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Old 12-14-2012, 08:07 PM  
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Reaper's Favorite Albums of 2012 (full list posted!)

As always, this is a list of my personal favorite albums of the year. It's not meant to be an objective "best-of" list, because while I listen to hundreds of new albums each year I still fall far short of listening to enough to feel comfortable making an objective claim. My usual genre tendencies towards metal and hip-hop are as present as ever. Hopefully you'll find some albums you will come to dig through this list.

I'll be posting it out over the next day or so. I'm doing 30 albums this year.

30.) Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream
29.) Kamelot - Silverthorn
28.) Monolithe - III
27.) Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost in the New Real
26.) Tame Impala - Lonerism
25.) Heems - Nehru Jackets
24.) Panopticon - Kentucky
23.) Anathema - Weather Systems
22.) Brother Ali - Mourning in America, Dreaming in Color
21.) Dan Deacon - America
20.) Sigh - In Somnophobia
19.) El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
18.) Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud
17.) Ondatropica - Ondatropica
16.) Death Grips - No Love Deep Web
15.) First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
14.) Pharaoh - Bury the Light
13.) Krallice - Years Past Matter
12.) Enslaved - RIITIIR
11.) Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
10.) P.O.S. - We Don't Even Live Here
9.) Royal Thunder - CVI
8.) Lazerbeak - Lava Bangers
7.) Swans - The Seer
6.) Mgla - With Hearts Towards None
5.) Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
4.) Alcest - Les Voyages De L'me
3.) Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
2.) Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
1.) Death Grips - The Money Store

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Old 12-15-2012, 10:45 AM   #46
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8. Lazerbeak – Lava Bangers

It feels weird to me putting this album this high. It’s just a beat tape, after all. But it’s a Lazerbeak beat tape, which helps explain its placement. Lazerbeak is one of Doomtree’s two main producers, and he’s absolutely a top 5 producer in all of hip-hop. Dude makes ****ing killer beats. Lava Bangers is an album of short instrumental sequences that Lazerbeak made, with no one rapping over them. I don’t know a lot about the various genres of electronic music. All I know is that I listened to this CD more than any other album this year. This is a list of favorites, right? I'd say this album is a heavy favorite. Each of these tracks are ****ing awesome, but the real magic lies in the sequencing. From the start of the album to the finish, this is phenomenally, perfectly sequenced. This feels like a true album. Some of the song combos are especially transcendent; the track “Smash Hit” leading into “LRL” is a top 5 musical moment of the year for me. Go drive around to this. Go exercise to this. Do anything in your life ever to this album, because it’s ****ing great.





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Old 12-15-2012, 10:50 AM   #47
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7. Swans – The Seer

This album strikes me as the future of music. Hyperbole? Sure. But this album feels groundbreaking to me in so many ways. Were this a best-of list it’d be much closer to 1 than 7. But this is a favorites list, and I can only listen to this album about once a month. Because it’s an incredibly draining emotional experience. Swans take post-rock, dip it into a bucket of Americana, and then ring the thing out like a towel. Words fail me when trying to describe the album. Just listen to the two long songs I’ve linked to. Be prepared for anything and everything. Be prepared to be amazed, to be in a state of thrall.





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Old 12-15-2012, 10:54 AM   #48
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6. Mgla – With Hearts Towards None

I’ve spent this whole list praising black metal albums that take the genre to new, exciting, experimental places. So it’s pretty funny that my favorite black metal album of 2012 takes the genre to exactly zero new places. This album does nothing new. What it does is classic black metal, done exquisitely well. I know that lots of you reading this don’t like black metal. Maybe you haven’t had the right introduction. So here’s my challenge: listen to the first two minutes of the track “With Hearts Towards None III.” That’s it. Keep an open mind through the cool riffs and harsh vocals of the first minute and 40 seconds. Then experience the riff change at 1:50 into the song. If you aren’t motivated by that piece of music, if you don’t feel like you can take on the entire world by yourself, then you will never understand black metal. The simple melodies on this album, being able to hear the attack of the guitar pick on the strings, the simple blastbeats…everything on this album lacks frills but is so, so effective anyway. I mowed lawns to this album. I copyedited to this album. I took gentle walks by the Black Warrior River to this album. Everything I did while listening to this album sort of reaffirmed my own humanity, my own will to live a good life. It’s weird, but that’s what black metal at its best does – through the most extreme, brutal sounds comes something like a life-affirming experience.





