Stereogum’s Top 25 Albums Of 2012 So Far

By Stereogum / May 23, 2012

The year isn’t half over yet. We know that. But since everyone starts unveiling their year-end lists in November, we figured we wouldn’t be too far out of pocket if we unveiled our favorites of the 2012 calendar year the week before Memorial Day.

Our favorite album of the year (so far) is the one on which a talented young band teamed up with a production hero of the ’90s and immersed themselves in the decade’s hard, chunky, scraping, anthemic rock music. There’s no drift at all in Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory — just forward drive, rendered with style and conviction. That same Clinton-era ferocity is on display in a bunch of the other albums that appear on this list. Japandroids, Screaming Females both ran with it, and so, in their own ways, did Torche and Ceremony. Other albums don’t necessarily draw on that decade’s style, but they do sprint into chaotic combat in refreshingly concrete ways: El-P, Sleigh Bells, Killer Mike, Death Grips.

But it doesn’t make too much sense to impose a narrative on this list. There’s plenty of druggy float in the albums from Beach House and Future and the Chromatics, and plenty of glamorous sheen in the records from Chairlift and Rick Ross and Kindness. The albums that appear on our list don’t really share too much in common, except this: They’re all deeply personal, idiosyncratic visions. That, and we like all of them. Check out our list below.

STEREOGUM’S TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2012 SO FAR

Heems - Nehru Jackets25 HeemsNehru Jackets (Greedhead)

Ceremony - Zoo24 CeremonyZoo (Matador)

Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic Sorcery23 Willis Earl BealAcousmatic Sorcery (Hot Charity/XL)

Grimes - Visions22 GrimesVisions (4AD/Arbutus)

Kindness - World You Need A Change Of Mind21 KindnessWorld You Need A Change Of Mind (Polydor/Female Energy)

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light20 SpiritualizedSweet Heart Sweet Light (Fat Possum)

Chromatics - Kill For Love19 ChromaticsKill For Love (Italians Do It Better)

Death Grips - The Money Store18 Death GripsThe Money Store (Epic)

Frankie Rose - Interstellar17 Frankie RoseInterstellar (Slumberland)

Tanlines - Mixed Emotions16 TanlinesMixed Emotions (True Panther)

Torche - Harmonicraft 15 TorcheHarmonicraft (Volcom)

Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action At A Distance14 Lotus PlazaSpooky Action At A Distance (Kranky)

Julia Holter - Ekstasis13 Julia HolterEkstasis (Rvng Intl.)

Action Bronson And Party Supplies - Blue Chips12 Action Bronson & Party SuppliesBlue Chips (self-released)

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music11 Killer MikeR.A.P. Music (Williams Street)

Future - Pluto10 FuturePluto (Epic/A1/Free Bandz)

Sleigh Bells - Reign Of Terror09 Sleigh BellsReign Of Terror (Mom + Pop)

Rick Ross - Rich Forever08 Rick RossRich Forever (Maybach Music)

Screaming Females - Ugly07 Screaming FemalesUgly (Don Giovanni)

El-P - Cancer For Cure06 El-PCancer For Cure (Fat Possum)

Beach House - Bloom05 Beach HouseBloom (Sub Pop)

Japandroids - Celebration Rock04 JapandroidsCelebration Rock (Polyvinyl)

Chairlift - Something03 ChairliftSomething (Columbia)

The Walkmen - Heaven02 The WalkmenHeaven (Fat Possum)

Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory01 Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory (Carpark)

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Here’s that list in a more scannable format:

25 HeemsNehru Jackets
24 CeremonyZoo
23 Willis Earl BealAcousmatic Sorcery
22 GrimesVisions
21 KindnessWorld You Need A Change Of Mind
20 SpiritualizedSweet Heart Sweet Light
19 ChromaticsKill For Love
18 Death GripsThe Money Store
17 Frankie RoseInterstellar
16 TanlinesMixed Emotions
15 TorcheHarmonicraft
14 Lotus PlazaSpooky Action At A Distance
13 Julia HolterEkstasis
12 Action Bronson & Party SuppliesBlue Chips
11 Killer MikeR.A.P. Music
10 FuturePluto
09 Sleigh BellsReign Of Terror
08 Rick RossRich Forever
07 Screaming FemalesUgly
06 El-PCancer For Cure
05 Beach HouseBloom
04 JapandroidsCelebration Rock
03 ChairliftSomething
02 The WalkmenHeaven
01 Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory

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As always, coming up with the master countdown meant leaving out some personal favorites of our four staff members. Here are those…

HONORABLE MENTIONS
SCOTT
01 Sun Kil MoonAmong The Leaves
02 Wymond MilesUnder The Pale Moon
03 Field MusicPlumb
04 Moonface With SinaiBravery
05 Sharon Van EttenTramp

AMRIT
01 Mount EerieClear Moon
02 Vijay IyerAccelerando
03 PO PODope Boy Magick
04 John TalabotƒIN
05 The MenOpen Your Heart

TOM
01 Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
02 Schoolboy QHabits & Consequences
03 TragedyDarker Days Ahead
04 Killa Kyleon & MouseWelcome To The Fish Fry
05 Split CraniumSplit Cranium

CORBAN
01 Lil BGod’s Father
02 THEESatisfactionawE naturalE
03 Chief KeefBack From The Dead
04 Best CoastThe Only Place
05 Rye RyeGo! Pop! Bang!

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That’s a solid chunk of the year’s most notable releases to date, though obviously not all of them. Feel free to nominate those that we missed.