Album Analysis: Best music of ’12

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Introspective MCs, cosmic guitar balladeers and revived rock gods owned music in 2012 with epic albums.

This collection highlights the best albums of the past year and proves great artists focus on album-oriented music, rather than scattered singles.

10: “Life Is Good” by Nas

A senior citizen in rap years, Nas spits raps detailing an ugly divorce and raising young girls while being an ambassador for an often misogynistic genre of music. Life must be good for Nas; most rappers release one album then fizzle, but he’s been in the game since the early ‘90s. Standout Track: “A Queens Story” 

9: “Wrecking Ball” by Bruce Springsteen

Crooked bankers and corrupt politicians receive just punishment in the form of ransack guitars and bagpipes in Springsteen’s latest album; hip-hop influence even seeps into the diverse mix of songs. Standout Track: “Death to My Hometown”  

8: “A Thing Called Divine Fits” by Divine Fits

Pounding keyboards with simple drums and strings make this album a minimalist effort. However, poppy songs throughout show music can be fun and repetitive without annoying catch phrases and dances. Standout Track: “Flaggin a Ride”

7: “Bloom” by Beach House

The music on “Bloom” is interesting enough. Listeners can fall asleep or work out to any song—giving a Pink Floyd effect. If Arcade Fire landed on the moon, their tunes would sound like this. Standout Track: “Other People”

6: “Boys & Girls” by Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard is America’s strongest answer to Adele, but I don’t recall any Adele songs featuring chorus chants and thick, rhythmic guitar. Standout Track: “Hold On”

5: “Tempest” by Bob Dylan

Dylan released his first album 50 years ago yet maintains a fresh song writing approach. “Pay in Blood” exhibits his cynicism in cheeky verses not seen since “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Positively 4th Street.” Standout Track: “Pay in Blood”

4: “Psychedelic Pill” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

This is probably the most chaotic and unorganized album I’ve heard. “Psychedelic Pill” features triumphant songs longer than history class lectures and epic guitar solos longer than sitcom episodes. Standout Track: “Twisted Road”

3: “good kid, m.A.A.d city” by Kendrick Lamar

Produced by Dr. Dre, Lamar based “good kid, m.A.A.d city” around life in the ghetto. Sometimes the outcome reaches deep levels of angst and struggle—as in “good kid,” but other times Lamar teams up with friends Drake and Jay-Rock simply for fun. Standout Track: “Poetic Justice”

2: “Celebration Rock” by Japandroids

Japandroids are a bit edgier than most duos and create a catastrophic amount of sound for two people. A colorful pallet of influences makes sorting the band into a genre quite difficult. Standout Track: “Evil’s Sway”

1: “Blunderbuss” by Jack White

White Stripes who? My favorite album from 2012 proves White is a rock giant. Whether jamming with Jimmy Page and The Edge or running his own record label. Solos screech in “Freedom at 21,” elegant keys and acoustic guitar reign in the spacy “Love Interruption,” and “Blunderbus” is excellent throughout. Standout Track: “Love Interruption”