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 Will Cleveland’s list.
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
The Canadian post-rock icons returned with their first album in 10 years, and it proved that they are still the best. This album is huge, symphonic, and breathtakingly beautiful. I was lucky enough to experience them live in concert this year in Buffalo. Here is a video I shot at the show of the opening song.
2. Kowloon Walled City, Container Ships
The Bay area quartet delivers sludge-y bummer jams. The music is beautifully produced and it beautifully recorded. The bassist, Ian Miller, is one half of the Productive Outs baseball podcast/blog. It is one of my favorite spots on the internet, and his musical endeavors are every bit as awesome as his baseball ones.
3. The Evens, The Odds
This is the first new album from the Evens in six years. I love the vocal interplay between husband and wife duo of Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina. And the contrast between Farina’s inventive drumming and MacKaye’s baritone guitar is excellent. Here’s a sample.
4. El-P, Cancer 4 Cure
El-P is the master. His space-y, science fiction-influenced beats are both schizophrenic and beautiful. I’ve love El-P since his Company Flow and Def Jux days. His production on Cannibal Ox’s “The Cold Vein” still stands as my single favorite hip-hop album of all-time. As a rapper, he is both brutally honest and slightly abstract. In a year full of great rap releases, this one stands out the most to me.
5. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
The Odd Future crooner hit new heights for me this year. His “nostalgia, ULTRA” mixtape found its way into my top 10 last year, and he really surpasses it with his debut. I was lucky enough to see him live in Toronto over the summer. And in the live setting, his voice is untouchable. The performance was both intimate and grandiose. I love his unique vision of old school soul.
6. Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream
I’ve loved Miguel since his contributions to Blu and Exile’s “Below the Heavens.” That album is a masterpiece. And while Miguel’s debut album didn’t really resonate with me, his second one truly does. Like Frank Ocean, Miguel delivers R&B goodness with honesty and aplomb.
7. Joey Bada$$, 1999
At just 17 years old, Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$ is insanely talented. His “1999” mixtape highlights his uniquely old school sensibility. Bada$$ and his entire Progressive Era family give rap music an exciting new voice. I am really stoked to see where he goes next.
8. Flying Lotus/Captain Murphy, Until the Quiet Comes/Duality
It’s really hard for me to separate the dual releases from Steven Ellison this year. FlyLo’s release is his most muted to date, but it sits along his two earlier albums in terms of innovation and beauty. And when Captain Murphy surfaced earlier this summer, blogs were ablaze, trying to figure out the rapper’s true identity. Speculation ran from Tyler, the Creator to a slew of others. But when Ellison revealed himself as Captain Murphy, it all made sense. The Murphy project is a new stoner-rap-like outlet. It features a number of great beats from FlyLo and contributions from Earl Sweatshirt. It’s one of my favorite releases of the year.
9. The xx, Coexist
Just watch The xx perform with the BBC Philharmonic live earlier this year and you can begin to understand my love of them. Their second album is a thing of beauty.
10. Clams Casino, Instrumentals Mixtape 2
Beats like “Palace” and “I’m God” show that this New Jersey hip-hop producer is the new master. His second self-released collection highlights his unique ability to mine interesting vocal samples and overlay them in his woozy, thumping productions.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
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Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .