Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Favourite Albums of 2012

In a singles driven market it might be tough for you to pinpoint a favourite new album these days.  I have the luxury of both time and patience when it comes to this so have decided to share my annual picks in a post.

2012 is far from over but most albums have already come out - or will be out in the next 2 weeks.  It's about set-up and having the music ready for holiday shopping both in stores and online.  So I'm fine calling my top 10 12 albums at this point.

This year had some amazing new music to offer from newcomers and old faithfuls alike.  It's inspiring because the albums I've selected are of all genres in an otherwise pop driven world.

Names like Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons may not be breaking new ground with their music but they're something for the masses to enjoy as they open up to the notion that it's not only about pop.  Bands that are not into choreographed dance can still make a name for themselves today.

There's definitely room for pop in our lives - I'm not here to slag that.  I'm simply writing to let you know that the music business is alive and well just being shadowed by bubble gum at this time .  You just need to have patience and try your best not to press shuffle if you don't know a track.  Albums are a body of work whether it's pop, hip hop, rock or country and they're meant to be heard in full.

Without further adieu here are my picks for the best albums of 2012 (in no particular order).

Two Door Cinema Club - 'Beacon'

Their debut album entitled 'Tourist History' came out in 2010 and they instantly became one of my favourite new bands.  This new album came out in August to rave reviews across the pond.  I heard the 2 lead singles on the radio and had to have them right away.  There are 11 beauty tracks in this album and the special edition comes with a bonus live album from Brighton Academy.

Miike Snow - 'Happy To You'

This Swedish artist is phenomenal.  His latest offering is packed with some of the most feel good music around.  10 solid tracks that end with one hell of a banger called 'Paddling Out'.  Check out the video for 'The Wave' below!

Nas - 'Life Is Good'

Nas has been away for a few years but came back with vengeance in 2012.  This album boasts some mature hip hop from a man who has been a big part of the genre's growth throughout the years.  He's a father and a Don - and spits fire on this record.  Stand out tracks include 'Daughters' and my favourite - a collaboration with the late great Amy Winehouse on 'Cherry Wine'.

Ben Howard - 'Every Kingdom'

Ben Howard was shortlisted for the coveted Mercury Music Prize in the UK on this one.  Rightfully so as it's fresh and the man can write some damn powerful lyrics.  I love this album and have not been able to put it on the shelf since it landed on my desk earlier this year.  It came out in the UK late last year - but since it didn't make it out until 2012 over here I'm including it on my list.

Kendrick Lamar - 'good kid, m.A.A.d city'

This Compton kid is redefining West Coast hip hop with the help of one its founders Dr. Dre.  Kendrick Lamar's album is a must have and includes instant classics like 'Swimming Pools (Drank)', 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' and my favourite 'The Recipe'.

Ed Sheeran - '+'

Gingers need to watch out for one another.  This English carrot top has released an album full of heart and soul.  I fell in love with his first single 'The A Team' and then quickly realized that he wasn't going to be a one hit wonder.  Song's like 'Drunk', 'Give Me Love' and 'Lego House' are surely poised for success once the masses get their fill of the lead track.

Frank Ocean - 'Channel Orange'

Coming out the day before your album comes out may or may not have been a part of the plan for this new album.  Who knows and who cares - as Frank's delivered a masterpiece.  Frank knocked everyone on their asses through a few live television performances including Jimmy Fallon, The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards and more recently on SNL.

The Lumineers - 'The Lumineers'

I will forever have a soft spot for this band as they played our MuchMusic Video Awards after party this year.  They opened the night and played to only a handful of people in The Horseshoe.  This was but mere weeks from them turning the heads around the world with their breakout hit 'Ho Hey'.  The song is currently being used in movie trailers, advertisements on TV and last week's episode of 'Nashville' referenced the hell out of them throughout.  The whole album is as anthemic and beautiful as this lead single.  Lots more to come from these guys.

The Weeknd - 'Trilogy'

Now these 3 mixed tapes have already garnered some serious attention in the last 2 years - but now it's mainstream.  The artist finally decided it was time to sign to a label and come out from behind the curtain.  Lead singer Abel may not totally out from behind that curtain but his album is now available in stores and online front and centre beside the likes of One Direction and Celine Dion.  It's a great thing as this Torontonian's soul belongs everywhere.  He's got the voice of an angel that gets better with each listen.

Of Monsters And Men - 'My Head Is An Animal'

I've saved the best for last.  This is by far my favourite album of the last year.  I strongly believe the band are going to win the Grammy for 'Best New Artist' in February.  I've seen them live a few times now, including once last week.  It made me happy to know that they'd sold out Toronto's Kool Haus 2 nights in a row.  I was even happier when I saw the crowd singing along to all 12 songs of this masterpiece album.  If you're going to trust me and check out only one of the albums I've suggested then please make sure it's this one.

The Shins - 'Port Of Morrow' 

This is being added in a day after I posted this - because it was a glaring omission on my part.  The list is now a top 11 of 2012 :)  Let this song below speak for itself and hopefully interest you enough to try the whole album out.

Jake Bugg - 'Jake Bugg'

I first heard Jake Bugg's name when a colleague told me about his song 'Lightening Bolt'.  I wasn't sold as I really though his voice was too twangy.  I'm still not in love with that particular track but have come to love the rest of this debut album.  To quote Noel Gallagher aka The Chief - "The future of music, he's like Bob Dylan meets the Arctic Monkeys." One can only hope that it is as that would make the future that much more exciting.  Here's a must hear track of this beauty...

What a great year.  Fingers crossed 2013 brings us great new music too.

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg Stewart


  1. Hi Gregg,

    Good list. I too have enjoyed Channel Orange and the Lumineers' debut this past year, though my favorite this year has been Jack White's Blunderbuss. I'll have to give your other choices a listen.

    I made a list of my all-time favorite albums recently, which you can view here: I was curious what your all-time favorites are.

    -- Eric @ The Attack Zone

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