Favorite 5 albums of 2012 (for now)

Little late on this, but it’s been a busy writing month. So here I go …

Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – I could see this being my favorite album of the year by the time 2013 rolls around. I could also see me running from Idler in fear by the end of the year. There’s rarely middle ground with Ms. Apple, and this album is no exception. There are times she loses me lyrically, but the piano on this disc is just mesmerizing.

Carolina Chocolate Drops, Leaving Eden – There just aren’t enough bluegrass bands with full-time beat boxers. 2009’s Genuine Negro Jig is one of my favorite discs of the past five years, and their take on Blu Cantrell’s Hit ‘Em Up Style is hands down my fav cover over that same time period. I have a feeling Leaving Eden could earn the kind of love with a little more time.

The Flaming Lips, The Flaming Lips and Heady Friends – Me loving this disc isn’t surprising. I tend to love everything Wayne Coyne and Co. put out. Their previous disc, Embryonic, and their take on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (with help from Peaches, Henry Rollins, etc.) were a taste of what was to come. Heady Friends sees appearances by Yoko One on the unnerving Do It!, the long-overdue Jim James’ collaboration That Ain’t My Trip and the disc’s opener and shining star, 2012 [You Must Be Upgraded] with Biz Markee and Ke$ha.

Japandroids, Celebration Rock – I love fuzzy, distorted guitar rock. Celebration Rock at times reminds me of Social Distortion, at times the best of early … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. I’d much rather end an album thinking I want more – like with Celebration Rock – than feel like four or five songs could have been cut from the bloat.

Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE – I don’t often respond positively to R&B albums. The last album I cared for by a male R&B artist was Maxwell’s BLACKsummer’snight in 2009, and before that, it would have been D’Angelo’s Voodoo from 2000. I’m not sure I’ll love this album in a week or a month. But there’s something … seductive and gripping about what Ocean is doing here. What hurts it is that it could probably be 3-4 songs shorter.

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