Best Albums Of 2012: Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions 2012

Artwork by Francesca Bonifacio

Yesterday, we unveiled your picks for our 2012 Reader’s Poll, and today we’re continuing our year-end coverage by revealing our Honorable Mentions. 2012 was a great year for music, and it was tough to only choose 31 albums, so we made sure to include some picks that we enjoyed but didn’t quite make it on our list.

Be sure to come back to the site everyday for the rest of the week to see our Best EPs and Best Songs of 2012, along with our personal picks for Ones To Watch 2013.

Listen Before You Buy’s Honorable Mentions of 2012

Angel Haze - Reservation

Angel-Haze-Reservation1Asserting herself into the game by picking up where Azealia Banks left off with “212” as this sassy, sexuality-ambiguous MC whose flow rivals that of the boys, Angel Haze becomes a hip-hop game changer with Reservation. Here, the Detroit native proves herself as a no-frills rapper who doesn’t hide behind the lush production of her cohorts, instead taking an approach similar to that of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get Miseducation-era Lauryn Hill. She brings back the sampling-heavy era of hip-hop (“New York”), while proving herself as a biting lyricist with impeccable flow (“Werkin’ Girls”). Move over Azealia Banks: as mentioned on the aforementioned track, this bitch runs New York. - Melissa Scheinberg


bbngBADBADNOTGOOD have become a force to be reckoned with in both the hip-hop and jazz worlds, jumping genres with skill and panache, delivering energetic and creative performances at every turn, and all under the age of 21. Part jazz trio, part hip-hop producers, part cover band, they’ve impressed from day one. Their sophomore album explores darker territory than their debut, with ventures into dubstep, wonky, and shoegaze, all with a strong jazz template behind them. – Kaelin Bougneit

Dan Deacon – America

Dan Deacon, AmericaWhenever Dan Deacon performs live, he’s floor-level and completely involved with his audience, so it’s easy to picture him constantly in the fray of creation and spontaneity. America is another solid installment in his exploration of unusual beats and sounds, though more laidback than his previous work. He opts for lush, thoughtful effects over frantic beats and aggressive synth lines. Deacon explained his interest in paying homage to the beauty of American geography through this record and that the second half of America speaks to his experiences touring cross-country. Deacon’s ability to instill a theme into his work reigns in his usually chaotic methods for a more coherent piece overall. - Cameron Deuel

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant

David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This GiantWhen Annie Clark and David Byrne team up, there’s bound to be some weirdness. Both alt-pop icons have carved names for themselves for pushing musical boundaries and attempting to use unwieldy sounds. However, Love This Giant is intertwined with an omnipresent brass section that levels the playing field significantly. Clark and Byrne, being their charmingly unconventional selves, adapt to brassy interludes and croaking saxophones with grace. Since both artists are so revered, Love This Giant felt vastly unnoticed, which is shameful since they challenge each other ruthlessly throughout the record. – Cameron Deuel

Django Django - Django Django

Django DjangoAlbums that are released towards the start of the year tend to be forgotten about by the end of the year, unless they’re something special. So there’s a very good reason as to why Django DJango’s selft-titled debut album stuck with me for the last 11 months like little seahorses stuck to flypaper. No other album matched its harmonious exploration of jitterbug electronic-indie-pop, infecting dance-grooves in your body that you didn’t know existed and making you dance like a bearded hipster who was just given a lifetime stupply of PBR. – Franky B

El-P - Cancer 4 Cure

El-P - Cancer 4 CureAs is evident by looking back at our top 31 albums of 2012, hip-hop has really seen a decline this year for anyone who isn’t Kendrick Lamar or Death Grips (with the latter being more of a hip-hop/punk hybrid). El-P’s latest effort, Cancer 4 Cure, serves as our hip-hop sleeper pick, as the rapper/producer (also responsible for Killer Mike’s standout R.A.P. Music’s production) showcases his thought-provoking lyricism, spitfire flow, aggressive delivery, and layered, synth-heavy, percussive production. In the end, he proves that he’s a multi-talented artist who only continues to hone his craft and provide the world with some of the best straight-up hip-hop since the days where Tupac ruled the game. - Melissa Scheinberg

