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The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 20 to 11

Top 20 LPs of 2012

Continuing the countdown to my favorite record of 2012, today I present numbers 11 through 20.

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: 40 to 31
The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 30 to 21
The Best LPs of 2012 Countdown: 10 to 1

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Honorary Mention: Trails And Ways

Border Crosser by Trails And Ways

I’ve already dubbed Trails And Ways one of my favorite new bands of 2012. This statement comes with a disclaimer, as there are plenty of phenomenal new bands scattered throughout my top EPs and LPs lists for 2012: by far my favorite new band without a proper release.

With a lone 7″ single (I believe) and a few digital singles under their belt (including strong favorites like “Nunca”, “Mtn Tune” and “Tereza”), as well as a slew of great remixes/covers (such as “Animal” by Miike Snow and “Border Crosser (The Seshan Remix”), here’s to hoping the band will give us a full-length LP in 2013!

Check out the Miike Snow cover below, and keep an eye out for the band’s remix EP, which the band has confirmed for a 2013 release.

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20. Untogether by Letting Up Despite Great Faults

Letting Up Despite Great Faults Untogether

Untogether by Letting Up Despite Great Faults falls somewhere between The Radio Dept. and Craft Spells. It has that dreamy retro sound of the latter with the fuzz pop of the former. Of late, especially thanks to this LP, LUDGF has been getting grouped into the electro-pop and dance-pop sub-genres, and it’s easy to hear why. From their earlier days, when fuzz was truly the norm, they’ve grown and expanded their sound, becoming even dreamier, and (true to my aforementioned note about Craft Spells) have added a hint of underground 80s euro-dance to the mix.

I finally broke down and picked this one up on vinyl about a month ago. It’s on excellent red wax!

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19. The Bad Ones by Blonds

Blonds The Bad Ones

Blonds front-woman Cari Rae has one of those epic voices, one that’s a bit more suited to the resurgence of soul than indie pop, so listening to Blonds you get a bit of both worlds. The Bad Ones features eleven songs, full of heart and soul and a vintage sound, all without being overly melodramatic yet maintaining just the right amount of emotiveness.

The band transitions from songs with orchestral string movements to those with understated electronic-like background beats astutely and delicately.

The Bad Ones is an album that hints of 23 by Blonde Redhead — you can effortlessly listen to it from top to bottom without the need nor desire to skip around. Each song carries its own weight in the midst of the rest; like all albums, some stand out more than others, but it doesn’t matter. Kick on opener “Heartstrings” and let Rae’s mystical voice carry you away.

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18. The Clearing by Bowerbirds

The Clearing by Bowerbirds

I was personally introduced to Bowerbirds in 2007 by Sean Moeller of Daytrotter during CMJ in New York. Not actually introduced, but introduced in the sense of Hey, you should come check out Bowerbirds. I did, catching Papercuts right after as well. They had recently released Hymns for a Dark Horse.

Since then, they’ve signed to Dead Oceans. In 2009 they gave us Upper Air on said label and now, The Clearing. This is, in my humble opinion, their finest work yet.

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17. Tramp by Sharon Van Etten

Tramp by Sharon Van Etten

Tramp can be summed up in the transition between opening track “Warsaw” and its successor “Give Out”: A heavy folk track tinged with hints of dreamy psych-rock drops into one that begins stripped-down and naked with only Sharon Van Etten‘s vocals and a soft acoustic guitar strum. The transition is smooth and without pause for reflection. It’s natural, endearing and blatant. Van Etten bears just as much skin in the songs she gives us on Tramp as Natasha Khan does on the cover of Bat For Lashes new LP (which is absent from this list as all I’ve heard is “Laura”).

By far, the standout track is “Serpents”, which is among my most listened-to songs of 2012. Check it out below.

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16. Electric Hawaii by Opossom

Electric Hawaii by Opossom

Sleep Party People may have given me my current all-time favorite music video, but I must say that Opossom’s video for “Fly” has been a mighty worthy opponent. Following Tame Impala’s style of erratic psychedelic pop, Opossom hones in more on the indie pop side and instead calls New Zealand home.

Songs like the aforementioned “Fly” and “Blue Meanies” have a wide-eyed, frantic pace a bit reminiscent of me when I’ve had too much coffee and not enough food. The songs are playful, fun and highly energetic. They’ll wake you up and put you in a good mood in the morning, and they’ll keep you happily awake long after the sun has dropped.

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15. Maraqopa by Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado Maraqopa

To be honest, I haven’t spent all that much time with the 2012 Damien Jurado LP Maraqopa. But in the short time I have had the album, it has haunted me thoroughly. THIS IS AMAZING!!! Maraqopa blends folk and pop and psychedelia and rock and experimentation. At the core of it all is Jurado’s singer/songwriter mastery. Around the edges are Richard Swift’s production embellishments. Within it all is brilliant instrumentation that as delicate as it is bold, forthright as it is cunning.

There is great depth here, and I truly feel I have yet to truly crack the surface. After all, how can you after only a handful of listens!? What I can say is despite the album’s brevity in my possession, Maraqopa very much earns a top 15 place in this list. Check out my current favorite below — it’s the opening track “Nothing Is The News”:

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14. Remember When by The Orwells

Remember When by The Orwells

In 2010 I discovered what would ultimately become my favorite record of 2009: The Mantles by The Mantles. Given the year of discovery, it obviously didn’t make it onto my Best of 2009 list. Well, last week I received my download of Remember When by The Orwells (LP on the way from Autumn Tone Records), just in time for the album to receive consideration for my 2012 list.

I haven’t had the time to give the LP solid consideration for placement, meaning there’s a chance it could have taken the year (though stacked up against this year’s top 10, that might be pushing it). What I can say is that after a handful of listens, I am hugely hooked. Favorites include “Mallrats (La La La)”, “In My Bed” and “Under The Flowers”.

The main difference between my scenarios with The Mantles and The Orwells is this: in 2009, The Orwells were like 12 or something. They’re damn young, but like my favorite LP of 2010 — Avi Buffalo by Avi Buffalo — that doesn’t mean sh*t.

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13. Lonerism by Tame Impala

Tame Impala Lonerism

This is an album I couldn’t pass up. Everyone has been raving about Tame Impala‘s newest effort, Lonerism, and I finally broke down and picked up the album in mid-December. Far from timely, but still in time for the coveted end of year list.

Lonerism continues what Tame Impala began with Tame Impala, their debut EP from 2008, and 2010’s Innerspeaker: wild psychedelic pop. The sound is one that has influenced other artists such as Opossom and member Kevin Parker’s new project with Melody Prochet called Melody’s Echo Chamber.

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12. King Tuff by King Tuff

King Tuff LP

One of my favorite songs off King Tuff‘s self-titled LP on Burger Records and Sub Pop Records is the track “Unusual World”. A few months back, a video was posted of the band and friends playing around at Disney Land. This video sums up how I feel about King Tuff: the record is indubitably fun. It’s a dreamy garage pop fairy tale.

Living a fairy tale: isn’t that what being in a band is supposed to be all about? Doing what you want. Having fun. Being a little carefree and rambunctious. Yes.

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11. Holiday by Port St. Willow

Port St Willow Holiday

Here’s what we said about Port St. Willow‘s Holiday back in June:

Holiday is a cohesive unit, from beginning to end, and it will stretch the bounds of your imagination. It is a headphones album, one that works great with them but can suffice without. At the end, if there’s a single word that could describe this album, it would relate to the closing track: Holiday is consuming. It envelopes you in sound, drowning out the world, masking everything but the music.

‘Nuf said.

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