Yet another year is coming to an end, and it’s time to take a look in the rear view mirror. At first glance, I did not think that my musical horizon had expanded notably compared to 2011, to my great disappointment. However, upon further inspection, I found out that there actually had been quite a few musical treasures found in 2012. Luckily!
The genre-trend, I found, was also interesting. My previous year-list had a lot more metal in it, but this year seems to be dominated by electronic music of different kinds.
So here is the list of the 10 most listened-to/interesting new artists of 2012 and the albums I liked the most by them.
10. When Saints Go Machine
Danish electronic-rock band When Saints Go Machine play some really nice, melodic and creative rock. One of their definite trademarks of their music is the electronic keyboard, from which they draw many of their awesome sounds. This, combined with the special vocals of front man Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild, make up a very original and immensely catchy, yet slightly dark sound. The album that introduced me to the band was their release of this year, Konkylie. The tracks I liked the most were Church and Law, Kelly and Add Ends. The band has been announced for Roskilde 2013, which is a show I’ll be looking forward to.
9. Miles Davis
For #9 I have here an absolute classic – the jazz musician Miles Davis. I felt like I wanted to try out jazz, and I am glad I did. I had heard some unknown jazz artist on the radio before, and I did actually like it back then. This is also the case for Davis and his all-time classic record Kind of Blue. This just 5-track long LP clocks in at 45 minutes and gives you this feeling of pure, relaxing 1950’s jazz-bliss. Apparently, Davis just walked in the studio that day back in 1959 and started playing the whole thing in one take. That is cool.
Apart from the jazzy-awesomeness, a side-bonus I found was that his music is perfect if you’re doing any kind of work that requires you to focus on something at a longer period of time. Favorite tracks: So What and Freddie Freeloader.
8. Kendrick Lamar
Lamar reaches the 8th spot on my list of the year as the only rapper (ever to reach any spot on any of my lists…), which is quite a thing to say the least. Why is this? Well, I rarely listen to rap. This year, however, I decided to give it a shot, and I must say I really liked Lamar’s Section.80 of 2011. It might be because of the fact that the album itself is not a traditional rap album, given mostly the lyrics and the composition of the album. It may just be the fact that it is just really a solid record instrumentally. Ultimately, it is a combination of both. The lyrical themes suggest that Lamar is a thoughtful person, seeing that the themes include critique of modern society, as well as addressing issues of the opposite gender. Favorite tracks: ADHD, Rigamortis and Ab-Soul’s Outro. Also, brings back awesome summer memories!
7. Animals As Leaders
The three piece progressive metal act Animals As Leaders, based in Washington D.C., deliver hard hitting instrumentals with catchy guitar riffs and slamming bass lines. Their music is technical, inventive and intense. My favorite record of theirs for this year will definitely be their self-titled debut (from 2009); a very cohesive, yet varied record, featuring tracks such as CAFO and Tempting Time. Animals as Leaders is the only metal-act to reach my top ten for the year of 2012, and as I stated in my introduction to this list, this comes as a surprise to me – especially since metal has been my preferred style of music for years.
The trap-hop electro-group TNGHT is a collaborative effort by Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, from Scotland and Canada respectively. They produce hip-hop-beat-like music, with a hard hitting bass combined with a wide array of samples. On top of that, there is a certain glitchy feel to the music, overall making it original and unlike any kind of electronic music I’ve heard before.
Since their 2012 release is their only release so far, this is what’ll have to be my favorite (the TNGHT self-titled EP), and my favorite tracks off of that would be Higher Ground (absolutely immense track) and Goooo. I also found a track of theirs named R U READY, which had some similar effects used as on Higher Ground. These guys should definitely join the Roskilde lineup, especially now that Baauer is on the list as well.
UK group Disclosure consists of the Lawrence brothers, who have just recently hit the charts with their single Latch. They play a distinct style of electronic music, which features a variety of different elements, along with some dubstep and “garage-house” (apparently). Latch, for example, features great vocals by Sam Smith and a woman I could not find the name of, together with an incredibly catchy melody and rhythm, delivering an incredible, feel-good vibe. The songs I enjoyed the most by these guys would definitely be Latch together with the Control remix of Joe Goddard, and I am most certainly looking forward to future releases by Disclosure. Oh, and they are performing at next year’s Roskilde Festival – perfect.
4. Frank Ocean
Playing a style of RnB mixed with a bit of hip-hop, Frank Ocean gained popularity independently of the already famous hip hop collective Odd Future, which he was also a member of. I downloaded Ocean’s first mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra (released March 2011) back in January, which mostly featured instrumentals of classic songs with Frank Oceans own lyrics. Mixed in the bunch were two original tracks, Novacane and Swim Good. The overall theme of the mixtape is obviously love and affection, and I really liked the way he made his own interpretation of the classic songs, although I am not really fond of second hand music in this manner. However, Nostalgia, Ultra is definitely an exception. He released his own full length this year, titled Channel Orange, which I did also enjoy, but not quite as much as the mixtape.
3. Nicolas Jaar
Coming in on a solid 3rd spot is the New York-born Nicolas Jaar, whose special kind of electronic music caught my attention at the beginning of the year. I have actually already written a post about his debut album Space is Only Noise if You Can See on my blog earlier this year, talking back and forth about what I like and dislike about the album. His music can be described as being minimal, ethereal and soothing. His top album for me will definitely be the already mentioned Space is Only Noise if You Can See, although I also really liked the Time for Us EP.
The man taking the 2nd spot on my humble list here will be UK’s future-garage & dubstep-ghost Burial. I got acquainted with his music back in May, with his album Untrue. At first I did not really pay much attention to it, and actually forgot everything about it until autumn. It’s weird because his music really fits that time of the year, and I have almost not been listening to anything but Burial for the past month-or-so. His music is so atmospheric, cold yet warming and soothing. It reminds me of the city at night, with all the concrete walls, the parks, the dark alleys. Very inspiring. His top album for me this year will be the album Untrue (released 2007), and if I were to choose a release from this year I would go with his Kindred EP.
1. Death Grips
Death Grips have caught a lot of attention throughout this year, releasing two full-length albums, earning a record deal at Sony’s Epic Records and trashing it a few months after, because, you know, fuck the record industry. The immediate impression one gets of Death Grips is that these guys do simply not give a single fuck about anything, and that can clearly be heard in their music and seen in their many cheaply produced music videos; make no mistake, this is aggressive hip-hop with the spirit of punk, mixed with harsh electronic elements. They make up the first place for 2012 due to their originality, recklessness and integrity. Their top album for me this year will be the Exmilitary mixtape (released april 2011), which I discovered in January. If I should choose one of their 2012 releases, I would go with The Money Store.
A band that I did not discover this year, but still listened to diligently for the first half of 2012 were Neurosis. I discovered this band way back in 2010, but it was not until 2011 that they really caught my attention. For this year, I enjoyed the absolutely massive album Through Silver in Blood the most and I really hope to see them making a Roskilde appearance the coming year!