2012 – Albums of the year

As some of you know, I used to regularly write music reviews and interviews and at this time of year, we were asked to put together our top ten of the year. Even though I don’t write anymore I still find myself, throughout the year, weighing up each album I hear and somehow forming my top ten, even though my opinion isn’t nearly as sought after as it used to be….

10 – Royal Republic – Save The Nation

I have to admit, this album didn’t grab me straight away! It seemed a little smoother, somewhat over produced in comparison to their debut and I tended to like their more garage rock sensibilities, the rough around the edges sound. However seeing them live recently made the album really stick. Fab, sing along songs, great banter with the audience and so much fun! So grateful my friends talked me in to going to their gig in Camden in 2011, and that I chose to go to their recent Garage gig on my own as they’re now an easy favourite.

09 – Engel – Blood of Saints

Another band I got to see for the first time this year, who were sadly either under promoted or affected by the well known curse of London gig going apathy! Good for me, as I got to the front, and got mosh pit injuries close to the sort I used to get when I was in my teens! Blood of Saints takes a much more industrial curve with their usual melodic death metal style (The video for ‘Question Your Place’ is amusing!) and there’s a fair few electronic samples going on, something they certainly explored on their last EP. Besides that it is just a fine example of a decent metal album, although the song about rainbows could have done without being included!!

08 – the [law-rah] collective – Field of View

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I should know by now that Bauke, alongside Hiekelien and Martijn, were going to produce something special. None of their releases are the same, and ‘Field of View’ really stuck out for me. Favourite track is ‘Underneath’. It is so unsettling, but I always seem to latch on to tracks that challenge my comfort zone – be it X-TG and Gasper Noe, or the flickering pulses in ‘Underneath’ that, in the dark, sounds like something or someone is moving around you. ‘Field of View’ isn’t an easy listen by any means, but it is hugely rewarding in many ways, and there is something new to pick up on in each listen and suits many moods. The vocal additions also add something very interesting.

07 – Infadels – Future of the Gravity Boy

Utter. BASTARDS. Yup. You heard me. They only go and release their finest album to date and then split up for good. The day they said they had finished I actually cried! So many good memories of going to Infadels gigs, and meeting awesome people, all brought together by a bunch of lovable East London scamps with a fine line in bouncy electro numbers, and ‘Future of the Gravity Boy’ is stacked to the rafters with them. A fine way to finish I suppose, but still utterly gutting, to me, I will never get to see them live again 😦

06 – Ani DiFranco – Which side are you on?

This year saw me finally getting to see Ani DiFranco live, and not just anywhere, but the stunning Union Chapel at Highbury and Islington. It was such a special evening. She seems so much more relaxed and comfortable with herself. Like she doesn’t have to kick and scream to cause a fuss. Which side are you on? Still has its political songs (the title track being obvious) but it also takes in her views of the world, motherhood, marriage and feminism. There’s not one bad track on the entire album. Each has its place and it is so lovingly put together. A truly beautiful album.

05 – ∆AIMON – Flatliner

∆AIMON remain one of the most interesting acts within Witch House, in my opinion, but pigeon holing them in that one bracket does them no credit. I was lucky enough to get to interview them when they released their first album and their answers were smart, clever and nothing was too much for them – the whole experience was lovely 🙂 Digression aside, I believe I’m enjoying Flatliner more than I did their Amen EP. I particularly love ‘Black Cross’, the vocals are gorgeous and the gorgeous synth lines behind it just sound majestic. UK tour would be good anytime in the next year 😀 *hint*

04 – Ginger – 555%

Ginger Wildheart has been part of my music collection since I was 15, and to find him bouncing in to everyones line of vision this year was something entirely awesome. 555% was made entirely using funds raised from a kickstarter campaign, and not only did it raise 100% of the funds needed to do the album, it raised 555%! It was a record breaker. Ginger even got on Bloomberg Business News to discuss the Kickstarter phenomenon, and yes, the album was great! 3 CDs loaded with huge, anthemic, sing along, rock songs through to decidedly odd calypso tinged numbers. Ginger was free to make an album for him and his fans, those who paid for it to happen. No record company bullshit. Not only an important album for rock music, but an important album for the future of the record industry.

03 – Niveau Zero – Jasmine

Another Frenchman getting in to my top ten, Niveau Zero – the way I see it anyone who can make dubstep this brutal is awesome! Massive lashings of utterly filthy bass, breaks and, believe it or not, death metal sounding vocals makes for an outstanding package. If I only had one disagreement with it is that it’s too short 🙂 Must have more, and if I don’t manage to see him live by the end of 2013, I’m going to be pissed! Nearly everyone I know has seen him live and seeing ‘Rusty feat Dubsidia’ (See youtube link above) live has got to win.

02 – Sonic Area – Music For Ghosts

Originally, this totally had number one on the list! Sonic Area has always been a favourite of mine since seeing him live quite a few years back now at my first Electroanschlag festival (2007, or, 2008 – can’t quite recall). Sonic Area is also 1/3rd of Chrysalide, so it kind of goes without saying that there was always going to be some interest there. ‘Music for Ghosts’ however shows a much more confident sound and ability than Arco has shown in previous releases. Not saying that his other releases were bad (Absolutely not!) but this sounds like he’s finding his own voice. There’s more classical leanings whilst still maintaining that noisy depth and interesting samples – he just comes across as much more confident in building his own path. A gorgeous album with lots going on, well worth looking in to.

01 – X-TG – Desertshore/The Final Report

Having only been released in the past few weeks, in my head, my top ten was pretty much set in stone. Then this came along. There are so few words to describe how utterly beautiful and special this release is and it shows how important Throbbing Gristle are, or now, were. A dedicated work to Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson who brought the idea in to being, and then completed upon his death by Chris and Cosey featuring some truly amazing vocal performances from some varied guest artists, including Gasper Noe who had never sang before recording on this. Getting to hear Chris and Cosey discuss this at Rough Trade East a couple of weeks back really gave a lovely personal feel to the album as well. Understanding the process. My favourite track features the vocals of Sasha Grey. Her version of ‘Afraid’ sounds so otherworldly. She sounds brittle and frightened and it is an unnerving listen that you must repeat. A truly stunning finishing point for Throbbing Gristle.

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