musical obsessions - 2012 edition

as 2012 finally wraps itself up, you’ve gotta admit that, dang, it’s been an awesome year! so many new artistes found (Solange, Alt-J), a few old-timers make triumphant returns (The xx, Fiona Apple), and well, basically there’s something for everybody.

to wrap up the year, I’ve compiled a list of musical gems. I won’t call them “notable” cuz well, I don’t think I’m qualified to judge objectively and I know I’m also kinda missing out some awesome stuff (Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear - which I promise I’ll get to someday!) due to limited listening hours.

but still, this is music that’s made me sit up, whoop, jammed out to, and that’s been put through the “repeat” button mill (and will probably be run over a million more times). in other words, these are my musical obsessions for 2012 and I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I do! 

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

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ah Alt-J is probably my best find of 2012. their debut album is a stunning musical tour de force, especially for such a new band. it’s inventive (take the acapella intro on “Fitzpleasure”), yet so palatable that you can’t help but latch on and sink yourself into their brooding, and very catchy, melodies (eg. the folk stirrings of “Taro”, “Dissolve Me”) and those unique, saccharine vocals of frontman Joe Newman.

Beach House - Bloom

I’ll admit this took a while to grow on me, but I’ve realized that sometimes it takes a certain mood and state of mind to fully appreciate a piece of music. this goes for “Bloom”, which I learnt to love after finally settling down (both literally and figuratively) to take a good, hard listen. and my, it’s a rewarding experience. this is marvellous hazy dream-pop that’s a heady mix of intimacy and cherished wistfulness. perfect music to chill and reflect upon/relive the craziness of the past year. 

DIIV - Oshin

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if life’s getting you down, or if you’re simply just laying there, then THIS IS YOUR JAM. I mean, who can resist those gorgeous guitar melodies, even if it’s hard to decipher Zachary Cole Smith’s words sometimes. standouts like “How Long Have You Known”, “Follow” and “Doused” make sure your butt never remains fully seated.

Grimes - Visions

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Claire Boucher, is without a doubt, one of the best talents to be unearthed in 2012. she takes all these wonderfully weird electronic elements, layers on her breathy lilts, and churns out a brilliant, distinctive sound that’s all of her own. whether she’s being playful (on “Oblivion” and “Circumambient”), or creating haunting desolation (“Be A Body”, “Skin”), “Visions” is nothing short of GENIUS.

Japandroids - Celebration Rock

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I’ve never heard a ruckus sound so good. “Celebration Rock” starts with fireworks and never once lets up. it’s short, intense, and maniacally awesome with sing-out-loud jams like “Fire’s Highway”, “The House That Heaven Built”, and “Continuous Thunder”. just pure, unadulterated punk that’s a chest-thumping glorious ode to youth and all its brashness. 

Jessie Ware - Devotion

no one can deny that this is a girl who can really sing, and Jessie Ware wields those vocal chops with blinding ease. even on electronically-driven numbers like “Devotion” or “110%”, Jessie Ware still manages to eloquently deliver emotion and tons of soul. but hands down, my favourite will always be “Wildest Moments”. it’s heartrendingly simple and straightforward ('Meet me in our wildest moments / We could be the greatest'), but strikes straight to your core, leaving you breathless.

Ke$ha - Warrior

as much as I’d like to call myself an alt-indie kinda girl, I really do love pop. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE to jam out to mindless stuff?? but why Ke$ha, you ask? cuz as unabashedly trashy (*ahem* those lyrics) as she comes, this girl REALLY knows how to craft a pop song and rap-sing her way into your heart. “Warrior” is packed to the brim with so many addictive and crazy infectious tunes that I can’t even begin to pick a favourite. they’re all sooo good! but ok, check out “Crazy Kids”, “Thinking of You” and “Supernatural”.

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

Sharon Van Etten lays her heart bare on “Tramp”, unfurling and painstakenly detailing her emotions in these tender, raw and beautifully crafted slow-burners. take “Ask” ('Yes it hurts too much to laugh about it'), “Serpent” and “In Line”. confessions never sounded so damn good. 

Twin Shadow - Confess

George Lewis Jr is a man of impeccable taste, which he deftly applies to his music. as with “Forget”, “Confess” was crafted with absolute finesse and class, but with its emotions doubly fleshed out. gems like “Beg for the Night” and “Patient” are smooth 80s electro numbers that ooze with equal parts wholehearted sentimentality and sex appeal. if you’ve had your heart broken, Twin Shadow makes it ok to bleed all over the dancefloor. 

The xx - Coexist

this was easily the most anticipated album of 2012, and with good reason. The xx have once again made minimalism look really good, stretching the boundaries within their signature tightly wrought intimate space of hushed back-and-forth vocals. this time, Jamie xx has more free rein to show off his excellent producing flair (as on “Sunset” and “Tides”), providing a nice backdrop to its otherwise quiet emotional intensity. “Coexist” is a masterpiece in subtleness, and proves again why The xx are one of the most talented bands of their era. 

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so there you have it. my year 2012 of memorable music. here’s to a 2013 of more awesome tunes and finds - I mean, with the likes of Solange, Haim and AlunaGeorge peeking out on the radar this year, I can tell next year is gonna be even bigger and better!

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tagged as: musical obsessionsalt-Jbeach houseDIIVgrimesjapandroidsjessie wareKe$haSharon Van Ettentwin shadowthe xx

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