2012 Album of the Year, Part Two: 10 to 6

Following on from yesterday's 2012 Album of the Year long-list I'm happy to unveil the first half of the top ten. The headings link to album reviews where they exist, and there is a Spotify player and an affiliate link to the MP3 on where possible.

Don't forget there is a Spotify playlist including songs from almost every album on the top ten and the long-list, together with songs from some of the best single and EP releases this year. You can check out the playlist here.

10. The Dread Of An Unknown Evil - KRTS

The most recent release on my list of the year (long or otherwise) and one of most deserving. A short, entrancing album that aims to do so much more than many contemporary releases this year. Subtle and at times unnervingly entrancing.

Get it on Amazon.

9. In Our Heads - Hot Chip

This year Hot Chip finally came out from the shadow of The Warning with an album of grown up songs of relationships and growing up. In Our Heads is the sound of a band free of constraints, maturing with their fans. Where previous albums were torn between the requirement to be commercial and a desire to go deep this (almost) entirely abandoned the single format in favour of something much more adult. The cheeky token single, 'Night And Day', remains the only exception and is the only moment In Our Heads comes up lacking. 'Flutes', on the other hand, is one of the best things the band have ever released.

Get it on Amazon.

8. Shields - Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear managed to achieve so much more than any contemporary indie band this year by embracing a free form love of experimentation. Shields sounds like a jazz album recorded on banjos, snares and blues guitar by a band of ramshackle bearded men.

And that's pretty much exactly what it is. Free form song structures and out of step timing created an album more difficult to get to grips with than Veckatimest but at times all the more rewarding, particularly on the epic closer 'Sun In Your Eyes'.

Get it on Amazon.

7. World, You Need A Change Of Heart - Kindness

BlackPlastic is a small, personal blog and as such hopefully it is understandable that four of the top ten albums for 2013 ended up being releases that I didn't formally review. What is surprising, however, is that Kindess' debut was one of those.

World, You Need A Change Of Heart is an album that does everything I personally could ask an album to do. Full of warm, drowsy and hungover songs it sounds like a loved up festival refugee too spun-out to remember real life. 'House' is the kind of record that could make things sound better at any time, anywhere - deep, dizzy disco bass carving a party out of maudlin vocals and a tiny glimmer of hope. One day you and I will be okay.

Get it on Amazon.

6. Attack On Memory - Cloud Nothings

It's relatively rare that an album as heavy as Attack On Memory makes it onto the pages of but in this case it was just too good to ignore. Steve Albini's production mostly just gets out of the way (as always), leaving Cloud Nothings to make the album of their career.

At 34-minutes long Attack On Memory may be barely long enough to qualify as an album but it was all the better for it's economy - a tight and focused burst of aggression. The nine-minute epic 'Wasted Days' is both starry-eyed and terrifyingly taught, and in the conclusion of the "I thought I would be more than this" refrain Cloud Nothings delivered 2012's best rock song.

Get it on Amazon.

And that's the first half of my album of the year list - come back tomorrow for the final part!

2012 Album of the Year, Part One: The Long-List

So it's that time of year again - Christmas is done and the excess food has started to fester. Gifts have been exchanged and everyone is now thinking about going back to work. Happy happy joy joy. 

To see you through this dark week I'll be posting my picks for 2012's best album, but before we get to the top ten I wanted to call out some of the albums that were very close to making this list but were pushed out.

I've also put together a Spotify playlist that includes tracks from every album on the long-list and the top ten (provided they are available on Spotify in the UK) and a good deal of other tracks that weren't necessarily from great albums but were notable all the same. You can check that out and subscribe to it here.

And without further ado, the 2012 long-list - note the top ten are not on this list and that this list is not in any order. Links on the title / artist go to the review (where one exists), Amazon links are to and are affiliate links:

Come back tomorrow for the first half of the top ten: 10-6!

Comment: Carling Summer Sounds competition

Carling approached me a few weeks back to introduce me to their new beer, Carling Zest, which includes a hint of lime... Perfect for the summer (or so they tell me!)

To get people feeling that summer vibe Carling have made a tool for that 'bottled summer' experience - it's a soundboard that you can use to make make sound and music collages up into a track. The results are kind of interesting, I went for a fairly percussive mix using the fan and the bees as bass, though my timing started to slide... you can check it out here. Have a go at your own by following this link - the best video will win tickets to V festival this year - if you make a mix be sure to share it in the comments below!

Altogether more listenable are the efforts Carling got three professionals to put together... To be fair, listening to these it is clear they were not restricted to a YouTube player based system with only a record button and a loop functionality but still - they are pretty good. You can listen to the tracks by DJ Yoda and Jaguar Skills here but DJ Food's is easily my favourite - check it out above.

The beer itself is also pretty decent - real ales are generally more my thing but Carling Zest will be great for summer barbecues and the added lime was less synthetic tasting than I thought it might be. It's also a really low ABV (2.8%) which is nice for a lazy afternoon drink when you don't want to have anything too heavy.

Comment: Franz Ferdinand covers get a remix and some videos

Last year Domino put out an EP of cover versions from Franz Ferdinand's Tonight album for Record Store Day, with versions by Stephin Merrit, Peaches and LCD Soundsystem amongst others. They are now about to release a series of remixes of these cover versions and have recently put out a video for each cover.

The remixes themselves feel a little bit hit and miss but the most exciting is certainly Brennan Green's remix of 'Live Alone', which draws from the original as well as both LCD Soundsystem and Debbie Harry's covers. Check it out:

The above mixes are taken from 12" 2, you can check out the other mixes here.

Of the 'original' covers I'm predictably smitten with the LCD one - if you haven't heard it check out the new video directed by Gabriel Pulecio below:

The remixes come out on 19 March and Franz Ferdinand are to headline London's Field Day on Saturday 2 July.

My Hero: DLR

Check out the Guardian's awesome classic interview with Van Halen's David Lee Roth, author of possibly the most insightful auto-biography I've ever read. Sample excerpt from the Guardian piece:

Van Halen won their first record contract in 1977, at a concert in Anaheim Stadium, when four hirsute figures – one with Roth’s flowing blonde mane – floated gently into the stadium by parachute. Van Halen were hiding in a van, dressed in parachute suits, and took the stage moments later. As a professional gambit, it set a certain tone which they have followed assiduously ever since. The stipulation in their performance contract that the promoter remove all brown Smarties in the bowl in their dressing-room (to ensure he has read the contract properly); Roth’s two black-belt midget bodyguards – such things, he suggests, are imperative for “overall ambience”.

Frankly if you aren't viewing your life as a circus show you probably aren't any good at being a rock star.

BP x