Top 50 Albums of 2012

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Treble's Top 50 Albums of 2012

40. Pig DestroyerBook Burner (Relapse)

Not to be outdone in a year of stunning successes by metal contemporaries (Torche, Converge, etc.), grindcore prodigies Pig Destroyer upped the heaviness ante with Book Burner, their follow-up to 2007’s Phantom Limb. Taking the expanded production of that album and treating their early-career intensity with it, Pig Destroyer created something massive and aggressive. It doesn’t beat around the bush either — from the very beginning with the crushing onslaught of “Sis,” through the final track, “Permanent Funeral” (both excellent songs), it attacks viciously, a wall of lightning-quick technical precision. This consistency doesn’t result in monotony, though, as Pig Destroyer weaves in enough musical kinks to keep each song engaging. This year, as they generally do, the Richmond quartet kept grindcore’s cutting edge sharp. – Connor Brown

Video: Pig Destroyer – “The Diplomat”

39. Godspeed You! Black EmperorALLELUJAH! DON’T BEND! ASCEND!

The last time Godspeed You! Black Emperor released an album I had just started college. Before that a friend told me about Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, how it was some spoken word-type album with a guy going on and on about conspiracies or something. It wasn’t exactly like that, as it turned out, but it was something to behold for sure. So six years after that album when I realized they hadn’t done anything in a while, I wasn’t that upset about it. They had taken over the post-rock reins and shot it to unheard of heights in the process. What more was there to do? Just put on Mogwai and get on with life, I guess. But now they’re back. Not much has really changed. GY!BE still play heart-detonating post-apocalyptic symphonies on a monumental scale and people still live the hopeless lives that beg for heart-detonating post-apocalyptic symphonies on a monumental scale. It’s really great when things like that work out. – Chris Morgan

Stream: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Mladic”

38. Mount EerieOcean Roar (P.W. Elverum and Sun)

Years before the experimental post-metal gloom of Ocean Roar (Mount Eerie’s 2nd full-length of 2012), Phil Elverum performed at a house in western Pennsylvania near the middle of the forest. That night, after the show, he refused the comfort of a warm house and instead slept in his truck. Mother Nature must’ve expected him, because one of the worst storms of the year ruptured the woods with an onslaught of lightning and terrifying thunder one second, and tranquil droplets of rain the next. A stormy metaphor has never better captured the loneliness and gloom of an Elverum release than with this album —those familiar with Elverum’s work understand the magnitude of that statement. – Rick Moslen

Stream: Mount Eerie – “Ocean Roar”

37. Mac DeMarco2 (Captured Tracks)

“Cookin’ Up Something Good,” the first song on Mac DeMarco’s 2, isn’t only a standout opening track, it’s also a near perfect description of DeMarco’s laid-back, Tempurpedic-soft songwriting. He’ll start the stew with a couple of warm guitars before deftly chopping in nonchalant vocals to get mouths watering. Those two top-shelf ingredients could satisfy most tastebuds, but Demarco turns a nice treat into a hearty meal with honest subject matter that vividly portrays everything from twisted suburbias to personal confessions. DeMarco’s music is refreshingly down-to-earth yet complex; each of the 11 tracks reveals an understanding of the importance of subtlety and the potential potency of ambiguity — traits that make the young 22-year-old wise beyond his hopefully exciting years to come. – Donny Giovannini

Stream: Mac DeMarco – “Ode to Viceroy”

36. SpiritualizedSweet Heart Sweet Light
(Fat Possum)

Clichés don’t get to become clichés unless they’re time-tested and true. And while J. Spaceman is over-the-hill, found here working wondrous, grandiose arrangements that are almost laughably cliché, you can’t really laugh while listening as he was pulling through a battle for his life against cancer while writing these tracks. And it’s that earnestness and vulnerability that turn Sweet Heart, Sweet Light into a poignant parody of itself.

