An entire VICE column that didn’t run in print, just for you

January 31, 2015

Zelda Wii U
My most recent column for VICE magazine didn’t run, due to a clerical error. It’s quite alright, and I certainly don’t take this kind of thing personally. But as the piece was written for print, it’s a little out of date (now) to make the move to the VICE website – and it also echoes some of the sentiments I already expressed in an online article explaining why right now is a golden age for video games. So I’m posting it here, in case you’re the slightest bit interested.

– – –

I’m a believer that the best is yet to come in gaming. The medium is so young still, with each hardware generation opening new possibilities, rich with staggering potential. And I don’t simply say that with reference to the epic scale of modern role-play games, or the detailed “realities” of Grand Theft Auto V or the forthcoming Batman: Arkham Knight, which will feature an interactive Gotham as you’ve never played it.

Today, games tell stories that can choke you up (I’m still recovering from The Last Of Us: Left Behind), and provide an essential escape for those feeling the weight of the everyday grind. They take you to places no other entertainment can – and you can be in the pilot’s seat. It’s generalising, but video games aren’t the toys they once were – just as the press of an A button is context sensitive depending on the circumstances, so too can a video game stir any number of contrasting emotions in the player. Our favourite games of right now regularly provide the feels, where once upon a time we merely felt our way through them.

Which is why I started the year by writing a piece for VICE online on how today is a golden age for video games – because, as clichéd as such a phrase is, there really is something for everybody out there, and while some genres might seem stale at surface level, (relatively) recent releases have gone a great way to shaking up tried-and-tested formulas.

Spec Ops: The Line dosed the third-person shooter up on heavyweight heartache; indie affairs like Braid and Limbo took puzzle-platforming in unique directions; Wolfenstein: The New Order brought real heart to first-person blasting; and Telltale have revitalised the adventure game with releases like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.

Looking ahead, into 2015 and beyond, I see more of this – a pronounced transition, an elevation of the art of video game making, as even ages-old franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Elite and Silent Hill are refreshed for players who want the big experience, sure enough, but with intimacies, too. The colours run and mix in a way that a picture resolution of 256 x 240 could never convey.

I like the old classics, the evergreens, the foundational inspirations. But no period in gaming’s evolution to this point should be regarded as a golden age, because we have it better than ever right now. It’s the contemporary scene that is producing the most arresting experiences. I think so, anyway. Not everyone agreed with me, which they are completely entitled to do. But I did want to pick up on a few comments, and offer some feedback.

Wrote David Mobley, in the comments section of VICE’s US site: “The greed of publishers has ruined gaming in 2014 and beyond. We’re in a horrible age of gaming, and it’s only getting worse because people keep paying for it.”

I’m sorry you feel that way, David, but you raise a very valid point: some of the bigger publishers have taken the piss lately. Foremost amongst them is Ubisoft, which in 2014 put out the basically broken Assassin’s Creed Unity, and spoiled the potential of free-roam driving game The Crew by throwing an assault of repetitive micro-missions at a barely-there plot. I wanted the open road; I got offended, quickly.

The Crew also incorporated a currency called Crew Credits, essential for acquiring the very best vehicles. These could be earned, but also bought with real money, Polygon calling this economy “occasionally downright contemptuous”. As for Unity, there’s not enough space in this whole magazine to go into how much of a middle finger its restricted unlockables were to fans of 100% completion. What’s that? I can buy my way to better stats, necessary to pick all of these locks that remain otherwise resistant to my skills? See this? This is me, turning your game off.

The thing is though, David, so badly received was Unity that the next Assassin’s Creed really needs to excel, as buyers burned this time around simply won’t spend their hard-earned on another unfinished title that needs a series of patches to bring into a playable state. I genuinely believe that AC is in trouble: the Victorian London-set Victory had best deliver, but it need not be in 2015. If Ubisoft rush that out as they did Unity, and it’s just as buggy, it’s surely game over for the franchise.

Casey West, writing just below David, offered: “Ever(y) game… is a summer blockbuster… Pretty but shallow. My PlayStation 4 is a $400 Amazon Prime box. Video games are dead.”

Quite the striking statement there, Casey. I won’t get into an argument with you over how you use your PS4 – hell, I watch telly on mine, too. But I will point out some rather great-looking games that are coming out for the system in 2015, none of which are likely to fit your “summer blockbuster” description. You ready?

