The Official Amoeba Top 50 Albums of 2012

Posted by Billy Gil, December 31, 2012 06:33am | Post a Comment

It’s official: Our lists are in and we’ve compiled them to give you our combined knowledge in the form of a top 50 albums list. The following is Amoeba's top picks for 2012 based on those who submitted lists of their favorites of the year. (For world music picks, go here; for classical picks, check out Rubin's list; and see more best of 2012 fun here.)


1. Frank OceanChannel Orange

Everyone seemed to be able to agree on Frank Ocean this year, from independent purists to mainstream fans. It’s no surprise that when compiling our top lists, Frank Ocean easily made No. 1.


“Outside the hype, this guy is the genuine deal. Orange is a cohesive old-school album with vivid modern snapshots of moving to the city and the characters he met there.” — Aaron Detroit





2. Light AsylumLight Asylum

A favorite among Amoebites, Light Asylum’s self-titled debut gripped fans of electronic music and ’80s-influenced synth pop.


“Shannon Funchess has that deep powerful voice like Alison Moyet. And Bruno Coviello plays those keyboards like only Vince Clark can. It is the perfect mix of dark and haunting lyrics and new wave electronics.” — Brad Schelden





3. Trust - Trst
The most fun album of 2012? We certainly all loved Trust's Canadian dark electro.

"I fell in love with this band the first time that I heard them. They are a band made for me. This is the spooky and dark goth music that I love. A perfect blend of synthpop and dark wave." — Brad Schelden






4. ChromaticsKill for Love

Brad (No. 1) and I (No. 8) were suckers for the haunting new album from Portland-based dream pop band Chromatics.


“Another perfect album of dreamy electronic love songs. These songs are seriously breathtaking and they make it seem so easy.” — Brad Schelden





5. Pye Corner Audio - Sleep Games
pye corner audio

Our electronic music fans went ape over the stunning album by Pye Corner Audio, one of two he released this year.


“Beautiful sci-fi melodies, thumpin' nods to Detroit electro & techno, and lots of John Carpenter-inspired synth arpeggios. File Under: Night Driving Music.” — Aaron Detroit




6. Beach HouseBloom

Brad and I were both gaga over Beach House's new album.

"While Bloom’s overflowing romanticism is something to celebrate, so is its remarkable pop precision." — Billy Gil








7. Killer MikeR.A.P. Music

Killer Mike's politically charged album pleased fans of hip-hop and indie rock alike.

"Killer Mike wins on all fronts: his beats are insane, like on the fast-paced “Go!,” calling to mind OutKast singles of yore; he raps better and faster than rappers half his age; and the quality of his rhymes is superb." — Billy Gil






8. Ariel Pink’s Haunted GraffitiMature Themes

Kelly and I loved the new album from lo-fi masters Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.

"Mature Themes is a misnomer in that Ariel Pink still sings about things like “suicide dumplings dropping testicle bombs” on Bowie-ish “Kinski Assassin.” But there’s a newfound desire to move beyond jokey lo-fi (even when it serves him well, as on the heavy blues of “Schnitzel Boogie” and ethereal jazzercise jam “Pink Slime”)." — Billy Gil





9. Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel …

Fiona Apple shocked fans and detractors alike with her powerful fourth album in 2012.


"Another long (7 Years!) hiatus spawns an essential release. Apple is in familiar territory lyrically, but her relationship analysis is wry and witty as ever and exceedingly more adept." — Aaron Detroit





10. Death GripsThe Money Store

Death Grips' The Money Store bridged the gap between hip-hop and hardcore.


"Complete insanity. The Money Store’s gleefully violent party music slaps you in the privates and wakes you up to the possibilities of sound and energy." — Billy Gil






11. SwansThe Seer

"This record has been described as a sort of culmination of all-things-Swans (even Jarboe is back for some vocal and "voice collage" duties.) To my ears, this is very true and believe it to be one of Michael Gira's greatest works." — Aaron Detroit








12. Bat for LashesThe Haunted Man

"On The Haunted Man, Natasha Khan pushes herself to the limit, whether that be vocally, on stunning opener 'Lillies,' with Khan nearly going hoarse to pull you in; or emotionally, on the crushing 'Laura,' which digs heartbreak out of choice detail." — Billy Gil








13. Mac DeMarco2

"He is sort of a combination of Pavement and Ariel Pink. This album is seriously addictive and I like it more every time that I listen to it." — Brad Schelden








14. Andy StottLuxury Problems

"Stott has been my man the last couple of years, dragging techno through the cold, dead and decaying streets of his beautiful post-apocalyptic soundscape." — Aaron Detroit








15. DiivOshin

"As its oceanic title would suggest, Oshin moves like a wave, building and crashing, scenic and blue, with the melodies seeping through to you over time and repeat listens." — Billy Gil








