Favorite Albums Of 2012 || 40 – 31

40. Joey Bada$$ – 1999

Growing up I was fortunate to have an older brother who shoved “Real Hip-Hop” down my throat – Black Moon, Boogie Down Productions, Erik B & Rakim, Mos Def, Pharcyde, Boot Camp Click, DJ Premiere, Tribe Called Quest, Big Daddy Kane – music filled with stories, incredible sampling, poignant poetry, playful attitudes, neck-breaking beats, political insight, intelligent compositions – Hip Hop was my first great discovery in music.  It was Hip-Hop that let me realize that rap music has the ability to be everything and anything all at once.  And the incredible music coming out of New York in the 90’s was just that, it was Rock, it was Soul, it was Blues, hard and soft, aggressive and beautiful.  So, in todays Hip-Hop world of 2012,  where Rappers and EDM stars team up to make arena-filling radio hits, you wouldn’t expect a young 17-year-old kid, who goes by Joey Bada$$ and his rapping collective Progressive Era, to come out with a debut that pays homage to 1990’s NYC Hip Hip and to its unique styling of beats & rhymes.  1999 is as much as trip back in time as it is a refreshing reminder of all that Hip Hop can be.

Datpiff:   Joey Badass – 1999
Key Track: Survival Tactics (Feat. Capital STEEZ)

39. Lone – Galaxy Garden
(R&S)

Lone’s 5th album Galaxy Garden has a lot going on inside of it — a lot even for being an electronic album.  With layers upon layers of delicate sampling fizzing and boiling around every corner of this album, there’s definitely a lot of treasures to be found.  But where a lot of electronic music that uses dense sampling gets trapped, Lone’s music has a lot more space, more room to breathe, even when all the worlds are colliding at once.  All lovers of electronic music, from minimalist to maximalist, can rally around this one.

Spotify: Lone – Galaxy Garden  Buy The Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “As A Child”

 38. John Fullbright – From The Ground Up
(Blue Dirt Records)

John Fullbright, who is easy to compare to Townes Van Zandt, is the most promising young folk voice I’ve heard since first getting introduced to Hayes Carll.  Fullbright (like my other favorite folk voices: Prine, Haggard, Guthrie, Parsons…Hayes) sings sensitivity, aggressively, satirically, consciously and spiritually – sometimes all at once.  Mixing Blues, Folk, Rock and Country, Fullbright carries that pure folk troubadour spirit — and combine that with his unique view of the world, it makes me believe that it’s not going to be long until Fullbright himself will write a whole catalog of tunes that will survive well beyond his years.

Spotify: John Fullbright – From The Ground Up  Buy The Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “St. & St. Paul”

37. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
(Domino)

I remember first hearing Dirty Projectors’ music sometime when Bitte Orca came out to critical acclaim and found myself pleasantly challenged when attempting to hear the deeper value within their music, that part of the music that isn’t necessarily sitting neatly on surface of each of their songs.  Some songs I got (“Stillness Is The Move”), some I didn’t (“Useful Chamber”).  But with Swing Lo Magellan, David Longstreth’s latest project under Dirty Projector’s, that challenge seemed to disappear for me and I was left with an album that was accessible, lovable, charming – even with Longstreth’s complex compositions pushing and pulling at you, this album was a joyful and easy listening experience.

Spotify: Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan Buy Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Dance For You”

36. Symmetry – Theme Music For An Imaginary Film
(Johnny Jewel)

Story has it that Johnny Jewel, founder of the record label Italians Do It Better and the bands Chromatics and Glass Candy, was originally set to compose the music for the film Drive. But as things like that go, it kinda fell through.  Jewel continued recording with the project’s idea in mind and in January of this year he released his finished product as streamable album via his Soundcloud. The album was properly titled Themes For An Imaginary Film.  Clockin’ in with nearly 2 hours of fluid, hard hitting vocal-less synth-y electronic music, that moves effortlessly and with perfect pace.  This is an album for that you should really put in your back pocket for that next late night Drive.

Soundcloud: Symmetry – Themes For An Imaginary Film
Key Track: Just gotta put the whole thing on…

35. Beachwood Sparks – Tarnished Gold
(Sub Pop)

SImilar to the way Gram Parsons helped bridge the gap between Rock and Roll and Country, bands like Beachwood Sparks help bridge Indie Rock and Country.  The carelessness of Tarnished Gold, Beachwood’s first album in 10 years, goes right back into their sunny lovable slacker alt-country vibe their known for.  The greatest appeal to me is the timeless feel of Tarnished Gold — it sounds like could as easily be from 1978.  But it’s the well conceived modern flourishes that make this one of 2012’s best alt-county albums.  Whenever I was moment of need, I always found myself coming back to this album: on early mornings, during late nights, or just on that lazy Sunday afternoon.

Spotify: Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold  Buy The Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Earl Jean”

34. Grizzly Bear – “Shields”
(Warp)

Grizzly Bear

While each song stands strongly on its own and there are many stand-out tracks (“Sleeping Ute,” “Yet Again,” “gun-shy”), it’s when you play Shields as a whole that you can truly get swept away in Grizzly Bear’s unique blend of quirky pop, vocal harmonies and jazzy indie rock.  Grizzly Bear is a band some people need to warm up to, and if you’re one of those folks interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, this album will serve as your perfect introduction into the music of one the most interesting and forward thinking Rock & Roll bands around.

Spotify: Grizzly Bear – Shields Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Yet Again”

33. Lost In The Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs
(Anti)

losttrees

A Church That Fits Our Needs, Ari Picker’s 3rd album under the name Lost In The Trees, can at times be an overwhelming and intense listening experience. The album is filled with giant orchestration, deeply personal lyrics and cryptic compositions that move fluidly together as if it’s its own emotional language.  I have to admit that when I first listened to this album, I was so overwhelmed with emotion –I cried. So, if you’re into that kinda thing…

Spotify: Lost In The Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Golden Eyelids”

32. Chano Dominguez – Flamenco Sketches

chanod

Spanish pianist Chano Dominguez lets his imagination run wild on this live recording, recorded as apart of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis (a personal favorite).  Chano gives his Latin-infused interpretation of Kind Of Blue where freeform, emotionally driven improvisational jazz takes the lead — just as Miles would have liked it.  Also… the drumming on this album is absolutely astonishing.

Spotify: Chano Dominguez – Flamenco Sketches
Key Track: Flamenco Sketches

31. Sun Araw / The Congo’s / M. Geddes Gengras – Icon Give Thank
(Rvng Intl.)

Collaborations between two completely opposite genres are common these days and usually the results leave their confused listeners you with more to be desired .  But when experimental musicians M Geddes Gengras and Sun Araw teamed up with Reggae legends The Congo’s (check out the album Heart of The Congo’s…it’s pretty amazing the final product was a perfect mix of cohesiveness and experimentation.  Reminiscent of an artist like Panda Bear, sounds jump at you from all directions while obscure vocals penetrate each song.  This isn’t your typical Reggae record, which in my book, is a good thing.

Sportify: Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, The Congos – FRKWYS Vol. 9: Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet The Congos
Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Thanks & Praise”