Austin is a boiling pot of music aficionados who always have something to say about their favorite albums or bands. So we thought it was only necessary to reach out to music savvy locals to give their input on which albums made it to the top of 2012. Check out their picks below.
John Kunz, Owner of Waterloo Records:
Alejandro Escovedo, Big Station
He worked with Tony Visconti again, and Tony always seems to get a big sound out of Alejandro, which I always like. And I was there at the Continental Club when Alejandro was working through a lot of the songs and how he was going to present them on the record. We also have a group that is there for nearly every show, and it makes me feel like I’m a part of the song. It makes you lose your head and your heart.
Also: Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu
Mike Buck, Owner of Antones Records:
Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu
He’s just a phenomenal blues musician. I remember seeing him at his countless shows at Antone's, and it’s cool to see him grow as a musician. He really deserves it, and we’re glad to see him doing so well. The album is a really great piece of work. You can hear anything from Howlin’ Wolf to Robert Johnson to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.
Eve Monsees, Owner of Antones Records:
Omar and The Howlers, 50th Anniversary Reissue I’m Gone
It’s a good, solid blues record. Omar has been playing the guitar for years and has an amazing voice as well. The album also has great audio quality. It’s a gutsy, take-no-prisoners record with slow grooves. It’s varied because it has country fervor to it as well.
JJ Ruiz, Trailer Space Records:
The Golden Boys, Dirty Fingernails
It speaks to my love of hanging out and drinking beer. I just like to have a good time and drink with friends and nearly every song on that album is about that. Sonically, Dirty Fingernails is a real in your face rock album. It’s a nostalgic album where I remember late nights with friends.
Also: The Catholic Boys, Psychic Voodoo Mind Control Reissue; Royal Headache, Royal Headache
BoomBaptist, Austin DJ:
James Blake, Love What Happened Here EP (December 2011 release)
This single is an all-encompassing composition. James Blake's artistry as a pianist and producer is on full display on this one as he dips from what starts out as an R&B dedication and eventually moves into a funeral-worthy processional. James Blake's chording is the best in modern electronic music and his ability to build suspense in silence is unparalleled. His Prophet 08 sits so warmly in his tunes. It breathes life into any listener. The amount of times I have lost myself in this EP is too many to count.
Also: Flying Lotus, Until The Quiet Comes; Thundercat, The Golden Age of Apocalypse; MNDSGN, Feels; TNGHT, TNGHTEP
Neil Ferguson, Music Editor of The Horn:
Lord Huron, Lonesome Dreams
There’s a feeling of vastness in the music that conjures images of wandering aimlessly across deserted star-stricken landscapes. Meaningful lyrics of travel, adventure and romance only add to this feeling, making each listener feel the type of connection with the music that could only come from hearing stories around a fire. No song captures this better than the catchy tune “She Lit A Fire.” From the opening verse, when frontman Ben Schneider sings about how he’s “been through the desert/ walking across the sea/ been walking through the mountains,” you are there with him.
Also: Patterson Hood, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance; Calexico, Algiers; Onuinu, Mirror Gazer; Dr. John, Locked Down; Drunken Prayer, Into the Missionfield; NaS, Life is Good; Chris Robinson Brotherhood, The Magic Door; Dan Deacon, America; Antibalas, Antibalas
Eli Watson, Freelancer for Vice, Noisey and Hypebeast:
Kendrick Lamar is Compton, California's martyr. Last year's Section.80 presented Lamar to rap purists and hip hop hipsters as a voice for the A.D.H.D. generation. However, Good Kid, M.A.A.D city made Lamar a voice of said generation. Through GKMC's coming of age narrative, listeners are reintroduced to Lamar and are introduced to his parents, friends, lustful lovers, foes and Compton. With each track we see Lamar grow from naive youngster to insightful young adult. It's an ambitious album that works in almost every way. I felt Lamar's father's frustration when he never received his dominoes; I worried for Lamar when he took a hit of that angel dust-laced blunt; and I almost cried at the two minute mark of "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst." Here's to Lamar's triumphant 2012 and that money tree he aspires to shade under, in future years.
Also: Clams Casino, Instrumentals 2; TNGHT, TNGHT EP; BLACKIE, GEN; Schoolboy Q, Habits & Contradictions; Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes; Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream; Joey Bada$$, 1999; Frank Ocean, Channel Orange; Death Grips, The Money Store
Luke Winkie, Freelancer for Vice, Noisey, Complex and Austin Chronicle:
I'm the kind of guy who mulls over what my "favorite album" is until I arrive at a single, indisputable fact. In this case, I know in a few years I will be at a hip hop night and someone will throw on "Money Trees." I will happily, and totally un-ironically lose my shit. There's been a lot of talk about the relative weightiness to good kid, m.A.A.d city, and whether Kendrick Lamar might be riding an insurmountable false high. What I do know is that it's the one album this year that sounds most like an immediate, foretold classic. That counts for something.
Also: Daughn Gibson, All Hell; Pallbearer, Sorrow & Extinction; Action Bronson, Blue Chips; Japandroids, Celebration Rock; Frank Ocean, Channel Orange; Royal Headache, Royal Headache; Rick Ross, Rich Forever; Death Grips, The Money Store; Chromatics, Kill For Love