There’s the slasher-movie tension of Until Dawn, challenging dungeon crawler Deep Down, the colourfully Ico-recalling Rime, the breath-held stealth of Volume, the hands-on pleasure of Tearaway Unfolded, all the pixelated blood your retinas can take with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and the handsome but hardcore retro-RPG Hyper Light Drifter. I’d include the very indie No Man’s Sky in there, but there’s so much hype for said game that it can’t not be a big hit, whenever it actually comes out.

I could continue, but “Weaponized Messiah” is on Twitter: “I come back to VICE saying that this age of nepotism, corruption, broken and overpriced games is a ‘golden age’… we need #GamerGate.” Well, Miss or Mister Messiah (it’s hard to tell, what with your Standard Anime Avatar), all I can really say to that is: we need #GamerGate in 2015 like we need a 60fps-locked HD remake of Kabuki Warriors and a reboot of the Postal series. Happy new gaming, everyone!

Advertisements

Pretty much every piece I wrote for Edge’s website before it went to shit.

January 23, 2015

rayman

I wrote quite a bit for Edge’s website, before Future decided that it wasn’t the website for them. One of many, as it turned out. Since I no longer have an author page on said site, I’ve linked as many of my articles for it here. Just in case you’re so bored you figure it’s a good idea to a) be here, and b) follow any of these links there.

STILL PLAYING FEATURES
BLUR
REMEMBER ME
JOURNEY
UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION
RAYMAN LEGENDS

PARENTAL GUIDANCE: WHY GAMING WITH KIDS IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH

EXPLORING TEN YEARS OF FAR CRY, GAMING’S MOST UNCONVENTIONAL SHOOTER

MUSICIANS’ FAVOURITE VIDEO GAME SOUNDTRACKS
PART ONE (Example, Foals, Pulled Apart By Horses, 65daysofstatic)
PART TWO (Tinie Tempah, F*ck Buttons, Jamie N Commons, Okkervil River)

HOLLOW SOULS: on today’s boring football games

CHARTING THE RISE OF THE PROTAGONIST DAD

WHY THE HATE FOR VIDEO GAME REBOOTS?

WHAT CAN SEGA’S 32X TEACH TODAY’S CONSOLE GIANTS?

MONUMENT VALLEY CREATOR USTWO ON APP STORE SUCCESS AND WHAT COMES NEXT

BITTERSWEET HARMONY: on Amplitude’s AT THE TIME failing Kickstarter

Such a shame they’ve wrecked what was a decent site with potential to be so much more – but then, I would say that. They were paying me.


Playlist: Dive Slow, November 15th 2013

November 20, 2013

dan le sac

Songs in the order they were played at November’s Dive Slow, aka me playing records at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton from when I arrive until everyone goes home.

Note for those coming next time: it’s great that you like what I’m playing, and I’m totally up for being your friend. But I’m not a cloakroom. So please don’t ask me to look after your stuff, as while you’re welcome to leave it on the floor beside my feet, I’m a bit busy to be keeping an eye on it. What with the whole DJing aspect of me being there.

Speaking of Next Time: it’s a Christmas special! It’s on December 13th! It starts at 9pm and is totally free! And there’s a guest DJ, just like there was last year! This year, it’s dan le sac! That’s him pictured! Hooray! FACEBOOK EVENT.

Find out more about dan le sac on his website. Look, a video…

Songs from November’s Dive Slow as follows…

– – –

1. Mr Muthafuckin eXquire – ‘Vanilla Rainbows’
2. Kanye West/Jay Z – ‘Otis’
3. Jay Z – ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’
4. Bishop Nehru – ‘Misruled Order’
5. Joey Bada$$ – ‘Hilary Swank’
6. A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’
7. Stetasonic – ‘Talkin’ All That Jazz’
8. Jurassic 5 – ‘Jayou’
9. Beastie Boys – ‘Intergalactic’ (KMD blend)
10. Action Bronson – ‘Contemporary Man’
11. JJ DOOM – ‘Winter Blues’
12. Madvillian – ‘Accordion’
13. Dr Octagon – ‘Blue Flowers’
14. Company Flow – ‘8 Steps To Perfection’
15. Run The Jewels – ‘Banana Clipper’
16. Big Boi – ‘Shutterbug’

