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KINGBLIND TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2012 (#10-6) (PART 2 OF 3)

Here is what you have all been waiting for. The top 15 albums of 2012. Broken down into 3 parts. (15 thru 11) – (10 thru 6) -(5 to 1)

Today we have our second batch.. So enjoy numbers 10 through 6.. Our final batch, numbers 5 to 1 will be here on Friday!!!!

6. Father John Misty- Fear Fun

Once the drummer for Fleet Foxes from 2008-2011, Father John Misty’s J. Tillman has been releasing solo music of his own since 2003. After a bout of depression in Seattle, Tillman set out to traverse the western coastline with no particular destination. Fuelled by mushrooms, wanderlust, and other substances, the resulting material came forth in the form of Fear Fun, the debut under Tillman’s new nom de plume, Father John Misty.

Fear Fun’s 12 tracks provide an aural parallel to a drug and whiskey afterglow– the aches and pains of the morning-after hangover, wincing at bright sunshine filtering through the blinds. Tillman sculpts a sparkling album that’s equal parts morbid, ambling, and luminous. The monotone droll of opener “Fun Times in Babylon” provides a languid overture to 40 minutes of sinister lyrics with disarming veneers.

This theme is best exemplified on lead track “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”, notable for its driving backbeat and casual handling of death and strange love (“Jesus Christ, girl,” Tillman croons, “It hasn’t been long so it seems since I was picking out an island and a tomb for you at the Hollywood Cemetery.”) “Nancy from Now On” provides a dreamy, Harry Nilson-inspired retro feel and a wonderfully NSFW-dominatrix-themed video. A quarter of the way into the album, it’s apparent that Tillman is an enigmatic man with many vices, though he claims to simply be seeking an outlet for bottled-up ennui in the making of this album: “I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy…any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humor and sex and mischief.” Well, it’s all there: the ladies’ man story lines, “smoking everything in sight,” gagged and tied bodies in the backs of vans—dark images and reckless memories packaged into a whirlwind trip put forth in album form.

The character of Fear Fun lies in its multitude of influences. Tillman explores the West Coast road-tripping sound (“Writing a Novel), ’70s country tumbleweed twang (“Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2”), and depression-haze (“O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me.”) Organs, pedal steel, acoustic harmony, and clashing minor chords are used artfully throughout, contributing to the fog-filled atmosphere of the album. A striking, adept piece made accessible by Tillman’s clear-as-a-bell voice, Fear Fun is the ideal companion for a weird headspace.

7. Japandroids- Post-Nothing

For critics who keep an ear to the rock n’ roll underground, it seems inevitable that 2009’s year-end accolades will coalesce around a trio of art-rock albums by Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, and the Dirty Projectors. But as this hot summer wears on, there’s no denying whose tunes have been stuck in my head most frequently, and my hipper sensibilities are wanting for an argument against the mathematical evidence of my play count. Maybe its sunstroke, but I feel compelled to suggest that two young Canucks trading in sludgy punk-pop tunes may have crafted a rock album that gets closer to perfection than any other album this year so far.

Nothing about Post-Nothing suggests that Japandroids—consisting of singer/guitarist Brian King and drummer/backup singer David Prowse—are pop auteurs, but while most indie messiahs tend to wear out their halos once the hype dies down, this duo’s brilliant debut seems engineered for maximum replays. And though it’s often said that the high-concept experimental stuff rewards multiple spins, Post-Nothing positively compels repeat listens—the type of start-over-from-track-one obsession that would’ve burnt holes in LPs and cassettes back in the analog days. The eight-minute run of “Young Hearts Spark Fire” and “Wet Hair” alone makes getting to the album’s second half a feat of self-denial.

