2012 Music Review

Levi Fuller called me out in February this year when I put out a very lackluster Top Ten Albums of 2011 list, so I decided to step my game up. 

At the same time, hearing loads of music became easily doable and affordable. Services like Spotify and Rhapsody are ridiculous. While everyone is listening to one track or less of an artist, I’m still a big fan of the long player format, finding that deep cuts can be so much more defining than hits, an artist’s full effort so much more revealingly true or contrived. And for the first time ever, I was able to test out new artists not from 30 second clips of a single, but by giving them the courtesy of a full album listen before judging them to be cretinous fakes.


So, overwhelmed with music, it became quickly apparent that a mere top ten list would not suffice to properly take stock of all the listening I’d done. Instead, I compiled a list of superlatives like an awards ceremony, hoping this more thorough format would help folks sort through the goods and the awfuls without having to spend precious single-listening time on such a large number of projects. I published corresponding Spotify playlists you can check out, too. There’s one for the 2012 Songs of the Year, one for 2012 Best Vocal Performances, and one called WRKR 2012 Sampler you can shuffle through to hear what the Rickr liked this year.


On to the lists! In the awards list, the winner if each category is shown in bold. At the bottom, you’ll find a genre-organized list of all the records I listened to this year that I'd recommend, with a suggested song off of each album to get a quick sense of what it sounds like. If an album from 2012 is not on this list, I probably listened to it. Even if I enjoyed it, I had to eliminate everything but the cream, so tread lightly. That is, of course, unless you consider me a cretinous fake.  








Best Artistic Achievement

AU – Both Lights

Dan Deacon – America

Matthew Dear - Beams

Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

Mike Wexler - Dispossession

Beck/Phillip Glass - Rework

Grimes - Visions

THEEsatisfaction – awE naturalE

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man­

Pollens – Brighten & Break


Most Insatiable Listening

Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

Lana Del Ray - Born to Die

Grizzly Bear - Shields

Woods – Bend Beyond

Beach House - Bloom

Matthew Dear - Beams

The Luyas – Animator

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city


Best Album Production

Chris Braide and Emile Haynie - Lana del Ray’s Born to Die


Best Production Despite Irritating Vocals

Mike Elizondo - Regina Spektor's What We Saw From the Cheap Seats

Kendrick Lamar and crew – Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city


Album of the Year

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Matthew Dear - Beams

AU – Both Lights

Beach House - Bloom

Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Goat - World Music

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

Tame Impala - Lonerism

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

Lana Del Ray - Born to Die


EP of the Year

Radiation City – Cool Nightmare EP

Matthew Dear – Headcage

Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour

Black Mountain – Year Zero

Guards – Guards

Superhumannoids – Too Young For Love

Other Lives – Mind the Gap

White Denim – Takes Place in Your Work Space


Most Overrated Albums

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – The Lion The Beast The Beat

Lemonade - Diver

Lee Fields and the Expressions – Faithful Man

The Coup – Sorry to Bother You

Band of Horses – Mirage Rock


Album That Goes So Far into the Awful Side of the Spectrum That it Starts to Sound Great

Wild Ones – Writing on the Wall


Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Contribution from a Long-fading Artist You Don’t Expect Much From Anymore

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceana (no joke)

Dr. John – Locked Down

Bob Dylan - Tempest

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Bob Mould – Silver Age

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill


Best Artwork for a Very Bad Album

Savoir Adore – Our Nature


Best 2011 Album We All Missed That Demands Acknowledgment

Luke Temple – Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care





Song of the Year

AU – “Get Alive”

Hot Chip – “These Chains”

Here We Go Magic – “Alone But Moving”

Lost Lander – “Afraid of Summer”

First Aid Kit – “Lion's Roar”

Beach House – “Lazuli”

Tame Impala – “Apocalypse Dreams”

Diamond Rugs – “Big God”

Guards – “Do It Again”

Yeasayer – “Henrietta”

Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”

Yeti Lane – “Warning Sensations”

Cat Power – “Ruin”

Michael Kiwanuka – “Always Waiting”

Oberhofer – “Heart”

Lord Huron – “Time to Run”

Mina Tindle – “Bells”

Matthew Dear – “Her Fantasy”

Father John Misty – “This is Sally Hatchet”

Alt-J – “Taro”

NZCA/LINES – “Okinawa Channels”

Foxygen – “Make It Known”

Com Truise – “Open”

Sinkane – “Jeeper Creeper”

Dusted – “Property Lines”

Woods – “Bend Beyond”

Pollens – “Helping Hand”

White Denim – “Company”

Night Moves – “Headlights”

Pond – “Elegant Design” 


Best Male Vocal Performance

Britt Daniel - Divine Fits' "Shivers"

Adam Stephens – Two Gallants’ “Ride Away”

Frank Ocean – “Thinkin About You”

Kristian Matsson - The Tallest Man On Earth’s “There’s No Leaving Now”

Michael Kiwanuka – “Worry Walks Beside Me”


Best Female Vocal Performance

Natasha Kahn - Bat For Lashes' "Laura"

Lizzy Grant - Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games”

Regina Spektor – “Firewood”

Norah Jones – “Miriam”

Lianne La Havas – “Gone”


Best Cover Song That Does the Impossible by Improving a Classic Band's Original Song

Lykke Li - Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs"


