Here they are, the 15 best records of 2012. Just listen. #30-16 here.
15. Dirty Projectors / Swing Lo Magellan
Stream: Gun Has No Trigger
14. Sic Alps / Sic Alps
13. The Babies / Our House on the Hill
Stream: Moonlight Mile
12. Parquet Courts / Light Up Gold
Stream: Borrowed Time
11. Boomgates / Double Natural
Stream: Whispering or Singing
10. Slow Country / The Late Great Slow Country
This collection of dreamy folk songs comes via one of Queens, NY’s best kept secrets. The fact that this priceless record is still available as a free download on their Bandcamp is just absurd.
Stream: Yes You Have
Stream: Land I Love
9. Spider Bags / Shake My Head
Shake My Head is a pure blast of rock & roll fury – a tight, deceptively adventurous set of songs that are worthy of group hugs, raised beers, and shouting along.
Steam: Friday Night
8. The Tough Shits / The Tough Shits
The Tough Shits’ self-titled LP just pumps out the garage/pop jams like some sort of A.M. radio heyday – it beats Gentlemen Jesse hands down at his own game. Every song here could be your favorite if it wasn’t for the one that comes next. Burger Records you guys.
Stream: Cats & Dogs
7. Damien Jurado / Maroqopa
Jurado’s been around since the 90s, crafting album after album of finely tuned folk and folk rock. Maroqopa is his second official collaboration with Richard Swift, and these guys are clicking on all cylinders at the moment. The first half finds Jurado exploring some jazzy/avant-folk styles with great results, and the more traditional back half contains some of the finest songs of his career.
Stream: Museum of Flight
6. Royal Headache / Royal Headache
The debut from these Aussie garage-rockers is brimming with swagger, undeniable hooks, and great great songs. I caught up with this one last December, but its U.S.-release last spring opened the doors to a whole new audience. Have you heard this shit yet?
Stream: Never Again
5. The Walkmen / Heaven
I have no qualms saying that The Walkmen are my favorite working band. Heaven may not be their best album (that goes to the 2008’s infallible You & Me), but it just maintains the plateau these guys have been working from for the past half decade, while introducing even more nuance and gravitas into this wonderful band’s sound.
4. Japandroids / Celebration Rock
The sophomore set from this Canadian duo has been in virtually every conversation all year of the best rock records of 2012. This one is even tighter, louder, and more heroic than the debut – the most perfectly named LP of the year to boot.
Stream: The House that Heaven Built
3. Woods / Bend Beyond
Woods might be the most undervalued band working today. These guys continue to jam pack their annual albums with wall-to-wall hooks, and Bend Beyond is their most immediate and fully formed LP to date.
Stream: Cali In A Cup
2. The Men / Open Your Heart
On their latest and most sonically diverse album yet, The Men lay waste to virtually everything in their path. I was late to the masterpiece that was last year’s Leave Home (it would be a sure-fire top-5 if I re-examined my list right now), but Open Your Heart has been blasting since it dropped last winter, and I haven’t gone more than a week or two between spins since.
Stream: Open Your Heart
1. Ty Segall / Twins, Slaughterhouse
Nobody owned 2012 like Segall, releasing three psyche/fuzz full lengths full of the year’s best songs of the kind. Fraternal albums in every sense, Twins and Slaughterhouse differ only slightly – Twins, the true solo album, more melodic and direct; Slaughterhouse, with the Ty Segall Band, heavy and menacing. Both damn near perfect.
Stream: Wave Goodbye
Stream: The Hill