Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Pop and Rock, Part Two Page 6

> Dec 17 2012

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012: - Pop and Rock, Part Two Page 6
By Exclaim! Staff5. Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw & Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

It's been seven years since Fiona Apple has released an album, so not only was this year's return highly anticipated, but it was well worth the wait. In true Fiona fashion, the album title is as abstract and emotionally unedited as we remember the singer-songwriter to be: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is definitely a mouthful, but that's just a primer. Idler Wheel is a stripped-down acoustic album that bares all of Apple's rawest feelings, allowing the pain to come in, "like a second skeleton," as she so aptly reveals on opening track, "Every Single Night." Apple's erratic smorgasbord of feelings is finely distilled in every track and her sharp words cut through like a knife that's been sharpened for quite some time. As much as Apple's brilliantly crafted lyrics are aimed at exes who have wronged her — like on "Regret," when her voice maliciously rips through the line "I ran out of white doves' feathers to soak up the hot piss that comes from your mouth every time you address me" — her wildly melodramatic lines are turned around and directed at herself as well. On "Daredevil", she admits to needing a chaperone to protect her from herself and she rationalizes, "How can I ask anyone to love me when all I do is beg to be left alone," on "Left Alone." Apple's bare bones approach is anything but simplistic and is some of the strongest work we've seen this year, from her or anyone who's ever suffered from a broken heart.
Melody Lau

4. Japandroids
Celebration Rock

There's not a single moment of hesitation across the eight tracks and 35 minutes of Japandroids' sophomore album; hesitation is a marker of uncertainty, immaturity. While the Vancouver-based duo uses Celebration Rock as a remembrance of youth, it's delivered from two grown men who found a way to capture those momentous moments with maturity and insight — a rare feat. And they do it without losing an ounce of energy that made their debut such a joy. Vocals nearly shouting every word, backing "oohs" and "yeah yeah yeahs" that are simultaneously fierce and melodious, and unrelenting beats underscore an urgency to not forget one's formative past. The album ends in a way that most can only hope for — with perhaps the best single of the year in "The House That Heaven Built," a song that never slows from its frenetic pace; and "Continuous Thunder," a beautiful closing track to their opus that looks at love, relationships and the questions and fears that are birthed from these two monumental life forces. Celebration Rock is as much a time capsule of the past as it is a Dead Poets Society-esque "seize the day" manifesto.
Travis Persaud

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Thanx for another lackluster year end list. You guys are starting to turn into Pitchfork. Unreliable, pretentious and flavour of the week were never attributes I would associate with Exclaim. But 2012 has proven my monthly excitement for your issue was energy wasted. Sigh.
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BIG time Steven! Worst list ever! These albums will be forgotten about in 2 years.
Just because Mumford & Sons are popular doesn't make them any less relevant. The Gaslight Anthem and Alabama Shakes had huge years and there albums will stand the test of time at least.
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Dirty Projectors SUCK!
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Just wanted to echo the sentiments of the other commenters and thank you guys for taking the time to put together a thoughtful array of year-end coverage with dim prospects of gratitude or appreciation from your readership. While many of the choices on the above list don't quite chime with my own, I understand that listeners possess varying frames of reference, which dramatically color what we hear when we hear certain pieces of music. And hey, you guys probably listened to a hell-load more albums than I did, right? Ha ha ha. Anyway, keep up the good work guys, and here’s hoping next year’s list is comprised entirely of albums I have heard and approved of, because then the world would be a really interesting place... kidding! xoxoxoxo
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Alabama Shakes got some love on our best folk/country albums list, as well as in our coverage of the year in folk/blues, etc. You can read that here: exclaim.ca
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The two new records by the Swans and Godspeed were hardly "flavour of the week" or "pretentious" by any way, shape or means. While I don't agree with all of the choices on the list (who would want to?) some of them do have merit - simply saying "Dirty Projectors SUCK!" gets us nowhere.
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what do you guy's expect? music journalism is a joke now, NOW, The Grid, Exclaim, CULT (MTL) are full of hipster pretentious journalist who start bands, so they can write about themselves and their own bands. This list is pretty bad, of course Grimes is number 1, of course Dirty Projects are on this list. Until music journalist start doing their jobs, everyone should relax and accept that the art of music journalism is in the shit.
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Erik: I write for Exclaim! I'm not in a band, nor am I a "hipster." Your definition of music journalists leaves me out in the cold. Please come up with another sweeping generalization that includes everyone who contributes to Exclaim!
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Good list.
Have any of these commenters even seen a "best of" list before ? "Pretentious"? Hahaha. I like Exclaim because they are consistently one of the more eclectic music mags out there and their coverage has a good balance for all tastes. Of course no one will agree with every choice on any given list, but that's the beauty of having a variety of music outlets to choose from. If you need a list with your precious Mumford & Sons on it, head to Rolling Stone, bros. Or make your own.
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Erik -- None of the bands on this list write for Exclaim, or write at all.
Ian â€" Why are you upset that a band you're already familiar with isn't on this list? Why not take the opportunity to discover something new?
Steven â€" These "flavours of the week" are, with the exception of one or two artists, all represented by their second album or later.