16. GrimesVisions

"Visions is an album that manages to have it both ways, frontloading with relatively 'normal' singles 'Genesis,' whose beat is so basic it would be limiting if Grimes didn’t do her best pop star impression over it, and 'Oblivion,' where Boucher gets freaky over a squelching beat that only goes down easy due to its bubblegum melodies, some approximation of early Madonna spaced out to infinity." — Billy Gil






17. Zelienople - The World Is A House On Fire

"I finally found a band that sounds like Slowdive. ... This album is really beautiful. You might need to prepare yourself before you venture into the world of Zelienople." — Brad Schelden








18. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure

"Best album for helping raise awareness of cancer in a year when it mattered was emcee/producer El-P's stellar 2012 release on Fat Possum (his own Def Jux label is on permanent hiatus) is Cancer 4 Cure, which was dedicated to his pal/former collaborator Camu Tao who died from cancer. The album came out in a year when hip-hop lost MCA of the Beastie Boys to cancer." — Billyjam







19. Peaking Lights - Lucifer

"... Lucifer is a silky, trippy affair." — Billy Gil









20.  Scott Walker - Bish Bosch
Bish Bosch
"E-bows, machetes as percussion and disturbing (as well as amusing) scatological metaphors are some of the unlikely ingredients that make up this terrifying (and weirdly infectious) beauty. There's really nothing else like it, so enjoy figuring it out for the rest of your life." — Aaron Detroit







21. Jessica Pratt - JP

"Since her debut album of lush, hand-picked folk melodies dropped a just few months ago demand for Jessica's debut, simply titled JP, has become as difficult to keep up with as the multitude of glowing reviews surfacing all over the interwebs lauding Ms. Pratt's ability to make everyone mistake her bewitching, home-brewed folkways for that of retro private press obscurities." — Kelly S. Osato






22. Voices From The Lake - Voices From The Lake

"Collaboration between the Italian duo of Donato Dozzy & Neel, beautifully crafted atmospheric techno album." — Oliver Hollywood








23. Vedomir - Vedomir

"Mikhaylo Vityk released a slew of records under his Vakula moniker this year, but the album released by Dekmantel by his Vedomir guise really stood out. Slow burning, haunting shit from the Ukrainian producer." — Oliver Hollywood

24. Kid Koala - 12 Bit Blues

"Best concept album expertly executed of the year was by turntablist/producer extraordinair whose deconstructed, scratch masterpiece 12 Bit Blues on Ninja Tune came in two versions (LP and CD) and featured such tracks as '8 Bit Blues.'" — Billyjam





25. Tame ImpalaLonerism

"Kevin Parker’s songs, written quietly and in solitude in Paris, convey the melodies you hum to yourself in your head out of boredom, while the dream-like arrangements reveal their hooks upon repeated spins, lodging themselves into you over time." — Billy Gil







26. Robert Hood - Motor: Nighttime III

"Raw minimal rhythmic funk music." — Oliver Hollywood









27. Aesop Rock - Skelethon

"Best 2012 album worth the half a decade wait was Aesop Rock's pitch perfect Skelethon on Rhymesayers — which diehard fans patiently waited five years for and were most happy with the results. The album did (and needed to) include lyric sheets to help decipher Aesop Rock's ever intricate lyrics on songs like 'Zero Dark Thirty.'" — Billyjam







28. Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, The Congos - FRKWYS Vol. 9: Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet The Congos - Icon Give Thank

"... if you haven’t yet heard the psyched-out electronic-dub vibes of Icon Give Thank, I suggest you check it out." — Billy Gil









29. Anna von Hausswolff - Ceremony

"On her sophomore release, Swedish composer/singer von Hausswolff brings long instrumental pipe organ pieces together with well-crafted existential pop tunes and a set of ethereal pipes all her own." — Aaron Detroit






30. Tin Man - Neo Neo Acid

tin man neo neo acid
"Long lush melodic acid lines from the Vienna producer." — Oliver Hollywood









31. Mount Eerie - Clear Moon

"This album seriously surprised me and quickly became one of my favorites of the year. It might just be one of the most beautiful albums that I have ever heard." — Brad Schelden








32. Miriel Wagner - Mirel Wagner
miriel wagner

"Originally released in Scandinavia last year, the quietly-strummed folk-noir and murder-balladry of Mirel Wagner's sef-titled debut landed stateside this year. Her voice is somber and child-like, the arrangements are minimal and stark but make no mistake, she is singing the blues." — Aaron Detroit






33. Homeboy Sandman - First Of A Living Breed

"Most prolific and consistently high quality hip-hop recording artist of 2012 was Homeboy Sandman who unleashed hip-hop gems like 'Illuminati' which was on First Of A Living Breed - one of three (count em) releases that he dropped on Stones Throw in 2012." — Billyjam






