One Day I'm Going To Soar - Dexys
The magnificent return of Kevin Rowland. A quite incredible album, autobiographical, funny, moving and full of energy, love and care. I would strongly urge anyone to check out this exceptional album, ambitious and grand, the album that Rowland has been dreaming of delivering for decades.
Electric Cables - Lightships
Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub released a gorgeous album full of his trademarks; melody, hooks, mentions of the sunshine, the city, the countryside, escaping.... A lot of care has gone into this album, the guitar riffs, melodies played on xylophone and vocally are gorgeous, I love it. Timeless.
Light of the North - Miaoux Miaoux
The release of this album absolutely delighted me having previously worked with Julian (Miaoux Miaoux). Released on Chemikal the album received fantastic reviews and must surely have whet the appetite of many for the next installment. Check out the absolutely stunning 'Stop the Clocks' for starters if you haven't already, the musical trip of the year.
In Space - BMX Bandits
Duglas T Stewart rejoins us on planet earth with a band of Bandits to release an incredible album, following on from 'My Chain' and 'Bee Stings'. Stewart is in the best songwriting form of his life, heavily influenced by favourite and classic artists like Wilson and Bacharach. Check out 'The Unforgiven' for an incredible vocal performance from Stewart and a possible career highlight. Also a very personal album for me as my sister Carla (TeenCanteen) has a song 'Fireworks' covered by the Bandits.
In Our Heads - Hot Chip
It was a busy year for Hot Chip with side projects including The 2 Bears and New Build also releasing excellent albums. The best was from the main project though, their debut for Domino. The album starts in a rich vein with 'Motion Sickness', 'How Do You Do?' and 'Don't Deny Your Heart' all showcasing a band on truly top form. This form continues throughout the album and the closing 'Let Me Be Him' and 'Always Been Your Love' are just beautiful.
Coexist - The xx
Sparsely beautiful, heartbreakingly so at times. The xx follow up their exquisite debut with a sublime second album. The songwriting, performance, structure and production make them stand out a mile from their peers.
Oh No, I Love You - Tim Burgess
My love for The Charlatans and Tim Burgess is probably well documented through the history of this blog but I didn't anticipate this album. Written with Kurt Wagner from Lambchop, Burgess turns in a performance that showed the depth of his skills as a writer, performer and collaborator. 2012 was a memorable year for Tim with the release of his autobiography, co-managing a label, a tour with The Charlatans, curating some festival stages/tents and launching his own brand of coffee! Whatever next? A breakfast cereal anyone?
Sugaring Season - Beth Orton
Beth Orton returned in October this year after a 6-year absence with a beautiful album. Beth's voice has never sounded better, rising, falling, sounding sweet, innocent and full of hope at times and then full of regret and experience at others.
Sweet Heart, Sweet Light - Spiritualized
Jason Pierce delivers yet again. No real surprises, we have the hushed, fucked up vocals, religious overtones, drug overtones and when Pierce finds a melody and hook he loves he hammers it home in mantra style fashion. There is one little surprise, his 11-year old daughter guesting on the gorgeous closer 'So Long You Pretty Thing.' Her name?....Poppy...
Blunderbuss - Jack White
Jack's back, well he never really goes away does he? This is a tremendous collection of songs full of White's unique delivery of melody and some exceptional guitar playing. 'Take Me With You When You Go' (the albums closing song) absolutely floored me when I first heard it and I had to play it about 5 times in a row. It flows superbly but then goes off in a completely new direction at around 1 minute 55 seconds, coming on like Sufjan Stevens for a few seconds before White comes in with a great guitar riff and a vocal melody that leaves you breathless. Simply stunning, no-one else can touch him when he is in that kind of form. In the zone!
So there you have it, I also liked the albums from New Build and 2-Bears (Hot Chip offshoots), Alabama Shakes and Bruce Springsteen. I seem to be the only person who found the Django Django album to be massively disappointing considering the hype.