about what’s happening in the foreground rather it's how he uses the negative space. The emcee has the uncanny ability to relay pent-up confusion in the characters he inhabits and are as a result more frightening than any post-apocalyptic scenario by virtue that they are seemingly the voice of regular folks driven mad. One such example is "Tougher Colder Killer", where El inhabits the mindset of a soldier haunted by post-traumatic stress, who makes "his enemy dig his own grave at gunpoint." On "For My Upstairs Neighbor" We hear of a protagonist getting questioned by the police about a domestic violence situation in his apartment building, he offers the fuzz nothing, but later confronts the abuse victim in the stairwell and whispers to her, "do the thing you have to and I swear I'll tell them nothing."

Cancer4Cure won’t replicate the chart success of Drake or Wiz Khalifa but it operates on such a different plane both intellectually and inspirationally that it makes you feel embarrassed for calling them the same genre, almost like that adult on the train reading an impossibly thick book with the dust cover removed to disguise the fact that it’s a Twilight novel.

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

For a pair of guys who regularly admit their limitations as songwriters Vancouver’s JapandroidsCelebration Rock is a record full of crowd-pleasing, call-and-response choruses and arena-ready themes that starts strong and stays there over the course of its eight songs and 35 minutes and never with a hint of irony. The record opens with fireworks, that timeless symbol of being young, wild times, summer and falling in love. Summer represents being a kid again, seventeen and without responsibilities, overflowing with ideals, hopes and passions, a theme that rings throughout as the band structure their hooks in such a way that whatever they're singing about sounds like the most urgent, life-or-death thing anyone has ever had to sing about. It does an uncanny job of capturing a time and place in life with the advantage of experience that comes with a little more age (both members are 30), no easy feat for certain. This isn't necessarily a new idea as songwriters like the Hold Steady's Craig Finn have undertaken this idea many times, but always with an affectionately mystified critical distance. King and Prowse are right at the epicenter of it - by no means old enough to have a song called "Younger Us," but nonetheless fearful that they're nearing the age when most folks don't have time to rock out anymore. Like most people they're mellowing with age and that's terrifying prospect, but it also makes them play that much harder as a result. This may sound unbearably cheesy but in the Japandroids' hands it never comes off as such. Celebration Rock is in perpetual motion, driven by a primeval sense of urgency that most modern rock music is deeply lacking. But all this being said there is also a welcomed hint of melancholy that underlines many of the songs, a lurking sense that this glorious moment will pass, and then what? “It’s a lifeless life with no fixed address to give,” they declare on “The House that Heaven Built,” luckily for the listener Celebration Rock is full of life and it’s gift is that it makes you feel full of it too.

Honorable Mentions
Heems – Nehru Jackts/Wild Water Kingdom 
Crystal Castles – III
Chance The Rapper - Ten Day 
Sebastien Tellier - My God Is Blue
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
Ryat - Totem
Lapalux – When You're Gone
Aesop Rock - Skelethon
Fionna Apple - The Idler Wheel...
Haim -EP's
Holy Other - Held eld
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid m.A.A.d City
Twigs - EP
Schoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions
Father John Misty - Fear Fun

2012 Best Singles
(Who otherwise do not appear on My top 13 of the year)

Major Lazer - Get Free
Azealia Banks - Jumanji
Liars - No. 1 Against The Rush
HEALTH - Tears
M.I.A. - Bad Girls
Theophilus London/A$AP Rocky - Big Spender
Miguel - Arch and Point
Beach House - Troublemaker
Lana Del Rey - Born To Die(Woodkid remix)
Blue Sky Black  Death & Nacho Picasso - Naked Lunch
Diplo Fest. Lazerdisk Party Sex - Set It Off

Scraped Knee:

A little part of me was hoping this would be the year I get back into hip-hop.  It has been a while,… but alas no go for me.  A lot was released but I I think I just don’t connect to it anymore.  Not to say the Frank Oceans and the A$ap Rocky’s are putting out good stuff,… it just isn’t in my wheelhouse right now.  I’ve gotten too hippie and white…

My favorite and most listened to albums of 2012...

Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP

Before Grizzly Bear released their critically acclaimed Shields album, singer Daniel Rossen released a 5-song EP back in March.  The songs were recorded during the winter with the intent of being on the next Grizzly Bear recording, which they eventually didn’t.  As much of a fan as I am of Shields, I feel that the EP is more focused and definitely has a “winter” sensibility to it.  The songs are gorgeous and I only wish it was a fully fledged full-length solo release. 