Indeed, it’s easier to describe the physical rush of listening to Post-Nothing than it is to explain its power in musical terms. There’s no gimmick that, laid out in qualitative terms, separates Japandroids neatly from either the better second-gen emo acts of the late ’90s (Christie Front Drive, Hot Water Music, Get-Up Kids) or the cohort of no-frills noise-rockers that have recently come into critical acclaim (No Age, Wavves, Times New Viking). About the best I can venture is a suggestion that you blast the album from the opening track, “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” and marvel at how the righteous noise of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth has been streamlined into a straight-ahead ode to adolescent yearning, then brace yourself for “Young Hearts,” which shows the same fuzzy density fused to a propulsive shout-along that transcends its garage-rock production with arena-ready force. Japandroids like to rock with their ambitions scaled low and their hooks set toweringly high, all of it drowned in fuzzy riffs, stampeding drum fills, and some of the best off-key caterwauls to grace any recent punk release.

Though aesthetic simplicity is a huge part of Post-Nothing’s appeal, it would be wrong to suggest that Japandroids is a one-trick act. Before the album taps out at the 35-minute mark, King and Prowse throw a few curveballs: “Heart Sweats” alternates a stunner of a chorus with funky, groove-driven verses (they don’t even need a bassist to lock the rhythm down), while “Crazy/Forever” runs through an extended instrumental session that uses its freight-train chug to wash down the first half’s keening vocals. Moves like this temper King’s emoting with gritty, hard-rock swagger; Japandroids always keep their nervy, heart-on-sleeve earnestness in check, ably splitting the difference between the purely melodramatic and the irresistibly anthemic. “I Quit Girls” stretches a simple but eerily resonant lyrical refrain over a five-minute slow-burn—a sighing comedown after an album fraught with hedonistic jams.

Those set pieces aside, Japandroids sound surest when they don’t try to be interesting. “Sovereignty” catches them at their best, with King and Prowse wailing over each other in a track whose inarticulate paeans to fuck-it-all immediacy perfectly encapsulate the urgency central toPost-Nothing’s aesthetic. To cap off a tune about—what else?—driving around and singing along to the radio, King urges the listener to forget all his or her friends back home, then shouts, “It’s raining in Vancouver/But I don’t give a fuck/Because I’m far from home tonight!” That’s Japandroids: No guilt, all pleasure, and all the better for it.

8. Swans- The Seer

The Seer is a masterpiece to be considered alongside Swans’ best albums: 1984’s brutal Cop, the more nuanced Children of God (1987), the majestic White Light from the Mouth of Infinity (1991), and the sprawling and inspired Soundtracks for the Blind (1996).

Following Soundtracks, bandleader Michael Gira called time on the group. After more than a decade, during which time he worked on solo projects and with new band Angels of Light, a reconfigured Swans returned in 2010 with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky.

If that album illustrated that Swans were back because they had more to say – the direct opposite of the impetus behind most reunions – The Seer exceeds this, and confirms them as one of the most vital rock bands on the planet.

Rock history suggests the phrase ‘double-album’ is a synonym for ‘zero editing’, but despite pushing two hours The Seer doesn’t feel bloated. Even the 32-minute title track feels honed from something larger, as opposed to an elongated jam. The realization arrives that Swans don’t really write songs, but shape psychic and emotional territories.

Their approach means the longer songs in particular operate almost symphonically, shifting radically between movements. A Piece of the Sky proceeds from field recording to vocal collage to anxiety-laced drone, then through a heady gamelan section into a honky-tonk stomp. It finally arrives at a gorgeous, chiming coda, with Gira’s crooned vocal sounding like Devendra Banhart.

The Seer is an often violent experience, but even amid the crashing climaxes of the title track, or the dissonance of 93 Ave. B Blues, you’re never too far from a vein of beauty. Acoustic tracks Song for a Warrior (with a vocal from Karen O) and The Daughter Brings the Water are the most obvious ones, but even the relentless attack of Mother of the World eventually slows, trading aggression for haunting reflection.

Swans are famous for power of their assault, and justly so, but their lethal weaponry is intricately patterned. It’s this contrast, ultimately, that makes them so potent. The Seer might not be the album you spend most time with this year – it’s too emotionally demanding for heavy rotation – but it’s one you’ll be listening to for years to come. Also, Watch the documentary for The Seer HERE

9. Baroness- Yellow and Green

You’ll recognise John Baizley’s voice if you’re a Baroness fan, but there will be some immediate doubts; doubts that border on apprehension, as this is a markedly different album than its predecessors.

