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10 Great Albums of 2012

I love lists. Especially best of lists. This is a list of my favourite albums from this year. I’ll also do a list of best songs, best gigs and best musical moments of 2012. Then I’ll have a list of lists. It’s turning me on just thinking about it.

In no particular order.

Cloud Nothings – Wasted Days

“Can I feel so utterly unreal but nothing I could do would make things changes”

He might sing in an annoying, nasally, out of tune voice, but Dylan Baldi has made one of the years best punk records. Teen angst is a common theme throughout.

‘Cause greed is glory and god is money, government is government it’s all so fucking meaningless!’

My favourite Australian album of the year. Which is a big call because there has been some brilliant albums this year. There’s just something in the roar emotion from lead singer and song-writer Will Wagner. Also being from a nearby suburb makes this album particularly relatable for me.

Grimes – Vision

“To look into my eyes and tell me la la la la la”

Clare Boucher finally gets the break she deserves, with this electro-pop masterpiece.

Tame Impala – Lonerism

“You know that you’re dreaming about being loved by him. Too bad your chances are slim”

Obligatory Tame Impala mention. It is a great album, and has been on repeat since I caught them at Meredith last week.  The Perth lads have the world at their feet at the moment.

Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim

“Now I live with a yeti and a caterpillar king. I wanna make love on everything”

I am pretty sure I prefer this album to their companions Tame Impala. More psychedelic, more 70s more enjoyable. Pretty great listen.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes

“If at first you don’t succeed at love just dream a little dream about a girl so real”

You might have guessed that this is a more mature work than previous Pink records. He does manage to retain some quirkiness though and his ability to write a killer pop track

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

“And if they try to slow you down, Tell em all to go to hell”

It’s been a good year for Canada, with Japandroids being the second Canadian acts on my list. Go Canada!


Boomgates – Boomgates

“Mixed messages I was receiving, or at least that’s what they said”

A Melbourne indie-pop supergroup formed from members of Dick Diver, Eddy Current, Twerps amongst others. Laid-back pop rock has been getting great reviews from those in the know

DZ Deathrays – Bloodstreams

24 hours and I’m lying on the kitchen floor. You wanna use me? Well, use me fast.”

It’s been a staple in my playlist this year from when it came out earlier on. Topped off a great year for the duo by winning an ARIA award. Great stuff.

Spiritualised – Sweet Heart Sweet Light

“Well you got good style and you a little taste. Carved your name right into my face”

Only started getting into these guys three weeks ago, but my lord are they awesome. Barely a bad moment in this one.

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Best Albums of 2012 so far

Emerging from my exam-induced slumber, to get back into the swing of things I’m going to list my favourite albums so far in 2012. Coincidentally, today is the winter solstice and a good time to look back on what we’ve heard this year.

DZ Deathrays – Bloodstreams

My favourite album for the year so far, which showed that DZ Deathrays could live up to the hype. Currently on tour in the US and Canada, Bloodstreams has taken them through Europe and will return back home for Splendour in the Grass in a few weeks. One of Australia’s most exciting bands to watch.
Best Track: Dollar Chills

Pond – Beards, Wives, Denim

Another exciting Australian act, the Tame Impala side-project have taken a massive stride to come out from the shadows. Psychedelic rock can be a difficult genre to attack, but Pond make it seem effortless.
Best Track: Fantastic Explosion of Time

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

If you haven’t heard Cloud Nothings this year, you haven’t been living. Although Attack on Memory is their third studio album, it is the first that showcases their song-writing ability to such an amazing extent. Wasted Days is one of the best songs of the year.
Best Track: Wasted Days

Shearwater – Animal Joy

A side project from the blokes at Okkervil River, this is one of my favourite indie rock albums from the year.
Best Track: Animal Life

Sigur Ros – Valtari

Long been an underground favourite, Sigur Ros returns with another brilliant album. I always find Post Rock to be somewhat difficult to analyse, but the textures and sounds throughout Valtari are immense.
Best Track: Ekki Múkk

The Walkmen – Heaven

The New York group just keep plugging away. A career that has spawned three brilliant albums, a guest spot on The OC, and the greatest hit that never was culminated in their most professional album to date. How they haven’t found more commercial success is beyond me.
Best Track: No One Sleeps

Jack White – Blunderbuss

There were always going to be questions about how Jack White would go releasing a solo album. The result was quite unexpected. Combining a blend of classic blues rock and the more modern garage rock that White is renowned for, Blunderbuss shows that White has some talent left in him yet.
Best Track: I’m Shakin’

Howler – America Give Up

Minnesota-natives Howler have come on leaps and bounds this year. America Give Up is the perfect testament of surf punk, full of songs about girls and beaches.
Best Track: Beach Sluts

The Shins – Port of Morrow

After five years in the music wilderness, The Shins have returned with a brilliant fourth album. James Mercer returns with a completely new band, but with the same musical mastermind behind the tracks, it is a classic Shins album.
Best Track: Bait And Switch

Grimes – Visions

I’m a bit against the popularity this album has gained through the likes of Pitchfork, but after much deliberation I actually quite enjoyed the songwriting. Grimes is effortlessly cute, just watch the clip for Oblivion below.
Best Track: Oblivion

Pond @ Northcote Social Club 23/4/12

It’s a bit of an awkward trek to Northcote Social Club for me. Living in the south-eastern suburbs, it takes two specific train rides to get there. Unfortunately on this night I missed the second tram and had to find alternative methods. Being the poor student I am, I can’t afford a taxi so ended up needing to take a different train and a tram to get there. So this poor time management meant that I missed all the support acts, but from what I learnt from friends in the crowd, The Laurels were quite impressive, making feel a little bad for missing them.

I’ll admit I’m quite a new fan of Pond. The last time I saw them opening for MGMT I found them to be a little immature and pretentious. But when performing to their own sold-out crowd, this pretentiousness becomes a well-deserved arrogance. The seemingly casual interactions between the group on stage are humourous, and a true sign of a group that are just enjoying what they’re doing.

The set was split between songs from their highly acclaimed LP Beard, Wives, Denim released earlier this year and their back catalogue but the band manage to display a wide variety musical juxtaposition. When the lead singer picks up a flute to play You Broke My Cool, an organ-driven piece with spacey guitars, you don’t expect to hear the dynamic Fantastic Explosion Of Time as its follow-up, but this is exactly how the group played. Frond, the 10-minute epic from their last album, contrasts this even further, with its Pink Floyd-esque riffs and harmonies, encapsulating the true feeling of the song. I greatly enjoyed the late set cover of MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, a song which has often been covered by bigger bands than Pond, but they really seemed to make it their own.

You still hear Pond referred to in relation to Tame Impala, and with three members in common perhaps this is not so surprising. This current tour has shown that Pond are starting to follow the footsteps of their more esteemed colleagues, with sold-out shows and exciting live shows. They are starting to develop their own shadow.