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Friday, 15 June 2012

2012 so far…

I’ve seen many comments on blogs and Twitter recently to say that 2012 hasn’t been a vintage year for music. Now I know these comments come out around this time every year, but I still felt like having a look back at what the first six months of 2012 has had to offer.

The year got off to a good start with The Maccabees’ brilliant album, Given to the Wild. Their expanded ambitions and soaring sounds catapulted their album into the charts and was an immediate contender for end-of-year lists. Chairlift’s Something was also released, containing one of my favourite songs of the year so far.

February saw the release of two mesmerising albums from contrasting solo females, namely Grimes’ Visions and Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp. While worlds apart, both brought critical acclaim and attention to talented individuals released their fourth and third albums respectively.

In April, Jack White’s first solo record since The White Stripes (just kidding Meg) dropped, and it was his best in years. While I was a big fan of The Dead Weather’s first album, it’s great to have Jack back where he belongs, front and centre, axe in hand. His mix of blues, rock and country was a joy from start to finish, and I’m excited to say I’m seeing it live next Friday (22 June).

May saw dreamy soundscapes courtesy of Beach House, Poliça and Sigur Rós to delight and soothe. It also saw a new record from Richard Hawley, who brought a distinctly heavier sound than on his previous solo albums. His distorted psychedelia was unexpected but brilliant none the less.

And while Best Coast’s The Only Place, also released in May, drew some lukewarm reviews, it’s a superbly simple slice of breezy surf pop. Its lack of complexity is intended, and shouldn’t be used as a negative.

Even this week alone has seen exciting new albums released by Friends and Crocodiles, and new songs debuted live by Bat for Lashes.

And that’s just the albums, there have many dozens of brilliant songs from new bands yet to release albums, most of which you can find on my Jams.

With new releases from The xx, Bat for Lashes and hopefully a return to form from Bloc Party to look forward to in coming months, 2012 seems like a pretty good year for music to me.

2012 albums to check out
  • Beach House – Bloom
  • Best Coast – The Only Place
  • Chairlift – Something
  • Crocodiles – Endless Flowers
  • Friends – Manifest!
  • Grimes – Visions
  • Jack White – Blunderbuss
  • Poliça – Give You the Ghost
  • Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge
  • Santigold - Master of My Make Believe
  • Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
  • The Shins –  Port of Morrow
  • Tanlines – Mixed Emotions


  1. You can re-appraise all you like, Tim, but the critics are indeed right, 2012 is looking like a pretty dire year for music. A whole host of unadventurous, turgid releases, without much even from the underground scene to liven the mood - Scuba and Brackles albums seem great for the dancefloor but lack repeated listenability. Stairlift, Beach House and Best Coast still churning out breezy and dated MoR (didn't we used to laugh at 'Yacht Rock'??), even the new Chromatics record, despite it's top notch production, is a bit 'meh'. Hot Chip are coming in for a pretty good critical mauling this week as well for daring to put out yet another thoughtless and lazy album that doesn't live up to the quality they really should be hitting.
    I will attest to the Grimes record being extremely good, however, and I believe Richard Hawley has put out something of a belter. My hopes for Peaking Lights record (out Monday!) and the XX album are high, but a vintage year this really doesn't seem to be...

  2. Thanks for your comment! I'm sorry you don't agree on a couple of my choices, we can't agree on everything eh. And while there may not have been a Let England Shake or The Suburbs yet this year, there has still been plenty of great music released I think. Make sure you leave a name next time!

  3. Sorry Tim, that's actually me (Dominic) but the Blogger service rendered my unknown and didn't change it when I edited my profile. Perhaps we are all anonymous in the eyes of Google eh? It's not that I disagree with those choices being good picks from this year, it's that the mean average in quality seems to be set pretty low. Everyones has reengaged their default setting which seems to be inoffensive and unchallenging...

    1. Oh, Hi Dom. While I take your point that nothing particuarly out-there has broken through this year, groundbreaking records only come along so often, and my taste sits relatively close to the mainstream in all honesty.

      However, I don't detract from bands doing what they do. As I said in my point about Best Coast, if that is the sum of their ambition, so be it, I won't let that take away from my enjoyment of their music. I won't claim to know which bands are phoning it in and which are trying to push themselves, I can only comment on what they release :)