Saturday, 5 January 2013

Top twelve of 2012: Music

I know, I know.  I'm really late to the party with my round-ups of last year.  Better late than never, hey?

2012 was definitely, for me, the year of the single.  While I was underwhelmed by new album released from Grizzly Bear, Bloc Party, Beach House, Fiona Apple and others, there have been an absolute ton of single releases that I have adored.  I also saw some amazing live shows which have made the cut in my top twelve of 2012.

1. Grizzly Bear live at Nottingham Albert Hall, 29th August
Although I was somewhat disappointed to not immediately love their new album, Shields, Grizzly Bear live were anything but a disappointment.  Their incredible harmonies sounded amazing in the Albert Hall and their live versions of Ready, Able and While You Wait For The Others were awe-inspiring.

2. Ryan Adams live at Sheffield City Hall, 27th April
He played a 2 1/2 hour set on his own - just an acoustic guitar (which he ocassionally switched for a piano), a mouth organ and his voice - and it was completely captivating.  I still get shivers thinking of him singing Come Pick Me Up.  Highlight of the evening?  When he favourited my tweet about the show later that night!

3. Summer Sundae Festival at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 18th August
I love this local Leicester festival, and am very sad that it's going on hiatus for a year in 2013.  Last year I only went for one day; highlights included Lucy Rose; lowlights included seeing lots of pupils that I teach, while clutching pints of cider and feeling slightly tipsy.

4. End of Time by Beyonce
My love for this celebratory, endlessly happy R&B tune (which I wrote about here) hasn't waned in the past eight months since its release. 

5. R U Mine? by Arctic Monkeys
Utterly brilliant, swampy-guitared, grungy comeback single from Sheffield's finest.

6. 212 by Azelia Banks
Rude, crude and brilliant.

7. Angels by The xx
From the pure filth of 212 to this beautiful lead single from The xx's latest album; I was equally obsessed with both of them last autumn.

8. Silver & Gold by Sufjan Stevens
The second, five CD box set of Christmas songs Stevens has released; it's really not as horrifying as it sounds, with a lovely mixture of traditional carols, original compositions and Christmas standards like Sleigh Ride.

9. Girls & Boys by Alabama Shakes
In the case of Alabama Shakes, do believe the hype.  This album wasn't quite up to the standard of their live shows, but it's still a fantastic listen.

10. The Idler Wheel... by Fiona Apple
I might have felt a little underwhelmed by Apple's new album, but that's not to say it isn't head and shoulders above most other releases this year.  Not at all deviating from her, "write songs about love and loss that sound like a nervous breakdown in progress," template, my highlights include Periphery and Anything We Want.

11. Ben Folds Five live at Leeds O2 Academy, 1st December
If only for the lovely moment when the entire audience (and I mean 'entire', I'm pretty sure Richard and I were the only ones not partaking: we don't do participation) was singing the interlude from Army in an attempt to get the band back onstage for an encore.

12. Lonerism by Tame Impala
Bought at the very end of 2012 but scraping into the top twelve anyway, Lonerism by Australian band Tame Impala is sun-soaked, psychedelic rock nostalgia at its very best.

But honourable mentions must also go to the following singles: Euphoria by Loreen, which won the Eurovision Song Contest this year and which reminds me of being at Leicester Pride; One Direction's new single Kiss You, which is almost as good a slice of cheesy pop as You Don't Know You're Beautiful; Solange's new single Losing You, which I'm obsessed with at the moment (and it's produced by my imaginary boyfriend Dev Hynes); Blood Red Shoes' Cold; and Breezeblocks by Alt-J.

What were your musical highlights of 2012?

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