Father John Misty - Fear Fun

FatherJohn_fearfunIn 2012, Joshua Tillman was described as the former Fleet Foxes drummer countless times. Even though the description is descriptive, Tillman is sold short of his own prolific glory. The nickname Father John Misty applies to Tillman’s stage persona who has his own manic humor and character flaws, which should come as no surprise since Fear Fun was reportedly inspired by Tillman’s journey down the west coat of the United States, packing “enough ‘shrooms to choke a horse.” While Father John is lovably blatant, he seems like an extension of Tillman himself; honest and skeptical, but completely hilarious. – Cameron Deuel

First Aid Kit - The Lion’s Roar

First Aid Kit, The Lion's Roar, Emmylou, Marianne's SonFor their sophomore record, First Aid Kit dove headfirst into Americana-inspired folk, playing heavily to their strengths as a group. In fact, they adopt such genuine backwoods enunciation, they hardly sound like they come from Sweden. The Lion’s Roar is their most consistent release to date and makes their Fleet Foxes cover seem like it happened decades ago. First Aid Kit pick up where Neko Case left off and with the gusto of two twanging songbirds. – Cameron Deuel

Flume - Flume

FlumeSydney’s Flume – moniker of twenty year-old Harley Streten – released one of the year’s finest debuts, fusing elements of house, hip-hop, post-dubstep, R&B, and downtempo electronic to create a fifteen-song masterpiece. “Holdin’ On” takes a page out of AlunaGeorge’s R&B-infused electronic book by pairing a sample of the late Otis Redding over some percussive synths, while “Sleepless” creates a marriage between downtempo electronic and instrumental hip-hop, over the gorgeous vocals of Jezzabell Doran. The electronic wunderkind’s record debuted at #2 on the Australian charts, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a household name overseas. - Melissa Scheinberg

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes

Flying-Lotus-Until-The-Quiet-ComesWhen master-of-everything-hip-hop Flying Lotus dropped Until the Quiet Comes last year, the shift in sound from maximalist, glitchy, electronic hip-hop to etherial, downtempo, quiet beats surprised many people. In many ways, it made his music more accessible and well-balanced, showcasing a dark, meditative side of him that listeners could consume in album format. Between Until the Quiet Comes and his big reveal as enigmatic rapper Captain Murphy, Flying Lotus has become synonymous with experimental hip-hop. - Kaelin Bougneit

Grimes - Visions

Grimes - VisionsI won’t condone the use of hallucinogenic drugs as a means of temporarily escaping the real world, but if you were going to do it anyway and were looking for something to listen to whilst you did said drug, I’d recommend PCP and Grimes’ latest album Visions. The album art might send you down a bad-trip-road, but the music has all of the colour and variation you could hope for when getting high, and for those parts where you want to destroy a bus shelter there’s “Genesis”, the times you want to cuddle with otters there’s “Be A Body”, and for the times where you’re “the king of the world” in the back of a pickup truck, there’s the vivdly dark “Obivion”. – Franky B

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!Much like Portishead did in 2008, when Godspeed You! Black Emperor returned after 10 years with a new album in tow, the internet flipped shit, and with good reason. Two massive post-rock pieces and two equally essential drone works make up Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!. The album is substantial and alluring, full of purpose and intent, both musical and political. In a rare interview with The Guardian, they stated “You either make music that pleases the king and his court, or you make music for the serfs outside the walls. It’s what music (and culture) is for, right? To distract or confront, or both at the same time?” - Kaelin Bougneit

Hospitality - Hospitality

Hospitality - HospitalityThere’s something incredibly quaint about Hospitality. And yet none of the pleasantness that comes with listening to Brooklyn four-piece ever gets overbearing thanks to the band’s razor-sharp songwriting. The band’s choice to leave a sour note within the first second of the album is a clear indication that they’re not reaching for perfection, and yet it’s hard to fault it for much. Call it what you like – “cardigan rock”, for instance – but I dare you to find another band that’s able to make Greek history sound this good (“Argonauts”). - Jorge Mir

iamamiwhoami -kin

iamamiwhoami - KinThe Swedish multimedia project iamamiwhoami become a huge talking point whenever they choose to release a track or album. Their knack for gathering huge amounts of hype in a short amount of time is nothing short of astounding, and their music lives up to it every time. Their latest masterpiece, kin, flawlessly spans genres and emotions, ranging from lonely ballads about conformity to uptempo songs about dancing the night away. When consumed with its video component, there are few projects that give such a sense of completeness and emotional sincerity. - Kaelin Bougneit

