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.
Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .
The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
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. . .