Favorite albums of 2012:
Hermitude – HyperParadise. This year the long admired beat duo delivered their most accessible release yet, packed with bombastic synths, explosive percussion and slick sampling. Big sounds, an album that’s gotten a lot of attention in Australia.
Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk. Smooth rhodes, tight grooves and inventive song-writing somewhere in the Nu-soul style (but a bit more challenging). With subtle shades of Bonobo, Rime, & Jeff Buckley, Hiatus Kaiyote have built a soulful, dynamic and melodic sound that is distinctly theirs. I can’t recommend Tawk Tomahawk enough.
Shigeto – Lineage. Luscious and detailed instrumental electronic beats with a downbeat flavour. Soft, fluttery and organic, Shigeto builds intricate drum rhythms into the fabric of each track but still fore-fronting the melody. Shigeto gives his electronic beats a clearly human touch. This is a record I keep returning to.
Best (independent) label of 2012: It may be cheating… But the best ‘label’ in 2012 was actually a distributor: Bandcamp. It remains to see whether this is all just an indie bubble waiting to burst, but for now, self-determining musical taste via social media seems unstoppable. But as for REAL labels, Project Mooncircle has been absolutely terrific this year, bringing even more cutting-edge and forward-thinking releases (and also delivering an excellent 10-year anniversary box set).
Biggest surprise: This year feels like it’s been a bit quiet for hip hop as we know it, and in a way that’s been good. As the 2005-era sound seems to be dying away, I’m enjoying the blurring of ‘hip hop’ as a genre as it bleeds into chillwave, nu-soul, indie singer-songwriting and future-beats. Hip hop really needs a shot in the arm right now if you ask me to avoid becoming just a 90s punchline, so hopefully this is a trend that will continue.
Most promising young talent: No competition. Hiatus Kaiyote! Currently unsigned, the Melbourne-based group delivers a delicious sound and visual aesthetic that is completely their own, with Nai Palm’s playful songwriting and the band’s tight sound quickly growing their fanbase. Add to that the fact that they sound every bit as good live… I’m gushing. Can’t wait to hear more.
Anticipating in 2013: I’m anticipating something special for 2013, especially from Australia, which continues to grow in leaps and bounds as a real beat-capital of the world, with exciting sounds coming out of The Community, Elefant Traks, Uncomfortable Beats and more. As for specific releases in 2013, when I interviewed promising Melbourne singer Athalia for The Find back in April. We talked about the pressure of meeting her album release date… Well, fingers crossed we’ll get to hear it in 2013, because what we’ve heard so far tells me we’re in for a treat.