Following on from my list of ‘Highly Commended’ albums, we have my ‘Top 5 Contenders’.
The following five albums have missed out on a Top 5 placing by the slimmest of margins. Once again, they are listed alphabetically, not in order of preference.
Anathema – Weather Systems
For quite a while, this was a strong contender for my album of the year. That it doesn’t make my final Top 5 is testimony to the amazing quality of this year’s releases. The music here grabs you and stirs the soul just as effectively as 2010’s wonderful We’re Here Because We’re Here. but Weather Systems benefits from the more prominent role given to Lee Douglas, particularly on the haunting Untouchable Part 2 and Lightning Song.
echolyn – echolyn
A late entrant into my Top Ten of 2012. It’s a multifaceted, multilayered work and I’m still digesting it – else it might have crept into my Top 5. I love the variety here, encompassing classic prog complexity but also a much more contemporary sound. Different parts remind me fleetingly of Radiohead, The Pineapple Thief, Amplifier (circa The Octopus) and even Elbow, but the net result is something completely original. Stand-out tracks for me are Some Memorial and the languid Past Gravity.
It Bites – Map Of The Past
Reforming with John Mitchell at the helm was a masterstroke, resulting in the excellent The Tall Ships in 2008 – but Map Of The Past is even better than its predecessor. It’s one of those albums that you simply can’t help singing along to and it never fails to put a smile on my face. Highlights include the lovely ballad Clocks, the thrilling prog of Meadow And The Stream and the deeply moving The Last Escape. Prog-pop at its finest.
Sanguine Hum – Diving Bell
I’ll confess I’m cheating slightly here, as this album appeared on Bandcamp in late 2010, but the CD from Esoteric is a 2012 release, so it qualifies as far as I’m concerned! It’s an album of strange but beautiful sounds, unusual melodies and odd rhythms. At times it calls to mind Porcupine Tree in their more reflective moments, at others a less layered, less electronic North Atlantic Oscillation. On top of this it has the acoustic feel and vocal style of Turin Brakes. Fascinating stuff.
Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion
This collaboration between Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt caused consternation amongst some fans of these artists when they discovered that it didn’t sound like the expected blend of Wilson/Porcupine Tree and Opeth. Personally, I love it. I certainly can’t do better than Alison Henderson’s pithy description of it as sounding like “Simon and Garfunkel on magic mushrooms”. A subtle and mysterious album, best listened to late at night.
7 thoughts on “Nick’s Best of 2012 (Part 2)”
Interesting list – not sure I’d have included either the Anathema or the It Bites albums; the other three are spot on though!
Nick – i never thought I would hear Amplifier mentioned in the same breath as Echolyn, even if only ‘fleetingly’…a very interesting comparison…like it !
I’m going to give Anathema another try as its on so many top lists
There’s a couple of places where the riff and the vocal style are very reminiscent of stuff on The Octopus, but it is only fleeting.
I really like how the album jumps around between various styles and moods. There’s a lot to get your teeth into.
The strength of this ‘just missed out’ selection reflects what a bumper year 2012 has been.
Thanks for identifying the Sanguine Hum / Turin Brakes vocal similarity – that’s been nagging at me for some time. By the way, your cheating is entirely justified!
Ian – er, 5:30am???
Glad someone else has noticed it!
And me posting at 6:21am!
Its not UK time….doh!
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