WPGU 107.1’s Top Albums of 2012: 30-21

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30 – Kishi Bashi- 151A

Kaoru Ishibashi is not new to music, as he has toured with several well-known musicians, such as Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche, and of Montreal. However, this first full-length studio album proves that Ishibashi, under the name of Kishi Bashi, is more than capable of writing and performing original songs on his own. 151A matches upbeat music with lyrics about love and devotion. Ishibashi successfully experiments with his style, to keep interest, but not enough to scare away the casual listener.

Written by Claire Schroeder

29 – The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

Last year’s All Eternals Deck contained some of the best singles from the Mountain Goats in years, but while this years addition to John Darnielle’s already prolific catalog lacked real show stoppers, it’s a much more subtle and complete Mountain Goats record, more akin to masterpiece The Sunset Tree than The Life of the World to Come. Perhaps not the best entry point into the Mountain Goats catalog for newcombers, this record certainly pleased Mountain Goats fans who are glad the shift to a larger band has not made them lose any of their charm.

Written by David Christians

28 – Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

At the 12/12/12 charity concert for Hurricane Sandy victims, Bruce not only still had his trademark howl, but his stage presence was insane. As his backing band provided a soft-instrumental, he gave a heartfelt speech about getting through the disaster. It’s the passion and spirituality that shines through in Boss’ music –even on Wrecking Ball, his 17th album – that people always respond to.

Written by Stan Polanski

27 – Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

Natasha Kahn delivers her most emotionally driven album to date. The Haunted Man, for which she sought out the advice of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, combines experimental sounds and personal lyrics to create a beautifully raw album. With Thom Yorke as a confidant, we can’t say we’re surprised.

Written by Erika Harwood

26 – Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah!  Don’t Bend!  Ascend!

This record surprised everyone. Lifelong fans were surprised but its sudden appearance, with little hype beforehand, and newcombers were shocked at how good this band could be.  Only four tracks, alternating between huge clashes of sound and drone-rock soundscapes, this is no nonsense post-rock.  With few samples, this album emphasizes instrumentality and panoramas of rise and fall, with an ultimately hopeful message of rising up in the face of oppression.

Written by David Christians


25 – Mac DeMarco – 2

Mac Demarco’s second release of the year, 2, is a measurable step up from his first album, Rock and Roll Night Club. It’s a laid-back, hazy walk through suburban life driven by some of the most compelling guitar playing of the year. Demarco’s guitar takes center stage here, bouncing through each track with an effortlessness that is extremely easy to listen to. The rhythm section glues the whole album together, cementing the relaxed vibe of the album and making 2 one of the most pleasant albums of the year.

Written by Eric Holmes

24 – The Gasight Anthem – Handwritten

Handwritten is The Gaslight Anthem’s slowest, most contemplative record yet, but while showing their evolution and maturity, where Brian Fallon and his band really shine on this one is on the fast tracks, like the album’s first single “45” and “Howl,” a punk rock song if we’ve ever heard one. It’s everything we have come to expect from this band: American nostalgia, as Fallon sings on “Mae:,” “With your Bette Davis eyes and your momma’s party dress…we wait for kingdom come with the radio on.” in his voice that still bears a likeness to Springsteen’s, and music fit for a mosh pit.

Written by Maddie Rehayem

23 – Alt J – An Awesome Wave

I was shown this album from Max a few weeks ago and I think I’ve listened to it well over 20 times since. The British band’s first full-length album does them complete justice as it interweaves catchy melodic lines, simple riffs, silly vocals and weird, fun percussion into a total experience. Although the album has its definite strong couple of songs (“Breezeblocks” and “Fitzpleasure”), I recommend listening to it as a whole to get the most out of it.

Written by Lise Graham

22 – Purity Ring – Shrines

It’s hard to say no to a good electronic/pop album and that’s exactly what Purity Ring delivered in their debut album, Shrines. Heavily processed vocals and synth dominated sounds make this album stand out among the masses of quickly crafted electronic/dubsetp albums that seem to emerge with each day. Purity Ring set themselves a part as a potential new force in the world of electronica. And thank God, because we were getting worried.

Written by Erika Harwood

21 – The Men – Open Your Heart

2012 was a year for positivity in the rock and roll world. Japandroids put out an album called Celebration Rock, Titus Andronicus kept up with their anthemic, major-key punk with Local Business, and The Men released their third full-length album, Open Your Heart. If you’ve listened to it, you might say it is one of the funnest albums you’ve heard in a while – distorted guitars climbing into solos of J Mascis proportions compete with lyrics about life and love on one track, when the next lets you rest your ears on a laid-back slide-guitar ridden country tune. Perhaps the greatest moment like that on the album is the pairing of the title track with “Candy.” It’s an exciting emotional journey.

Written by Maddie Rehayem



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