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Favourite music of 2012


I’m late with this but, hey, I don’t think anyone’s counting. Here are some of my favourite records of 2012. Flying in the face of convention, they’re in no particular order. Some areas of our lives should be free of all competitiveness. Music is one of them.

Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Richard Hawley

Great to see Richard Hawley finally getting some of the recognition his music deserves. This is noticeably feistier than his previous work and sounds even better live. And, as ever, it’s got Sheffield at its heart. The perfect soundtrack to an evening in the Fat Cat with a few pints of Pale Rider.

Eccentronic Research Council – 1612 Underture


Superb “theatrical sound poem” that tells the tale of a modern day journey to the site of the Pendle witches’ trials in 1612 and features the wonderful Maxine Peake. Mixes folky electronic inventiveness with feminist poetry, political commentary and the tale of an accident in a Salford supermarket car park. And asks us to consider whether things have really changed that much in the last 400 years. Go on, have a listen.

Saint Etienne – Words and Music

saint etienne

Bob, Pete and Sarah’s brilliant new one overflows with their love of music and recalls the stuff they grew up buying from Woolies and Our Price in Redhill. Worth a listen simply for the “ooh, ooh, ooh’s” on stand-out track Tonight. Synthesiser-driven pop at its very best.

Grizzly Bear – Shields

Grizzly Bear

I didn’t think Grizzly Bear could better their previous album Veckatimest but this gorgeous record possibly edges it. Rich in detail and full of vocal harmonising and switches of time signature, it’s one that rewards patient listening.

Beach House – Bloom

Beach House

When music journalists write about “dream pop” I’m never quite sure what they mean. But if you’ve ever had a dream where you’re being chased through a blooming wild flower meadow by the entire cast of Holby City then this may be the soundtrack accompanying it. Sublime stuff.

The Slow Readers Club – The Slow Readers Club

slow readers club

One of two bands in this list that I saw play at FC United of Manchester’s wonderful pre-match “club night in the afternoon” Course You Can Malcolm in 2012. The Slow Readers Club’s eponymous debut album combines an anthemic indie sound with pounding rhythms and often dark and introspective lyrics. They’ve attracted comparisons to the likes of the Killers and Editors but they’re better than that. Keep an eye on them.

The Unthanks – Songs from the Shipyards


Unlike the nu-folk of the likes of the Mumfords and Noah and the Whale, Geordie folkies The Unthanks plough a more traditional furrow. This latest offering is the best of the soundtrack they created for the film Song from the Shipyards that traces the history of shipbuilding in the north east of England. It’s a beautiful record that explores the absurdity of romanticising an industry only to leave the hardworking communities high and dry when the going gets tough.

Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Hot Chip

I was listening to this on the train back from Manchester a few weeks ago and got told off by the bloke in front of me for tapping my fingers too loudly. But we were in the quiet coach so fair enough. If I was a proper music writer I’d probably throw in something about this being their most “accessible” work to date. But I’m not. So you’ll just have to make do with “brilliantly catchy”.

Sigur Ros – Valtari

Sigur Ros

Even if you’ve never listened to a record by Iceland’s finest soundscapers there’s still a good chance that you’ve heard one of their tracks on one of those BBC natural history programmes about penguins. This album must be doubly good because I heard something off it on the closing credits of DIY SOS only the other day.

James Yorkston – I was a Cat from a Book

James Yorkston

It must be something they put in the water in Fife as the beautiful stretch of coastline around Anstruther and Cellardyke has produced some fine musicians in recent years. King Creosote’s collaboration with Jon Hopkins on Diamond Mine was one of my favourite albums of 2011 and this is another brilliantly understated record.


From → Culture

  1. Andrew F permalink

    Excellent reviews young man! Will make the effort to listen to at least some of them. I would like to add Barton Hollow by the Civil Wars for your consideration.

    • Cheers Mr F. Have heard lots of good things about The Civil Wars, will give them a listen. Ta for the recommendation.

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