A lot of great albums have been released since the last issue of The Observer, and 2012 has been a good year for music so far. Here are six albums that have been sound-tracking the summer.
Bloom by Beach House
In short: Baltimore dream-poppers/indie-rockers return with their fourth album. With their self-titled debut in 2006, Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010, and now Bloom, Beach House has been slowly refining and improving its sound, and Bloom is their best album to date. Full of melodies and harmonies that take at least two or three listens to sink in, Bloom feels almost too short at ten songs and a little under an hour — and it deserves repeat listening. Every song has something to offer.
Recommended if you like: Lower Dens, Youth Lagoon, Tennis, Toro Y Moi
Essential songs: “Myth,” “Lazuli,” “Other People,” “New Year”
Celebration Rock by Japandroids
In short: Canadian rock duo Japandroids releases their sophomore album alongside much acclaim, including “best rock record of the year” from NPR. Although it features just two musicians, Celebration Rock is one of the loudest albums of the year. It’s 8 songs and 35 minutes long, full of loud guitars and bellowed lyrics like “do we have anything to live for / well of course we do, but until it comes true / we’re drinking” and stories about “that night you were already in bed, said ‘f— it’ got up to drink with me instead”. Celebration Rock is a loud, raw album about being young.
Recommended if you like: The Men, Titus Andronicus, Pavement
Essential songs: “Adrenaline Nightshift,” “Younger Us,” “The House That Heaven Built”
Channel Orange by Frank Ocean
In short: Part-time Odd Future member releases his debut album, the follow up to last year’s successful mixtape, Nostalgia/Ultra. Ocean found success as a songwriter, writing tracks for Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, and more. He was featured on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne, and saw success with his single “Novacane.” Channel Orange is an R&B album that mixes elements of modern R&B, hip-hop, old school soul, and even more. Ocean is a highly talented singer, songwriter, and producer, and it all shines on Channel Orange.
Recommended if you like: Drake, The Weeknd, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder
Essential songs: “Thinkin Bout You,” “Super Rich Kids,” “Bad Religion”
Confess by Twin Shadow
In short: George Lewis Jr. releases his second album as Twin Shadow, the follow up to 2010’s Forget. Ditching some of the nuances of Forget, Confess is an album of 80s inspired New Wave, full of big melodies and power pop. Confess is primarily about Lewis’s relationships, and his lyrics are brutally honest: “I don’t believe in you / you don’t believe in me / so how could you make me cry.”
Recommended if you like: Neon Indian, Baltimora, the 80s
Essential songs: “You Call Me On,” “Five Seconds,” “I Don’t Care”
Slaughterhouse by Ty Segall Band
In short: Slaughterhouse is the second of three albums San Francisco psych/garage/punk musician Ty Segall has planned for 2012. Slaughterhouse opens with a minute of guitar feedback before the first track, “Death,” kicks in, and the album closes with a ten-minute song of feedback and distortion aptly titled “Fuzz War.” The 30 minutes in between are loud, thrashing guitars with Ty Segall’s distorted harmonies. Slaughterhouse is one of the best albums of 2012.
Recommended if you like: Natural Child, The Stooges, Bass Drum of Death, The Strange Boys
Essential songs: “I Bought My Eyes,” “The Tongue,” “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart”
Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors
In short: Seminal Brooklyn experimental rockers release their seventh studio album. Dirty Projectors have always been critically praised, but have a reputation for being “experimental” (see: Rise Above, their 2007 album that was an attempt to re-record Black Flag’s Damaged entirely from memory). Swing Lo Magellan is a continuation of their experimental pop sound, but is their most accessible record yet.
Recommended if you like: Deerhoof, Animal Collective, Talking Heads, Sufjan Stevens
Essential songs: “Just From Chevron,” “Dance For You,” “Unto Caesar”