The Artists Pick the Best of 2012, Part 1

Rockstar playing solo on guitar © Vlasov Volodymyr. Image via

PopMatters is giving the artists a chance to play critic, asking them to let us in on the albums, songs, musical moments, and whatever else struck their fancy in 2012.

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.

  • Next Page




    The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

    Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.


    Siren Songs' Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

    Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.


    Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

    PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.


    Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

    Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.


    Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

    Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.


    Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

    France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.


    Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

    Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.


    The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

    Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


    ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

    Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


    Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

    The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.


    Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

    Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.


    Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

    Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

    Collapse Expand Reviews

    Collapse Expand Features
    PM Picks
    Collapse Expand Pm Picks

    © 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
    PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.