Good news and bad news here guys. Good news is, my 2012 list is almost done! Bad news is, my mediafire account got suspended (hopefully temporarily) so at least for now, anything that I uploaded personally prior to this part of the list probably won't be working properly. I'm working on getting my account reinstated, but for now, if a link is broken, try searching on my good friend FILESTUBE.COM! It's a great site for finding downloads and the like. As always, besides that, please let me know if any downloads are broken and I'll do what I can until my account comes back, and please comment and let me know your thoughts and opinions regarding the list. Click on the title there to see part four of my 2012 albums of the year list, after the break!
25. Burial - 'Kindred'
Country of Origin: England
Burial was the artist who brought garage music to the world at large. Untrue is pretty much the reason people even use the term 'post-dubstep,' and ever since that 2007 masterpiece, he's been off doing little collaborations and releasing three-track EPs. This is actually a surprisingly good thing, as this format seems to work remarkably well for Burial. So well, in fact, that some might argue his 2012 EP Kindred as his best release yet. I'm not sure if I'd go quite that far, but I do know that Kindred's three long-form songs create an impressive atmosphere, and showcase more of exactly why Burial is so praised. The stuttering beats, warped vocal samples, and crackling ambience are mainstays of Burial's repertoire, but somehow they just feel amplified here. This is an artist finally starting to experiment, working in terms of eleven-minute song suites, going in and out of styles, using silence as well as he wields his unique beats to create the beauty that his work is so praised for, even working in some aggression on the title track. Kindred is Burial finally stepping outside his shell, and reminding everyone that he will always be the king.
Top tracks: Ashtray Wasp; Loner
24. Lil B - 'God's Father'
Country of Origin: USA
God's Father is monstrously long, creative, and unique. Across the mixtape's whopping 34 songs, Lil B shows off his ridiculous breadth of styles, from beautiful, desperate, and intense atmospheric tracks to silly freestyles to exciting, hard pieces. The ludicrous amount of music that Lil B released in 2012 makes God's Father's success all the more impressive, but this tape stands perfectly on its own. The absolutely godly instrumentals cover heavy trap beats, gorgeous ambient works, and even surprisingly effective samples from games and movies like Final Fantasy X, Donnie Darko, and ICO. Lil B's stream-of-consciousness rapping might put some off initially, but once you get used to it, it's not hard to realize that he's also one of the most talented up and coming rappers out there. The fact is that God's Father is one of the most impressive, moving, and exciting rap releases of the whole year, and the absolute best work yet by pretty much the most prolific and original rapper around.
Top tracks: The BasedGods Layer; Keep It 100
23. Right Away, Great Captain! - 'The Church of the Good Thief'
Country of Origin: USA
This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and for good reason. Andy Hull is better known as the singer for Manchester Orchestra, but for my money, his solo project is where he truly shines. Right Away, Great Captain! has been a bit of a work in progress for the last few years, slowly releasing a trilogy of albums telling the story of a man at sea in the 17th century, lamenting his broken family and slowly encountering a series of more and more tragedies. The Church of the Good Thief, the finale of the trilogy, finds the main character in jail after murdering his brother whom his wife cheated on him with, and is a record of recollection of a man's sad life. The music on here is simple, pure acoustic folk music. Andy's voice, an acoustic guitar, and occasionally some piano make up this bare-bones album, but at no point does it feel lacking. The perfect melodies, sorrowful vocals and stunning lyrics are just so well orchestrated that it's hard to imagine a better pure folk album coming out of 2012, and for anyone who enjoys beautiful, sad acoustic music, The Church of the Good Thief should be a godsend. This is a masterful album from one of the most impressive modern songwriters, and an incredible ending to a heartbreaking story.
Top tracks: Fur Stop Caring; Rotten Black Root
22. Girls' Generation - 'Girls' Generation II: Girls & Peace'
Country of Origin: South Korea
I've been kind of dreading this writeup since the beginning, as Girls' Generation (or SNSD as they're commonly referred to) are one of those groups that tend to make me come off as more than a little bit biased, to say the least. However, I think I can fairly still say that Girls' Generation II: Girls & Peace is an amazing album of pretty much the best pop music of the year. The nontet's second Japanese-language album is notably more airing towards a hard electro style compared to their more 'innocent' styled Korean works, but the group feels right at home in this style of music. Picking top tracks for this album was tricky, as just about every song on here is a perfectly crafted gem of huge choruses, catchy verses, giant electronic builds, and soaring vocals. It's rare to find a pop full-length which doesn't drag at any point and actually feels like a full album rather than a collection of singles and filler, but Girls & Peace is exactly that--a sublime album which flows and has been lovingly crafted through and through, and is a fantastic release for both old and new fans. Simply put, this album is not only proof that SNSD feels just as confident in Japanese as in their native language and style, but also just one more reason why these nine girls are the best kpop group out there, period.