One, two, miss a few – I played for six bleedin’ hours, you know…

82. Mac Miller – ‘SDS’
83. Children Of The Night – ‘Kids From Queens’
84. Kilo Kish – ‘Turquoise’
85. Shabazz Palaces – ‘An Echo…’
86. Young Magic – ‘Night In The Ocean’
87. Purity Ring – ‘Grandloves’
88. Moderat – ‘Rusty Nail’
89. Moderat – ‘Bad Kingdom
90. Blanck Mass – ‘Sundowner’
91. Radiohead – ‘Bloom’ (Jamie xx remix)
92. Warren G and Nate Dogg – ‘Regulate’
93. Donell Jones and Left Eye – ‘U Know What’s Up’
94. Ginuwine – ‘Pony’
95. Adina Howard – ‘Freak Like Me’
96. Sugababes – ‘Overload’
97. The Pharcyde – ‘Passin’ Me By’ (Hot Chip remix)
98. Jay Z – ‘Thank You’

You get the idea. Between those opening and closing banks, stuff by acts like: A$AP Rocky, Pharrell, Dizzee Rascal, J Dilla, Zomby, Machinedrum, M.I.A., EPMD, Rick Ross, Flatbush Zombies, Nas, Earl Sweatshirt, Souls Of Mischief, Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar, 9th Wonder, SBTRKT, Drake, Childish Gambino, Danny Brown… and Sisqo. Oh hell yeah. Played ‘Thong Song’. Not for the last time.

Dive Slow always happens at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar – information, listings, directions, HERE.


Playlist: Talking Heads Night @ The Green Door Store, Brighton 5/4/13

April 8, 2013

Last week I played a brief set at The Green Door Store‘s special Talking Heads night. And this is what got played, so it did:

Talking Heads – I Zimbra
Talking Heads – Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
Talking Heads – Seen and Not Seen
Talking Heads – Uh Oh, Love Comes to Town
Brian Eno + David Byrne – Strange Overtones
Gang of Four – Return the Gift
Magazine – A Song From Under the Floorboards
The Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting for the Man
Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
Talking Heads – Take Me to the River
Talking Heads – Who Is It?
Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
X-Press 2 + David Byrne – Lazy
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer

Certainly a theme evident, there.

I’m back at The Green Door Store this Thursday night (April 11), for a taster of a new night I’m starting alongside Daniel he-of-Esben-and-the-Witch Copeman. Called 4/4(ish), or 4/4ISH – I guess we should settle on a style – it’ll see records played that you can Probably Dance To.

Pop along, why not.


BBC Album Reviews: Some of the Best, part two

March 26, 2013

Continuing on from yesterday’s first ten picks, here’s ten more standout examples of music reviewing on the BBC.

(Nb these are all from the period I edited the section – summer 2009 until the service’s cancellation this week. Prior to my arrival, the service was run by Somethin’ Else, under the guidance of a fine chap by the name of Chris Jones. A skilled writer – I’d have liked to have kept him amongst my contributors, but it didn’t work out – Chris has a number of BBC reviews to his name (568 to be precise). The quality control under SE was inconsistent, though, as evidenced by exploring the reviews archive. The company makes great radio – Now Playing, Gilles Peterson, Mayo and Kermode, Jazz on 3 – but running this service wasn’t quite its forte.)

Lovely reviews, below…

Fraser McAlpine reviews Elbow’s Build a Rocket Boys!
“There isn’t even a palpable air of triumph to proceedings; no more so than usual, anyway. Elbow are a classier act that that. They do what they’ve always done: construct billowing repetitive structures out of tightly-controlled ideas – twisty guitars, razor-bass, clockwork piano, shakes and rattles and finger-clicks – and then invite a bearlike man with a helium roar to fill them with his scuffed and maudlin love letters.”

Greg Moffitt reviews Hawkwind’s Blood of the Earth
“Occasional Hawkwind collaborator and all-round synth genius Tim Blake is the one weaving the electronic fabric which holds the album together, and his flourishes span from ethereal and entrancing to sinister and unsettling with masterful ease. It’s just a question of balance. There’s not a whole lotta rock. None of the three-chord warp drive needed to take this into orbit. Certainly the eerie atmospheres that the band once conjured like so many cosmic wizards are nowhere to be seen or heard…”

Hari Ashurst reviews Julia Holter’s Ekstasis
“Holter balances her mostly zoned-out atmospheres with a couple of moments of ecstatic release. The biggest of these is In the Same Room – the most conventional and striking moment on the album. For the first three minutes the song unfurls just like a pop song. Electronic beats push a steady momentum while Holter playfully darts around two of the record’s strongest hooks. Small details gather and drive towards a climax that doesn’t quite happen – rather, the song ebbs and slips dreamily back into the pretty soundscapes that characterise the rest of Ekstasis.”

