We have just passed midway point of the year so what better time to take a look at my favourite albums of the year so far? So, yeah, here are my ten albums from the first half of 2012 and as always, feel free to give a shout out to some of your own favourites in the comments section.
10. Session Victim – The Haunted House of House
The Haunted House of House sees the German deep house duo of Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling explore their love of sampling, soul and disco along a rolling groove. Although it rarely breaks from a mid-tempo it is slick, classy and wrapped in a nice neat deep house package. A highly assured, accomplished and undeniable dance-able debut LP.
09. Ghost Estates – Ghost Estates
Named after the thousands of abandoned housing estates following the collapse of the Celtic tiger building boom, Ghost Estates have already carved out their place on Ireland’s musical landscape. With three songwriters in the band, stylistically it’s diverse, taking in a mix of new wavey sounds, reach for the sky guitar anthems and straight up indie rock. This amalgam has seen them arrive at their own distinct sound of hazy electronica edged indie which send a shiver down the spine. It is said two heads are better than one, well, judging by Ghost Estates’ debut, three are certainly better than two. This is the best Irish indie album in a long, long time!
Attack On Memory is a heavyweight and rather muscular record. A short, sharp shock to the system, a proverbial kick in the bollocks if you like, taking in post-rock, indie, post-punk and pure unadulterated noise. Interspersed with bursts of scuzzy powerful indie we are exposed to a barreling barrage of loud, pounding drums, raw guitars and a Dylan Baldi sounding like a young Jake Burns. It is an absolute revelation, a terrific album and a must-listen to record of 2012.
Download: Cloud Nothings – No Sentiment
07. Gaz Coombes Presents – Here Come the Bombs
Gaz Coombes’ debut solo album, Here Come the Bombs, is more of an evolution of sound than a violent revolution against an approach which served him so well in his Supergrass days. The record is much more sombre, reflective and dark, some might even say mature but Coombes has retained the all to familiar oddball pop sensibility, playful energy. His gift for writing songs with hooks and catchy melodies remains a corner stone of his work too, even though as the record progresses the distortion is cranked up and interspersed with a glut of electronics and beats, samples and loops. Coombes’ debut is certainly more than alright.
Light of the North is the debut record proper from 26-year-old Glasgow based producer, Miaoux Miaoux. Fluid and uplifting, these sounds evoke moods a million miles from dreary rain soaked city of its birth as he hops from genre to genre. It is a stunning record which delicately pieces together beats, electronics, synths and acoustic guitars, with his pristine vocals gliding through a heavenly mist of lush harmonies, melodies, beats and electronics. One for fans of Caribou, Hot Chip and Jape. I have no doubt this would have featured much higher up the list had I not only got it less than a week ago.
Miaoux Miaoux – Cloud Computer
05. Tennis – Young & Old
Young & Old is Denver-based husband-and-wife duo, Tennis’, second LP. The album is swathed in soothing ’60s sounds, syrupy melodies and smart, soulful pop songs with captivating, richly melodic purr of singer Alaina Moore’s stunning voice at the fore. There is a very real retro vibe, yet not at one time does it feel old, stale or tired. It is bright, breezy, charming and uncomplicated, most importantly, it is damn fine record.
04. Mystery Jets – Radlands
Radlands sees Mystery Jets rediscover their sparkle following the mediocre Serotonin. Decamping to Texas to record the album, it sees them embrace a whole series of sweet Americana sounds. They haven’t lost sight of what made them such a great band in the first place; a blitz of wonderful indie, quirky eccentricity and a supreme ability to produce perfect pop songs. A thoroughly enjoyable and likeable record.
03. Conor Mason - Standstill
Standstill continues where 2009’s When It’s Over left off. It flows gently by, amid a sea of soft lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation. It is permeated by an air of richness, comforting tranquillity and shrouded in melancholy. Standstill is a slow burner and requires patience, understanding and repeated listens to be fully appreciated. Standstill is a beautiful, simplistic and assured album and sometimes that is quite enough.
Download: Conor Mason – Misunderstood
The 2 Bears debut LP, Be Strong is a scatter shot across the entire scope of electronic music which feels like foraging through a fine record collection. It is a cheery, cheeky and joyous amalgam of sounds and a massive injection of positivity amidst a time of dreariness and uncertainty. It is a worthy ode to the past two decades of dance music, a fine soundtrack to any weekend and most importantly, a bloody excellent dance record.
While Django Django’s debut album contains undeniable similarities with The Beta Band, they have far from copied or imitated. Part of the appeal is an ability to seamlessly blend genres and sounds from a melting pot of influences into a striking blend of understated indie, with an electro groove at its heart. Anchored by alluring harmonies and an undeniable groove which permeates the very core of this record, this is indie music to dance to. An inspired and wholly irresistible debut.