Blurb a Little Bit of Best

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Flying Lotus photo by Erez Avissar

End of the Year lists come from all corners of music journalism, but nobody blurbs quite like Pop ‘stache in their Favorite Albums of 2012.

There are fifty artists on our staff’s collective list. Below I’ve selected a carving of my personal recommendations, listen & enjoy. If you think I’ll love something based on these, drop a line in the comment box!

8. Alabama Shakes- Boys and Girls

Pop critic Chuck Klosterman once wrote that what great rock bands are supposed to do is reinvent the blues with contemporary instincts. With its full-length debut, Boys & Girls, quartet Alabama Shakes has done just that.  The LP is relatively brief: 11 songs in only 36 minutes, but each track bursts through the speakers with a catchy blend of blues, pop rock, soul, and roots music. Most important than any single song on the album, Boys & Girls serves as a formal introduction to the forceful voice of lead singer Brittany Howard. Howard growls and screams her way through standout tracks like “You Ain’t Alone,” “Hang Loose” and the infectious and inescapable lead single “Hold On” with smoky falsetto and Grace Potter-like power. Our next rock diva may have just arrived. -Alex Fiore

7. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes

Once in a while an album comes along with therapeutic abilities, and Flying Lotus is no stranger to musical wellness. His style is electronically ambiguous, providing paths to mental places through lo-fi valleys and trip-hop streams. This year’s relatively subdued Until the Quiet Comes can guide the systematic thinking listener to new methods of organization, ones in which chaos is embraced and contained rather than harsh or spilling. The journey of Until practices conceptual realization through each track separately. “Tiny Tortures” shows me the uncertain dreams of a man’s mental jungle, but it might show you something different. That individual experience is the exceptional beauty of FlyLo’s album, insisting that we see something within each song- what exactly that is matters much less. -Adrienne Thomas

6. Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard

Watson’s music traditionally fluctuates between ominous winds of fear and emotion and a feeling of gentle contentment. His lingering sounds are the stock music for dreams, the soundtrack to Robin Williams’ run through paint meadows and sometimes an exploration of death. As heavy as Watson can sound, his voice and piano can soothe any curse of wilting optimism. It is longing and beautiful, and continues to astound in his 4th release Adventures in Your Own Backyard. “Quiet Crowd” showcases a lighter beauty, as Patrick’s band of strings, guitars and percussion accompany his piano and exceptionally luring voice. The title track delves with darker tones into long instrumental crescendos- adventures, as he intended them to be. -Adrienne Thomas

5. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

Though it’s not as walkable as NYC or Chicago, frequently I like to leave the car behind and walk around the streets of Los Angeles at night, with my headphones acting as my invisibility cloak. Just a few short weeks ago, on one of these occasions, the sound coming through my cloak could be traced back to a place only a few miles Southeast, but a world away. In a land where movies come from, the most beautiful portrait of L.A. was being painted by Compton’s Kendrick Lamar. As good kid, m.A.A.d city played on like the Oscar-winning movie it could be, I was able to see through the smog, across the ’10′ to a place where few people like me ever venture. I was also listening to the best piece of hip-hop since MBDTF, ‘Ya Bish!’ (And, “Back Seat Freestyle” is RIDICULOUS! OMG.) -Matt Wink

4. How To Dress Well – Total Loss

Quality ethereal pop doesn’t bring us to the edge of the world simply with pretty voices and atmospheric recordings. It’s the extra elements: hidden influences, passionate lyrics and history stitched throughout that allow transcendental experiences with the music of dreams. How to Dress Well’s Total Loss is a little bit of alternative R&B (listen: “Running Back”) and a lot of spiritually heavy (listen: “Set it Right”). “Cold Nites” feels dark but also angelic, a harmony shared with experiencing a new form of beauty for the very first time. Man behind the music Tom Krell has nicely assembled his wide musical style in this release. Listen alongside these wandering tones next time you take a day for personal exploration. -Adrienne Thomas

3. Santigold – Master of My Make Believe

African-influenced beat patterns and a confident voice drive Santigold goodness through miles of alt-edge city sounds, brushing on MIA and Sleigh Bells along the way. Master of My Make Believe is energetic and catchy, but an underlying solemn tone keeps excess pop in check. Opening tracks “GO!” and “Disparate Youth” can start your dance party, while “This isn’t Our Parade” and “The Riot’s Gone” can level tired energies at the end of your night. Master is an album that latches and grows on the ears with each listen, and before you know it Santigold will be blooming spice in your cochleas. -Adrienne Thomas

2. Alt-J (∆) – An Awesome Wave

Unfortunately, Alt-J is one of those bands that everyone loves to compare to other bands. They kind of sound similar to Radiohead and to Coldplay, Wild Beasts, Hot Chip, Explosions in the Sky, Fleet Foxes, and so on and so forth. But perhaps what’s so likeable about Alt-J  (whose name translates into the delta symbol—“∆”—when the shortcut “alt” plus “j” are used on a Mac) is the fact that they capture folk, a smidge of dubstep, textural layering, experimental rock and some fat beats all on their debut album, An Awesome Wave. As the album progresses, the songs introduce different facets, harmonies and often new instruments. Alt-J radiates with potential and give listeners reason to look forward to a follow-up album. -Alex Peak

1. Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE

2012 saw its share of fresh indie hits and extra-dimensional hip hop, experimental rhythms and new voices. Each new artist is a gift to the ears of listeners worldwide. Although sifting for sounds to restart our vibrating palates takes time and dedication, discoveries along the way are precisely what we listen for. Frank Ocean’s debut LP channel ORANGE surprised most of us with its unprecedented boldness and musical detail from the heart. From Ocean’s stunning falsetto in “Thinkin Bout You” to the patient charisma of “Bad Religion”- and all reinvigorating R&B styles in-between- channel ORANGE is a candle-lit masterpiece that deserves every bit of praise it receives. -Adrienne Thomas

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