Thursday, December 20, 2012

YPOIW TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2012: 10-6

With 2012 coming to a close, YPOIW would like to take the week to showcase our favorite releases of the year. Monday through Friday will be a countdown of our top 25 favorite albums of 2012, starting with spots #25-21 on Monday and continuing until the final #5-1 on Friday. This weekend, we'll also be taking a look at some albums that we feel deserve an honorable mention but didn't quite make it on our list as well as releasing our end of year podcast in which we discussed each and every album on this list. Thanks for reading, and most importantly, enjoy!

10. Loma Prieta - I.V.
Lindsay Weir, a character on the brilliant television series Freaks and Geeks, once said that "every generation is afraid of the music that comes from the next", but I don't think she was talking about screamo. Thankfully, Loma Prieta is probably not the kind of screamo you're thinking of... they stick close to the genre's abrasive roots and draw inspiration from utterly destructive bands like Orchid and Pg. 99; this is not screamo with any mainstream crossover potential. Every facet of this album's production and mixing was designed with the explicit intent of being as loud and abrasive as possible; it doesn't give a fuck to the point where clipping is a common occurrence, especially on "Trilogy VI." The reason I.V. is special is that it mixes all of this abrasion with harmonious and triumphant guitar tones and forces them to coexist. It's as if the band is telling you a disgusting story while wearing an expensive suit. There are moments on this record that I firmly believe are as beautiful as any other album this year; you just have to swim through a river of toxic sludge to get to it. I can say with near 100% certainty to anyone reading this right now: your mom hates this band and her opinion is wrong. -Kyle 

9. Burial - Kindred EP
After last year's disappointing Street Halo EP it seemed like Burial was almost going to just keep releasing the same sort of music, with one pretty great album and one absolutely amazing album under his belt, which is an achievement in itself. Then February rocked around and this was dropped on our heads. This proved that Burial was still ahead of the curve, and Street Halo was merely a place holder. In many respects this feels like the EP that should have come out last year; it shows an obvious stylistic shift in Burial's style. It's more progressive, the tracks stretch out longer, there's more influence pulled from club and dance music, and the melodies are more melancholy and beautiful than ever before. Kindred EP is a testament to the affect that wordless music. -Nick/TTK

8. Titus Andronicus - Local Business
Titus Andronicus had a very specific goal with The Monitor in that they made an expansive and ambitious concept album drawing direct inspiration from the American Civil War. Their 2012 release Local Business does not have any of those goals; in fact, it's as different as any follow-up to a beloved album has been this year. On first listen, I was not sure if there had been a more jarring album this year. It's less concerned with having immense structures and more concerned with getting down. So now I have the difficult task of trying to explain why you should care about a punk band that made a party rock album.

First off, what are you, a square man? Why do you hate fun so much? Do you know another album that has an eight-minute song about an eating disorder with a hair metal solo? Do you know of another punk album with a bunch of dudes trying to mimic a sassy Motown-inspired all girl chorus? If this doesn't sound like your thing, you might want to check to see if you have a pulse. There's a lot more to this album beyond this goofy aesthetic, but I don't care to explain it because I'm having too much fun even thinking about it. Not every album ever put out by every great band has had the explicit goal of being the best album of that year; Local Business is Titus Andronicus settling down a little bit... and that's okay. -Kyle

7. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor is the post-rock band that all of your post-rock, ambient rock hating friends love, and for good reason. They mix the mystery of conspiracy theorists in the underground music world, the politics of anarchic punk rock, and the immediacy of the best alternative rock. Godspeed invigorates the listener with the sort of simultaneous paranoia and hope that most hack post-rock bands attempt[1].

Where this Godspeed’s album shines is twofold: in its release and in its musicality. The release came as a shock to the music industry. The band released vinyl copies of their record to be sold at their concerts. Fans of the band were surprised, posted some pictures on twitter, and there was a simultaneous “WHAAAA?” by thousands of music fans. No one knew that the album was coming out, which is not heard of in today’s 24/7 news cycle. Godspeed managed to release an actually mysterious record—at least for the 24 hours where no one really knew what was going on.

The lasting mystery—not the immediate release strategy mystery—is in the music. Two 20-minute tracks that build into amazing climaxes and two ambient tracks that are a shy under 10 minutes lead to what is actually their shortest record to date. This “brief” excursion into Godspeed’s world is actually their most uplifting. “Mladic” and “We Drift Like Worried Fire” warrant their track lengths, because when those songs hit their stride, the listener is left with their jaw on the ground and their heart racing. These tracks are alive, and the record is a part of a conversation of its own. -TJ

[1] There are plenty of great, awesome post-rock bands, but you know the ambient trash I’m referencing. You know.

6. Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory
Perhaps no other band went through as extreme a transformation this year as Cloud Nothings did. They went into their cocoon as a sweet little indie pop solo project and came out a ravenous, post-hardcore behemoth, which is likely due in large part to working with Steve Albini to produce Attack On Memory.

The album starts off with “No Future/No Past,” a song which evolves from some dark piano into an all out explosion of angst as showcased by frontman Dylan Baldi’s anguished vocals. Attack On Memory hits its high point with the track “Wasted Days,” a nine-minute epic with a tension-filled midsection that builds into Baldi screaming the lyrics “I thought I would be more than this,” something we've all probably felt at some point in our lives.

From this point onward, Attack On Memory takes a decidedly more poppy turn with tracks like “Fall In” and “Stay Useless,” but still maintains some of the edge that was on the first two tracks. I really want to label these tracks as pop punk even though that name already belongs to a genre for 14-year-old girls rebelling against their parents. Attack On Memory is almost a perfect blend of dark and catchy, which are two of the characteristics I enjoy most in music. To make things more exciting, Baldi is only 20 years old, so we’re going to get a ton more music from him in the years to come. -Mark

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