Here’s my best of 2012 list. Before actually posting this I want to be clear, since the hateful comments or arguments about whether it is possible to be “objectively better” in art will start coming in the comments. I started making best of the year lists many, many years ago for basically one reason. When I wanted to find new music that I’d like, I looked at best of lists of other people.
The idea is simple. If you see things you also love, then you will most likely like the other stuff. If for the most part you know that you don’t like the list, then the stuff you don’t know won’t appeal to you. This is not some attempt to say what is actually the best. It is what I’ve liked the most throughout the year and it is meant to be helpful to anyone that stumbles upon the list.
On the other hand, I really do take making these lists very seriously. I actually listen to every single thing I’ve gotten over the year. It takes about a week of listening and constantly placing into order (so yes, I have a totally ordered list you don’t get to see). Since the actual ordering doesn’t matter for the purpose of the list and will only cause controversy, I’ll divide it up differently. I’ll do top 5 in alphabetical order and then the next five as runner-up:
Best 5 albums I found this year:
Between the Buried and Me: The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Follow the White Rabbit: Endorphinia
Obsidian Kingdom: Mantiis
Periphery: Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
T.R.A.M.: Lingua Franca
22: Flux/The Pool Sessions
Eagle Twin: The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Tail
Normal Love: Survival Tricks
The Faceless: Autotheism
Some brief commentary is in order. I think all of these bands have reviews, so not much needs to be added about the actual content of the albums here. Second, I’m a little disturbed by the fact that there are three Sumerian bands on here. I claim to like the avant-garde, but it seems more mainstream albums have won my heart this year (not that Sumerian is super mainstream, but it isn’t Tzadik or Hydra Head or something).
Third, I really didn’t want to put Meshuggah on the list, but this album just kept growing on me. It is so good, but adds very little value in the sense that you are either a fan and have it or you aren’t so you know you don’t like it. Lastly, my guilty pleasure of the year is Gojira’s L’Enfant Sauvage. I don’t think of this album as great, but it is so visceral that I keep coming back to it. It is easy to listen to which is why I find it a guilty pleasure.
Do with this what you will. It is a relief to finally have all this listening out of the way. And of course, I’ll probably find a fantastic album from this year tomorrow that ought to be on the list. I look forward to seeing other lists, and hearing what I’ve missed … especially if your list has some overlap with mine.