High Fives 2012 – Louie Anderson

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OK, let’s unleash the second Riot Squad contribution to our 2012 annual round-up.  This time it’s our Scottish correspondent, Louie Anderson, sharing his favourites from the last 12 months.  Don’t forget to keep an eye on MusicRiot next week to catch the Top 5s of some of Music Riot’s favourite artists of 2012; you might be surprised to discover who’s willing to share their favourites with us.

 

 

Bob Dylan – “Tempest”Product Details

Dylan’s 35th studio effort continues his rather strong (and bluesy) album streak which began with 1996’s” Time Out of Mind”. While not quite standing up to the majestic “Love and Theft” or “Modern Times”, it offers plenty in terms of both substance and listening. One of his longest albums, featuring the near fourteen-minute title track and numerous other hefty songs, it’s also one of his most lyrically dark (“I pay in blood, but not my own”). He bounces between romantic crooner, serial killer and elderly pervert, often embodying all at once (“Two-timing slim, who’s ever heard of him? I’ll drag his corpse through the mud”). Sprawling and scatter-brained, may come across as less of an album, more a collection of songs. Still great.

Death Grips – “The Money Store”Product Details

On Sacramento hip-hop outfit Death Grips’ first official studio album, and their first of two releases this year, they make little effort to hold anything back. And I mean anything; rawness, gruesome images, extremely impressive production and just straight-up incredible songs. A much more refined and focussed release in comparison with last year’s mixtape, “Exmilitary”. Amidst the dissonance and the noise and the shouting from chief-screamer MC Ride live some of the greatest refrains, choruses and general lyrics of the year. Vicious, surprisingly intellectual and complex and rather inaccessible but a hugely rewarding listen. I’M IN YOUR AREAAAAA.

Grimes – “Visions”Product Details

Throughout all articles written about Grimes this year, she’s been described as everything but human. And upon listening to “Visions”, her third solo studio album, one can hear why. Overlapping delayed melisma and airy synths mixed with a falsetto so light create a sound so delicate yet instantly memorable it seems as if you blew on the disc the music would disappear. When you strip the songs down to their beautiful melodies and chord patterns, you may be left with what might seem standard pop and yet, the absurdity of the lyrics combined with the sheer charisma of Grimes and the blissful production beg to differ. Nothing less than extraordinary.

Kendrick Lamar – “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City”Product Details

This boy’s first major label album improves on the previous in every way, more varied and just generally better production, improved story-telling skills, better hooks and much more subtle in most ways. Described on its front cover as a movie, its narrative follows the growing up of Lamar in his hometown, Compton. The skits are sometimes genuinely funny and the songs are just straight up brilliant. Lamar’s flow and delivery is varied and the guest spots are equally good. None feel tacked on, not even Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre! The record manages to be catchy and accessible yet also relevant, powerful and never cheesy. A real achievement. There’s a lot up ahead for this guy.

Frank Ocean – “channel ORANGE”Product Details

Perhaps the bravest release of this year? Throws hip-hop’s standards and attitudes towards sexuality up in the air, as well standing as a strong, honest release out of context. However hyped-up it may have been due to Ocean’s confessional letter released prior, it delivers in every respect. Carefully orchestrated, written and produced, featuring some fantastic vocal performances from Frank himself, it’s clear how much heart, soul and thought has gone into every detail of the album. From lazy jazzy free-form explorations to standard sung-verse-rapped-chorus pop songs to nine-minute club sagas from Egypt, it’s all over the place. Yet it works perfectly and should make the artist proud in every respect. A bold step forward.