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Albums of the Year 2012

Windy and Carl will always be our album of the year 2012. Death and Vanilla did that 60s psych pop thing, Grimes became queen of the blogs, and Mac DeMarco was precocious. Also Drive ruined soundtracks forever.
1. Album Of The Year!

Windy & Carl
We Will Always Be

Will Always Be is the thirteenth album by Michigan ambien/drone duo, Windy & Carl. Formed in 1993, the pair take their influences from 4AD bands of the ‘80s. Their guitar-based ambience is heavily influenced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins. Windy & Carl in turn have gone on the be an influential act with bands such as Landing, White Rainbow and Growing citing their music as inspirational.
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SWANS
The Seer

As the current incarnation of Swans draws to a close, here’s the second studio album by that version of the band, from 2012. Michael Gira assembled a lineup of veterans like Norman Westberg and new blood including Thor Harris, guest spots from the likes of Karen O and Ben Frost, with even Jarboe making an appearance. They managed to combine the monolithic heaviness of the past with a new sensibility that saw the lengthy tracks evolve over the course of touring. Massive epics like The Apostate and the 32-minute title track are balanced by gentle miniatures such as The Daughter Brings the Water and Song for a Warrior. This is a huge, sprawling album, and only the first of three such two-hour, 2CD or 3LP monsters. Some of the most ambitious and visionary rock music of recent years. 
3.

Goat
World Music

The debut record by insane Swedish rockers Goat, highly recommended for everybody who loves squealing guitars, screaming ladies, and catchy afrobeat grooves. Combining psychedelic rock with lots of ethnic rhythms, World Music scored highly in many of 2012’s end-of-the-year lists. Great volumes of tribal distortion on this one.
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Neneh Cherry & The Thing
The Cherry Thing

A collaboration between someone who has actually had a hit and a Scandinavian free jazz trio? Surely not… But then Neneh Cherry has never been a straightforward pop star. And said jazzsters The Thing were inspired to form by Cherry’s father, Don Cherry, so actually there is sense here. Either way, this is an inspired collaboration, and the cover of Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’ is genuinely sublime.
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S U R V I V E
Survive

Much needed re-issue of the debut LP from these Austin based electronic wizards, two of whom went on to compose the soundtrack to 'Stranger Things'. Back in 2012 though they were combining vintage and modern synthesisers to concoct their original brand of atmospheric soundtrack influenced compositions. Very influential record this one. 
11.

Tame Impala
Lonerism

Come on now, we know the score with this one! Lonerism, Tame Impala's second LP, has undoubtedly become a modern classic. It catapulted the Aussie group from psych stone-rockers to a global phenomenon who sell out stadiums world-wide. 'Elephant', 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards', 'Apocalypse Dreams' - need we say more? 
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Pye Corner Audio
Sleep Games

Here is a much-needed vinyl re-press of Pye Corner Audio's 2012 era opus on Ghost Box. This is a supremely eerie batch of warming nostalgia-synth from the self styled Head Technician. Influenced by John Carpenter and Italo horror films, this is a dreamy odyssey of analogue synths with fragments of underground techno.  
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The xx
Coexist

Coexist was the second album by very quiet Londoners the XX and continues their self-titled debut's narrow world view of minimalist arrangements and whispered vocals musing on relationship breakdowns. Jamie Smith's beats and electronics start to get more pronounced on this record but remain subtle enough not to override the feeling you are listening to a troubled couple's pillow talk.   
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Flying Lotus
Until The Quiet Comes

2012’s ‘Until The Quiet Comes’, the fourth studio LP from Flying Lotus, represents a hugely important step in the producer-composer’s career. While previous FlyLo releases had touched on jazz - both earthly and spiritual - these influences had largely been incorporated to serve the producer’s ultra-whacked brand of hip-hop and neo-IDM. However, on ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ we find the one born Steven Ellison creating notably lusher work that draws heavily on the sounds of Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra. Synths and beats still play a part, but the way that Ellison prioritises harmony and reverie here paved the way not only for subsequent FlyLo triumphs like ‘You’re Dead!’ but also the great records we’d get from The Comet Is Coming and Floating Points later in the decade. Thundercat, Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke contribute.
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Om
Advaitic Songs

Advaitic Songs was sludgy two piece Om's fifth album originally released in 2012. For the uninitiated Om are the rhythm section from stoned rockers Sleep and play a minimalist style of doom rock using mainly just bass and drums. Here they add in a few other instruments (cello and flute for example) to create something that is almost religiously deep. Check out Phil's excitable review of the work for further details....or maybe don't.  
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Guided By Voices
Class Clown Spots A UFO

Class Clown Spots A UFO is the 2nd album in to be released in 2012 and 18th studio album in all by the prolific indie pop maestros Guided By Voices. The band have also released 17 EPs and 39 singles. Class Clown Spots A UFO has been likened to their '90s classics Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes in terms of quality -- lofty praise indeed! Class Clown Spots A UFO is available on vinyl LP, CD and Cassette.
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Mac DeMarco
Rock And Roll Night Club

For his debut solo album, Mac DeMarco slowed the tape down so that his voice became a loungey, sleazy baritone and this, mixed with his superb songwriting made for a stunning record which stands alone somewhat in his catalogue. It comes across as a kind of lo-fi take on the dingy Americana of the likes of Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and Dwight Twilley. Later records were more breezy and conventional but this is one of his best.  
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Grimes
Visions

While Grimes (Claire Boucher) has made some … let’s say odd choices in recent years, her eccentricities should not overshadow the quality of her music. There is arguably no Grimes release finer than 2012’s ‘Visions’, the project's third LP and the one that sent her star shooting into the stratosphere. A set of electro-pop tunes that balance cyberpunk sonics with ethereal wafts of vocal and some sneakily brilliant hooks, the years since ‘Visions’ was released have seen it frequently imitated but rarely bettered. Contains ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Genesis’.
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Godspeed You! Black Emperor
ALLELUJAH! DON'T BEND! ASCEND!

ALLELUJAH! DON'T BEND! ASCEND! was the typically punctuation obsessed fourth album from Canadian post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It was their first album in ten years and marked a surprise comeback for a band many listers had assumed were consigned to post-rock history. It was certainly worth the decade long wait winning the Polaris prize and showing that their ability to score truly affecting music remained intact. 
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Death And Vanilla
Death And Vanilla

The year was 2012 when we first got offered copies of this, the first album from Death and Vanilla. It was a Normans favourite but like all good things disappeared very quickly. Fire Records have since helped take the band to new levels of popularity by unleashing the band's second album 'Where the Wild Things Are' and now that they are playing enormo-dromes have kindly re-issued their earlier hard-to-find work including this album that according to his review seemed to cause Phil immense personal hygiene problems on first listening.  
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