Updated Wed, Mar 14, 2012 3:17 pm
1. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues: Robin Pecknold reached a peak of craftsmanship this year, mining out rich melodies, haunting arrangements and stronger songwriting on this 2nd outing for his band. A remarkable achievement for a sophomore album.
2. Anna Calvi, Anna Calvi: PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake is pretty great, but to me, it was the shadowy romanticism of this David Lynch-esque chanteuse, paired with Jeff Buckley sonics, that won me over (having Brian Eno involved didn’t hurt either). I think this album got more spins from me than anything else this year.
3. tUnE–yArDs, w h o k i l l: One of the most interesting releases of the year, with an ingenious combination of loops, distorted ukulele, spastic melodies and convulsing African-based rhythms. The single “Bizness” was not only one of my favorites, but featured Athens’ own Mary Lachman as a dancer in the video.
4. F----- Up, David Comes To Life: The grand scope of this seismic masterpiece is impressive enough to garner at least one listen, but it’s the raw energy and brilliant songwriting that makes this hardcore record one of the most exciting releases of the year.
5. Yuck, Yuck: I caught this band for two sets at SXSW in March and I was made a believer. Picked this up on vinyl shortly after and have returned to this young band’s impressive take on 1990s underground rock on numerous occasions.
6. Danger Mouse/Daniele Luppi: Rome: Sonic landscapes don’t get much more inventive than this. Spaghetti western arrangements, hypnotic beats and guest vocals from Norah Jones and Jack White make for a music lover’s delight. Also a shout-out to this album making an appearance in the season finale of Breaking Bad.
7. Low, C’mon: Bringing pop producer Matt Beckley (Katy Perry, among others) on board may have been surprising to some, but the results were astounding. Low constructed another enthralling journey into their ethereal world of “slowcore" with melodic simplicity and characteristic grace.
8. Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin': Raphael Saadiq triumphed with this soul-infused tribute to legendary predecessors such as Sly Stone and strode boldly into the mighty sonic explorations of 1960s soul. The lead-off track “Heart Attack” is a rave-up at it's best.
9. Wilco, The Whole Love: Straight out of the gate, the newest record from Wilco didn’t immediately win me over. However, upon further inspection, the production and writing revealed itself to be some of Jeff Tweedy’s best work in years, as well as the best representation of their current lineup.
10. Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing: Eric Earley and co. captured a near perfect reflection on life at the halfway mark and in the process resurrected one of the most convincing 1970s rock records…since the 1970s.
Josh Antonuccio is a music producer, engineer and instructor who owns 3 Elliott Studio. He contributes regularly to PopMatters and can also be found around town performing with Scubadog.
This is the fifth in a series of year-end blog posts by WOUB staff, volunteers and contributors, as well as area musicians, music retailers and plain old music fanatics. Think we missed something? Let us know at email@example.com.