Top tracks: PAPARAZZI; FLOWER POWER
21. The Tallest Man On Earth - 'There's No Leaving Now'
Country of Origin: Sweden
Is there anyone reading this who hasn't listened to The Tallest Man On Earth before? If so, stop reading this, go listen to all of his albums, then get back to me. Kristian Matsson is pretty much the master of modern folk music, and has yet to record a sub-par release. His knack for melodies, exceptional talent at guitar, profound lyrics, and unique voice have earned him endless comparisons to Bob Dylan, but Matsson's music really is something all its own. On his third full-length, The Tallest Man On Earth's music has started to branch out ever so slightly, working in gentle, clean electric guitars in with his traditional acoustic-and-voice setup, and it works beautifully. Matsson's voice floats above his stunning instrumentals, his lyrics are as sublime as always, and the newly textured approach he's taking to his music lends even more magic to what he's making. There's No Leaving Now might not be quite as jaw-dropping as his last few releases, but it makes up for it by finally being a step forward for Kristian, while still being a wonderful collection of flawless folk songs.
Top tracks: Revelation Blues; 1904
20. Grimes - 'Visions'
Genre: Experimental Pop/Witch House/DIY Dreampop
Country of Origin: Canada
Claire Boucher's music finally exploded this year, and I couldn't be happier. While she's been pumping out quirky DIY pop music for a few years under her Grimes moniker, Visions really was something else. Swirling keyboards, strange chirpy vocals, simple beats, and dense melodies work together to make some of the catchiest songs to come out of the indie music scene this year, but this album really is more than the sum of its parts. As Visions progresses, its childlike innocence slowly gives way to genuine emotionalism, expressing joy and sorrow, fear and excitement all in the most honest, human way. This album may be weird in all the ways that the cover art implies, but it's also exceptionally enjoyable, accessible, and touching. Beyond all else, though, this is an exciting and completely original take on the pop music formula, offering sweet and memorable songs with an intimate and unique spin. Grimes might be a little off-putting at first, but give her latest album a chance and you'd be hard-pressed to not fall in love.
Top tracks: Oblivion; Be a Body (侘寂)
19. Katatonia - 'Dead End Kings'
Genre: Melancholic Alternative Metal/Progressive Rock
Country of Origin: Sweden
Ever since Katatonia ditched their straight-up doom metal and started taking a more melodic approach, they've been slowly honing their unique form of melancholic metal. And ever since Viva Emptiness dropped back in 2003, they've pretty much made one perfect album after another. However, I'd be hard pressed to point to one that accomplishes this quite as well as their latest release. Dead End Kings is densely textured, with heavy guitars and subtle synths backing up Jonas Renkse's beautiful, soft, moody voice, and brings out the kind of perfect rainy atmosphere that makes every little moment of the album feel important and huge. Katatonia's ultimate mastery of their craft shows in every second of Dead End Kings, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a record which competes with it for such a flawless balance of energy, beauty, mood, and intensity. If this isn't Katatonia's best album, I'll be damn blown away by what they top it with.
Top tracks: The Parting; Dead Letters
18. Worship - 'Terranean Wake'
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Country of Origin: Germany
It's been far too long since Worship released their incredible second full-length, Dooom, likely thanks to founding member/drummer/vocalist Max killing himself halfway through its recording process. There are whole other entries I could write based around this tragedy alone and how horrible and relevant it was to my musical growth as a whole and how immensely sad it was, but instead, I'd like to focus this paragraph on how Worship have finally moved on, reformed, and created an absolute monster of a third album. Terranean Wake is pretty much the best straight funeral doom record to come out since Dooom, and to be frank, I expected nothing less from (in my humble opinion) the greatest band in the genre. This album is unbelievably slow, thick, and powerful, using guttural vocals and mammoth guitar hits to drive home its intended emotions of despair and futility. Funeral doom is the rare subgenre of metal which shoots far past the usual anger and brutality for something more simply heavy, powerful, and utterly tragic, and Terranean Wake communicates depression and bleak atmosphere in a way that lesser bands could only dream of doing. This is not an album for the impatient or the unaccustomed, but if you're looking for one of the most powerful and atmospheric funeral doom records out there, you've come to the right place, as this album is huge, incredible, and jaw-droppingly close to perfect.