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Japandroids - The House That Heaven BuiltEven in brand new material, Japandroids sound oddly familiar. They embody the raw energy of a sweaty, nondescript basement show. Celebration Rock is a continuation of their energetic, mosh pit-inducing, high-spirited rock n’ roll and it sounds uninhibited and rejuvenated by years spent on the road. They also exhibit a thoughtful range within Celebration Rock, which may be so mild it could be easily missed. The reason why they sound so conversant is because they’re reminiscent of your friend’s garage band but way, way more refined. - Cameron Deuel

Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn’t

Jens Lekman, I Know What Love Isn't

With I Know What Love Isn’t Jens Lekman delivered his first proper, cohesive album. Dealing with heartbreak with an incredibly refreshing “you feel like shit but life goes on” mentality, the Swedish songwriter delivers an album very few weak spots, and a second half that is A+ material. Songs like the title track, “The World Moves On” or, especially, “The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love”, are not only among his best work to date, but also gain something with every listen. As with every Lekman song or album, there’s always something new to take in with every spin, making it a record that’s sure to stand the test of time. - Jorge Mir

Kishi Bashi - 151a

Kishi BashiIt’s hard not to love Kishi Bashi’s wonderfully lush take on pop. Whether live or on record, there are few artists out there doing what he’s doing, and possibly none quite as well. His knack for writing lovely pop songs (“Manchester”), combined with a desire to experiment and incorporate Japanese influences (“Wonder Woman, Wonder Me”) means that no two songs on the record sound the same but none feel out of place. The record’s thirty-five minutes breeze by, and it’s saying something that that’s the record’s biggest flaw. - Jorge Mir

The Men – Open Your Heart

the-men-open-your-heartThe Men pull inspiration from psychedelic rock, with accents of country rock, to create one of the strongest rock albums in 2012. They unabashedly wear their influences on their sleeves, shifting from sounding like The Buzzcocks to Sonic Youth to The Replacements without fully adopting any particular band’s sound. Open Your Heart isn’t revolutionary but it does provide a strong lifeline for rock ‘n roll, which is generally hard to come by these days. This record is reminiscent of sweaty tour buses and long hair, life before a full-time job and responsibilities, and the first time you took an elbow to the face in the mosh pit. – Cameron Deuel

Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

MiguelThis year’s five-time Grammy nominated (if you count his feature on Wale’s “Lotus Flower Bomb”) created the year’s sexiest record by fusing his old soul Marvin Gaye aesthetic with fresher, more modern swag. The RCA-signee finds the perfect balance between modern R&B and Motown as “Do You…” sounds like a production-heavy response to “Climax”, while “Adorn” is equivalent to a modern-day “Sexual Healing”. Kaleidoscope Dream is 42-minutes of seduction, emphasized by the vocalist’s combination of his impeccable falsetto and near-perfect runs that don’t sound humanly possible. Frank Ocean, watch out. - Melissa Scheinberg

Squarepusher – Ufabulum

Squarepusher - UfabulumWhen I first reviewed Ufabulum, I described Squarepusher as “the conductor of a symphony of electronic madness.” I think nothing I’ve ever written since comes close to the accuracy of that statement. Ditching his bass guitar for an LCD screen and computer, Squarepusher completely outdid himself on his latest grand experiment. Chopped, distorted electronics abound, pushing the limits of what can be done within the confines of beat-driven music. - Kaelin Bougneit

Swans – The Seer

swansIn the world of experimental rock, few bands have been as prolific as Swans. After reforming in 2010 after a 13-year break, their latest album. The Seer is among their best works of any period. A gargantuan work that holds monolithic drones, repetitive noise, and beautiful tonality in stark contrast with each other, The Seer is the spitting image of a newly reformed band with nothing left to prove and all the talent in the world. And, it’s no secret that their live shows can be life-altering, often involving long sections of improvisation and unreleased material. - Kaelin Bougneit

Twin Shadow – Confess

Twin Shadow Confess album artwork coverMy relationship with Twin Shadow (or George Lewis Jr., rather) is a complicated one. While I think the man is a self-absorbed asshole (look no further than the cover of this album for proof), I can’t help but enjoy the hell out of his albums. 2010′s Forget caught me completely by surprise, and when “Five Seconds” was released I could tell I wouldn’t be able to resist Confess. The songs here take longer to build, nothing hits quite as suddenly as the debut, and yet none of the magic is lost. Sure enough, as soon as “Golden Light” explodes in the chorus I’m gone. - Jorge Mir