Now that's what they call music: Rock and pop's biggest names choose their favourite records of 2012

The stars pick their favourite albums of the year

 

Ellie Goulding

Alt-J: An Awesome Wave

One of the reasons I love the Alt-J record is that there is no fear of imagination completely taking over. It reminds me of being a really curious kid, thinking a thousand thoughts at the same time. Describing the record as an eclectic mix of styles might give way for some sort of pretentiousness or over-complication, but it doesn't. It teeters right on the edge of madness before swinging back to some sort of sense, and, at times, a real pop sensibility. The string that holds all sorts of colourful beads together is Joe's little voice. I always had a weakness for voices that can be so vulnerable and so powerful at the same time.

Miles Kane

Dr. John: Locked Down

All year I've kept coming back to this record. The title track, "Locked Down", and the track "Big Shot" are two of my favourites. The songs are written with such abstract lyrics but his message is still clear and understood. The album is produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. I'm a massive fan of them anyway, and this album has some of those Black Keys elements that I love. The production, especially the drums, and the groove of the whole record is amazing. I've been totally inspired by that sound when recording my record this year.

Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons)

William Basinski: Disintegration Loops Box Set

Released finally as a complete series in this special edition, these are some of the most important recordings in my life. I have lived with these ambient tracks for years and it is the most subliminally helpful, useful and beautiful music I've ever experienced. It is a series of tape loops that slowly dissolved as Basinski recorded them. You listen as a great civilisation falls to dust.

Johnny Bramwell (I Am Kloot)

Gaz Coombes: Here Come the Bombs

We were lucky enough to be on the same bill as him at the Crossing Border festival in Holland last month and he played the whole thing. It's my favourite gig of the year. So I got the LP and have had it on every day since. It's a personal soundscape with a great psychedelic rock backdrop. Everything is in the first person and feels to me like TS Eliot and Hawkwind, with the trademark Supergrass chord changes. I've got a copy and nobody is borrowing it.

Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes)

Fly Golden Eagle: Swagger

I love the record of our local friends Fly Golden Eagle; they make music that is hard to pin down but it gets me every time. To make such great music in the community we come from requires a certain kind of dedication. You don't have the encouragement of a supportive network necessarily and that breeds a strength of purpose that can help to create something original. They sound like a classic band living in their own time-zone; maybe a little different from the one you check into regularly, but still worth checking out. I have been discovering so much great music this year that it has inspired us to dig deep into our lives and work hard to try to create something of our own that we can be proud of.

Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets)

Tame Impala: Lonerism

The self-contained manner in which we are consuming today's music is exactly the way in which Lonerism was created. Live, Tame Impala is a psychedelic rock band – all long locks of hair and trippy projections. But on record this is the lone creation of one visionary young man in his bedroom. Kevin Parker strikes me as someone cut from a similar mould to the Brian Wilsons or Mike Oldfields of this world. He plays shows in his bare feet, is probably a genius and appears as aroused by the world around as the world is by him. But he also reminds me of Howard Hughes, the great Hollywood recluse. To me, it sounds like someone taking you by the hand you into his private universe and showing you that anything is possible, if you possess the vision to see it through. It also sounds like the missing Beatles album between Revolver and Sgt Pepper.

Tim Burgess (The Charlatans)

Carter Tutti Void: Transverse

My favourite album of 2012 is this rhythmical, minimal, slow, dark-building, monolithic beauty: four live compositions, all variants of the same thing, "V1", "V2", "V3", and a studio track, yep, you guessed it "V4". They are essentially a band that existed for one live show – it was recorded at the Roundhouse in May 2011 and released early February 2012. Even though live albums are often hard to listen to, this is remarkably easy uneasy listening. The roots of the performers lie in Factory Floor and Throbbing Gristle so this was always going to be more spiky than fluffy but that's how we like it round here. The pop art eye-shaking brilliance of the cover also scoops best sleeve of the year.

Gus (Alt-J)

Polica: Give You the Ghost

This for me is a quintessential "headphones album" – my favourite way to listen to music is while I'm walking around somewhere. Polica's album, with its beautiful vocals and production, has been a constant companion in 2012. I saw them play the Lake Stage at Latitude festival this year and I think this helped me understand the sound even more. There is a simplicity to what they do, yet every aspect of the songs is considered – nothing is there which is not needed. This is an uncomplicated and spacious album, yet one that bears repeated listening.

Pete Turner (Elbow)

Tame Impala: Lonerism

This blew other albums I was listening to away. It's a true album from start to finish. There's always something new to find.

Lianne La Havas

Alt-J: An Awesome Wave

They have a sound that is all their own, whilst you still get the sense that they'll be around for a long time, because you can't deny the raw talent and innovation. I often find I am singing the songs to myself and still I'm excited to listen to the whole album as a piece. As a musician, I've found this a very inspiring, mind-boggling album, so it's easily my favourite.

Scott Wilkinson (British Sea Power)

God Speed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

I like this record a lot. I think it's their first in 10 years and was a continuation of ideas from before their break. My first listen was in the suitably apocalyptic confines of Churchill shopping centre. It was quite scary. It's a beautiful record which I have since found ideal for labour- and craft-based tasks such as moving stones and woodwork. Having worked in hotel2tango Studios a few years ago, I hazily remember Efrim [Menuck] having been doing a lot of manual work of some kind in between studio hours. I also remember he had a singing dog which we recorded. They are a very good band who make sense more now than ever and I'm glad they've returned with this record.

Victoria Hesketh (Little Boots)

Kindness: World, You Need a Change of Mind

When I first came across the Kindness album I was unwilling to like it. Every hipster I know on Facebook seemed to be posting streaming links to the new album and everything about the project seemed a little too thought-out. However, when I finally gave it a chance and put my reservations aside I realised here was a guy after my own heart, who just really loves great classic pop music. The record has a warm feeling of familiarity, mainly due to a large part of the material being heavily sampled or cleverly magpie-ed, but he does this with a charm and originality that just about gets away with it. Live, they're like the greatest wedding band ever and watching them made me want to trade my career to be one his backing singers.

Rachel Zeffira

Laura Mvula: She (EP)

You can hear that she made it exactly as she wanted, with care and with passion. The arrangements are great, the lyrics are good. I think my favourite song is "Jump Right Out". I'm already predicting that Laura Mvula will win the 2013 Mercury Prize – she is a unique, talented and brave musician and I can't wait to hear her next release.

Colin Meloy (The Decemberists)

Hospitality: Hospitality

Simple songs, simple arrangements, beautiful songwriting; it's sort of sneaky that way. It does the thing that all pop-ish records should do, which is marry sardonic, smart lyrics with simple, melodic arrangements. I think that a lot of times folks do one without the other. Not the case here.

Becky Unthank (The Unthanks)

Sam Lee: Ground of its Own

Previously a dancer, Sam turned his attentions to song collecting from the oral tradition. On his debut album you get the chance to hear some of the gems he learnt from time spent with the travelling communities. I first heard Sam sing at Whitby Folk Week. Ground of its Own embodies all and more of what struck me then: his rich, velvety voice, beautiful ornamentation and his ability to draw you in and tell a story though song. It's a brave and understated record, and it's full of innovative arrangements.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent