Friday, December 21, 2012

YPOIW TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2012: 5-1

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!

5. Zammuto - Zammuto
With the amount of revivalism going on in music, it's so refreshing to actually hear something completely original. Former Books member Nick Zammuto makes the case that music can still be captivating, original and weird, but still extremely fun, upbeat and catchy. It's an album for those who thought The Seer was too overbearingly depressing, or Bish Bosch was too uncompromising with how out there it was while giving nothing back to the listener. Zammuto is capable of bridging a gap that many have tried to do in the past: it takes the strangeness of avant-garde, math rock and noise, and blends it with catchy folk and pop tunes. This is music without boundaries, but it's still accessible to people with boundaries. - Nick/TTK

4. Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
It’s almost impossible to pin down what kind of band Animal Collective is because they never stop changing what they do. It would have been easy for them to make a Merriweather Post Pavilion or Feels part two and collect their never-ending praise as per usual, but they didn’t. Instead Animal Collective decided to make a record that suffocates them listener with sound, and they did an amazing job of it.

Right from the opening track “Moonjock,” Animal Collective throw layers of unrelenting bombast with each coming song, complete with Avey Tare screams and Geologist knob twiddling. Even though Centipede Hz does give the listener some room to breathe on tracks like “Wide Eyed” and “Father Time,” the best moments on the album are ear-assaulters like “Today’s Supernatural” and “Monkey Riches.”

Basically, what Animal Collective do on Centipede Hz is take some of the noisy and messy characteristics of rock music and give these characteristics their own flair. To make things even better, the melodies on a lot of these tracks, especially on “Amanita,” are very enjoyable. They may end up getting stuck in your head even if you don’t want them to. But even if you don’t want to enjoy the melodies, you can simply get lost in the noise of Centipede Hz. Every time this album finishes, it’s almost as if I snap back to reality, a reality that is a lot more quiet than this album offers. -Mark

3. Death Grips - NO LOVE DEEP WEB
Exceeding the expectations of The Money Store seems like kind of an impossible task. I mean, it is our number one album of the year (spoiler alert). But holy shit, you guys. Death Grips followed it up well, ran a deep web scavenger hunt, AND fucked over a billion dollar corporation! And yes, everybody discusses its "release" to death, and nobody ever talks about the music. But at 3AM on October 1, after the band had been tweeting Charles Manson quotes to their record label, they leaked the album, and I quite literally shed a manly tear. The first distorted 808 kicks of "Come Up and Get Me" were like magic to my sleep deprived brain, lemme tell ya. And it only got better in subsequent listens. Death Grips managed to make something more aggressive and disturbing (and even more introspective) than they have before. One wonders where they can take their music next. My guess? Harsh noise. -Austin

2. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City
Kendrick Lamar's 2011 breakthrough Section.80 was an album as important to our time as any other. The songs on that album are anthems of a kind of Generation Z, a people coming of age in a world darker and more deceitful than we've known before. In too many instances, Lamar was speaking to me, I felt, and speaking to a people plagued by having to grow up in a world of politicization, economic downfall, systematic injustice, drug abuse, and mental illness. Without explicitly name-calling any politician or major figure, or going too far down any kind of political rabbit-hole, Kendrick Lamar was able to make one of the most socially conscious, socially motivated, and timely records of the new decade.

And where the hell was he going to go from there?

I was definitely overjoyed that Kendrick was getting the kind of attention from a public figure as well-known and influential as Dr. Dre, and a label as, well, major as Interscope, but I couldn't help but be skeptical. Was this kid who so inspired me last year by putting not only his heart and soul, but the hearts and souls of every member of his very generation to tape, going to lose focus of that awareness, and that bond that he's made with listeners like me?

As it turns out, good kid, m.A.A.d city is every bit as much of a triumph in keeping true to Kendrick's best talents as it is at maintaining the connection with, essentially, his fellow man. But to connect with the people of today, Kendrick chose to look backwards, to make a concept album (that we can assume is at least partly autobiographical) that examines an earlier life of Kendrick on the streets of Compton, rising from peer pressured thug-in-training to the person he is today. In this sense, he's speaking to every good kid out there in similar situations and appealing to them, showing that he was in those shoes. While it may not be as universal in its appeal as the many topics Secion.80 addressed, good kid, m.A.A.d city becomes a far more personal testimony from Kendrick. And maybe he comes out all the more triumphant that way. -Robby

1. Death Grips - The Money Store
THE MONEY STORE is a contradiction. Fucking weird and reclusive DEATH GRIPS follow up a rebel yell of a debut album by signing a deal with major label fat cats EPIC RECORDS. Yet somehow this turbulent union of opposing forces, brought briefly together by some trick of particle physics, creates the year’s best album.


I don’t know. And not only don’t I know, I love that I don’t know.

DEATH GRIPS are a mystery. We can look at the colors of their emission spectrum, and we can study how they diffract X-rays, but we cannot observe them with the naked eye. ZACH HILL has reluctantly started responding to select interviews, but MC RIDE is notoriously and wonderfully silent, and we don’t even know what FLATLANDER’s deal is anymore. Maybe all this will change someday, and MC RIDE will have a bowl cut and a YouTube channel that doesn’t involve him dry humping the rear camera of a sedan, but for a time DEATH GRIPS were a beautiful dearth of information, resistant to the internet’s abhorrence of a vacuum.

Any shit band can make a shit album, and then any shit websites and shit magazines can interview the shit band members, who talk about their shit ideas behind their shit music. This pattern is, of course, inclusive of many good artists as well, but there’s something profoundly stupid about making an artist more important than their art. DEATH GRIPS were at least above all that with THE MONEY STORE. Nobody was owed an explanation, and they didn’t give one. They made a baffling piece of music and let it speak for itself. So turn off your fucking computer and start listening. -Steve

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