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2012: An artsy retrospective

Daily Arts gives you a whirlwind tour of this year’s best.

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 08:12

“Channel Orange” — Frank Ocean

“Channel Orange” feels like a game-changer. Incredible vocals, intelligent productions and intricate lyrics make Ocean’s debut not only an amazing album but also the emergence of a true star.

“The Idler Wheel...” — Fiona Apple

After a seven-year hiatus, Apple has returned with an extraordinary record. Her voice is still astounding and her lyrics are as shrewdly astute as ever. Per usual, this makes for one spellbinding album.

“Babel” — Mumford & Sons

The British indie rockers continue to use banjos to great effect. Their 2012 album “Babel” lived up to the incredibly high expectations wrought by their extraordinary debut album “Sigh No More” (2009).

“good Kid, m.A.A.d city” — Kendrick Lamar

With his new release, Kendrick Lamar has crossed over from huge potential to legitimate talent. His dense lyrics and forward-thinking beats make “good Kid, m.A.A.d city” an album worth multiple listens.

“America” — Dan Deacon

Deacon delivers an album as massive and complex as its title, crafting soundscapes that segue from industrial howls to soothing synth balladry with surprising fluidity. The full breadth of Deacon’s talent, which dabbles in noise rock and classical composition with equal aplomb, is on full display here.

“Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” — Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Since its inception in the mid ‘90s, Godspeed You! Black Emperor has impeccably crafted a genre for itself with its mix of ambiance, unconventional instrumental work and otherworldly spoken word samples. “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” proves that, somehow, Godspeed! has only gotten better at miraculously turning so little into so much.

“Coexist” — The xx

Jamie XX’s sparse and infectious beats are reason alone to love The xx’s sophomore effort. Throw some lovely harmonies and heartrending lyrics on top of them, and it’s a record that’ll please old and new fans alike.

“Shields” — Grizzly Bear

After the success of its meticulous yet helplessly catchy “Veckatimest” (2009), Grizzly Bear had pretty big shoes to fill. Thankfully, its follow up was just as finely wrought as its predecessor, delivering the same imaginative songwriting and production we’ve come to expect without any sense of redundancy. “Shields” shows the band at its most mature — assured of its identity, yet never comfortable enough to rely on cliches of its own invention.

“An Awesome Wave” — Alt-J

Only having released its debut album earlier this year, Alt-J is already becoming widely recognized on the British festival circuit and radio waves. With a unique brand of “folktronica,” it spans the genre gap of folk and electronic music seamlessly.

“Lonerism” — Tame Impala

At once unabashed pastiche and a forerunner of pop culture, something nostalgic and something groundbreaking, Tame Impala has returned with its second record to the delight of psychedelic fans everywhere. The band has only improved with time -— lush soundscapes wrap around Kevin Parker’s vocals, and barreling drums and guitar always manage to pick things up when they inevitably, wonderfully get carried away.

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