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Old 12-15-2012, 10:56 AM   #49
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Agree with your take on the Swans album. I appreciate the album, but it's not something I find myself looking forward to unless I'm in the right mood.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:02 AM   #50
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5. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

Fiona Apple is back with a damn dynamo of an album. Musically, this is almost entirely piano and occasional percussion. It’s a very stripped-down album, putting the focus on Fiona’s voice. It’s fierce on this album. So is the piano playing; sometimes you can easily picture Fiona slamming down on the keys with all of her force. It’s hard to write about this album, actually. It’s hard to convey why these simple songs with simple arrangements are good enough to be my fifth favorite album of the year. It has to do with the fresh, loopy vocal lines, the physicality of the piano playing. And it has to do with the production, and the little flourishes it takes when it needs to break away from the minimalism. Take the standout track “Werewolf” for instance. It’s about the speaker realizing that her relationship went sour because she brought out the worst in her partner. On the 3rd verse you hear the sounds of playing (screaming?) children in the background. It takes the song to a whole new level of creepiness and makes the damaging nature of that poisoned relationship all the more palpable. The track “Hot Knife” keeps layering on different vocal lines, some contrasting, some harmonized, played simultaneously, training your ears all the way, so that by the end of the song you’re keeping track of like eight different vocal lines all saying separate sentences (or at least saying them at different rhythms). These are just great songs, period.





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Old 12-15-2012, 11:07 AM   #51
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4. Alcest – Les Voyages De L'me

The French one-man black metal/post-rock/shoegaze project Alcest is something that’s featured highly on my lists before. Alcest’s last album was 10th on my 2010 list. Their latest finds itself in my top 5 because it has embraced a weird thing for an ostensibly black metal band to embrace: happiness. This is album of soaring heights and prettyprettypretty moments. It sounds triumphant. Melodic and uplifting and full of major scales and droning, repetitive chords that build to soaring crescendos. This description sounds similar to what I’ve said about other albums this year, namely Anathema’s Weather Systems. Alcest achieves its tremendous pretty happy states more naturally in my opinion. It’s about craft and it’s about restraint. This is an album of quiet victories. Songs like “L O Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles” are what my mind sounds like after getting a publication from a journal I really dig, or eating a perfectly composed bite of food, or getting a kiss under the moonlight from the woman I love. This isn’t a perfect album; it’s the most metal portions of this album that feel the most out of place, actually. But is 9/10 for me, and would have topped my 2011 list had it been eligible. I love this album, and I hope that you do too.





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Old 12-15-2012, 11:15 AM   #52
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3. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

Holy shit is this a rap album. Killer Mike has always been a top-notch MC, but his production has been too inconsistent in my opinion throughout the course of his career. Mike lucked out and found El-P to produce this whole album. The result is the biggest collection of rap bangers this year. This album is an incendiary mix of smart-as-hell lyrics, passionate delivery, and beats that will tear your system up. While El-P went crazy on his solo album this year, the beats he crafted for Killer Mike are more restrained, more in line with a Southern rap sensibility. They’re still progressive as hell for the hip-hop scene, but they are bass-forward and free of clutter. They knock, man. Blast this in your car and you’ll feel like the baddest dude on the block. I can’t say enough good things about this album. “Big Beast” is a tour de force. “Reagan” is the best political song of the year. “Willie Burke Sherwood” and the title track show that El-P can create some deeply emotional beats, and that Killer Mike is up to the task as an MC to make sure listeners feel those emotions. Top to bottom this is a future classic rap album. A classic. It’d be the best pure hip-hop album of the year, too, if not for one young MC whose eager to change the game…





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Old 12-15-2012, 11:24 AM   #53
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God I LOVE Fiona's new album. Glad to see her get some love from ya, Reaper.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:25 AM   #54
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Really? El-P is out repping Brooklyn his whole career and you don't know the man?

Well, that's what I'm here for I suppose.
Oh, wait, yeah. I'm not super familiar with his work, but yeah, I'm aware of El-P. Must have glossed over him.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:26 AM   #55
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2. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city

