Sunday, December 23, 2012

YPOIW TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2012: Honorable Mentions

Hey everyone! Here are a few albums that did not make our top 25 that we felt were worthy of an honorable mention. Some of us love the following albums very much, but we failed to convince any of our fellow bloggers that it's as amazing as we think it is. Perhaps we'll have a slightly better chance on you? Thanks for reading our AOTY content all week, and see you next year!

Actress - R.I.P.

IDM (intelligent dance music), snobby name aside, is one of my favorite genres of music, not just because I am an electronic music enthusiast, but because it is ever-changing, taking on the form of whatever a unconventionally-minded musician may want to do with it. It is essentially the “art rock” of electronic music, a term used to describe that which doesn’t fit cleanly into any of the seemingly countless electronic subgenres. Actress’s music, particularly R.I.P., is a textbook picture of the genre, experimenting with the idea of electronic music in a way that keeps it from sounding very similar to anything else. His previous two albums, Hazyville and Splazsh, were slightly less abstract than R.I.P., but still notably adventurous, offering an odd, somewhat lo-fi take on the worlds of both minimal techno and microhouse with a handful of nods to other left-field electronic micro-movements. R.I.P. is his most colorful release yet, introducing a distinct personality in each of the fifteen tracks which comprise it. Highlights include the ambient harmony and metronomic anti-beat of “Ascending,” short yet mind-bending collection of beeps and clicks that is “Holy Water,” and skipping melody of “Uriel’s Black Harp.” My two favorite tracks are “Shadow From Tartarus” and “N.E.W.,” the former excelling at the hand of its thick low end and eerie, chime-like sonic ornaments, and the latter functioning as five-and-a-half minutes of pure, incomparable bliss. R.I.P. is just under an hour long, and yet it feels like a bottomless well of ideas, serving as a fascinating insight into the mind of a stunningly creative producer that seems to be becoming increasingly more imaginative with each release. -Danny

Jessica Pratt - Jessica Pratt 

Jessica Pratt came out of nowhere, releasing her solo debut on a record label started up by Tim Presley from White Fence that calls this album its first release. Knowing nothing about her besides the fact that she's from San Francisco gave her record a special kind of mystery and allure with which only the most secluded electronic producers seem to be graced these days. But the record is the exact opposite: it's 41 minutes of straight up vocals and guitar, and on paper that sounds grating and exhausting to get through, but Jessica's songwriting not only makes it a pleasure, but makes you want to experience it again and again. Her guitar playing is pretty good, but nothing to write home about. It's the vocal melodies over the top which makes this record such a thrill to listen to. It's been decades since such delicate and beautiful vocal melodies have been conjured up. When listening, there are flashes of all the great female singer songwriters of the past 40 years, such as Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Linda Perhacs and even newer faces on the scene like Joanna Newsom. But despite this mash up of influences, the overall sound is completely Jessica's.

The record is incredibly varied despite only featuring two instruments, with the opener, "Night Faces" being a dark, psychedelic folk adventure with some absolutely beautiful vocal harmonies. "Mother Big River" is a southern tinged country ballad, and if there was a full band arrangement of "Half Twain the Jesse", there is no doubt it could reach the top of the adult alternative chart. But that's where this record's overall sound shines; it's not going for the chart sound, it's going for a different direction, one which references the days of the 70's folk movement, but doesn't live in it. She wants to bring a revolution, a new sound, a new era, and with this record, she's well on her way to doing so. - Nick/TTK

Mind Spiders - Meltdown
In 2012, you don't really need to know anything because Wikipedia exists, and contrary to what your 70-year-old college professor tells you, it's an invaluable resource. You can use it to find all sorts of information on everything from hentai porn to the GDP of Denmark. Wikipedia has settled more arguments in the time that it has taken you to read this sentence than you will in the entirety of your pathetic existence. You cannot, however, use Wikipedia to find out about an album I love that had no freaking chance of making our year end list because Mind Spiders are NOT on Wikipedia. Mind Spiders have NOT received a BNM from Pitchfork. Mind Spiders have NOT headlined a festival this year. They have NOT opened for the Pixies. They're JUST NOT a big deal in any true sense of the word in any way, shape, or form.

Oh yeah, they made a noisy, dissonant, but still catchy garage punk album and it's awesome. You should probably listen to it; I'm a pretty big deal on the internet and I'm telling you it's awesome. Just call me Wikipedia. The moral of the story? Don't believe everything you don't hear. Or believe it, fuck I don't know. Is this a blurb? -Kyle 

Whirr - Pipe Dreams
A lot of the enjoyment I get out of music is on a sonic level. Sounds usually hit on a more raw and emotional level than lyrics and song structures ever really do for me. It’s not that lyrics and songs don’t matter, though. A band can sound amazing, but if their songs are boring and lack emotion, then the final product is sure to feel flat. HINT: that isn’t the case with this album.

On Pipe Dreams, Whirr (formerly Whirl) find a lovely mix of shoegaze sounds and amazing songs that had me hooked from my first listen. Even though the vocals on this album really can’t be made out, that doesn’t really seem to bother me. I think the vocals function more on sound than anything else; they’re just another layer to what makes this album sound awesome. From more upbeat and poppy moments like “Junebouvier” to melancholic tracks like “Flashback,” I think that if you don’t feel any emotion from Pipe Dreams, then you must be a little bit dead inside. -Mark

Yeasayer - Fragrant World
Does an album have to be panned by the biggest periodicals to be considered underrated? Does it have to be one your friends incessantly bash? Or does it have to fly under the radar? If one album managed all of these, it was Yeasayer’s third, Fragrant World. After a critically successful debut in All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer seemed poised to be a critic’s darling. Their star fell with Odd Blood, which received mixed reviews. Critics panned Fragrant World, but the album was not even hated enough to be remembered. Most bloggers and music critics missed the point. They refused to let go and have fun with an album. They willfully chose to dismiss it. Yeasayer has gone from Animal Collective to Foster the People in the eyes of many.

Yeasayer is now investigating the world of alternative or hipster R&B[1]. This album creates a futuristic, schizophrenic mess of a world where the only commonalty comes from dance music. Yeasayer has always been a dance music band, from the world dance music of All Hour Cymbals to the synth pop of Odd Blood. And now here, they have traveled into the distant future. In that future, they have mixed the synth pop with immediate basslines, hard-hitting electronics, and divisive vocals that manage to create some peerless grooves. After their time-journeys, Yeasayer returned with their automaton R&B [2], another version of their musical perspective— which is that everyone should have a good time as often as they can because nothing lasts forever. –TJ 

 [1] Or, pejoratively, PBR&B.

 [2] Think Blade Runner or even Brazil. That kind of future.

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