Tuesday, December 18, 2012

YPOIW TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2012: 20-16

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!

20. Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes
Steven Ellison as Flying Lotus has been releasing full-length albums since 2006's 1983, but within those six years, the producer's hyper-original take on electronic music has already undergone tremendous shifts, inspired waves of copycats, and then shifted some more. Between the more than promising blueprint laid by the cerebral beat journeys of his debut, the expansion of that groundwork into a full-fledged IDM and hip hop blending masterpiece on Los Angeles, and the forays into a cosmic interpretation of the jazz world on his currently most popular Cosmogramma, observing his sound develop has been quite a thrilling process, one that hasn't lost its value with FlyLo's fourth LP, Until the Quiet Comes. The record is decidedly more understated than its predecessor, using its relatively subtle approach to explore the more atmospheric avenues of Flying Lotus's music rather than as an excuse to put forth less ideas. Proof that low dynamic is not to be confused with a shortage of sounds is manifested in songs like the brief yet arresting "Until the Colours Come" and the floaty Niki Randa feature "Hunger." FlyLo isn't afraid to indulge in more danceable moments as well, however, such as on "Sultan's Request" and "Putty Boy Strut." Then there are those moments which walk the line between minimal and maximal perfectly, the prime example being the second half of "Me Yesterday // Corded," which seems to exist on another plane entirely. Until the Quiet Comes may not be quite as powerful as the previous two Flying Lotus LPs, but it certainly isn't any less unique. It is not only another triumph in Flying Lotus's fascinating trajectory, but also a testament to his position as one of the most individual artists in contemporary electronic music. -Danny

19. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Dirty Projectors—Dave Longstreth, Amber Coffman, etc.—are known in the blogosphere as the weird, arty step brother to indie rock. And that isn’t exactly wrong. They made their name early by writing very challenging tunes with strange concepts. In 2009, their breakthrough came with their catchy deconstruction of radio-pop on Bitte Orca. It was their best album by a longshot and propelled them into the bigger conversation and out of the annals of obscure bands. Now with Swing Lo Magellan, they have matched the highs of Bitte Orca by stripping a lot of, but not all of, their weirdness.

Swing Lo Magellan still isn’t your parents’ kind of rock record. My dad said of “Maybe That Was It," “This is the worst song I have ever heard.” He was not a fan of the squawking guitars or Longstreth’s strained vocals, for sure. It is enough of an endorsement for me, though! However, “About to Die” and “Unto Caesar” are as catchy as Dirty Projectors has ever been. The slow, bass-guitar led “Gun Has No Trigger” was the perfect lead single. Equal parts Dylan, cross-country drivin’ rock, and their usual post-Beatles charm, Dirty Projectors prove consistently they can write the songs that are as ear-worms and inspire think-pieces. Through the usage of handclaps, electro beats, Longstreth’s weird guitar playing and Coffman’s female vocal chorus, Dirty Projectors have written the great rock record of 2012. Swing Low Megellan is an album worth replays with tracks like these. They are timeless. -TJ

18. Dan Deacon - America
America in 9 easy steps!

1. Air-conditioned car with cracked sub-woofers.
2. Spooky sweaty church raves. “Toss me that monstrance, bro!”
3. Hit the asphalt. Color my eyes purple. They look prettier that way.
4. Lifetime Movie Network billboards painted tall by immigrant women.
5. Pause your dial-up porn and recycle this #tag.
6. Our chickens have social media! Beat them with hammers! Eat them with hammers!
7. Shimmering sand. Piss on your cactus, drink from your cactus, lest it do the same to you. The dusty highway marches with you.
8. Wet autumn leaves on the rails matter not.
9.  Rise erect! Forge our rusty steel mills into casinos and mini-malls! This is our land!

You are a monster. Hug your sister and brother monsters. -Steve

17. Swans - The Seer
What can you say about The Seer that doesn't evolve into a discussion about its madness? The haunting first track is entitled "Lunacy" for heaven's sake. The biggest appeal of The Seer is likely Swans mastermind Michael Gira's uncanny ability to plunge you into the depths of his own inner darkness. His musical madness. Something for which Swans has always been known is their level of abuse and punishment, most often inflicted upon their listeners. It's a quality of their music I think most expect, and pretty much want from their releases at this point. But perhaps admission into the secret club of people who "get" Swans is not unlike the prolonged admission into a sick, twisted cult. No one just gets in at first; there are unavoidable hazing rituals involved, and those can be undeniably brutal, painful, and even humiliating. But once you've endured the torture and have found yourself in this club, you may just get the appeal and enjoyment out of this band after all, though your mind might be warped as a result of it. -Robby

16. Ty Segall - Twins
Over the past few years, San Francisco native Ty Segall has been building a repertoire of eccentric, noisy, and sometimes chaotic and lo-fi garage rock albums, showcasing a love of psychedelic rock, punk, and all things 60's. Twins sees Segall making what seems to me like a pop album; the explosive hook on the opener "Thank God for Sinners" turns the song into an unlikely anthem, and it's perhaps one of the most infectious things Ty has penned, and could've been a staple of early 70's radio in an alternate universe. The infection that opener has spreads to the rest of the album, thankfully; with larger than life choruses, good-time melodies, all slathered in Ty's characteristically distorted and sometimes lo-fi production styles. Like Segall's two other albums released this year, Twins is a damn good record and further showcases that, while the styles aren't as blogosphere-friendly as they were a few years ago, Segall is without qualification the solitary frontrunner in garage rock and lo-fi rock today. No questions asked. -Robby

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