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Thursday, 27 December 2012 07:00

Best of 2012: Rocket 88's top 10 albums (hi-fi and lo-fi edition)

Best of 2012: Rocket 88's top 10 albums (hi-fi and lo-fi edition) facebook.com/GaryClarkJr
Written by Darren Snow
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As of early December, these were my top 10 albums of 2012, but I've spent most of the month reviewing other worthy releases, so the countdown you'll hear on Rocket 88 on January 1, 2013 may be somewhat different.

If you don't feel like getting up at 7 a.m. Central on New Year's morning to hear it, I can't say I blame you. But don't forget the show will be archived via streaming audio for two weeks following the original broadcast!

What did you love this year? I tried to keep up, but I know there's still plenty of stuff I missed and some of it is probably pretty great!

Blonds - "The Bad Ones" (Gluck Music)

Slow-burning rock noir that just might rile you up instead of bringing you down. It's kinda like a Portishead record that wouldn't be creepy to make out to.

Gary Clark Jr. - "Black and Blu" (Warner Bros.)

Contemporary R&B...dirty blues...Hendrix-style flare-ups...Is there anything this man can't do?

Lana Del Rey - "Born to Die" (Interscope)

Sure it's flawed; if it was perfect it wouldn't work. A concept album built around Hollywood, a red dress and a death wish. A pop career as performance art.

Family of the Year - "Loma Vista" (Nettwerk)

The big, sunny pop hooks are so infectious that when they do the occasional sad song you wanna give 'em a hug. This should be the next band through the alt.pop door Grouplove kicked open, but they're better.

Father John Misty - "Fear Fun" (Sub Pop)

If they were still calling people "the new Dylan," he'd probably be on the short list. He's a literate and very funny folk-rock songwriter and an engaging performer; catch him in St. Louis in January!

Friends - "Manifest!" (Fat Possum)

Somewhere between a less-verbose Waitresses and a lo-fi Lisa Lisa...neither of which I realized I'd been waiting for.

The Great Grandfathers - "Saint Anthony's Fire" (Tate)

In the 20-odd years I've been paying attention, I've never seen so many great bands on the St. Louis scene at once. This one specializes in state-of-the-art modern "alternative" pop, sophisticated but never fussy.

Here We Go Magic - "A Different Ship" (Secretly Canadian)

This is a journey into sound! Lyrics take a back seat to delightful experiments in how to make a song sparkle, chug, and weave guitar strings into sturdy baskets of melody.

Imperial Teen - "Feel the Sound" (Merge)

Their last album sure seemed like a swan song for this frequently-otherwise-occupied quartet, but how could they stop when they had another album's worth of smart, hooky pop tunes in them?

John K. Samson - "Provincial" (Anti-)

Electric and acoustic snapshots of life in a Canadian town, from cruising the strip to slogging through college. The intimacy of the sense of place is underlined by the liner notes, in which Samson matches each song with the street with which he identifies it.

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