As a supplement to this week’s “Favorite Music of 2012” podcast, we’ll be posting top 10 album lists from all four participants over the course of the day. Here’s Nate’s list.
Best Album from Late-2011, but It Still Counts ‘Cause I Say So
Tom Waits, Bad As Me
Like Tom Waits? Sputtering carnival barkers? Tom Waits? Tight three-minute songs, featuring a host of guest musicians? Tom Waits? Good! This one’s pretty self-explanatory (Tom Waits). And, as a bonus, Tom Waits’s first studio album in seven years comes with a Grammy nomination—which is something they still give out! In case you’re not already on the Tom Waits bandwagon, don’t lose hope. Have a visual taste of Tom Waits in all his Tom-Waits-y glory:
Album that Best Represents What Goes on in Chad’s Brainspace
Dan Deacon, America
Like some electronic music? But you don’t want to completely lose real instruments, either, right? Get a bit apprehensive whenever someone recommends another “electronic” album (whatever that means these days)? Looking for something that feels more composed than the rest? Good! Dan Deacon’s America is deeply layered and textured with electronic sound, while still requiring an orchestra to record. It can be charging and frantic, and it can be sweepingly grandiose. It’s America, man.
Best Album Whose Songs Would Have Been Hits on an 80s Movie Soundtrack
Oberhofer, Time Capsules II
Need to step back from the electronic brink sometimes? Miss hearing something that’s not only guitar-based, but sounds refreshingly analog? Like the greatest hits of the 80s, but don’t know what to do because listening to the Breakfast Club soundtrack is just too depressing to bear? Good! There’s practically a movement within independent music, now, to blanket your songs with an 80s throwback vibe—except it’s nearly all found in the world of synth/dance-y stuff. Oberhofer’s got the guitar-based hit singles you’ve been missing from the 80s soundtracks that never existed.
Favorite Album from an Icelandic Band
Of Monsters and Men, My Head Is an Animal
Best Album That Really Gets Going in the Middle
Bat for Lashes, The Haunted Man
Hear a lot of albums this year? There are a lot of songs on those albums, huh? So many of them were just dull, right? And so many of the “nice” songs were, in the end, unremarkable? Good! This album seems like one of those, at first. Often slow and atmospheric, it may come off, initially, as a bit too agreeable . . . a bit to cool. Just before the middle, though, if it didn’t hit you earlier, the emotional resonance begins settling in, if you’ll let it.
Best Album from a Band with a Symbol for a Name
∆ (Alt-J), An Awesome Wave
Only just finished editing/producing the music podcast? It takes a long time, doesn’t it? Are you realizing you don’t have much time for these write-ups before it goes live? Good! Me, too. Then, you won’t mind if I just leave this video as the testament to this album. If you don’t like this song, frankly, there’s no chance you’ll like the album.
Best Album That I’m Surprised None of these Other Jerks Picked
Kishi Bashi, 151a
Like Animal Collective sometimes? Like Sigur Rós sometimes? Like Owen Pallet sometimes? Like multi-instrumentalists who release an album that reminds you, alternatingly, of the best of each of those groups, yet not derivative of any of them? Good! K Ishibashi’s first full-length gives you a lot. There are songs you’re going to favorite on first listen. On second and third listen, you’ll have some new favorites. On fourth and fifth listen . . .
Best Album with Exactly the Rock for Which I was Looking
Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror
Wanna rock? Good!
Best Album That I Initially Wrote Off As Redundant
Cat Power, Sun
Like Cat Power? Maybe only some of Cat Power, though? Honestly, maybe you’re a little tired of Cat Power these days? Good! Because this particular Cat Power album is filled with restraint—thus, the initial feeling that it was merely warmed over versions of songs she’d already written before. On closer inspection, though, it’s that same restraint which allows all the subtly wonderful melodies and intricate production details on this album to shine through spectacularly.
Best Album That I Don’t Like, but, on Which Is One of My Favorite Songs of the Year
Brendan Benson, What Kind of World
Like songs? Sometimes just a certain song? And sometimes the rest of the album doesn’t work for you? But that one song, right? It’s addictive and on your playlist for months? Good! This one’s for you. As long as you can let your guard down long enough to be a sucker for a semi-sincere power ballad, then you’re gonna love this.
This slender, uncanny volume—the second, best-selling collection of stories by Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskaya to appear in the U.S.—has already received considerable, well-deserved praise from many critics and high profile publications. Its seventeen short tales, averaging ten pages each, are. . .
The Urdu word basti refers to any space, intimate to worldly, and is often translated as “common place” or “a gathering place.” This book by Intizar Husain, who is widely regarded as one of the most important living Pakistani writers,. . .
The Whispering Muse, one of three books by Icelandic writer Sjón just published in North America, is nothing if not inventive. Stories within stories, shifting narration, leaps in time, and characters who transform from men to birds and back again—you’ve. . .
Luis Negrón’s debut collection Mundo Cruel is a journey through Puerto Rico’s gay world. Published in 2010, the book is already in its fifth Spanish edition. Here in the U.S., the collection has been published by Seven Stories Press and. . .
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars
from the bank of shadow to have watched
the scattered lights
my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations
to have heard the ring of. . .
When Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason first published LoveStar, his darkly comic parable of corporate power and media influence run amok, the world was in a very different place. (This was back before both Facebook and Twitter, if you can. . .
When starting Hi, This Is Conchita and Other Stories, Santiago Roncagliolo’s second work to be translated into English, I was expecting Roncagliolo to explore the line between evil and religion that was front and center in Red April. Admittedly, I. . .
Christa Wolf’s newly-translated City of Angels is a novel of atonement, and in this way the work of art that it resembles most to me is not another book, but the 2003 Sophia Coppola film Lost in Translation. Like that. . .
French author—philosopher, poet, novelist—de Roblès writes something approaching the Great (Latin) American Novel, about Brazilian characters, one of whom is steeped in the life of the seventeenth century polymath (but almost always erroneous) Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. Eleazard von Wogau, a. . .
A rich, beautifully written, consistently surprising satire, Yan Lianke’s Lenin’s Kisses boasts an elaborate, engrossing plot with disarming twists and compelling characters both challenged and challenging. It leads the reader on a strange pilgrimage—often melancholy but certainly rewarding—through a China. . .