The end of the year is the one time on the music industry calendar when the critics take center stage, as best-of lists flood the Internet. While performers become either the objects of affection or the cause of disappointment each December, PopMatters is giving artists a chance to play critic, asking them to supply us with the albums, songs, musical moments, and whatever else (President Obama’s re-election, Mars Curiosity Rover, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, anyone?) that struck their fancy in 2012. What you’ll see is a broad range of favorites—some echoing the critics, but many not—as well as a good dose of holiday camaraderie among peers.
A.Dd+, with the Cannabinoids and DJ Sober
Here’s a list of top 10 moments from 2012:
Being a part of the Claps & Slaps Tour with Black Milk
Dallas Observer Awards: A.Dd+ won “Best Group Act” and “Best Rap/Hip Hop Act”, the Cannabinoids won “Best Funk/R&B Act”, and DJ Sober won “Best DJ”
Being on the cover of the Dallas Observer, Dallas’ alternative weekly
Rondo stage dive: A fan, Rondo, decided to stage dive at the Schoolboy Q show we opened. In the middle of the performance he got on top of a speaker and jumped in to the crowd. Needless to say, the crowd parted and dude hit the floor.
Going on the Red Bull Skooled Tour
Opening up for Talib Kweli on the West Coast
Performing at Atlanta’s annual hip-hop festival, A3C Fest
Performing at FunFunFun Fest again this year
Halloween/Justice, DJ Sober opened sold-out show
Being mentioned in the New York Times
Rap group A.Dd+ was chosen as the best group act by the Dallas Observer in 2012. They released When Pigs Fly and a singles collection Loosies in 2011.
1. Rick Ross, “Hold Me Back”
2. E-40, featuring IamSu!, YG, Problem, “Function”
3. Future, “Same Damn Time”
4. G.O.O.D. Music, “New God Flow”
5. MMM, “Actin’ Up”
6. Killer Mike, “Reagan”
7. Future, featuring Juicy J, “I’m Trippin’”
8. Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
9. Juicy J, featuring Lil’ Wayne , 2 Chainz, “Bands Make Her Dance”
10. E-40, featuing Cousin Fik, “Wasted”
Bay Area rapper akaFRANK is preparing The Boycott mixtape for release in early 2013.
Alt-J’s Gus Unger-Hamilton
1. Poliça, Give You the Ghost: This for me is a quintessential “headphones album”—my favourite way to listen to music is while I’m walking around somewhere. Polica’s album, with its beautiful vocals and production, has been a constant companion in 2012.
2. Django Django, Django Django: We played at a lot of the same festivals as Django Django this year, so the way I first heard their music was live. However, this took me to the album, which I have learned to love as much as their stage show.
3. Romare, Meditations on Afrocentrism EP: This guy is one half of a band we knew in Leeds, the Peppermint Lounge. The band has since split, but both members continue to make music on their own. This was Archie’s debut release, a four-track EP of footwork, dubstep, world, and house that I think is truly original.
4. The Lumineers, The Lumineers: I discovered this album while touring the States this autumn—I am a folk music lover at heart, and this is a very strong album.
5. Oberhofer, Time Capsules II: I know little about this band, but my friend in San Francisco got me into them via the track “Heart”. It’s a varied and intriguing record that I’ve been listening to more and more.
6. The Maccabees, Given to the Wild: I’ve loved this band since I first heard a demo of theirs on late-night BBC Radio 1 some time in the mid-noughties, when I was a teenager. Each subsequent album of theirs has represented a musical maturation for the band, and their third offering is no different. Another headphones record!
7. Metronomy’s LateNightTales compilation: The first LateNightTales compilation I got was the Cinematic Orchestra’s, a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been addicted to this series. Metronomy [aka Joseph Mount and co.] are one of my favourite bands (their third album was my “record of 2011”), and this is a great mix by one of the most daring and visionary musicians working in Britain today.
8. The Cribs, In The Belly of the Brazen Bull: No Cribs album has ever disappointed me, from their eponymous debut almost ten years ago, to this, their fifth studio album. I’ll always be interested in what this band is doing.
9. Cave Painting, Votive Life: We toured with this band in May around the time of our album release. They’d finished their debut record, but hadn’t released it yet, so I got a chance to get to know it both through their live set and an advance copy they gave me. Whilst I think they convey more live, this is still a really good collection of songs, thoughtfully written and produced.
10. Stealing Sheep, Into the Diamond Sun: Another band which has supported us this year, a female three-piece from Liverpool. Folky harmonies sung over psychedelic instrumentals, and a genuine sense of magic,make this a perfect album for me.
Alt-J’s debut album An Awesome Wave won the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2012. It also placed as #61 on PopMatters’ list of the best albums of 2012.