Volume 3, Number 8 - January 22, 2013

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Gregory Castillo
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Top Albums of 2012

By Gregory Castillo
Gregory.Castillo001@mymdc.net

2012 proved to be an incredibly diverse and overall exceptional year in music. The little guys broke through, with newcomers like The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, and Gotye topping the radio charts and captivating a broad array of audiophiles.


An incredible year for R&B and Hip-Hop put the young guns in the spotlight, as instant classics by Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar garnered critical acclaim for their game-changing releases.


Big-time artists like Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Taylor Swift continued to dominate the pop charts, while at the same time a little known band named FUN took the pop music world by storm with the commercial success of their second studio album “Some Nights.”


With that said, here are our picks for the best albums of the year.

Top 10 Albums

#1 - good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar - Top Dawg, Interscope, Aftermath

What is a classic? What qualities define something that transcends a generation? In his groundbreaking first major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar demands us to wonder if this album answers these questions. An album that you need to listen to in one shot, the social stigmas iterated in every song is a chilling document of reality. Some compare GKMC to Nas’s Illmatic , but it isn’t a fair assessment. good kid is the good kid of its time. Defined musically by the strongest, story driven narrative of the year, the ideas desperation, excess, and violence, along with the flow and delivery of each precisely written line is the work of a young man that has experienced a reality marred by obstacles that could’ve eaten him alive. It is very difficult to state the ability behind its proprietor, so just hold up, drank’ and take a listen to the one of the most important releases of the decade.

Top Tracks: “m.A.A.d city”, “The Art of Peer Pressure”, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”


#2 - The Lumineers - The Lumineers - Dualtone

It’s very rare that a group or artists’ first release becomes an instant hit, but with The Lumineers self-titled release, the group does just that. Joining the grand revival of folk-rock, frontman Wesley Schultz Dylan-like voice echos a strong emotional connection with listener. The band’s range is unprecedented, with a dynamic assortment of songs that always resonates a message that is very much The Lumineers and them only. The music is fun, it’s cheerful, and it makes you happy. Music that is captivating to say the least, the band doesn’t make any rookie mistakes. The Lumineers release has planted them feet first into the mix of exceptional music for years to come.

Top Tracks: “Ho Hey” and  “Dead Sea”

#3 - Channel Orange - Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange is very difficult to describe in words. One of the most riveting releases of the last decade, Ocean changed the face of R&B forever. Ocean doesn’t settle for making music, he creates atmosphere and themes, with story as the prevailing quality of his release. A talented, but not gifted singer, Ocean compensates with stunningly breathtaking musical complexity, strangely achieved through simplicity. The prevalence of expressing messages makes the release even more special, with the listener forced into thinking, while also jamming at the same time. What Kanye West did with Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to rap: creating a sense of focus and unease through diverse storytelling, Ocean does as well. Other artists must now take note, vanity and posterity are no longer synonymous for creating R&B, but more importantly so is the development of creating an intricate narrative.

Top Tracks: “Lost”,  “Bad Religion” and “Pyramids”


#4 - Blunderbuss - Jack White

Jack White’s long awaited solo debut Blunderbuss met its expectations—and then shattered them completely. White goes all-out on the album, crafting something close to a masterpiece with every hammer on, every strum and the sheer emotion behind his music. Recently divorced, White’s ability to express the dissatisfaction of love torn apart is incredibly powerful. Each track is a rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish, and this is an album you can’t put down.

Top Tracks: “Sixteen Saltines” and “Love Interruption”

#5 - Celebration Rock - Japandroids

Offering a stark contrast to the music norm, Japandroid’s critically-acclaimed Celebration Rock is a huge throwback to the bands of before. Influenced by Springsteen and The Who, the album is an in your face true rock celebration. The year’s pound-for-pound king of energy, every second of the 35 minute running time keeps listeners in a tornado of fast strumming riffs and hard hit power chords.

Top Tracks; “Fire’s Highway”,  “Younger Us”

#6 - Shields - Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear’s Shields is an eclectic blend of jazzy riffs and melodic soft vocals. The complexity of the music is prevalent, and at times a bit overwhelming, but the accomplishment is not diminished in the least bit. This is an artfully crafted album that is consistently ambient with thought provoking lyrics.

Top Tracks: “Sleeping Ute”, “Speak in Rounds”

#7 - -Radlands - Mystery Jets

English indie-rock band Mystery Jets’ Radlands is a refreshing punk release from a relatively unknown group. Full of energy and youthful angst, the music speaks for itself, keeping listeners on the edge of every track. A unified yet diverse mix of vigour and energy is very well received in a climate lacking the flair of punk rock.

Top Tracks: “Someone Purer”, “Greatest Hits”


#8 - Born and Raised - John Mayer

A musical paradigm shift that can be heard as soon as the needle drops, John Mayer’s Born and Raised is the pop artist’s most earnest and sincere release. A true to the words coming-of-age record, Mayer’s personal revelations resonate through his music, with the musician’s maturity and talent at the forefront of the folk-like sounds and country simplicity.  A release that puts the listener in an introspective and reflective ride, Mayer’s ability can not be understated.

Top Tracks: “The Age of Worry”, “Queen of California”

#9 - Some Nights - Fun

Originally the lead man of The Format, FUN frontman Nate Ruess finally achieved commercial success with his band’s 2012 release Some Nights. Unparalleled vocals by Ruess highlight a collection of big, loud and varied songs, touching on themes of individual strength, lost love attaining happiness. A sound that is easily distinguishable, we look forward to the band’s continued success.

Top Tracks: “Some Nights”, “Carry On”


#10 - Diluvia - Freelance Whales  

More of a collection of songs than a well refined album, Freelance Whales’ sophomore album Diluvia is a delightfully pleasant and creative reinvention of the group’s sound. The folk-like choral chanting coupled with lighthearted tones create one of the year’s more cheerful albums.

Top Tracks: “Aeolus”, “Spitting Image”



Top 25 Songs of the Year - (In no particular order)


Jack White – Sixteen Saltines
Fun. – Some Nights
Kanye West – Mercy
A$AP Rocky – Goldie
The Lumineers – Ho Hey
Ed Sheeran – The A Team
Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know
Japandroids – Fire's Highway
Cat Power – Cherokee
Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Kendrick Lamar – The Art of Peer Pressure
Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
The Avett Brothers – I Never Knew You
Of Monsters And Men – Dirty Paws
Mystery Jets – Someone Purer
Psy – Gangnam Style (강남스타일)
Grizzly Bear – Sleeping Ute
Nas – Cherry Wine
Freelance Whales – Spitting Image
John Mayer – The Age of Worry
Frank Ocean – Lost
Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait
Michael Kiwanuka – I'm Getting Ready
Fiona Apple – Hot Knife


Listen to The Reporter’s top songs and albums of the year on Spotify:

Top 25 Songs of the Year http://spoti.fi/YgPhlR


Top 10 Albums of the Year -
http://spoti.fi/115GIeJ


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