Top 10 Best Albums Of 2012: Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Swans, Miguel

Top 10 Best Albums Of 2012: Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Swans, Miguel

Where do Death Grips, Grizzly Bear and Frank Ocean land on Immaculate Noise's list?

If there had to be any trend from my top 10 albums from 2012, the word of the year would be "lean." I admire the understated displays of self-editing. Fiona Apple's album didn't have a note or breath wasted; Miguel's tracklist was tidy, whereas Frank Ocean could learn to trim; Kendrick Lamar and Killer Mike ably balanced comedy and drama with carefully selected words; and mostly-instrumentals like Swans, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the Dirty Three sequenced those excesses into something tangible and rare.

Other trends: I fell in love with very few country and Americana albums this year, though there will be plenty of those artists that dominate my songs lists. I did, however, fall in love with Emeli Sande, who is clearly the Real Deal. So is How to Dress Well, who broke my heart 10 different ways. I don't think Tallest Man on Earth or Grizzly Bear can make a bad album. Hundred Waters -- who were the first signees to Skrillex's label -- surprised the hell out of me and I hope the hype index of the IDM poster-child won't have a negative impact on their future successes. Matthew Dear, Goat, Burial and Diiv make dark-rooms music.

You can hear samples of most of these albums -- if not just most all of the artists -- on Immaculate Noise's 2012 Top Albums Spotify list.

Some people make great collections of songs, and some artists make albums. Here are 30 of my favorite albums from 2012, with their artists, because 30 is a nice round number...

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<p>The xx</p>

The xx

Listen: The xx cover Wham!'s 'Last Christmas'

Watch a documentary on the British troupe

This Christmas just got a little bit colder. The xx recorded a chilly take of Wham!'s mega-holiday hit "Last Christmas" for BBC 1, with all its vocalists taking turns.

Romy Madley Croft has always had a "ballpark" singing voice, where she doesn't always hit the ascribed note, but it's in the ballpark and it's ever on-base. It works here, a more sultry style than the matter-of-fact as the original had been. Would love to see their take on feathered hair.

Meanwhile, the xx continue to promote their latest album "Coexist" with latest single "Chained" and with a new short film series. The "Coexist Series" can be seen via YouTube, and features an intimate version of "Fiction." Check some of that out below.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs to release new album in Spring 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs to release new album in Spring 2013

Wait's over: New songs in concert?

This Spring, the Yeah Yeah Yeah will be releasing their first album in four years, the follow-up to "It's Blitz!"

The band made the announcement via Twitter, posting an Instagram of a mysterious figure in neon colors.

“DNA upgrades, spontaneous evolution and NEW YEAH YEAH YEAHS RECORD ARRIVING SPRING 2013! finally," read the post.

DNA upgrades may mean the band members just got better at what they do. Or paid a scientist to allow them to glow in the dark. Spontaneous evolution may have to do with what collaborations or combinations happened in the studio, or that Karen O learned to fly, as humans always intended. No other details are known.

However, it IS known that the YYYs played a new song called "Despair" during a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert at a tiny venue in Brooklyn earlier this month.

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Watch: Winona Ryder and 'Submarine' actor star in Tim Burton-directed Killers video

Watch: Winona Ryder and 'Submarine' actor star in Tim Burton-directed Killers video

Band cancels some dates due to laryngitis

When the Killers have Tim Burton on hand to direct their new music video, you have to expect at least a little star power (and some black and white stripes). "Here With Me" has both, with Winona Ryder starring as the companion and obsession of Craig Roberts, who you may recognize as the lead of "Submarine."

You didn't see "Submarine?" Well, watch it right after watching this.

The Killers are house band to Roberts' character's waltz with a wax figure-slash-mannequin, as he imagines that a very famous woman is his sweetheart. It's a beautiful short, in addition to being kind of funny and disturbed.

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<p>Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl at the 12-12-12 relief concert</p>

Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl at the 12-12-12 relief concert

Credit: AP Photo

Dave Grohl's 'Sound City' soundtrack revealed: Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, McCartney

'Real to Reel' out in March

It's officially revealed that more than just the surviving members of Nirvana and Paul McCartney will be on the forthcoming soundtrack to Dave Grohl's documentary "Sound City." Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme and more will be on "Sound City - Real to Reel," due on March 12.

iTunes posted the tracklist to the album, which includes songs performed in the documentary and those "inspired" by the gatherings therein. I'm personally looking forward to hearing that final track, with just Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Homme and Reznor, a track called "Mantra." The rhythm section for Rage Against the Machine -- Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford -- is also in the house, on top of the reunion of Pat Smear, Grohl and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) with Paul McCartney for the now-released "Cut Me Some Slack." The latter tune was performed at the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief earlier this week.

