Albums of the Year – theTop Five!

Here we are - the top 5 albums of the year in our humble Spend Matters opinion! Do tell us what you think of our choice....


Django Django with Django Django

Amazing that this debut album emerged from nowhere (well, Edinburgh actually), with such a level of both maturity and uniqueness of sound – literally unique, as I can't think of another band that sound like this, yet it is also a really “commercial” sound. The art-pop-dance foursome combine surf guitar, bongos, electronics, harmony Beach Boys type vocals with the odd chant thrown in, catchy tunes and incredibly toe-tapping dance rhythms to make this a brilliant feel-good album. I defy anyone to sit still to tracks like Life’s a Beach or Zumm Zumm .. or pretty much any of it actually (I’m bopping away at the keyboard listening to them as I write this!)


Grimes with Visions

This is just a stunning achievement and an amazing creative accomplishment. A 22 year old Canadian girl, making her own music electronically in her room – and becoming an unlikely global sensation. It sounds like nothing else, electronic, ambient, trippy, folky, hip-hop with incredible atmosphere and emotion. Beware, some (like my wife) find the somewhat little-girl vocals with indecipherable lyrics irritating, but some of this album is simply as beautiful as anything I've heard for many years. At other times, it can be more challenging listening, but overall I suspect it is the 2012 album that stands the best chance of being in the “best of all time” lists in 20 years time.

Here’s a real treat – her entire 27 minute “live” performance for a brilliant Seattle radio station, KEXP.

No. 3

Sharon Van Etten with Tramp

Another album that his hit the top in the end of year reviews (number one in the Fly magazine and Drowned in Sound website), and those accolades are pretty much deserved. More tuneful than Patti Smith, less eccentric than Kate Bush or P.J. Harvey, less overtly country that Lucinda Williams, this is a fine collection of strong rock songs with touches of country and folk. Lyrically interesting, and songs that grow on you – I suspect in retrospect I will come back to this more than perhaps any other album from this year. (Warning – there’s some pretty inoffensive /non- sexual nudity in this rather beautiful but strange video).


My Head is an Animal – Of Monsters and Men

This isn’t featuring in many end of the year lists. Icelandic folk-rockers in wool sweaters with trumpets and accordions? But also with great songs that draw you in emotionally, lyrics that sound like a second language yet somehow sound just right.. their rise is a real rags to riches story (or Reykjavik to Reading Festival as we might say) but well deserved. An album I know I'll listen to for many years to come. And seeing thousands of kids get out of their tents hours earlier than usual to pack out the NME tent for them at 12 noon at Reading was one of the sights of the year! A nice live, acoustic version here of one of their best songs, highlighting their folk club roots.


No. 1

Alt-J with  An Awesome Wave

Now that they've won the Mercury Music Prize and their album is being advertised on prime time TV, it’s hard to remember just how.. well, plain weird Alt-J's music is. When I first heard it, I found it really quite disorientating (in a good way), mixing as it does folk, dubstep, rock, plainsong, and one of the most strangulated vocal styles I've ever heard. Yet through it all, the songs are memorable and catchy, and extra points for their lack of showbiz pretension. Can they follow it or will this be one of those amazing debut one-offs? I don't know, but this is a great album anyway.

I hope you enjoyed our countdown - comments very welcome! And I'm already looking forward to some of early 2013's promising albums - from (amongst others) Tribes , Joy Formidable, Foals, and perhaps most excitingly, The Villagers. We'll be featuring many of them here - thanks for reading.

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Voices (3)

  1. Planbee:

    Once a gain a varied and interesting list Peter, where do you find them all (and the time)?. Some I love some I dont, but the UK record industry has already benefited as I have ordered a CD (remember them?) based on one listen of one of the tracks (Spector). No doubt I will buy some more.

    I have listened to Alt J for a while and it is definitely different. Not sure it will stand the test of time though – ‘Triangles are My Favourite Shape’ Really?

    And much as I love Of Monsters and Men, and jolly though it is I can see a time when I’ve had enough of the ‘Hey!’s’

  2. Sandra:

    You have two of my top five in here. I must admit I was wary of Alt-J as I’m often disappointed by award winners but when 6 Music named it album of the year I had to give it a listen. Wow! I had it on repeat for days and even looked forward to my commute this morning so I could give it a full back-to-back listen.

    Thank you for taking the time to compile this list – there’s some great music in here!

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