Andrew Mueller reviews Giant Sand’s Blurry Blue Mountain
“Blurry Blue Mountain is a warm, unassuming album, the kind of record made by someone long past trying to impress anybody – which, as is the perverse way of these things, makes it all the more impressive. Gelb’s songs are, as ever, adroitly trimmed to the limitations of his voice, whether the Tom Waits-ish lament Chunk of Coal, the hungover duet with Lonna Kelley on Lucky Star Love, or the half-spoken Ride the Rail, a romp through the legend of the Molly Maguires, which recalls the modern historical narratives of Corb Lund and Patterson Hood.”

Everett True reviews The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream
“Whereas before, The Black Angels’ albums – great as they were – were mostly centred around one incredible track (most noticeably The First Vietnamese War from the 2006 debut album Passover), Phosphene Dream stuns by its quality of depth. In Bad Vibrations, the balls-out River of Blood, Haunting at 1300 McKinley and several others, The Black Angels have written a series of rock anthems to match both the ghosts of the past and tribal-leaders of the present. The title is a reference to PH3, a toxic and explosive gas. It’s suitable, trust me.”

Laura Barton reviews Sharon Van Etten’s Epic
“There is something special about Van Etten’s voice. It is neither the sort of fey, delicate wisp nor the sour, brittle twist we have come to expect from female folk singers; there is a weight and a gravel to it, evocative of She Keeps Bees or early Cat Power. It’s nice to hear a female artist singing so much from the belly, even, at times, with a stirring kind of anger – as in the rollicking Peace Signs. But even elsewhere, on the country lament of Save Yourself, for instance, or the free-floating haze of DsharpGg, there is always a sense of strength to Van Etten, something strong-boned and muscular, which marks her out from her contemporaries.”

Lloyd Bradley reviews Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of
“The album is all about love in its many manifestations: joy (To Zion and Nothing Even Matters); pain (I Used to Love Him); disappointment (Doo Wop and Lost Ones); and optimism (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You). Sometimes it’s intensely personal (Ex-Factor), or takes a wider perspective (Everything Is Everything and Every Ghetto, Every City), or might even be an attack on her former bandmates (Superstar and Forgive Them Father). In every case, though, there’s an astuteness and sensitivity disproving the notion that hip hop audiences have only two speeds – radical or licentious. Hill’s poetry assumes a liberating intelligence among her listeners, to be repaid as they follow her unflinchingly into some of the more intimate aspects of her life.”

Ian Wade reviews The 2 Bears’ Be Strong
“Touches of skastep (a genre I’ve just invented) on Heart of the Congos, and country on Time in Mind, guarantee proceedings are never monotonous; these tangents also provide the pair’s considerable songwriting chops with a nice stretch. The utopian existence of the disco is but a fleeting temporary state, and so beneath the optimistic ‘dance your cares away’ vibe there’s also an element of the real world outside the club: Work acknowledges that times are tough, and while you have big dreams you need to actually, er, work at them.”

John Doran reviews Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing
“All of her covers are astutely chosen; Bill Withers’ Use Me and Flash and the Pan’s Walking in the Rain are canny reworkings and, as with all good covers, the style in which they are reworked becomes a statement in itself… The album’s undoubted centrepiece is an original composition and a work of cocksure funk disco genius. Pull Up to the Bumper remains a bona-fide dancefloor filler and one powered by a delicious irony at that. Jones’ fanbase at the time was mainly comprised of white gay men, who idolised this chiselled, masculine woman who sang unashamedly and quite obviously about the joys of an, ahem, alternative sexual practice for her, that wasn’t so alternative for them.”

Kev Kharas reviews The Fall’s Your Future Our Clutter
“You don’t last as long as The Fall have without learning a few things. Things like how many times you have to play the same riff before it becomes invincible, and how long you have to spend barking at people before they start treating you like a hero. Mark E. Smith is 371 in dog years. He has been barking forever, and, as The Fall enter their 34th year with their 28th studio album, a hero many times over: looping in and out of critical approval as endlessly as the snarling, nagging guitars that have underpinned his scornful non-sequiturs for decades.”

More BBC album reviews, here.


BBC Album Reviews: Some of the Best, part one

March 25, 2013

bbc logo

So I figured, what with the service’s imminent closure, I’d post a few of my favourite reviews to have run on the BBC Album Reviews pages since the summer of 2009.

I say “part one” as it’s been a real treat to run so much high-quality content these past weeks, months and years that to not dive into the archive again for another selection would be doing myself a disservice, not to mention the team of contributors.

