Wake Radio’s top albums from 2012

In honor of the new year, the staff of Wake Radio reveals three of their favorite albums of 2012.

 

Photo courtesy of last.fm

Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

George Orwell once said, “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” And revolutionary is one of the many words to describe Frank Ocean’s revelatory R&B masterpiece. Part manifesto, part confessional, Ocean’s Channel Orange is not only one of the most brutally self-reflective albums in recent years, it morphs the musical sounds of soul stirring R&B with hip-hop sensibilities and lyrics that create a sound that is completely and uniquely Frank Ocean — destroying all of his peers in his wake.

Perhaps the greatest testament to this album’s staying power is the fact that with each additional listen, something new and wonderful is found behind every corner. There is not much that can be said about this album that has not already been said. It’s Frank Ocean’s world, and we’re just living in it.

 

Photo courtesy of lozzamusic.com

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city

Rap has been waiting for its rebirth. This is an era of Drake crying and bragging over the airwaves at the same damn time, while Big Sean & Co. use their verses to tell listeners “I can’t believe I made it, (Mom!)” — leading us to marvel at the exact same thing. However, salvation awaits: six years after the legendary Queens MC Nas titled his album Hip Hop is Dead, Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar releases an instant-classic LP flurried with verbal panoramas as insightful as Biggie’s Ready to Die or Nas’ Illmatic.

Hearkening back to the illustrious storytelling and religious influences of rap’s past, Kendrick issues an allegory of Compton compartmentalized into 12 tracks. The depictions of the dystopic results of unfettered loyalty, teenage naiveté and economic disenfranchisement through the eyes of a mostly well-intentioned youth have led K-Dot to nearly universal approval among his peers. The result? good kid, m.A.A.d city has put the hip-hop world on Kendrick’s back with the edict to lead a stable of promising youngsters to take the billion dollar genre back into the past — a past where the rhymes outshined the beats and the message overshadowed the rhymes.

 

Photo courtesy of turntablekitchen.com

Grizzly Bear, Shields

Watch the critics on this one, because far too many of them will be busy attempting to label Shields rather than appreciate it for what it is.  What is that exactly?  All I know is that with regards to their previous efforts, this creature’s not as primitive as Horn of Plenty, not as hypnotic as Yellow House, and not as easily accommodating as Veckatimest. Perhaps it’s a subtle mixture of all three — a statement that would be high praise considering the masterful compositions that make up their previous works. Regardless, Shields is still an extraordinarily haunting and beautiful addition to the Grizzly Bear catalogue.

Nick Reichert, Logan Healy-Tuke and Kory Riemensperger also contributed to this article. 

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