Ok, here are the best albums of 2012 as selected by me. They aren't really in order as it is all a bit subjective. But I will count them down anyway:
10. Half man half biscuit: 90 bisodol, crimond
Not all the songs work, but there are some great melodies, and as you might expect, some brilliant lyrics covering everything from a lack of pavement etiquette to pop stars appearing on Soccer AM. Many highlights, with my two favourite tracks being Left lyrics in the practice room (..."hey Chris, from future doom, you left your lyrics in the practice room..."), and the marvellous "Descending the stiplestones" about village life in Shropshire.
9. The pre-new: music for people who hate themselves
Saw this lot a couple of years ago at 1-2-3-4 Shoreditch and was impressed with their brutal, cartoonish energy (especially as they look older than me). Their album cover features the old British Rail logo, and the songs are a mix of post punk, pub rock and electronica. Sarah Cracknell (St Etienne) makes an appearance too. The album is powerful and challenging.
8. David Thomas Broughton: Outbreeding
If you don't like his voice - a kind of operatic yorkshire warble - you will hate this. Which would be a shame as the inventiveness of the instrumentation, the mix of folk and rock melodies and the bitterness of the songwriting, especially in Onward we trudge and Joke make this a really stunning album.
7. Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell: Kite
This couple are just brilliant. Folk and people's music as it was inteneded. Light and uptempo, but with enough poignancy in Lucy's voice and Jonny's guitar playing to make you melt into it. Not a stand out song to rival Hares on a mountain, on their original North Farm Sessions EP, but some lovely, lovely tracks.
6. Woods: bend beyond
I think they played at a festival I was at, but I missed them, writing them off as another American hipster band. More fool me. The album is beautifully put together, and a lovely mix of americana, folk, and harder rock sounds. It's not just another wannabe Fleet Foxes, though. It is inventive and you get more from it every listen.
5. Bad Weather California: Sunkissed
What an album. This was definitely my sound of the summer. Laid back groovy sunshine music, sixties and seventies, with a crazy Daniel Johnson-ish delivery. Stand in My Sunshine and When You Smile are two of the most listenable, hummable and danceable tracks of the year.
4. Thee oh Sees: carrion crawler
I know I am very late to all this surf punk west coast stuff, but it doesn't mean I can't love it just as much as anyone else. This is more a long EP than an album, but its energy and craziness are just brilliant. Play it loud and jump about.
3. This is the Kit: wriggle out the restless
Another astonishing album, folk meshed with Neil Young, meeting Portishead and Tricky. Kate Stables is so inventive, both as a lyricist and crafter of songs. They just appear slowly and grow into great tidal waves of sound. Beautiful. This album also has remixes by John Parrish, Rachael Dadd and others. A real gem.
2. Beth Jeans Houghton: Yours truly, cellophane nose
She is an absolute genius. Operatic voice, orchestral arrangements, but with a lightness of touch and gentleness of humour that just makes you smile when you hear her. Her band are real talents, combining strings and brass with guitar, bass and drum, but she is very definitely the power. A fantastic album.
1. Allo Darlin: Europe
It is hard to describe how much fun this album is, but at the same time how moving each of the songs are. Every one is a singalong tune, with simple melody and catchy chorus. But all of them are written from the heart, and Elizabeth Morris's charming australian voice can make you fill up as she tells you she loves you.
Honourable mentions also to Ty Seagall (Twins); Allah Las; Spoek Mathambo; Moon Duo (who played a great set at No Direction Home); and King Tuff.