It’s nearing the end of the year, so it only seems right to compose a list of favourite albums from 2012. The BBC went for Kendrink Lamar’s ‘good king, m.A.A.d. city’; NME and FILTER chose Tame Impala ‘Lonerism’ and Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’can be fairly consistently found in the top 5 of music magazine polls. Instead of fighting it out, we at The Founder have each chosen our own album highlights of 2012.
The band’s self-titled debut should be considered nothing less than a musical marvel. The tracks roll seamlessly into one another as haunting vocals dance with synthesisers and purring electric guitars, but it’s all a rather subdued affair until the albums finale ‘Kopter’ bursts out of the speakers. For a band that emerged from the ashes of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong (who sadly failed to release their debut due to ‘artistic differences’), Toy have taken on the domain of psychedelic rock lorded over by The Horrors and are coming out as very strong competition indeed. This album is one track away from perfection – leaving out their debut single ‘Left Myself Behind’ was a terrible decision – yet it doesn’t stop ‘Toy’ being a critically acclaimed, beautifully executed album.
Josh Dedman’s top album of 2012 is ‘Broken Brights’ – Angus Stone
In a year of exceptional new talent, it was difficult to conclusively deciding on just one album, but after some deliberation my choice was one that became both the soundtrack of summer splendour and essay hell – sympathetic in both occasions.
Making his name as the other half of the Australian brother-sister folk combo Angus and Julia Stone, Angus with this his second solo project stays true to his familiar style of personal suffering, desire and loss, but this time his flair for a rocky baseline comes to the fore to form a more diverse experience then what we might associate with the Stones. This range is best shown in my two favourite tracks; the lullaby qualities of the title track and the soaring vocals and screeching strings of It Was Blue which draws similarities to his heroes Dylan and Young. This album therefore offers an opportunity to share in his journey of personal sadness and musical discovery, to great effect.
Sara Hussein proposes Mercury Music prizewinning album, ‘An Awesome Wave’ – Alt-J
Alt-Js’ debut single ‘Breezeblocks’ is a great kickstart to this record. The smooth crooning vocals, mixed with a trippy, syncopated drumbeat and dissonant guitar, are a fresh and unusually pleasant sound to this intriguing album. Brief and fruitful ‘An Awesome Wave’ overflows with references to geometry in the sexually obscure ‘Tessellate’ (‘Triangles are my favourite shapes-three points where two lines meet’) and popular culture all wrapped up in an experimental musical-from synth-folk, like the mellow ballad ‘Matilda’, to dub-rock, like the addictive ‘Fitzpleasure’. It may not hit you at first, but every track gradually leaves its own defining mark. As a record it steps out of its comfort zone with ease and dexterity and delivers a beautifully intricate album. The Leeds quartets deliver a curious mixture of Radiohead’s psychedelic rock and Metronomy’s indie-pop with their individual touch.
Sean Littlejohn goes for ‘Handwritten’ – The Gaslight Anthem
It seems The Gaslight Anthem can do no wrong, and the trend continued with the release of the band’s fourth album ‘Handwritten’. The first single ‘45’ teased a more straightforward, rock-orientated sound, but ‘Handwritten’ made for one of the most nostalgic, engaging and interesting listens of the year. It’s classic Gaslight, tainted with heartbreak and nostalgia at every turn and dripping emotion with every gruffly-crooned word. But what makes it so unique is how timeless the whole thing is. In an age where rock and roll is making way for bass and beats The Gaslight Anthem have thrashed out an album that wouldn’t look out of place next to Springsteen or Tom Petty. It’s a celebration of rock and roll, and everything that makes it so special – the highs, the lows, love and loss and everything in between.