Top albums of 2012: 2

Overview | Part 1 | Part 3 | Mentions | Longlist | Spotify link

Deerhoof – Breakup Song

Deerhoof - Breakup SongDeerhoof albums inhabit a very particular niche – their unpredictable, rhythmic tracks are always sidestepping between musical ideas, sounding more like caricatures of popular songs than songs per se. Their twelfth studio album is no different. In the space of 11 energetic tracks and 30 minutes, all their usual idiosyncrasies are on show, from Satomi Matsuzaki’s whimsical vocals to Greg Saunier’s virtuosic, off-kilter drumming. The breathless sequencing and brilliant musical sense make for a hugely fun and impressively coherent piece of work.

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Peter Broderick – http://www.itstartshear.com

Peter Broderick - http://www.itstartshear.com

It might initially seem like a gimmick, but Broderick’s latest work makes a real focal point of music which, played in a different context, could easily fade into the background. The Portland native’s “website that’s an album” format provides a forum for fans to listen to each of 10 tracks free of charge and contribute their own thoughts to the “alive” liner notes. By including elements of electronica and even rap to the pretty neoclassicism, folk and minimalism he always uses, his new music gives them something substantial to write about.

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Anaïs Mitchell – Young Man in America

Anaïs Mitchell - Young Man In AmericaAnaïs Mitchell’s greatest success to date came a couple of years ago when she released an unusual ‘folk opera’ version of the Orpheus myth, with characters sung by the likes of Ani DiFranco and Justin Vernon. Young Man strips away the conceptual density and relative showbiz, but the evocative storytelling and nuanced acoustic arrangements at its heart might make a greater emotional impact. It’s a low-key return, which – despite its often sombre lyrics about the trials of parenthood and recession – is full of warmth.

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Scott Walker – Bish Bosch

Scott Walker - Bish BoschA lot of the most exciting music makes a jarring, comical or simply bewildering first impression, and Bish Bosch is a case in point. Walker’s wailed, often absurd lyrics are matched by through-composed music of ambitious scope, more resembling modernist atonality than anything you’d think of as pop. The vibrant approach to orchestration places samples of flatulence and odd percussion alongside guitar glissandi and other instrumental bursts. Inevitably, it takes a good few listens to start sounding natural, but it rewards the effort.

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