Yellow & Green sits apart from the stunning sludge of Red Album andBlue Record, material that made everyone from the metal press to the indie sheets sit up and take notice of the Savannah, Georgia quartet. This double album effort is a distinctly mellower affair. The abrasive vocals of yore are only hinted at, and the instrumentation has taken on more of a sprawling rock sound. But it’s brilliantly realised – the kind of album that will set Baroness apart from their peers in years to come.

Yellow & Green is so good that, despite the quite dramatic change in style, it may well become your favourite Baroness album. From the Yellow half of the album, the driving and brooding Take My Bones Away will be the first to latch onto the singing-to-yourself part of your brain. It’s followed by the rumbling melancholy of March to the Sea, the underwater echoes of Sea Lungs and the wonderfully emotive Eula.

What’s already an excellent record grows further come its Green side. More upbeat from the straightforward rock of Board Up the House onwards, this half of proceedings ebbs to an even more reflective position. Stretchmarker and Foolsong are the notable diamonds, but this is a sea of jewels.

The quality of songwriting and amount of raw passion on show throughout is striking. A shift from such a well-supported branch of heavy metal to what could be perceived as a more commercial sound is a difficult one to achieve.  But call a band led by a man as staunch in his artistic rites as Baizley sell-outs at your peril. This nearly flawless collection is simply the next step in the Baroness saga, and it’s a beautiful one.

10. Grizzly Bear- Sheilds

There’s a harmonic convergence going on in indie-rock these days. Key groups like Fleet Foxes, Midlake and Grizzly Bear all focus on where human voices embrace. Simply by the way they sing, they make music that speaks of cooperation and intimacy.

Sound too kumbaya for comfort? Certainly, it’s an approach that could easily turn gooey or tame — like America for hipsters. Happily, it hasn’t turned out that way, especially for Grizzly Bear.

More than ever on the Brooklyn band’s fourth album, “Shields,” they draw on uncommon chord structures, odd tunings and daring arrangements. They even shook up their approach to their signature sound: vocal chorales. While past albums found the whole band chiming in at key moments, creating lush or ominous choirs, here they more often sing solo. Often they achieve their harmonies through overdubbing the same singer, by melding the lead voice with a wash of empathic sound effects, or simply through echo.

Somehow all these innovations only seem to have made the band’s music more ravishing than ever.

So, comes the question: Exactly what kind of music does Grizzly Bear make? Imagine The Byrds if they had less ’60s folk-rock and more of this century’s freak folk. That means fewer nods to American root styles and more to choral music and art-song. Essentially, this band makes modern madrigals, especially in those moments where all four voices fly as one.

The clearest antecedent for the band’s chord choices are floating guitar progressions of Jeff Buckley. There’s a similar dreaminess — though one that, crucially, remains rooted in a firm sense of melody, as well as in a satisfying, if changeable, feel for rhythm. The album’s first single, “Sleeping Ute,” epitomizes much of what comes after. It pivots on a furious arpeggio of acoustic guitar, anchoring the vocal cascade.

Vocally, the focus falls on the group’s two leads: Edward Droste (he of the lower voice) and Daniel Rossen (the higher). Despite the pitch difference, both sing in soft-focus. There’s some attempt to butch up the choirboy effect this time, at least in the case of Droste, who allows more strain to show. That’s a good thing. If unchecked, the silvery beauty of Grizzly Bear’s sound might seem too precious by half.

To further ward that off, the music speeds busily along, especially in a song like “Speak in Rounds.” They also add dissonance to a piece like “Sun in Your Eyes,” giving the music extra texture. Throughout the disc, minor chords come into play, as do innovative soundscapes — all for a useful purpose. They give Grizzly Bear’s warm music a necessary touch of the weird.