Top tracks: Terranean Wake I: Tide Of Terminus; Terranean Wake IV: End of an Aeviturne
17. 情報デスクVIRTUAL - '札幌コンテンポラリー'
Country of Origin: USA
情報デスクVIRTUAL (pronounced Jouhou Desuku VIRTUAL, translates to Virtual Information Desk) is one of the many pseudonyms used by vaporwave juggernaut New Dreams Ltd. Her one album under this moniker, 札幌コンテンポラリー (Sapporo Contemporary) is also probably the best of the fledgling subgenre so far. Vaporwave is kind of like was seapunk was last year, and witch house the year before that--a strange microgenre built from anonymous internet figures, something that will probably only last a year or so, but hell, let's enjoy it while we can. This particular microgenre is built primarily on a nostalgic lean towards the early-mid '90s, sampling cheesy keyboards and tacky synth-sax solos from what are likely obscure early '90s commercials and elevator music. It sounds ridiculous and embarrassing, and it honestly kind of is, but the fun, catchy, and even at times emotive pieces that 情報デスクVIRTUAL manages to put together out of these ideas are simply remarkable. Each track is significantly different from the last, and while the music here does rely on a nostalgia for Windows 95 and Monkey Island 2, it also stands surprisingly strong in its own right. As cheesy and silly as the music on 札幌コンテンポラリー is, it's also unique, immensely special, and impressively inspiring and exciting. It might take some getting used to, but this isn't a record anyone should want to miss out on.
Top tracks: WELCOME 2 SHOP@HOME NETW☯RK LLC #WEEDBREAK #ROLL_UP_THEM_BLUNTS_FOR_2K12; 7 WONDERS OF THE iNTERNET FT WIND☯WS 97「GEOMETRIC HEADDRESS」
16. Chelsea Wolfe - 'Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs'
Genre: Dark Folk
Country of Origin: USA
Last year's Ἀποκάλυψις is, along with releases by Fleet Foxes, Destroyer, Niggas With Guitars, Oneohtrix Point Never, and quite a few others, one of the biggest missed opportunities from last year's list, and I still don't know why I didn't listen to it in time to include it. This year, I'm not making the same mistake, as I can say that Chelsea Wolfe's latest release is simply fantastic. While Ἀποκάλυψις was a viciously distant art-folk record, shrouded in distortion and fear, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs pretty much delivers exactly what the title implies. Stripping down her sound to simple, perfect folk songs allowed Chelsea Wolfe to prove how incredible of a songwriter she really is, letting her gorgeous voice and incredible sense of atmosphere lead the nine memorable songs on here in coming together to make Unknown Rooms a short and melancholic masterpiece. By virtue of being stripped-down, acoustic affairs, the songs on here may not immediately stand out like her previous works, but in the place of the wild experimentation and intense darkness is a masterfully beautiful, sorrowful, and simply chilling collection of some of the best, most purely heartfelt pieces of music recorded this year, and for that, Chelsea Wolfe deserves absolutely nothing but the highest praise.
Top tracks: Flatlands; Spinning Centers
15. Mount Eerie - 'Ocean Roar'
Genre: Experimental Folk/Lo-Fi Rock/Drone
Country of Origin: USA
Notably more intense and experimental than its sister album, Clear Moon, released earlier in the year, Ocean Roar eschews the soothing ambient-folk of that album and instead comes (appropriately) roaring out of the gates from the first second. Disorienting organ, fast drums, and Phil Elverum's incredible voice back up some of the most visceral and atmospheric music out there, and that's just the first song. While it may require more conscious effort than Clear Moon, in the end this album is all the better for it as well. The overbearing, long-form experimentation on Ocean Roar may turn some away, but those who do stay will discover one of the best albums of the year. Phil's avant-folk inclinations come out full-force on this record, mixing in healthy doses of black metal distortion and massive ambient and post-rock beauty, and contextualized against its partner makes it all the more viscous and powerful. With his duology of 2012 albums, Mount Eerie has gone and proven that not only is he simply one of the most deeply intriguing and relevant artists in modern times, but is also one of the most creative and personally touching voices in music today, period.
