Web Toolbar by Wibiya Bears and Bullets: Bears And Bullets Albums Of The Year (#25-11)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bears And Bullets Albums Of The Year (#25-11)

Now that the Honorable Mentions are out of the way, here's the official Bears and Bullets Top Albums of 2012 list (part one):

#25: Chromatics - Kill For Love

Had this record come a year earlier, maybe the lust for Kill For Love wouldn't have persisted. But the mega-album from Johnny Jewel's Chromatics' project fits exceptionally in a post-Drive world. Stilted, cool, and rushing with patent new wave romance, you could easily see Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan driving endlessly through Los Angeles with it. Maybe everyone isn't that beautiful (no one is), but Kill For Love fits driving anywhere. The plush synths and chrome vocals glisten through an array of modernist noir. Maybe that's why the band was tabbed for Chanel's recent fashion show; cloaked in black and too cool for literally anything, it's the new soundtrack for insanely good looking people.

#24: King Tuff - King Tuff

Consider this a lucky break. King Tuff, who moved onto super Pacific Northwest label Sub Pop for his breakout self-titled LP, was mired in a backup career. Back in 2008, Kyle Thomas (Tuff), released his debut through Tee Pee Records, but was distributed so minimally that few copies actually exist. Any fans familiar with Was Dead can hear the supreme similarities to King Tuff, however; the gnarling garage pomp, spliced with crowd-friendly arena sensibilities, that could fit anywhere between 1970 and today.

#23: Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse

Among the myriad (an underscored phrase in this instance) of releases to come out of the increasingly amazing Ty Segall camp, Slaughterhouse, which technically comes under the name of the Ty Segall Band, seems to be the most boisterous. Through the history of garage rock, there have been two characterizations that seem most definite: are you a live experience or can you be both good in studio and live? Up until this point, Segall was attached to 2000s predecessor Jay Reatard of the former group - enthralling live, but underwhelming in studio. Slaughterhouse, however, redefined that for him. Laced with familiar distortions and West coast punk yelps of fury, it's the first LP in Segall's catalog that does justice as a studio production.

#22: Jessie Ware - Devotion

Career backup singer Jessie Ware was unheard of until her 2010 tiny breakthrough, singing on SBTRKT's single "Nervous." Even so, it was simply her elegant English voice featured, so even when Devotion was released, there were reservations on what she could possibly accomplish. However, the help of a supreme production team Dave Okumu, Julio Bashmore, and Kid Harpoon, was able to showcase Ware's loving voice to a usually demanding pop audience. And despite being such a quiet figure for much of her adult life, there's a burgeoning songwriter here as well. 

#21: Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory

Cleveland upstarts Cloud Nothings, lead by college dropout Dylan Baldi, are among the supremely young artists to grace this and many other year-end lists. Releasing Attack On Memory at the fresh age of 20, Baldi sounds unusually seasoned. Maybe the earnest rasp in his voice will be a ravaged Tom Waits gravel by the time he's 30, but right now that energetic youth spiraled behind it makes in strikingly unique. Engineered by alt rock pioneer Steve Albini (who else would do it so well?), Attack On Memory divvies smart hooks between laborious instrumental marches like "Wasted Days." But it never slows down, a perfect testament for any 20-year-old.

 #20: METZ - METZ

Another group of young upstarts finding their way via Sub Pop, Toronto punk trio METZ punched through the debut barrier with the band's chaotic self-titled debut. And in a list teeming with garage rock landmarks from the past twelve months, METZ separates itself from the group with tough sludge, effectively making it this year's New Brigade. Short, concise, but with unquestionable precision, it's also the year's loudest breakthrough. And that's nothing compared the band's live show.

#19: Andy Stott - Luxury Problems

An introduction to Andy Stott's Luxury Problems is similar to any introduction to New York production hero Burial. Both effectively grasp the minimalist seams through urban trip-hop, immersing themselves in the cloaked sounds of their respective city landscapes. Stott, a Manchester native, spent the beginning portion of his career delving into a largely unsuccessful grasp at an emerging Euro dubstep genre. And while his relative failures are behind him, the drudging from one movement to another gave him time to understand what needed to change. Utilizing vocalist Alison Skidmore, Stott crafted flexible compositions that drift from gentle to subtlety menacing - a much needed approach to move forward in his emerging career.

