Posts Tagged ‘patti smith’

As the curtain comes down on 2012, it’s time once again to take a look back at my favourite albums of the year.

Old was definitely new this year. A lot of my favourite music of 2012 drew heavily on the past yet managed to sound refreshingly new. In a world dominated by over-polished production and formulaic beats, artists like Alabama Shakes, Mumford and Sons and Jake Bugg sounded authentically analogue in a digital world.

This year also marked a significant shift in how I listened to music. I bought far fewer albums – I only actually own three of this year’s top ten – as Spotify became my primary source for new music, providing me with an almost limitless library of music that I can listen to anywhere, anytime for just $9.99 a month. It is a world away from the racks of LPs and CDs of my youth but somehow the need to possess or own physical music (as well as movies and books) seems less important with each passing year.

What hasn’t changed, though, is that great music keeps being produced and for what it’s worth, these are my top ten albums of the year.


1. Boys and Girls (Alabama Shakes)

Their debut single “Hold On” was one of the songs of the year with a performance from lead singer Brittany Howard that Janis Joplin would have been proud of. The album didn’t disappoint as its bluesy-rock sashayed confidently from start to finish. Still makes the hairs on my neck prickle.

2. Jake Bugg (Jake Bugg)

He sounds like the bastard child of Dylan and Hendrix with the worldliness of a Johnny Cash. And he’s only 18. Arguably the most exciting new male talent to emerge from the UK in years, the Nottingham singer-songwriter’s chart-topping debut album was a breath of fresh air amidst so much manufactured pop. Two Fingers was an outstanding kitchen sink drama of a single and diversely different songs like Lightning Bolt, Broken and Country Song hint at a major star in the making.

3. The Heist (Macklemore & Lewis)

“Same Love” was probably my favourite track of the year, not least because a poignant and moving hip hop song attacking homophobia was so unexpected from a genre not exactly known for its tolerance. Macklemore aka Ben Haggerty, an Irish-American rapper from Seattle, and his partner Ryan Lewis, also question youthful materialism amongst other things and The Heist was a triumphant and exciting debut.

4. Babel (Mumford and Sons) 

No idea why it’s taken me so long to get on the Mumford bandwagon but the infectious Babel convinced me at last. Few bands are playing folk rock with as much passion and commitment as the British group, as their terrific live performances in this year’s excellent documentary Big Easy Express demonstrated.

5. Some Nights (Fun)

We Are Young (featuring the wonderful Janelle Monae) was a ubiquitous radio hits this year, topping both the UK and US charts. The New York indie pop-rock band were in great form on their second album, one of the most joyous collections of the year and deservedly nabbed them six Grammy nominations.


The end of the year is nigh and who can resist a good list? For your sonic pleasure and enlightenment, Breezeblog has once again compiled its 10 favourite albums of the year.

Aside from the global domination of Adele (more of whom later), the best music this year was arguably made by women. The likes of Kate Bush, Bjork, PJ Harvey and Feist weren’t among my particular favourites but there was no doubt that they made some of the year’s most interesting and innovative records, challenging listeners and pushing boundaries. Lana del Ray’s hypnotic Video Games had a strong case for song of the year. Unusually, not one soul, reggae or hip-hop album grabbed my attention this year and I find myself gravitating to more roots/Americana music in my vintage.

Anyway, the list is what it is so – in reverse order – here is my top 10 (well 11, as I couldn’t quite manage a final edit). Part deux tomorrow.

10= Rave On Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly’s near-perfect pop songs of the 1950s still reverberate through music more than 50 years after his untimely death at 27. A host of big names lined up to pay their dues to one of rock’s pioneers on this excellent tribute. Cuts range from straight covers by Cee Lo Green on (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care and She & Him’s Oh Boy, to Lou Reed’s grinding grunge version of Peggy Sue, Patti Smith’s Spanish take on Words Of Love and an extraordinary It’s So Easy by Paul McCartney.

10= Outside Looking In – Delta Maid

Katie Foulkes may be more Mersey than Mississippi, but her engaging heart-felt take on country blues was an unexpected pleasure. I hope she manages to retain her authentic Patsy Cline/Loretta Lynn sound above the inevitable attempts to market her good looks.
Favourite tracks: Of My Own, Picking Up The Pieces, Spend A Little Time.

9. Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ – Glasvegas

The title says it all really. The Scottish band’s second album featured singer/writer James Allan’s emotional highs and lows in all their soaring, aching glory, delivered against a mesmerising wall of sound that adds some synth layers to the epic guitars of their first album. The effect is positively cinematic.
Favourite tracks: Euphoria Take My Hand, Lot’s Sometimes, The World Is Yours.

8. Wounded Rhymes – Lykke Li

My favourite quirky Swedish chanteuse followed up her left-field debut Youth Novels with an album denser in mood and texture that got more intriguing with every listen. She remains an intense and compelling performer whose beguiling vocals swing from bittersweet folk to powerful, thumping rock/dance anthems. A talent very much in progress.
Favourite tracks: Get Some, I Follow Rivers, Jerome

7. 360 Days At Sea – Heather Nova

After the delicately acoustic Jasmine Flower, Heather Nova’s eighth studio album marked a return to full-band mode with one of her best-ever albums. Inspired by discovering the Bermuda wreck of the Moon, the boat on which she lived as a child, it weaved poignant personal songs like The Good Ship Moon and Turn The Compass Around with sparkling pop-rock like Beautiful Ride. Her ethereal voice has never sounded better. But then I’d happily listen to her sing the phone book.
Favourite tracks: Beautiful Ride, Stop The Fire, Higher Ground, Save A Little Piece of Tomorrow.

6. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars

The gorgeous harmonies of folk/Americana duo Joy Williams and John Paul White were one of the surprising discoveries of the year. Their debut album was a beautifully minimalist and intimate collection of songs that showcased their voices over the barest of acoustic arrangements proving that less is often so much more. The album includes a lovely version of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End of Love – and check out their version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on You Tube.
Favourite tracks: Barton Hollow, Poison & Wine, I’ve Got This Friend.

>> Tomorrow: Countdown to Breezeblog’s No.1