I haven’t thought long and hard about the below picks, either – I’ve just scanned the pages, little lights going off as I recall standout examples of critical thoughts (turned into compelling copy).

But if something piques your own interest from the below, click through and have a rummage yourself. I think you’ll agree that a bloody fine job’s been done.

Jude Rogers reviews Paul Weller’s Sonik Kicks
“Thirty years ago, Paul Weller was number one. The Jam’s A Town Called Malice spent three weeks at the top of the charts, its Motown bassline bustling, its finger clicks rustling. Watch its video now, and the 23-year-old at the middle of it has hardly changed in some ways. His Woking vowels are still ‘ow’s-yer-father; the haircut’s still cockatoo-daft. But he sings a line in its first verse that’s practically become his motto: ‘Stop apologising for the things you’ve never done, because time is short and life is cruel, and it’s up to us to change.'”

Adam Kennedy reviews Aesop Rock’s Skelethon
“It’s a difficult listen, no doubt. But just when Skelethon appears to be drifting towards a less-than-lapel-grabbing conclusion, closing confessional Gopher Guts pulls an astonishing passage from nowhere. It’s built on possibly the most affectingly honest lines Aesop has ever delivered: ‘I have been completely unable to maintain any semblance of relationship on any level / I have been a bastard to the people who have actively attempted to deliver me from peril.'”

Alex Deller reviews Goat’s World Music
“Basslines hulk and lurk, goading you pushily towards the dancefloor while psychotropic guitar parts conjure impossible colours and chanted, voice-as-instrument ululations score a deep path through your subconscious despite only one word in 50 ever actually making sense. Dip in at any point and you’re bound to hit gold, whether you light upon the cartwheel riffing of opener Diarabi, the glorious, organ-dappled funk of Disco Fever or the primal rattle and grunt of the beautiful but far-too-short Run to Your Mama.”

Barney Hoskyns reviews Foreigner’s Can’t Slow Down
“Like so many veteran rock bands, Foreigner is now little more than a trademark owned by its British founder Mick Jones. Fifteen years after their last album release, Jones has cobbled together a unit of proficient hacks to craft a ghastly collection of songs that might as well have been written by a computer programme. Pulsing rhythms, glistening guitar arpeggios, hideously clichéd lyrics and heroically angsty vocals: they’re all here in abundance, tailor-made for future X Factor contenders.”

Paul Lester reviews Drake’s Thank Me Later
“Drake is the Vampire Weekend of rap – he ticks all the wrong boxes, especially for a milieu that privileges poverty and strife. He’s a handsome 23-year-old ex-actor from an affluent background who has effortlessly achieved even greater wealth via music that utterly refuses to flaunt its street-tough credentials. More heinous still, Thank Me Later is virtually a concept album about the loneliness and lovelessness of the successful celebrity, a sort of sequel to Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak, only more audaciously dolorous because he’s only just started. In fact, as morose meditations on the miseries of fame go, it comes across like a rap version of Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories or Deconstructing Harry.”

Spencer Grady reviews Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica
“Replica sees Lopatin stray from his traditional templates, making occasional forays onto the dancefloor, shackling his amorphous ambient tides to the tyranny of the beat. Sleep Dealer and Nassau sound like The Field hitting hiccup hi-scores with the snooze function on, while Up forges a natural alliance between Muslimgauze’s souk-saturated rhythms and Cut Hands’ abrasive appropriation of Congolese percussion.”

Chris Roberts reviews Dexys’ One Day I’m Going to Soar
“A quarter-century on from the last Dexys Midnight Runners album Don’t Stand Me Down (mocked upon release, now recognised as a work of genius), Dexys (so named because, says Kevin Rowland, ‘It’s the same, but also not the same’) return. Recent live shows induced collective rapture in audiences. Can the ‘comeback’ album possibly live up to expectations? It can. It certainly can… There is so much personality, poetry, vulnerability and resilience here that most other records sound like dry runs by comparison. Dexys are back with wisdom and wings. Some of us never doubted.”

David Quantick reviews Buzzcocks’ Another Music in a Different Kitchen
“Upgrading and referencing the Spiral Scratch EP’s Boredom as bookends to the whole thing, Another Music… mixed Shelley’s remakes of Devoto lyrics (Fast Cars being a standout) with new brilliance like I Don’t Mind. Diggle added one of Buzzcocks’ greatest songs, the motorik genius of Autonomy. And the whole thing finales with punk’s greatest end-of-side-two track, the epic Moving Away From the Pulsebeat, which still sounds like nothing else ever recorded. It’s my favourite album ever; buy it and find out why.”

