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2012 Top Ten Local Albums

Dan Deacon, Beach House, Lower Dens, Horse Lords, Rye Rye, and more

Photo: Josh Sisk, License: N/A

Josh Sisk

1. Dan Deacon’s America

1. Dan Deacon, America (Domino) Dan Deacon isn’t the kind of guy who belts out his words clearly or prints lyric sheets, so you might have to read some interviews to completely get the #occupy spirit of America or his concept of patriotism that shaped the album. But his increasingly grand windup-toy symphonies have always implicitly embraced a very American value: freedom. (Al Shipley)

2. Beach House, Bloom (Sub Pop) Beach House’s latest is their most lavish and upbeat release yet, continuing the trend they started six years ago on their debut album. The guitars and keyboards take on new colors and textures, shimmering underneath Victoria Legrand’s breathtaking vocals. The faster tempos and new tones help make this Beach House’s most consistently engaging and entertaining album. (Michael Shank)

3. Lower Dens, Nootropics (Ribbon Music) Their 2010 debut, Twin-Hand Movement, enjoyed the kind of immediate success—from critical plaudits to an unlikely Exxon ad campaign—that most bands wouldn’t want to mess with. But Jana Hunter holed up with some Kraftwerk and Bowie/Eno records and rewrote the Lower Dens rulebook to include chugging drum machines and metallic synths, without sacrificing the personality and atmosphere that made the band special to begin with. (AS)

4. Horse Lords, Horse Lords (Ehse) On its debut release, this quartet finds a sound where Dillinger Escape Plan-tight instrumental wonk meets Guru Guru’s shifting rhythms. The result makes math rock’s neck-snapping oomph dance to swinging grooves, and rarely does musical complexity hit the ears with such immediate pleasure. And onstage, Horse Lords are Baltimore’s most consistently transcendent explosion. (Bret McCabe)

5. Rye Rye, Go! Pop! Bang! (N.E.E.T., Interscope) Fourteen songs into the deluxe version of her debut album, Rye Rye asks listeners what we know about “that new thing” before assuring us, “We ain’t the same thing.” And she’s right. Go! Pop! Bang! is every bit a tribute to its own name: beats that are part-electronica and part hip-hop, pushing forward 17 tracks filled with giddy rapping (and plenty of references to dropping booty to the ground). While female rappers of late—Azealia Banks, Brianna Perry—draw convenient comparisons to Nicki Minaj, Rye Rye shows us the joy in going one’s own way. (Andrew Zaleski)

6. Dope Body, Natural History (Drag City) Natural History sees Dope Body’s sound cleaned up a bit, to great effect. While Nupping is truer to their bracing live show, their latest finds the band exploring a wider, more detailed sonic palette. Playful squiggles of noise and melody temper the thrash before joining in. The evolution from their first album to this excites us to see what’s next. (Michael Shank)

7. Lafayette Gilchrist and the New Volcanoes, It Came From Baltimore: Live at the Windup Space Vol. 1 (Creative Differences) Lafayette Gilchrist composes lengthy tunes, which, for a jazz musician in 2012, might not be the wisest decision. Still, it’s impressive that he and the New Volcanoes can propel forward a track like “The Work” for 17 minutes, effortlessly combining blues riffs, elements of avant-garde jazz, and Gilchrist’s own Thelonious Monk-like stammers on the piano. That Gilchrist remains in Charm City should be a point of pride for any jazz-loving Baltimorean. (AZ)

8. Multicult, Spaces Tangled (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia) Noise rock doesn’t need melody, but suddenly finding a hook to hang onto on when a group is pounding away at the skull can feel like a prize. That’s local trio Multicult’s secret weapon: bassist Rebecca Burchette, drummer Jake Cregger, and guitarist/vocalist Nick Skrobisz can lay down a ferocious volume assault that you’ll be humming long after the ringing in the ears subsides. (BM)

9. Roomrunner, Super Vague EP (Fan Death) Roomrunner is probably sick of being called a grunge reboot. Sure, that era’s big guitar riffs inform the band’s sound and attitude—Roomrunner tours like gas is still $1.15/gallon and comes at the whole “business” with a sense of humor. But grunge itself was a bit of a late ’60s/early ’70s throwback, when no-frills rock moved the ass and heart in equal measure, and Super Vague hits that guitar-bass-drums sweet spot with dead-eye aim. (BM)

10. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Jazz Mind (Load) Ed Schrader’s Music Beat adeptly fuses a coherent whole out of songs that veer between dissonant bursts of noise and quiet, hypnotic chants. The spare, repetitive arrangements match perfectly with Schrader’s evocative lyrics. More than any other album this year, Jazz Mind builds a powerful mood and feels like a window into a strange, idiosyncratic world. (Josh Sisk)

Read More 2012 Top Ten

Top Ten Most Intriguing Local Stories | Top Ten Films | Jed Dietz and Eric Allen Hatch’s Top Ten Films | Top Ten Home Video | Top Ten Albums | Top Ten Local Albums | Top Ten Releases by Genre | Top Ten Shows | Top Ten Fiction | Atomic Books’ Top Ten Bestsellers | Top Ten Non-Fiction | Top Ten Art Shows | Gary Kachadourian’s Top Ten Art Shows | Top Ten Stage | Top Ten Restaurants | Top Ten Twelve Wines

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