I'm glad I did a search before starting a new thread.
Here's my list, with a little explanation explaining why these are my favorites.
10. Death Grips - The Money Store
I didn't fall in love with their debut mixtape last year, but it definitely put them on my mental radar. They definitely have a way of making you feel alive, and they do a lot to stand out from all the other hip hop groups out there. MC Ride may be the hip hop equivalent of a homeless street preacher, but he definitely has a way of getting in your head, and the inclusion of more electronic beats give you more to love. The Money Store is definitely an improvement from Exmilitary and I hope their new album manages to be just as good as if not better than The Money Store
09. BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG2
Awesome little three-piece jazz fusion outfit who look like the kind of guys you'd see at a Tyler, the Creator show, but show that appearances can be deceptive because they definitely have an intimate grasp on jazz, and know how to make it speak to a younger generation who may not have the patience for the classic jazz artists. They also know that if you're going for something that's already a niche genre for the under 30's, the best way to get heard is to release it for free, so if you want to hear some awesome jazz, you should get on this.
08. Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
Unironic somber, serious metal. I know the band kind of wavered between styles of the last decade, but it is nice to seem them going back to their Gothic Metal roots and will hopefully take over for Type O Negative as the reigning rulers of the genre. I think what I liked most about it was its appropriate length, the songs were just long enough for you to enjoy all the way through, unlike Swallow the Sun's latest album where I was constantly checking the time and periodically growing bored throughout the album. If you like metal, but aren't that interested in the guttural vocals, but also can't stand anything ending with "core" in its genre name, this is an album for you.
07. Matt Elliott - The Broken Man
Moody, dark, and depressing is the best way to describe this album. You could be having the best day of your life, but just one minute with this album will have you in the corner armed with a razor. That might be a little exaggerated, but this album has a way of digging into your brain and staying with you, which is saying a lot for a mostly acoustic singer/songwriter album.
06. OSI - Fire Make Thunder
You know that feeling you get when it's 1:30 am on a Friday/ Saturday night and you've just got this craving for something simple but not terribly good for you, like a greasy burger or late night Chinese food? That's basically what this album is like, it's wearily predictable if you're a fan of the latter Porcupine Tree albums, but there's just something about it that I find so satisfying in ways I that many of the other "more mentally stimulating" metal albums have been lacking in.
05. Sigh - In Somniphobia
Just to be completely contradictory to my last entry, here's Sigh's latest release, a far more interesting album from 2010's Scenes From Hell. This is probably the closest to their 2001 magnum opus Imaginary Sonicscape, and has a lot going for it. It's nice to see Dr. Mikannibal finding her niche in the band with her saxophone and vocals. I've always found it hard trying to describe why I like Sigh's music, because it's so vastly different from what most people think is capable with the genre, it's really something you need to listen to to really understand. If you're looking for something "out there" then I would highly recommend this album.
04. Aesop Rock - Skelethon
I've been debating with myself as to whether or not this album deserves to be in my top three, but after much internal debate I think it's the perfect "4th place album". It's easily his best work since 2003's Bazooka Tooth and makes up for last year's rather lackluster and directionless Hail Mary Mallon. As I expect with Aesop, it's almost impossible to tell where he's going to go and there's always this little charm of childhood innocence and imagination in his lyrics that you almost never see in hip hop. I've never totally been in love with the man, but he was one of the first hip ho artists that I really got into so there's a history and I will always defend his lyrics and flow against naysayers.
03. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel... if this album title was any longer it would start to resemble a Godspeed You! Black Emperor album
When it comes to female singer/songwriters I've always had a stronger connection to Ani DiFranco, who is pretty prolific, releasing albums on an almost annual basis. Fiona Apple, on the other hand, follows more of a quality over quantity rule, but I can't say that I've ever been totally into her music. Unfortunately (or fortunately as you'll read in a minute) for me, my quasi-girlfriend is a huge Fiona Apple album, so when she descended from Mount Olympus to give her ravenous fans a new album for the first time in 7-years, well I made sure to keep a burned copy in my car for the sake of my sex life. With my car being the only device with air conditioning in it I've had available all summer, I've gotten intimately familiar with The Idler Wheel and I have to say that I'm a believer now. I even went back and listened to her entire discography and found a lot more to like and a new understanding of why her fans adore her so much. She certainly has a way with lyrics and manages to make some really great arrangements that captivate and enthrall. I really hope this album gets nominated for a Grammy.
02. Corb Lund - Cabin Fever
Unless you're big into Canadian music or country, I can definitely see a lot of people scratching their head at this mention, so here's the cliff notes.
Corb Lund is a Canadian country musician who played bass in the popular band the smalls and toured relentlessly throughout the '90's. In the mid '90's he decided to break away and start a solo country career which met with only mild success. Despite his intimate knowledge of the blue collar rancher lifestyle, it wasn't until 2001 (the same year the smalls disbanded) that his album 5 Dollar Bill met with any kind of critical success. It was enough to have his first two solo albums rereleased and get more money for his next studio album, which featured the likes of Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Ian Tyson. His last two albums enjoyed critical success and had international releases and tours. His latest album, Cabin Fever is a darker, more personal album that shucks many of the tropes associated with country, while still retaining some of Corb's more personal touches like a sense of humour and a sense of loneliness as he strives to find a balance between his love of living on the fringes of urban life and his love of having people as a constant in his life. He is a great lyricist, and in my personal opinion surpasses Neil Young in his choice of diction, syntax, and storytelling.
If you're one of those annoying fucks who says "I listen to everything but hip hop and country", you need to give this guy a listen because he will make you a believer.
01. Killing Joke - MMXII
I've been a pretty obsessive Killing Joke fan since they released their 2003 self-titled album and I found out this band is pretty much the inspiration for any band that carries "alternative" in their genre label. There aren't many bands that have been in the game as long as Killing Joke has and not only manage to be as relevant in terms of sound and themes, but also manages to surpass many of the same bands in level of heaviness. Seriously, their 2010 album Absolute Dissent is heavier than any other band that derives even the smallest amount of inspiration from Killing Joke, and given that most of the members are in their mid 50's that's pretty impressive. MMXII is a different beast, going back to their post-punk roots, but still utilizing the lessons from their last two albums to make something that really hits the spot for everything from socio-political lyrics, to incorporating electronic elements into their music, to finding that perfect blend of new and old production. Nothing feels artificial or imposed by record labels, this is just a band that has so much prestige and respect from the medium that they can really do what they want.
With that here's my 3 favourite songs this year.