34. Crystal Castles - III

"A perfect dark electronic album for these winter months. ... But beneath [it] is a fun and vibrant energy." — Brad Schelden









35. Actress - R.I.P.
actress rip
"Superb follow up to Hazyville and Splazsh, Britain's Darren Cunningham steps out even further with this conceptual album of grainy low-end vibrations." — Oliver Hollywood








36.  Ty Segall BandSlaughterhouse

"Ty Segall and his wrecking crew of musicians tear through roughly a half-hour of some of the best pure rock ’n’ roll in ages — one of three albums he released this year, including his solo album Twins and collaboration with White Fence, Hair." — Billy Gil







37. The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know

"This album got down deep inside of me after the first time I heard it. I keep coming back to it over and over this year. A fantastic dark album. I feel like they finally lived up to their name." — Brad Schelden







38. JJ Doom - Keys To The Kuffs

"JJ Doom is the collaboration of [MF] DOOM and Jneiro Jarel and they delivered a great album in 2012 with tracks like 'GuvNor.'" — Billyjam








39. Kendrick Lamargood kid, m.A.A.d city

"Believe the hype; Lamar and his producers have made the best mainstream hip-hop album of the year by amazing at every turn. Dismiss it to your own loss." — Billy Gil







40. Assembly Of Light - Assembly Of Light
assembly of light
"A choral group with a dozen-or-so members from Providence, RI known for their show-stealing appearance on metal-duo The Body's 2010 release, All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood. AOL's self-titled debut-proper has some of the same heavy/ethereal juxtapositions, but the vocals are turned up-to-11, floating above the crushing waves of drums and demon-yowls to a stunning effect." — Aaron Detroit





41. Casual and J. Rawls - Respect Game or Expect Flames

"Bay Area hip-hop collective to have the best year in 2012 was the long-running Hieroglyphics collective whose numerous releases by members in 2012 included Casual's collaboration with J-Rawls Respect Game or Expect Flames on Nature Sounds/Fat Beats ..." — Billyjam







42. Agent Ribbons - Family Haircut

Agent Ribbons"'Family Haircut' is the title track from Agent Ribbons' current limited run cassette-only release on the Portland-based Cassingle And Loving It label, not to mention the upcoming September 11th release of their seven-inch teaser Let Them Talk on Antenna Farm records, a harbinger for the Missus Ribbons' upcoming full length LP set to drop in 2013." — Kelly S. Osato






43. Lushlife - Plateau Vision

"Plateau Vision on Western Vinyl Records (a label that typically doesn't release hip-hop) features great tracks like 'Big Sur' and 'Magnolia' ..." — Billyjam








44. Prizehog - A Talking To

"SF's own sludge-rockin' skull-crushing trio ..." — Kelly S. Osato









45. Emeralds - Just To Feel Anything

"The album will make you think you are in the 70s. Sitting in a room with a hundred synthesizers. I have had this album on repeat since I first heard it a couple of months ago." — Brad Schelden







46. Uni and Her Ukelele - Lover's Cliche

"An infectious pop record full of heart and heady hooks that is, I can personally guarantee, the only thing missing from the Springtime of your life if you are not bumping it right now." — Kelly S. Osato







47. Twin ShadowConfess

"Though everything sounds like an ’80s radio dream reconstructed by memory, Lewis Jr. breaks through the Instagrammed, instant-memory sheen by flashing some vulnerability." — Billy Gil








48. The Soft Pack - Strapped

"This is really the album that turned me into a super fan. ... Garagey catchy indie rock." — Brad Schelden









49. The Fresh & Onlys - Long Slow Dance

"They were are always good, but Long Slow Dance takes the S.F. garage rockers to epic heights, with a newfound clarity to their vocals and straightforwardness of songwriting." — Billy Gil








50. The Coup - Sorry To Bother You

the coup
"Boots Riley resurrects The Coup as a full-band after a 6-year hiatus to drop the rare 'record of our times.' Funky, fierce, funny, heart-wrenching and inspirational." — Aaron Detroit








Aaron Detroit, goth buyer/used buyer

Billy Gil, amoeba blogger

Billyjam, amoeba blogger

Brad Schelden, indie buyer

Kelly S. Osato, J-Pop buyer/cloud city admin/info broker

Oliver Hollywood, dance buyer

Relevant Tags

Light Asylum (7), Chromatics (13), Trust (8), Pye Corner Audio (3), Frank Ocean (14), Fiona Apple (10), Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (3), Death Grips (20), Best Of 2012 (31), Top Albums (6), Beach House (30), Killer Mike (13)