Summer 2012. We’ve just had the wettest June on record, the festival season has been fractured by a series of cancellations, and album sales have fallen in their millions.
And yet, for every music fan, there’ still reasons to be cheerful.
The Stone Roses have just completed – with no major hiccups – the fastest selling weekend of live music in UK history, Blur have deemed us worthy to sample the fruits of their studio labours, some faith in humanity was restored when The Voice had its live tour pulled and, most importantly, for seven months now artists both new and established have been releasing a steady stream of truly impressive albums, proving once again that, if you’re prepared to look hard enough, quality is still out there in abundance.
So, take a look through just some of those releases we’ve pulled together for our latest Essential Listening rundown, and maybe you’ll spot something which will soon occupy a prominent place in your own record collection for the remainder of the year. And when you’ve been through the list, why not do the same for us by leaving a comment below highlighting your own favourites of 2012…so far.
“Groundbreaking does not necessarily go hand in hand with earth shattering, in this case meaning merely that as a collective nothing of this ilk has really been heard before.”
“For fans of Pierce’s expansive catalogue of gospel-infused space rock ruminations this latest installment will come as a welcomed, even refreshing addition to the canon.”
“An irrefutably creative musician cut loose in a studio with a bass guitar, a drum machine, and assorted other delights that facilitate a wonderfully abrasive racket.”
“May dip below the radar when up against the big summer releases, but this is an album that will be winning friends and influencing people long after the sun has disappeared.”
“Guns N Roses as we know and love them are never coming back, but as long as Slash is still around and on this level of form the JD soaked spirit of 1987 will never die.”
“Drawing from your inspirations and doing something new and fresh with those ideas is not easy to pull off, but Tribes have managed it.”
“The Walkmen have grown up, slowed down, and found contentment in the songs they’re making. ‘Heaven’ is a mature album, and it may just be their best yet.”
“Pushing boundaries with an astute subtlety; mining the art of deception to perfection. Progressive and revolutionary, yet understated.”
“The fruits of this triumphant record should be enjoyed in unison, and perhaps following the release of this record The Big Pink will get the commercial recognition they deserve.”
“The band clearly enjoy what they are doing, something that is no surprise when you consider their success in instrumental experimentation; truly a wonder to behold.”
“For the closing four tracks of the album The Cribs create a rather ambitious medley. It is without question the most impressive and elaborate music they have ever produced.”
“Musically it’s packed with grand cacophonous gestures, lyrically it’s deceptively dark, structurally it’s well conceived. This is clearly a very personal album.”
“The record twists and weaves its way through a labyrinth of genres, ensuring the band are fundamentally impossible to tie down to one specific category.”
“And it is that very same voice, now stark and unapologetic with experience, that will continue to carry his legacy long after he himself is gone.”
“A record that musicians will envy and listeners will adore. If there’s a bad word to be said against this music, you’re not going to read it here. Listen to this. Listen to it all.”
“‘Bloom’ is exactly the music you’d play if Jennifer Connelly had stayed trapped in that freakish masquerade ball with David Bowie in Labyrinth.”
“She already has more than enough talent and gusto to stand alongside her contemporaries and prove herself to be something vastly different and worthwhile.”
“Hawley diehards rejoice, Mr Reliable has struck again with a mesmerising composition of nine dwindling, ruminating pieces of eccentricity.”
“A polished and accessible second offering from a group that made a point to rise to an occasion they could have just as easily shrank away from.”
“There’s an arguable lack of visceral attitude in the current musical climate, and it’s fitting, if not ironic, that Morris is once again bringing that to attention.”
“White has already secured his spot in history by allowing his raw eccentricity to speak for itself, and this outing confirms that eccentricity still has plenty left to say.”
“He’s angry, so very very angry, but he channels that anger into something immense and beautiful; something to lift the heart and bring you out in goosepimples.”
“Ellen and the Escapades have made a record that cannot stay in the underground. It’s too big and too beautiful to simply live its life out as a password for hip-ness.”
“His voice, the bruised communicator, relays contempt and corruption consistently, bearing a rare romance that can be compared to few other artists.”
“We should all applaud those that strive for something else. The album is a triumph. Bejewelled but uncluttered. The times are a-changing.”