Disclaimer: I am not a music critic, I don’t get to hear every new release that comes out. That said, I buy a shit ton of music, and what better way to celebrate this past year in music than with a Top Ten List? I can’t get enough of them this time of year!
Melissa’s favorite records of 2012:
1. Father John Misty, Fear Fun
I have been listening to a lot of 70s singer songwriters lately and this fits right in, musically. Lyrics-wise, it is the best record I’ve heard in years. Fear Fun tells the story of moving to Los Angeles, doing drugs, meeting new people whose intentions are not always good, and finding yourself. I have liked Josh/J/FJM in the past, solo and with Fleet Foxes, but none of his past work compares to this sprawling, important record.
2. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan
I really thought this would be number one but I couldn’t stay away from Fear Fun. Not everyone likes Dirty Projectors–they don’t think they’re melodic enough or find them too pretentious. Even with Angel Deradoorian on hiatus, Swing Lo Magellan, which combines R&B, jazz and rock in a challenging way, is one of the most exciting things to be released all year.
3. Miguel, Kaleidescope Dream
I’ve written about Miguel before, and with good reason is he a SLLS favorite: this record is everything I wanted Channel Orange to be but it wasn’t. It’s fun, has great beats and is sexy as hell. If every pop/R&B record was this good my list would be so different.
4. Solange, True
I think Solange is the best, and teaming with Dev Hynes was one of the smartest things she’s ever done. While this is an EP, I could not leave it off the list. It is a record that demands attention. “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work” is a favorite for me at the day job. I can’t wait until my vinyl copy shows up next month!
5. Jessica Pratt, s/t
Tim Presley of White Fence and Darker My Love started Birth Records just so he could release fellow San Franciscan Jessica’s music. That is a huge leap of faith and I am so glad he did it, for completely selfish reasons. This LP is full of haunting and beautiful folk tunes, paving the way for Pratt to become a modern day Joni Mitchell.
6. The Walkmen, Heaven
I don’t think The Walkmen have ever been absent from my musings about the best records of the year. While not as perfect as 2008’s You and Me, Heaven is the work of a maturing rock and roll band who truly work hard and get better year to year, instead of the other way around, which is so common for hyped indie bands these days.
7. Fresh & Onlys, Long Slow Dance
Every time a Tim Cohen project releases another LP, I am shocked that he has all these songs in him and they are so good. This record is less psych pop and more rock, so it caught me early on as something different. But with almost anthemic songs about love like “Foolish Person” and “Euphoria,” Long Slow Dance became a late summer favorite for car trips and Sundays in the record room.
8. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel
I had no intention of even listening to this record but I began to play it a few times and thought, shit, this sounds so good. There is so much going on. I bought the pricey LP even! I would absolutely put this on par with the best Joanna Newsom work.
9. Swearin’, s/t
I wrote a post earlier this year about the hold that the Crutchfield twins have on me. Swearin’ is the record I didn’t know I was looking for: pop punk with girl-boy vocals that feels fresh and new.
10. Melody’s Echo Chamber, s/t
This is such a late entrant. I bought this LP without hearing it as a suggestion of a friend at a record store who said it was “Tame Impala with a girl singer.” I needed nothing else and bought it instantly. Melody, who is from France, has given her French pop songs a marvelous psych edge by collaborating with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker.
You also can’t go wrong with buying: Matthew E. White’s Big Inner, Divine Fits s/t, Frankie Rose’s Interstellar, Lambchop’s Mr. M, Standard Fare’s Out of Sight, Out of Town, Grimes’ Visions, or Cloud Nothings’ Attack on Memory.
Favorite singles: Veronica Falls “My Heart Beats,” Pains of Being Pure at Heart “Jeremy” (a Magnetic Fields and an East River Pipe cover; yeah Merge!!!), and Flock of Dimes “Curtain.”
Favorite reissues: I am so pleased with my Medicine & Wake box sets from Captured Tracks!