#18: Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

The newest up-and-comer male R&B icon joins the ranks of The Weeknd and Frank Ocean with his shockingly good Kaleidoscope Dream. Launching off with one of the year's best tracks, "Adorn," the Los Angeles native doesn't settle with common hooks or uplifting choruses, rather, by scattering his voice with delicate delivery. Although the album is a dreamy collection of pop fantasy, Miguel's indelible voice is continually unpredictable. Hopefully, this masterful push will discontinue Miguel's work with some of pop's unremarkable stars (cough, Pitbull), because this LP makes him an easy star in his own right.


Toronto jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD have become hip-hop's favorite helpers. That distinction isn't completely coincidental, considering how young the group actually is (a theme going here). On BBNG2, the group digs into Kanye and Odd Future-inspired grooves, including a remarkable take on West's Graduation hit "Flashing Lights." Not limiting themselves, the group also threw in an inspired take of James Blake's "Limit To Your Love," proving that a genre all-too forgotten by casual indie fans has depths that shouldn't be ignored.

#16: The Shins - Port Of Morrow

Five years after the much-loved Shins delivered Wincing The Night Away, the James Mercer-led (and completely remodeled band) returned with a convincingly mature and surprisingly strong Port Of Morrow. Led by the hit "Simple Song," Mercer proved that he's still one of the premiere forces in modern day songwriting. To some, the album may not be as effective as the band's previous three studio releases, but the harrowing romantic lynch-pin of Mercer's indelible craft is as strong as ever. The production may be a bit more simplistic than before, but tracks like "It's Only Life" convey a reeling emotion that's impossible to find anywhere else.

#15: Perfume Genius - Put Ur Back N 2 It

The best hip-hop album title of the year belongs to the most gut-wrenching singer-songwriting LP of 2012. Full of gripping scenes of suffering, devastation, and languish, Put Ur Back N 2 It sticks hard to memory. It wraps itself in the tarnished memories of loss and love, but still breathes with warming pianos and trembling virtue. Incredibly unique, the album reads like a stack of forgotten poems; full of endearing grace and foreboding imagery.

 #14: Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

A cataclysm of post-punk hardcore, Converge's All We Love We Leave Behind stands out as the year's best metal album. Swirling with heavy stills, the hardcore veterans studiously prepared the remarkably well-designed 8th studio album. There aren't lulls of patient silence or forgettable buildup, rather, every shift breaks and flows to another furious movement. Take for example "Sadness Comes Home," which plays both with speed riffs and collapsing drum crescendos. No next scene, regardless of how long the band has been around, seems predictable this time around.

 #13: Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Coming off the band's most successful commercial endeavor, Bitte Orca, the bar for Dirty Projectors had been steadily raised. For now, modern day indie music's best answer for the Talking Heads seem to be categorically consistent. Swing Lo Magellan continues the avant garde pop mastery David Longstreth has been tied to, delivering unconventional spins on his eccentric productions. Never shooting straight, Longstreth's constructions are as enviably complex as ever - pushing backed loops in reverse, with off-timed vocal renderings, and somehow enriching choruses. Every damn song he proves he can move the pieces around to still accomplish the principle point; invigorating original material.

#12: Sigur Ros - Valtari

There's beauty in this world, but it seems that Icelandic super band Sigur Ros is really the only thing that truly encapsulates it. With Valtari, the sixth studio LP from the group, space somehow seems terrifyingly endless, and that life breathes ever so fragile on the precipice of the universe. How those two emotions are somehow conveyed in songs that most people cannot understand is simply remarkable. And this band constantly does it.

#11: The Walkmen - Heaven

Indie mainstays The Walkmen have been churning out stellar album after album, seemingly never leaping to the next level of popularity. While they haven't exactly ascended, the band that broke into the world with "The Rat" has been effectively growing into one of America's best exports. Heaven, the seventh studio LP from the group, exhibits a refined craft from the East coast band. Tracks like "Heartbreaker" and the title track no longer come from a place of displaced youth, but one of ingrained maturity. The band has wives now, kids too. And usually that takes the nerve out of the music. But The Walkmen seem to revel in it, moving and performing better with time.

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