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<p>Paul Epworth at the 2012 Grammy Awards</p>

Paul Epworth at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Adele collaborator Paul Epworth talks Golden Globes nomination and the Oscars

'Skyfall' earns a nod, can it grab an Academy Award?

Producer Paul Epworth walked away with four Grammys earlier this year, mostly for his work with Adele on tracks like mega-hit “Rolling in the Deep” and her album “21.” His combo with Adele, again, has set him on the path for even more accolades, this time in the film world. This morning, Epworth became a Golden Globe nominee as the producer of “Skyfall,” Adele’s epic James Bond theme up for Best Original Song.

Listen during “Django Unchained, and you’ll hear Epworth’s mark on critical favorite Quentin Tarantino’s latest: Epworth produced John Legend’s new track “Who Did That To You?”.
 
Paul Epworth, only naturally, has been thinking about movies lately.
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<p>Jessie Ware</p>

Jessie Ware

Watch: Jessie Ware's 'Sweet Talk' video is child's play

U.K. dance artist on tour in the U.S.

U.K. singer Jessie Ware's full-length "Devotion" was enough to propel her hot song "110%" onto the radar in the U.S., earning her a deal with Cherrytree, who's prepped her new EP for a re-introduction.

"110%" is getting renamed "If You're Never Gonna Move" (due to clearance issues) but "Sweet Talk" from "Devotion" is keeping its name as it's dropped as the new single. The vieo to it gets an equally sweet video release, below, as children play the part of Ware, her producer and her backers. Just watch out for the 360-deals, kiddo.

Ware's playing in Los Angeles tonight and will be touring the U.S. again in January.

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Paul McCartney and Nirvana members play new song from 'Sound City' documentary

Paul McCartney and Nirvana members play new song from 'Sound City' documentary

'Cut Me Some Slack' will be featured on 'Real to Reel' soundtrack

In what was the worst-kept secret on 12-12-12, Paul McCartney did indeed take the stage with the surviving members of Nirvana for the Sandy charity concert. However, fans of the Beatles star or of Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic may not recognize the song they played together.

The track is called "Cut Me Some Slack," and was apparently created during a collaboration for Grohl's forthcoming documentary "Sound City." It's definitely a mix of penchant McCartney melody, a heavy rhythm section( just like the Foos frontman likes it) and a heavy dose of that grunge music the kids are always talking about.

Immediately following the rather impressive performance from the quartet, the "Sound City" Twitter account and website released a short clip of audio from the recording, made in California studio after which the film is named. You can hear it below.

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<p>The Knife</p>

The Knife

Credit: Mute

The Knife releases teaser trailer to new album 'Shaking the Habitual'

Watch the 'Welcome to the Punch' trailer featuring Fever Ray

A friend and I were talking yesterday about how we couldn't wait for more material from Karin Dreijer Andersson, frontwoman for The Knife and Fever Ray, in consideration that Fever Ray's "The Wolf" soundtracks the first trailer to "Welcome to the Punch."

Today, it's announced that The Knife have a new album coming out in the spring. So basically what I'm saying is we're responsible for the news. You're welcome.

"Shaking the Habitual" will be out in the Spring via Mute. Swedish troupe The Knife -- which is Karin and brother Olof Dreijer -- put out an opera "Tomorrow, In a Year" in 2010 but earned initial critical acclaim with their 2006 set "Silent Shout." Andersson also put out a solo album under the name Fever Ray in 2009.

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Watch: Dirty Projectors' 'Offspring Are Blank' kicks off trio of videos this week

Watch: Dirty Projectors' 'Offspring Are Blank' kicks off trio of videos this week

Band headed to Carnegie, because that is rock 'n' roll

Dirty Projectors' song "Offspring Are Blank" sounds like two different songs put together, so it's appropriate that its music video looks the part.

DP's frontman David Longstreth directed the clip, which features him walking through a field of garbage and dug-up dirt and then rocking out in its original backdrop of picturesque, steep, lush hills. He dons a tox-suit with a three-piece underneath. Dude works hard and plays hard here in dystopia.

"Offspring Are Blank" are the first of three videos debuting this week from Dirty Projectors' 2012 "Swing Lo Magellan": "The Socialites" and "Swing Lo Magellan" will debut tomorrow and Friday. They're all part of the shoot that resulted in short film "Hi Custodian." Watch that trippy trip below, too.

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