Better Late Than Never: In 2012 I bought and listened to much less music than I did in 2009, 2010 or even 2011. I own ~400 songs that were released in 2012, while I have more than 1000 songs for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011!
The most recent change in my musical adventures has been the shift to hip hop, though not to the sucker shit they play on T.V. or on the radio. I’m not too sure about the reason, but it might be due to the lack of lyrical finesse in most genres other than hip hop. It also seems to be one of the few genres left where there’s still room for improvement, development and experiments. Still, the list doesn’t only contain hip hop albums. ;)
1. Phantom Ghost – Pardon My English
A German duo consisting of Thies Mynther and Dirk von Lowtzow. The latter is the singer and guitarist of one of my favorite bands: Tocotronic. “Pardon My English” got some stellar reviews in the German music press: Tonträger, Abgehört #1 #2 and laut.de.
Fav. Tracks: Universal Prostitution, Phantom of the Operette, Smashing New York Times.
2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
I know, it’s a boring choice! Some have categorized it as conscious hip hop, because of its focus on social issues. And as many other hip hop albums it often makes me wonder and search for hidden meanings (this basically means visiting Rapgenius). But HEY, IT STILL COUNTS!). Partly because I don’t belong to that social group.
Fav. Tracks: Thinkin’ ‘Bout You, Pyramids, Bad Religion.
3. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
I only started listening to this album after Pitchfork named it best album of 2012. Superficial listening might give you the wrong impression of its contents, e.g. “Backseat Freestyle” and “Swimming Pool (Drank)“. The songs are still very good, but they would lose their meaning and significance in the album framework, as Pitchfork so accurately notes.
Fav. Tracks: Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe, Backseat Freestyle, m.A.A.d city.
4. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Good stuff. It sounds more fierce and violent than Channel Orange or good kid, m.A.A.d city. It’s faster and not mincing any words: “So it seems our people starve from lack of understanding / Cos all we seem to give them is some balling and some dancing“.
Fav. Tracks: Big Beast, Reagan, Don’t Die.
5. Kraftklub – Mit K
What a nice surprise! Another decent German band. The album contains a nice variety of songs: funny ones (Scheissindiedisko), thoughtful ones (Zu Jung) and critical ones. The fast pace of the songs makes them very catchy. And while it’s categorized as indie/rap, they themselves named their first song “We play pop music”. How much of that is (self-)mockery or annoyance about categorization is up to debate. Their side blows against other popular bands (Arctic Monkeys, Black Eyes Peas) are usually true or at least enjoyable (Songs für Liam).
Fav. Tracks: Ich will nicht nach Berlin, Scheissindiedisko, Songs für Liam.
Honorable mentions: El-P – Cancer 4 Cure (Oh Hail No, Tougher Colder Killer), Jack White – Blunderbuss (Sixteen Saltines), Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than…, Lana Del Rey – Born To Die (Off to the Races, Video Games), Marina & the Diamonds – Electra Heart (Primadonna, Power & Control), Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas.
Music that still needs some listening: Rufus Wainwright – Out Of The Game, Bob Dylan – Tempest, Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man.
Music I didn’t like: Taylor Swift – Red (the usual shallow pop), Gossip – A Joyful Noise, Laura Gibson – La Grande, Swans – The Seer (boring, boring, boring),