This album. What can I say about it that hasn't already been said by every music critic? Coming into this album I was more of a fan of Kendrick Lamar’s potential than I was his output. His 2011 album, Section.80, was only 40th on my list last year; I loved about half of the album, but the other half bored me. Kendrick was finding himself, and he’d prove only a year later, with this album, that he’s ready to take over the genre. This is a (mostly) nonfiction concept album: the narrative running throughout the album concerns Kendrick as a high school sophomore. He acts a fool with some friends who aren't good for him (in his crime-torn neighborhood in Compton), gets high for the first time (on a blunt laced with coke), gets jumped by some dudes as he was trying to hook up with this girl, gets his friends, goes back for revenge, ends up losing a good friend in a firefight, and ultimately rejects the gangbanger lifestyle. I mean, that’s it in a nutshell. There’s more. The weird thing is that this is Kendrick’s major label debut…but as his national introduction he chooses to present who he used to be instead of who he is. As a narrative and concept it works though. All of the beats are slick and carefully chosen. Kendrick pulls off some next-level flows on this album pretty effortlessly. These song structures are incredibly ambitious for hip-hop. This album is nearly flawless, actually. I don’t really love the track “Real,” which is the narrative moment of change (and as a result should be amazing, but the hook falls really, really flat for me). But aside from that everything is superb. “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” absolutely knocks. “Backseat Freestyle” is an intentionally ignorant track from the perspective fo a drunk and high 16 year old, and features some dialed-in, most-going-hard-verse-of-the-year style flow. The tracks “Good Kid” and “m.A.A.d. city” combine to show off a dazzling array of versatile rapping. The last track, “Compton,” features Dr. Dre (rapping to some verses that Kendrick pretty obviously wrote) and it feels like a super-triumphant passing of the torch thanks to a stellar Just Blaze beat that incorporates some Roger Troutman-style vocoder. It holds up after dozens of listens, and you find new wrinkles to be impressed with each time you go through it. Most years, an album like this would be an easy number one. It’s a must-own.





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Old 12-15-2012, 11:34 AM   #56
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1. Death Grips – The Money Store

No album in 2012 impressed me more, or struck me as more forward-thinking, than Death Grips major label debut (and probable finale), The Money Store. Through aggressive rapping, super-tight drumming, and a dizzying array of samples taken mostly from YouTube videos, Death Grips has turned in an album that is simultaneously abrasive and catchy. Believe me, for as much as this album tries to put people off with its extreme sounds, it’s also one of THE catchiest albums of the year. Every track on this album makes me pump my fist and nod my head. Every track is this blend of searing complexity with hooks that never let your mind go. When L.A. Reid, music industry titan, signed Death Grips to Epic, he did so because – this is a true story – he thought Death Grips hit people in an emotional register that only Whitney Houston had hit people before. The comment seems absurd on its face, especially coming off of Death Grips’ 2011 album, ExMilitary which was cold and distant and aggressive. But I see what he means now. No other album makes me feel as good about, shit, about the state of music, of art itself, than this album. I don’t even think much when I listen to this album; I just feel good. I could spend some time dissecting the lyrics on this album, or I could spend time telling you what the samples sound like (the choppy vocal sample on “System Blower” for example is just audio of Serena Williams serving a tennis ball). But it’d be better if you just trusted me and listened to this album in full. This album is remarkably ahead of its time; musicians are going to scramble to in the next few years to catch up to it. This is basically a 10/10 album and, dare I say it, should go down as one of the greatest albums of the 21st century. I can’t say enough hyperbolic things about The Money Store. It’s the best album since 2010’s combo of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Agalloch’s Marrow of the Spirit. No album since has demonstrated such utter mastery of its forms and such aptitude to take their genres to new, un-thought-of heights. Get this album immediately, and let it soak in. Spend some time with it. Hopefully you find it as rewarding as I do. I want everyone to love an album, any album, as much as I love The Money Store.













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Old 12-15-2012, 11:37 AM   #57
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is it bad that the only names i recognize in this thread are Killer Mike, Fiona Apple, and Camron?
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:39 AM   #58
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is it bad that the only names i recognize in this thread are Killer Mike, Fiona Apple, and Camron?
Nope.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:43 AM   #59
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is it bad that the only names i recognize in this thread are Killer Mike, Fiona Apple, and Camron?
Not at all. Perhaps, like me, your tastes are drawn in a different direction. Though, I like these threads because it affords me the opportunity to expand my tastes.

I'm looking forward to diving into some of these artists.
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:25 PM   #60
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Considering your love for Opeth (with Heritage being an exception), I'm going to wager that Katatonia will be making the appearance. With that said, however, have you heard the latest work from The Contortionist? Intrinsic is heavily influenced by cynic/other progressive metal artists and offers a major contrast from TC's previous offerings. It's definitely worthy of a listen, as it may be the album of the year for me thus far. (Though I'd still hold your opinion in high regard if the work was not to your liking.)
I listened to Intrinsic earlier in the year, but rarely found myself wanting to return to it. It sort of ended up in the same position for me as Ne Obliviscaris' Portal of I in that they are albums that, on paper, I should be totally into. But something didn't connect fully for me, and the album never got past "appreciation" and into "love."

Also, I liked the new Katatonia OK but was more disappointed in it than anything. High expectations, I guess.
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Originally Posted by Delano View Post
Reaper16's taste in beer, music, and literature are unmatched on this message board.
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Posts: 32,740
Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.Reaper16 has an IQ even higher than Frankie's.
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