Best Old Song That Never Saw The Light Of Day Until This Year

Elbow – “Lucky With Disease”


Most Heavenly Payoff in a Song

Hot Chip – “Let Me Be Him”


Best 2011 Song That Received More Play Than Any 2012 Song

Washed Out – “Soft”





Artist of the Year

Matthew Dear


New Artist With Most Exciting Potential

Young Magic

First Aid Kit

Diamond Rugs

Lord Huron

Bear in Heaven


Night Moves


Django Django

Michael Kiwanuka


Best Achievement of Previously Uncertain Potential

Beach House


Biggest Improvement in General Sense of Rhythm

Cat Power


Most Frustrating Failure at a Great Idea

David Byrne and St. Vincent collaborating


Best Artist With a Larger Catalog I Didn’t Even Know About Until 2012

Here We Go Magic




Modern Rock

Grizzly Bear – Shields – “Sun In Your Eyes”

Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits – “Flaggin’ a Ride”

Young Man – Vol. 1 – “21”

Elbow – Dead in the Boot – “The Long War Shuffle” 

Radiation City – Cool Nightmare EP – “Find It of Use”

The Sun Parade – Yossis – “Run People Run”


Revivalist Rock

Dr. John – Locked Down – “Getaway”


Corporate Rock

Geographer – Myth – “The Myth of Youth”


Garage Rock

Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs – “Blue Mountains”

The Rolling Stones – Doom and Gloom Single – “Doom and Gloom”


Loud Rock

Japandroids – Celebration Rock – “The Night of Wine and Roses”

Pontiak - Echo Ono – “Lions of Least”

Scriptures – Scriptures – “Your Town Is On Fire”

Two Gallants – The Bloom and the Blight – “My Love Won’t Wait”


Avant Rock

Diiv – Oshin – “Doused”

Yeti Lane – The Echo Show – “Analog Wheel”

Tame Impala – Lonerism – “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?”

Black Mountain – Year Zero Soundtrack – “Mary Lou”

Pinback – Information Retrieved – “A Request”

Oberhofer – Time Capsules II – “I Could Go”

Beak> - >> - “Spinning Top”

Helvetia - Nothing In Rambling - "RyBro"

Helvetia - Camp Century Sessions - "Into the Waters"


Chamber Pop / Troupe Folk

Father John Misty – Fear Fun – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”

Lost Lander – DRRT – “Wonderful World”

Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams – “Ends of the Earth”

First Aid Kit - Lion's Roar – “Emmylou”

The Magnetic North – Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North – “Betty Corrigall”



Mina Tindle – Taranta – “Sister”

Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour – “Golden Mile”

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts – “After the Fall”

Sam Lee – Ground of its Own – “Wild Wood Amber”

The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now – “Revelation Blues”


Experimental Pop

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man – “The Haunted Man”
White Rabbits - Milk Famous – “I’m Not Me”

Breton – Other People’s Problems – “Governing Correctly”

Diagrams – Black Light – “Tall Buildings”

Young Magic – Melt – “You With Air”

Radiohead – Austin City Limits – “Identikit”

Cat Power – Sun – “3,6,9”

Matthew Dear – Beams – “Earthforms”

Matthew Dear – Headcage - “Headcage”

AU - Both Lights – “OJ”

Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship – “A Different Ship”

Dan Deacon – America – “True Thrush”

Atoms for Peace – Default single – “Default”

Ultraista – UltraIsta – “You’re Out”

Yeasayer – Fragrant World – “Henrietta”

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave – “Dissolve Me”

Django Django – Django Django – “Hail Bop”

Mobley – Young Adult Fiction – “The New Black”

Hundred Waters – Hundred Waters – “Me & Anodyne”


Indie Dance Pop

Hot Chip – In Our Heads - “How Do You Do?”


Corporate Pop

Santigold – Master of My Make-Believe – “The Keepers”

Lana Del Ray – Born to Die: The Paradise Edition – “Blue Jeans”


Electro / Chillwave

Beach House – Bloom – “Wild”

Superhumanoids – Too Young For Love / Geri Single – “Too Young For Love”

Chromatics - Kill for Love – “Lady”

Bear in Heaven – I Love You, Its Cool – “Sinful Nature”

Grimes – Visions – “Genesis”

Crystal Castles – (III) – “Kerosene”

El Perro Del Mar – Pale Fire – “Hold Off the Dawn”

Summer Heart – About a Feeling – “I Wanna Go”

Blackbird Blackbird – Boracay Planet – “It’s a War”


Dance / Electronic (Instrumental)

Daphni – Jiaolong – “Ye Ye”

Four Tet – Pink – “Peace For Earth”

Simian Mobile Disco – Unpatterns – “A Species Out of Control”

Com Truise – In Decay – “Open”

Lilacs and champagne – Lilacs & Champagne – “Sensations”

Philip Glass – Rework – “NYC 73-78”

CFCF – Exercises – “Entry”


Hip Hop / R&B

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – The Heist – “Same Love”

THEESatisfaction - awE naturalE – “Deeper”

Robert Glasper - Black Radio – “Black Radio”

Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE – “Pyramids”

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city – “Swimming Pools (Drank)”


Soul / Funk / Gospel

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again - "Tell me a Tale"

Lianne La Havas Is Your Love Big Enough? - "Don't Wake Me Up"

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