∆ alt-J – An Awesome Wave

An Awesome Wave is a great debut release from the British band and feels very British, mixing subtle electronic elements into everything.  Singer Joe Newman has such an interesting nasally voice which works well straight up or when the band is harmonizing and the song structures are recognizably interesting which says a lot for the band because I never notice shit like that.  I kept getting them mixed up w/ Django Django for the longest time this year.  Looking forward to more releases….

Ty Segall – Twins, Hair & Slaughterhouse

Okay,.. this is a bit of cheating.  I chose 3 albums instead of 1, but fuck you… the kid put out 3 rad albums in 1 year and another coming early 2013.  Guys has been working hard.  The then young San Francisco whipper-snapper is now a fully fledged rocker creating addictive guitar hooks like a fuzzed out Jack White.  Each album is different.  Each album is great,..some fuzzier than others, some garagier. Treat yourself and check em’ all out

Menahan Street Band – The Crossing

A long awaited and little received release from the little brother of the Daptone Records family (Budos Band, Antibalas, Sharon Jones, etc..).  Menahan records music that sounds like an old 70’s soundtrack or something Wu-Tang would have sampled back in the day.  It makes you feel badass when you listen to it and are guaranteed to have 1 or 2 people ask.. “Oh,.. what’s this?” when you put it on at a party. 

Astra  – The Black Chord

God is this a good album.  I love shit like this.  It’s like watching a Ralph Bakshi animated movie with your eyes closed.  I’ve had my eye on Astra for a while and upon listening to their latest album realize they keep getting better and better.  Astra is single handedly helping keep the psychedelic drone rock scene alive as more and more bands break up or splinter off into less effective projects.


Crystal Castles - III

I didn’t really want to put this album on the list but it was on my playlist so much I felt I had to.  It is indistinguishable from Crystal Castles previous 2 releases and pretty much follows the same formula with 1 or 2 god awful tracks that everyone skips.  They still pump out an interesting sounds so I gotta give em’ props.  Go Canada!!!

White Fence – Family Perfume vol 1 & 2

This album is not for everyone.  It has a nice 4-track sound to it and is very unpolished like an old basement recording of Syd Barrett and the band messing around.  The music feels like it is being stretched and pulled at while its being played.  This is a great album for a comfy couch and nice headphones.

Yeasayer – Fragrant World

It seems like the last Yeasayer album just came out but  I'm not complaining.  The Brooklyn based band continues to develop its sound and create albums very different sounding than the last.  With Fragrant World, they have attached to an interesting electronic tribal sound utilizing various percussion and synth beats.  Blah blah blah... just listen to it.

Nils Frahm - Felt

This technically was released a little bit before 2012 but I didn’t discover it until later and have listened to the hell out of it. To “the hell out of it”?  Is that proper vernacular?  You get the idea.  Gorgeous layered piano compositions that cause you to get lost and zone out into a repetitive wormhole.  His recordings are so mic’ed up you can hear every little shift of a foot peddle or car horn from outside creating a very personal quality to them.

<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->Clams Casino – Instrumentals 2 (mixtape)

Shit.  I might have had this on last year’s list,… or maybe it was the 1st volume.  I can’t remember when this actually came out.  Anyways, it’s so good I’m fine with making 2 lists in a row.  Good beat heavy instrumental beats for work or for play.  He is a good guy to follow online as he is constantly sending out notes or tweets about new tracks he is working on and releasing them free to listen.

Ariel's Pink Grafitti - Mature Themes

I can’t really put a finger on why this album made the list instead of being an Honorable Mention.  It reminds me so much of those non-sensical art school kid releases like Godley & Crème from the 70’s or Ween from the 80’s.  Just good cheesy catchy songs that I’m sure would be disasterous live causing your friends to look at you and say “Why the Fuck,.. did you invite me to this thing?

Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

The band left the presumptuous hills of LA and went back to their roots, aka Baltimore for this album.  Not the best Animal Collective album out there but it is still leagues above a lot music being released.  Still making beauty out of cacophony. 

Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet on Sky

I gotta admit, it had been a while since I had listened to Dinosaur Jr before this album.  Their albums just kind of came and went and would usually end up on my rotation for a spin or 2.  I Bet on Sky is an overall good rock album, not a “Hey…. Its sounds like old school Dinosaur Jr” album but just a good album start to finish.  Bravo.  The awkward wizard of rock keeps rocking’.

Honorable Mentions

Grizzly Bear - Shields
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver…
The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
Django Django – Django Django
Why - Mumps Etc.
Zammuto - Zammuto
Kaki King – Glow
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Here
Woods – Bend Beyond
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy
De La Soul’s Plug 1 and Plug 2 - First Serve
Here We Go Magic - A Different Ship
Calexico - Algiers
Moon Duo - Circles
Neil Young – Psychedelic Pill (… half the album at least)

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