While not a significant year for music, there were some inventive sounds and exciting new talents who exhibited great potential. It was sadly almost devoid of rock music, with big timers Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen keeping the genre afloat for another year. On the flip side, this was a pretty good year for hip-hop and indie music. Here is my choice for 2012 best album releases.
Artists Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean both pushed out some creative refreshing sounds, taking different approaches to the rap genre.Taking a more alternative rock approach, they have made succesfully challenging music.The sign of any kind of new trend in music is exciting, especially in our day and age.
Here are the top three albums I recommend for the year of 2012. With anticipated releases from M.I.A., Kanye West, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire, 2013 looks like its shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for music, so keep your eyes and ears wide open.
“Good Kid, M.a.a.d. City” by Kendrick Lamar, is one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve heard in a long time. It has the grittiness and danger found in Nas and Tupac records, but it takes a more alternative-rock approach in regards to form. The lyrics detail his nightmarish experiences of growing up in Compton, Calif., from crimes to gang violence. Displaying a heavy indie feel, Lamar’s stories are put over smooth sparse beats supplied by producer Dr. Dre. While there aren’t many choruses, there are a lot of little hooks spread throughout. I recommend this album, as West Coast hip-hop hasn’t sounded this fresh or vital in years. I believe this is the most consistent and notable album release of 2012.
“The Idler Wheel…” by Fiona Apple, is an anxiously jumpy piano record that sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Reminding me in parts of Joni Mitchell and Pj Harvey, this is a moody but rewarding album that’s filled with personal lyrics and attention to craft. Apple’s voice jumps all over the place in range, giving her music a fractured and unique feel. The album was recorded with only a drummer and Apple at the piano, giving it an intimate quality. Taking her time with the album, this is her first release since 2005’s “Extraordinary Machine.” In terms of content, the album has a stream of consciousness feel with lyrics reflecting personal anxieties.
“Channel Orange” by Frank Ocean, is a unique R&B album that surprises from its opening notes in “Thinkin’ Bout You.” It becomes apparent that the artist has formed a distinct and special sound, blending the likes of Stevie Wonder with psychedelic music and alternative rock. Containing slow but inventive beats, this is a chill album that is perfect for relaxing. His lyrics feel abstract and natural. The best song on the album is without a doubt “Pyramids,” with its blazing synthesizers and grandeur scale. This is the most accessible album on the list, and is a worthwhile listen. Ocean is an exciting new talent, and hopefully he can fulfill all of his potential.