Top tracks: Pale Lights; Waves
14. Zelienople - 'The World Is A House On Fire'
Genre: Ambient Folk/Drone
Country of Origin: USA
Zelienople are pretty much the coolest band I discovered this year, and I'm still upset that I didn't know about them before. The World Is A House On Fire is a slow, beautiful masterpiece. In fact, I've never really hurt anything quite like it--it has slow plodding basslines, beautiful ambient textured guitars, simple drums, and soothing vocals, and almost reminds me of a more relaxed, vocal-oriented version of Earth's The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull. It's got that same kind of drone-based, desert twang, but in a much more ethereal, incorporeal way. Listening to this album feels like trying to catch a ghost, everything is so flowing and bright that it just slips through your fingers, but it's also beautiful and inspiring, unique in frankly every way. The World Is A House On Fire carries with it a magic and slow perfection which is rare and remarkable, and proof that Zelienople are one of the biggest voices worth discovering this year.
Top tracks: The Southern; Chemist
13. Orcas - 'Orcas'
Country of Origin: USA
You guys out there can correct me if I'm wrong on this one, but I get this feeling that Orcas is one of the more obscure records on this list. Which is really a shame, because it's also one of the few I feel like just about everyone could get into. The self-titled debut album by Orcas is one of the most purely beautiful things to come out this year, and as such, is also something that absolutely no one should pass up. The record is a remarkably friendly take on ambient music, giving the gorgeous, soothing, moving songs a discernible structure, with vocals and melodies, allowing the album to be both high-brow and easy to enjoy at the drop of a hat. The slow, structured majesty of Orcas is something difficult to describe, but the kind of thing which simply makes perfect sense the moment you hear it. This album is organic and evocative, but never really feels like it's trying to pull something from you. Instead, this feels like music which simply happened, painted by the wind and sung by the sea. This is the most natural and beautiful form of art, and it is at once emotionally involving and effortless, and is simply a perfect album. There's just no other way to describe it.
Top tracks: Arrow Drawn; Carrion
12. Holy Other - 'Held'
Genre: Dark Electronic/Witch House
Country of Origin: England
Something about Holy Other is really, truly magical. The anonymity of his public persona, the thematic imagery of bedsheets, the slow, twisted beats and perfectly placed R&B samples, it's all just so special. It sure seems like witch house was a bit of a fad, but Holy Other is absolutely here to stay, and his first full-length, Held, illustrates exactly why. This collection of nine gorgeous, tragic, and extremely atmospheric tracks of slowed-down, dreamlike electronic music is unlike anything else out there, and feels like something that Holy Other simply knew was special. Held layers on thick bass, simple beats, perfectly shifted samples, and majestic, eerie melodies to create an album which feels like the proof of necessity for an entire subgenre of electronic music. The moody, deep pieces contained on this record are the kind which hang so thoroughly on the listener and intense emotional response that they simple cannot be ignore, and Held is possibly one of the best debuts anyone has had in years and years. This is an album of heartbreaking perfection, and you would do yourself so, so wrong to miss it.
Top tracks: (W)here; Inpouring
11. Elysian Blaze - 'Blood Geometry'
Genre: Black Metal/Funeral Doom
Country of Origin: Australia
To call Blood Geometry a monstrous album would be the understatement of the decade. Clocking in at a good bit over two hours, this immense double-album has been awaiting release for over five years now, and has spent even more time than that in the creative process. When the one-man-band Elysian Blaze finally released his masterwork, however, I doubt anyone was disappointed. Blood Geometry creates a viscous, horrifyingly bleak atmosphere with its deep, muddy production and slow transitions from ambience to slow, doomy guitar parts to black metal blast beats and back. The perfectionist's level of love and care that went into this album is palpable in every single second of it, and the amount of work that went into making the record everything it possibly could be is impossible to miss. Elysian Blaze's mastery of dynamics shows in every inch of this record, his perfect placement of when to switch styles, how to throw in a furious tremolo-picked black metal section, or an insanely evocative soaring riff, or a ghostly howl, and then turn it all into a crushingly heavy, slow funeral doom climax is truly a wonder to behold. Despite its inconceivable scope and ambition, Blood Geometry takes all these elements and mixes them into one of the most remarkable, impressive, powerful, and absolutely chilling albums to come out of the genre in a very, very long time.