Daniel Ross reviews Rachel Zeffira’s The Deserters
“Canadian Zeffira has a uniquely simplistic and powerful melodic knack which satisfies the head, but to massage the heart she has a real aptitude for arrangements. Oscillating strings, reeds and flutes are used with invention throughout, on the chug of Break the Spell and in the closing organ expanse of Goodbye Divine – all evidence that Zeffira is skipping wildly ahead of the pack. The Deserters is unequivocally demanding of your attention, as accomplished as it is tummy-meltingly wonderful to listen to.”

James Skinner reviews Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid
“Monáe and her Wondaland collective span styles and epochs seamlessly over these 18 tracks, touching on everything from fantasia strings to psychedelic trad-folk, cabaret jazz to traditional R’n’B; heck, even goth and Eurotrance get a look in… Across the breadth of the record, songs and icons are recalled and reinvented, flickering like ghosts you recognise but can’t quite place; Monáe’s skill is to fashion them into something bordering indefinable. She is an easy, natural star, and The ArchAndroid is a kaleidoscopic, breathless run through the genres and eras that have inspired her.”

That’ll do, for now.


A Fuss-Free Top 50 Albums of 2012

November 7, 2012

Hello. Yes, this may seem a little early to you. But right now – right now – calculations are underway to determine what will make, and what won’t make, the BBC Music top 25 albums of 2012. I know, because I’m the one doing the maths.

The BBC Music list will be published in early December – contributors have until later this month to submit their ‘votes’, in the form of individual top fives. It’s a very fair process, which will be explained on the BBC Music Blog around the time the top 25 is published.

I’ve received several top fives already, which makes for an interesting in-progress list (you’d be surprised what’s sneaking into the top 10, as things stand). Personally I find narrowing down my favourite albums of any period hard – I always have far too many. So to help me reach a top five, needed for the BBC Music list, I’ve drawn up this top 50. Which itself has taken me two weeks.

I’ve been quite strict, on myself. If I only played an album once, liked it (or loved it, at the time, even), but never really returned to it, it was out. If I loved one or two songs on a particular record, again, that one’s not making the cut. As far as genuine enjoyment goes, this 50 is, I think, my standout selection of the year that’s (almost) been. And play counts certainly back these releases. From it I’ll skim five… quite what that five will be, though.

I know there are further releases to come in 2012. Big Boi and Deftones are two I am keen to hear – but by the time these records reach me, and they’ve been properly processed, the BBC Music deadline (which I set) will have passed. Perhaps I’ll squeeze them into my monthly best-of round-ups instead.

Anyway, A Fuss-Free Top 50 Albums of 2012…

Aesop Rock – Skelethon
Angel Haze – Reservation
Baroness – Yellow & Green
Bigg Jus – Machines That Make Civilization Fun
Breton – Other People’s Problems

– – –

– – –

Cadence Weapon – Hope In Dirt City
Childish Gambino – Royalty
Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano II
Cooly G – Playin’ Me
Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland – Black Is Beautiful

– – –

– – –

Death Grips – The Money Store
Dope Body – Natural History
Efterklang – Piramida
El-P – Cancer4Cure
Evan Caminiti – Dreamless Sleep

– – –

– – –

Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Gang Colours – The Keychain Collection
Halls – Ark
Hodgy Beats – Untitled EP

– – –

– – –

Holy Other – Held
The Invisible – Rispah
Jessie Ware – Devotion
JJ DOOM – Key to the Kuffs
Joey Bada$$ – 1999

– – –

– – –

John Talabot – fin
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Kindness – World, You Need a Change of Mind
Konx-om-Pax – Regional Surrealism

– – –

– – –

Liars – WIXIW
Lorn – Ask the Dust
Mala – Mala in Cuba
The Men – Open Your Heart
Metz – Metz

– – –

– – –

Mick Boogie & Beastie Boys – Grand Royal
Nas – Life is Good
NZCA/LINES – NZCA/LINES
Oddisee – People Hear What They See
Ombre – Believe You Me

– – –

– – –

Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
Poliça – Give You The Ghost
Quakers – Quakers
Rudi Zygadlo – Tragicomedies
Shed – The Killer

– – –

– – –

Supreme Cuts and Haleek Maul – Chrome Lips
THEESatisfaction – awE naturalE
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
The xx – Coexist
Young Magic – Melt

– – –

Many of these are reviewed on BBC Music; seek and you may find.

Send me abuse on Twitter.