July 10, 2012
Honestly, you would think Taylor would have the hang of this by now. But no, instead it once again falls to me to fill in the gaps left by his recent Best Albums of 2012 (So Far) list. To his credit, my Rest of the Best list is significantly shorter this year, but these omissions are still pretty unforgivable. I don’t even know why you guys listen to him anymore. You all need to ask yourselves: How can someone with no interest in music run a music blog?
Chairlift – Something (January 24, Columbia)
“I Belong in Your Arms” made a splash earlier this year, but Something seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Which is a shame, because by any measure it’s one of the best records of the year. Chairlift have a solid grasp on their style, something that can go under appreciated in our mad rush to find new sounds. Every song on Something is meticulously crafted, and Chairlift know their way around a melody that can really get its hooks in you. It may take a few spins to fully appreciate, but Something is one of the most rewarding albums of 2012.
El-P – Cancer 4 Cure (May 22, Fat Possum)
El-P has been pushing his brand of constellation funk for over a decade now. His is an uncompromising vision, one that can be difficult to stomach since he’s rarely willing to meet anyone halfway. You either listen on his terms, or not at all. Cancer 4 Cure is a further refinement of his style, and it’s poised to bring El-P to his biggest audience yet. So what’s changed? It’s not that he’s giving in, but that everyone else is finally realizing things are as bad as he’s been saying all along. The world has finally caught up with El-P, and Cancer 4 Cure is his warm welcome to the grim reality he calls home.
Gentleman Jesse – Leaving Atlanta (March 20, Douchemaster)
Obviously, Gentleman Jesse leveraged his everlasting soul to some nefarious being. How else do you explain the abundance of gooey goodness dripping from Leaving Atlanta? Every song has a massive chorus, and the in-the-red production makes sure they leave a lasting impression. But the turn comes when you listen a little closer; on the surface these seem like fine pop songs, but Leaving Atlanta is actually Jesse’s way of dealing with the loss of close friends and family. That knowledge colors the album a bit darker, and gives the songs weight beyond simple pop perfection.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel – Motion Sickness of Time Travel (May 11, Spectrum Spools)
You wouldn’t expect a four-song, 90-minute album to be accessible, let alone something you’ll want to put on repeat, but Rachel Evans accomplishes exactly that on her latest as Motion Sickness of Time Travel. Evans has a way with drones, one that lulls you while simultaneously keeping your rapt attention. She weaves sounds and textures together in such a fascinating and enjoyable way that you’ll find yourself carving out time to experience her world as a whole.
Rick Ross – Rich Forever (January 6, self released)
In a genre that has always been obsessed with wealth, Rick Ross stands out. Not because he bucks the trend, but because his taste is so grandiose that it borders on obscene. While other rappers are content to keep their boasts at street level, Ross has bigger plans. He’s past worrying about police, he’s flaunting his wealth in prosecutors’ faces. He’s done with cooking, he’s more concerned with imports and exports. Of course, Ross’ vision of luxury is helped by his choice in beats; there isn’t a dud here, and they all sound like they cost him a few hundred grand each. Rich Forever proves Ross’ concept of money is on another level. After all, what flaunts your wealth better than giving a million-dollar project away for free?
Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror (February 21, Columbia)
A lot of us were ready to write off Sleigh Bells after Treats; that albums was good, but it was obvious Sleigh Bells wouldn’t be able to expand on its overwhelming force of sound. Well, obvious to everyone but Sleigh Bells. Reign of Terror pushes the band forward by scaling back; the songs here are still abrasive, but now they are tempered with a sweetness that adds a new dimension to the music. Attribute the change to the increased involvement of Alexis Krauss, or the personal tragedy of Derek Miller, but it injects the record with a humanity not previously found in the band’s music. With Reign of Terror, Sleigh Bells prove there is more to them than the tension between shred guitar and cheerleader chants. Who knew “depth” is a word we would be using to describe the band responsible for “Crown on the Ground”?