Pierce confronts death frequently and not-so-subtly on the record. He works it in matter-of-factly. Before writing this, his brain was daily faced with questions like “Hey, when ya gonna die?” and thoughts like, “Sometimes I wish that I was dead, cause only the living can feel the pain.” So that’s what shows up as a languorous chorus here and a listless gut-check there amidst the blunt grandeur. Therein lies the salvation: the clichés. The bright melodies and banal proverbs; the only solace when you can’t hide from the harshest of realities. This is the compelling balance that brings you back to Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. – Justin Stephani

Stream: Spiritualized – “Hey Jane”

35. John TalabotƒIN (Permanent Vacation)

21st century beach mythology received another shot in the arm with the release of this Barcelona producer’s first full length, which builds on both the solar, club-friendly euphoria of the track he made his alias with, “Sunshine,” and the poppier direction suggested by “Families,” a collaboration with Glasser. What keeps his particular vision of Balearic house from becoming a cloying mess of tropical signifiers is the way it’s infused with alternating measures of disco, new wave and post-punk, and while some tracks are all about unresolved tension, or even a mood tinged with a share of darkness, others are pure sun-spangled release. When these two tendencies meet, as on the standout closer, “So Will Be Now,” the image of an endless summer, and the balmy nights it heralds, is at its most enveloping. – Tyler Parks

Stream: John Talabot – “So Will Be Now”

34. The MenOpen Your Heart (Sacred Bones)

The Men is a band. Whether it is composed entirely of men I can’t say, and I really don’t feel like looking. Open Your Heart is their third album, and it is not bad, quite good in fact. People seem to like how it mixes various guitar-based genres and things like that. I simply like it because it’s essentially a scuffed-up, open wound type of punk album. Though I admit that it does help them somewhat by having more fun with it than most others are willing to. But such is the essence of why we give a shit. – Chris Morgan

Stream: The Men – “Open Your Heart”

33. Lotus PlazaSpooky Action At a Distance (Kranky)

Lockett Pundt has always been the heart of Deerhunter. Yes, Bradford Cox is in the spotlight most of the time, but Pundt, if overshadowed by his bandmate in sheer volume, is responsible for some of the band’s best tunes (“Agoraphobia,” “Desire Lines”) and a talented songwriter in his own right. Case in point: this album. Spooky Action At A Distance echoes a lot of familiar territory, specifically side two of Cryptograms. Elements of dream pop and shoegaze pervade the album, as well as some gloriously clean and polished tones. It’s definitely one of the better indie rock albums of the year and a reminder that Pundt may well be any of his bands’ secret weapon. – Giovanni Martinez

Stream: Lotus Plaza – “Strangers”

32. Sleigh BellsReign of Terror (Mom + Pop)

There was a time, before samples and synthesizers, when rock music consisted of leather jackets, stage dives, circle-pits and ear-shredding volume. Yet despite Reign of Terror‘s heavy use of layered samples, fabricated beats and a voice gorgeous enough to be featured on an M83 track, jaw-dropping noise and metal-edged pop is what Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss serve up on Sleigh Bells’ sophomore album. Expanding on the noisy approach introduced on 2010’s Treats, Reign of Terror features a more guitar-centered aesthetic, and even more pop smarts. Sure, in some ways, the novelty of Sleigh Bells might be at risk of wearing itself thin, but with so many stellar tracks, (namely “Born to Lose,” “End of the Line,” “Comeback Kid” and “Demons”), you won’t hear me complaining. – A.T. Bossenger

Stream: Sleigh Bells – “Born to Lose”

31. Passion PitGossamer (Columbia)

I’ll admit that it’s a little difficult for me to listen to Gossamer without hearing it through the prism of singer Michael Angelakos’ reported troubles. The Passion Pit frontman has been fairly open about the breakdowns and general mental instability he’s faced (which ultimately led to the band’s cancelled tour earlier this year). Perhaps being privy to Gossamer‘s backstory just makes Angelakos’ songs that much more relatable. Because let’s face it, for all of the band’s pop smarts, it’s that human fragility in their music that arguably makes it so affecting. When Angelakos sings “I’ll Be Alright,” it’s a little hard to believe him; but that refreshing lack of pretension sure makes it easy to root for him anyway. – Chris Karman

Stream: Passion Pit – “I’ll Be Alright”

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