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The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 40 to 31

2013 Cassettes

Yesterday we saw my list from 50 to 41. Today, the countdown to my number one album of 2012 continues with Deer Creek Canyon by Sera Cahoone at number 40… but first, a few honorary mentions.

Above is the cassette player I picked up last weekend. I think 2013 will see a large resurgence in the cassette as a novelty ironic item. In particular, don’t be surprised if more labels start selling these and including digital downloads within the cassette packaging.

But first, for future reference, here are links to the rest:

The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 50 to 41
The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 30 to 21
The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 20 to 11
The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 10 to 1

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Honorary Mention: Death Songs by Death Songs

Death Songs EPDamn. This is technically an EP, meaning I cannot include it in my official list. And since my top 15 EPs went up last week, I cannot include it there either. Bummer, cause this would have definitely made the cut. Maybe even the top 10 thanks to songs like “Let This Body Go” and “Opillia”.

At eight songs, this is a lengthier EP, which is why I originally confused it for an LP. But, together, it comes in at just under 25 minutes.

Formed by Nicholas and Nathan Delffs as a side project to The Shaky Hands, Death Songs creates a unique style of folk-pop that includes partially improvised sets and old-time folk on par with other Northwest locals The Cave Singers. You can hear this easily on “Opillia” below:

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Honorary Mention: The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness by Lace Curtains

The Garden of Joy And The Well of Loneliness by Lace CurtainsIn yesterday’s countdown from 50 to 41, Grape St. was covered. That band was formed by members of Harlem, just like this band: Lace Curtains. And, like yesterday’s honorary mention, Lace Curtains’ The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness gets its nod due to my lack of having listened to the full LP (my vinyl copy is still on order from Burger Records.

Where A Date With You by Grape St. didn’t quite match Harlem’s poppy nature found in their Hippies LP, that is not the case with “High Fantasy” and “Bedroom Honesty” off The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness. These songs are insanely catchy, full of pop, and still find the muster to drop in heavy doses of garage-psych rock and an oh-so-cool swagger.

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40. Deer Creek Canyon by Sera Cahoone

Deer Creek Canyon by Sera CahooneMy awareness of Sera Cahoone came in about 2001 with her previous project, Carissa’s Wierd, to which she lent her percussion expertise. Her solo stuff, not surprisingly, is completely different. I would dub it country-tinged folk. Deer Creek Canyon continues what she began with her self titled LP and Only As The Day Is Long but finds her going even deeper within for heightened introspection.

Perhaps most revealing is her song “Naked” which, metaphorically, bears all. To me, Deer Creek Canyon is an album about growing up, pondering life, and getting to know yourself and be alright with who’s looking back at you in the mirror. That may sound a bit cheesy, but having gone through my own transition over the years that’s how I see it.

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39. Algiers by Calexico

Algiers by CalexicoNot since their 2005 release in tandem with Iron & Wine has anything by Calexico moved me so much. In fact, nothing before 2005 matches it either. Like Liars, this is a band with which I often struggle — some releases I dig, and others I just can’t get into. Algiers is, in my opinion, Calexico’s single, most noteworthy release (not counting, of course, In The Reins due to the heavy presence of Iron & Wine).

There is power here, power that I haven’t heard before. The guitar strum in “Splitter”, the organ in “Sinner In The Sea”, the emotion in the vocals! Algiers gets under my skin in a very good way.

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38. Sweater Girls Were Here by Sweater Girls

Sweater Girls Were HereSweater Girls create infectious girl pop on their 2012 release Sweater Girls Were Here. Here’s a few things we’ve said about this band in the past that hold true to this LP:

This is girl-group pop at its true finest.

It’s playful, bouncy, and insanely lovable.

(They) will have you longing for those early fall days when the cutoffs go back in the closet and snug knit cotton sweaters once again rule the wardrobe.

Yup, that about sums it up.

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37. Meltdown by Mind Spiders

Meltdown by Mind SpidersMeltdown by Mind Spiders is a great album. It has a similar style of fuzzy psychedelic rock that you’ll find with Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips, but it’s a bit more melodic with heavier emphasis on synths and vocals that are a bit more playful.

