Believe it or not, the first month of 2012 has come and gone; it was fun. Our monthly wrap-up includes our favorite albums, favorite songs and the top downloads of the month.
THE BEST ALBUMS
The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence *Released in late December
From our review: By its own merit, Echoes of Silence is song-for-song the most impressive installment of the so-called Balloons trilogy. Abel Tesfaye has refined the best aspects of Balloons and Thursday. Echoes is taut and vigorous, a leap forward within well-worn territory. (Free Download)
Trailer Trash Tracys – Esther
From our review: Two plucks of Adam Jaffrey’s bass will plunge that rarely exorcised smooth muscle you call a heart into skipping a quantam beat. His ability to sink us into the depths of depravity without hardly lifting a finger is as haunting as it is devastating. (Listen on Spotify)
MP3: "You Wish You Were Red"
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
From our review: With everyone and their brother trying desperately to distinguish their band from the frenzy using viral marketing, warped allusions to the past or pushing whatever button sounds like the future; Cloud Nothings prove that you can still make a big splash without trying too damn hard. (Listen on Spotify)
MP3: "Stay Useless"
ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions
From our review: It would be difficult to come up with a better title for ScHoolboy Q’s Habits & Contradictions. The album mixes second-nature stoner anthems with sophisticated struggles, lulling you into a hazy calm before pulling you out with a spitfire verse or a hyperactive beat. It’s a calming album at times, but leaves your pulse racing, even after 17 tracks and over an hour of music. (Listen on Spotify)
MP3: "Blessed" (f/ Kendrick Lamar)
Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend
From our review: Porcelain Raft might be an unpredictable songwriter but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a pretty damn good one – he spends Strange Weekend cultivating a thoroughly updated take on chillwave, one with enough seriously smart pop melodies and seriously tangible bass heartbeats to root his palpable waves of haze in a unique place that’s often pretty unchill. (Listen on Spotify)
MP3: "Unless You Speak From Your Heart"
THE TOP DOWNLOADS
The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence Mixtape
Rick Ross – Rich Forever Mixtape
Mos Def – "Niggas In Poorest"
1,2,3 – Dreamland, Pt. 1 (For Daisy) EP
Grimes & Pictureplane – "Real Is A Feeling"
SBTRKT & Sampha – "Blue Cassette" (Friendly Fires cover)
FEBRUARY'S BEST BET
Grimes – Visions (out 2/21)
Grimes’ Claire Boucher dropped two albums on niche Montreal label Arbutus in 2010, but she considers Visions, her debut with the storied 4AD, to be her first real release. Based on the tracks we’ve heard (the glossy, REC’D gems “Oblivion” and “Genesis”), Claire’s refined the melodic sensibility of her more lo-fi early releases into impeccably produced, dizzyingly layered, streamlined pop, all the while retaining the complex, otherworldly, schizophrenic vibe that probably made you love her in the first place.
We're also betting on: Air's Le Voyage Dans La Lune (2/7), Sharon Van Etten's Tramp (2/7), Tennis' Young and Old (2/14), Sleigh Bells' Reign of Terror (2/21), Memoryhouse's The Slideshow Effect (2/28).
Art by Topher Edwards