The point of music criticism is to incite discussion. If the best you can come up with is that we're hipsters that suck, maybe you should evaluate the extent to which you're contributing to an interesting and meaningful discussion. To those giving insightful and meaningful feedback â€" thank you for being a breath of fresh air.
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Those weird symbols were m dashes. - - -
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As an Exclaim writer, here's the Top 10 Pop/Rock albums I submitted:
1. Pepe Deluxé - Queen of the Wave [Asthmatic Kitty]
2. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw & Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do [Epic]
3. Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose [Mute]
4. Chelsea Wolfe - Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs [Sargent House]
5. David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant [4AD]
6. The Luyas - Animator [Paper Bag/Dead Oceans]
7. Delicate Steve - Positive Force [Luaka Bop]
8. Deerhoof - Breakup Song [Polyvinyl]
9. Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse [In The Red]
10. Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard [Domino]

As you can tell, most of them didn't make the list. Granted, the Exclaim list not all that surprising, but such is the nature of group lists: consensus vs. individuality. I hated Cloud Nothings, Japandroids, and How To Dress Well, and found Dirty Projectors disappointing, but I liked Grimes, GY!BE, Tame Impala, and several others I didn't vote for, so it seems pretty even to me, even if some of my faves didn't make this list (or any list). Also, I don't play in a band.

"Don't hate the media; become the media." - Jello Biafra
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Now that I'm in my 40s, I consider myself too old to shive a git anymore about whether the music I happen to like is "mainstream" or "hipster" or "pretentious" or whatever other adjective people will use to dismiss the music they don't personally care for. I like the stuff I like for all kinds of reasons, and have better things to do with my time and energy than to whine about the fact that somebody else might like something different.

And at any rate, I not only expect a music magazine to come up with a year-end list that doesn't precisely replicate my own personal tastes, I actually *depend* on it as a tool to help me identify stuff I might have missed over the course of the year. And if I try a new album from the list and don't like it, I just chalk it up to "different people have different tastes" and move on, instead of complaining about how insert accusatory adjective here the magazine is for having liked it more than I did.
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there's not much east coast in this list considering 2012 was an insane year for east coast rock/pop music.
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As someone who listens to way more electronic music than "rock/pop" I thought this list was pretty damn good. Excited to check out the records I haven't heard on here!
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and to those of you complaining about Mumford and Sons: s3-ec.buzzfed.com
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@philipjamesdevr also released one of the year's (or at least Canada's) best electronic albums.
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Why get pissed at the magazine for its opinion. Its not like we are forced to go out and buy these albums. Personally I would have included Dinosaur Jr I bet on Sky, but Im not going to call exclaim! writers names for not sharing my exact feelings. What I love about exclaim! is that it continues to provide insight to music beyond the radio. It is one of if not the best music mag (online and print) that you can get your hands on and if given the chance I would consider it an honor to contribute for them.
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I won't slam you for the subjective views you're entitled to, that strikes me as silly. I'm just disappointed by how the year end reviews get pruned down each year. Ideally I'd love to see each individual reviewer's top 10 album list with insightful commentary for each selection. As a fan of many musical genres and as one who is excited and fascinated by music, I really enjoy the analysis and explanation of what makes an album great in someone's opinion. Sometimes my eyes are opened to something I overlooked, sometimes my sentiments are echoed, and sometimes I enjoy disagreeing with a review.

I won't argue about how this could be undertaken in the publication, but certainly the space is limitless on the website. I'm just annoyed because so much of the media has concerned itself with pandering to the perceived attention deficits of the masses. I want depth and substance and well articulated reviews.

Dis Pitchfork all you want, especially for their douchie rating system (they deduct or award tenths of a point to albums inexplicably). However, their reviews are well written, detailed, knowledgeable, and it's clear why a given album is well or poorly received. Also, who even cares if they're hipsters, there are some great albums and artists that gain exposure from their site-- isn't that what it's about?
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