The combination of guitars and synths create a significant hum with an oft drone-like presence capable of tossing the listener into a catatonic hypnosis. The music is a drug. A brilliant, brilliant drug that will leave you begging for more.

Favorites include “You Are Dead”, “On The Radio” and “Skull Eyed”. And, of course, we totally dig their video for “Wait For Us” (watch it below).

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36. Developer by Social Studies

Social Studies Developer CoverDeveloper is one of those shocking albums, not because it breaks ground in terms of its pop contents, but because it’s unexpected given the band’s prior repertoire of work. Social Studies previous EP was more in line with folk-pop than straight-up pop.

And the star of it all is first single “Terracur”, which became an instant favorite upon first listen. Following the single, Social Studies released “Away For The Weekend”, but my preferences sit with “Western Addition”.

I haven’t spent all too much time with Developer, so come next year, should I do a retrospective, don’t be surprised if Social Studies progresses up a few notches. Stream and/or download an mp3 of “Terracur” below.

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35. The Slideshow Effect by Memoryhouse

The Slideshow Effect by MemoryhouseMy love for Memoryhouse began in 2011 upon their release of The Years EP and the song “Lately”, which samples the theme to one of my all time favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The Slideshow Effect is the band’s follow-up to that EP, also on Sub Pop.

Like the EP that came before, The Slideshow Effect is insanely surreal; just listening to the LP, one slips into a calm dream-state. Opening track “Little Expressionless Animals” is an early favorite, especially toward the end when a violin enters to accompany Denise Nouvion’s tonal background vocals and her melodic lyrics that front them, along with the beats composer Evan Abeele adds to keep thing moving forward.

Things pick up beyond that song with “The Kids Were Wrong”, including a faster tempo, a pair of guitars, and a bouncy beat — but the dreaminess also continues. These two opening tracks are telltale for what you’ll hear on The Slideshow Effect.

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34. Melody’s Echo Chamber by Melody’s Echo Chamber

Melody's Echo Chamber LPBacked by the immensely cool guitar stylings of Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Melody Prochet has put together a great psychedelic pop album under the guise of Melody’s Echo Chamber. Fronting colorful, dreamy, psychedelic instrumentation, Prochet’s airy vocals float through it effortlessly. Her penchant for French pop comes through in songs like “Bisou Magique” an “Quand Vas Tu Rentrer”, while standouts in English are opening track “I Follow You” and “You Won’t Be Missing That Part Of Me” (which very much has a Tame Impala influence in both guitar and percussion.

When we covered her video for “I Follow You”, we noted about Melody’s Echo Chamber that the album blends sonic psychedelic fuzz with superb production and dreamy songwriting..

Let’s hope Parker and Prochet continue to collaborate in the future.

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33. Blonde Album by Lightning Love

Blonde Album by Lightning LoveLightning Love is a band that makes me immensely happy. I said that just the other week about their song “Bobby Thompson” — to quote myself: Backed with a super poppy melody including guitars and piano and loud percussion, I can’t help but get a big grin on my face each time the song comes on. And about their song “I Know”: it features playful yet often thought-provoking indie pop.

Though both the above statements were made about individual songs, they do hold true for the album as a whole.

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32. Muscle For The Wing by The Maldives

Muscle For The Wing by The MaldivesThe Maldives have left behind much of the country found on their 2009 release for something a bit more roots/rock. This year’s LP, Muscle For The Wing is a great display of roots-rock and Americana-pop. Within, you’ll hear roaring rockers like the catchy “Blood On The Highway” and subtle ballads like opener “I’m Gonna Try”.

Muscle For The Wing is an album I’d share with my parents, who dig artists like James Taylor and Eagles. While The Maldives differ greatly from both, they do create a classic sound on Muscle For The Wing that lends itself to the comparison. You could also lump them together with contemporary indie-folk artists from the Northwest such as The Cave Singers and Sera Cahoone.

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31. Deep Time by Deep Time

Deep Time LP Cover ArtDeep Time dub their sound as minimal weirdo pop, and I would have to agree with this statement. The songs within their self-titled LP are not overly complex, but that doesn’t mean much beyond face value. It takes a lot to refine a sound, stripping away elements and crafting something magical. There’s something to be said about “reduction > addition” here; it works well for the band in terms of minimalism. There’s more exposure, more nuances readily noticeable.

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