Staff Picks – IamHop’s top 10 albums of 2012

Well…this is awkward, but I’ll introduce myself anyways. Hi, I’m James! I created postrockstar as a way to help smaller bands gain exposure after constantly seeing nothing but the biggest name bands promoted and posted. I’m from Seattle, in my mid-20’s and work for a .com like just about everyone else in Washington State. I have a strange obsession with Pokemon and my favorite bands are Sigur Ros, Cloudkicker, The End of the Ocean, The American Dollar and Collapse Under the Empire…who all happened to put out albums last year. Weird.

1. Sigur Ros – Valtari

Sigur Ros return from hiatus to reclaim their spot at the top of the post-rock genre. This was a no-brainer pick to me as Sigur’s return to a more nostalgic sound did nothing but please their fans. While Jonsi used the band’s time off very well to further his own career, Sigur Ros was sorely missed in 2010 and 2011. Valtari to me presents the best range of emotion, song structure, raw ability and timelessness showcased in any album released in 2012 and for that it deserves all the praise it has gotten.

2. El Ten Eleven – Transitions

“Transitions” is without question the biggest breakout album of 2012. This california duo could do no wrong in 2012 with one of the most infectiously fun post-rock albums of all time. Witnessing first hand the sound that just two musicians can create together solidified this album for me. El Ten Eleven are poised for a huge run to the top and will be an excellent flag bearer for the post-rock genre.

3. Alcest – Les Voyages De L’ame

Words cannot describe my love for Alcest’s reinvented new sound. The french shoegaze meets post-metal “Les Voyages De L’ame” was a mainstay on my ipod from the moment I heard it. The vocal range is gorgeous and the emotional depth is bottomless.

4. The End of the Ocean – In Excelsis (EP)

A longtime fan of the band, I was more then thrilled by “In Excelsis” . I’ve maintained that if the EP was just two songs longer it would still be among the best albums released this year. The End of the Ocean are a band with unlimited potential and this EP showed true promise for a bright future.

5. Cloudkicker – Fade
No other post-rock artist has accumulated such a spectacular discography as quickly as Ben Sharp has. The tireless guitarist put out yet another masterpiece that felt like a further step forward from my favorite post-rock album of all time, “Beacons”. Once a raw powerhouse, Cloudkicker’s sound saw further refinement and maturity with “Fade”, undoubtedly a welcome change.

6. The American Dollar – Awake in the City
The ambient duo has done it again with “Awake in the City”. To me this is the ultimate relaxation album. While staying true to their electronic roots, the band has also increased the guitar presence found throughout their work. That’s definitely a move I can get behind.

7. Toundra – III
Easily Toundra’s best work to date. “III” is a pure in your face post-metal blitz that still manages to showcase the band’s amazing range with the track “Requiem”. This album stands out to me as a band that is ready to emerge and be a serious contender in the post-metal realm.

8. Collapse Under the Empire – Fragments of a Prayer
While I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed 2011’s “Shoulders & Giants”, “Fragments of a Prayer” was still good enough to earn a spot on my top 10 list. With a follow up due in 2013, C.U.T.E just never seem to let off of the gas pedal!

9. If These Trees Could Talk – Red Forest
“Red Forest” is one of those albums that seems to get better with age. The first few listens I enjoyed it, but wasn’t overly thrilled. As the year went on I found myself playing it more and more, getting into it just a tad bit more everytime. Still, it was good enough to leave it’s mark on my top 10 list.

10. Eversham – Eversham
Insanely clever and unique as hell, I discovered this album later in the year and never thought twice about putting it on my list. It’s the sort of album that commands attention and never dulls.

Honorable Mentions:
Caspian – Waking Season
Pan – These are the Things I Love and I Want to Share them with You
Mental Architects – Celebrations
Leech – If We Get There One Day, Would You Please Open The Gates?
Echotide – As Our Floodlights Gave Way to Dawn
Servants of Silence – Weightless Thoughts

Top 5 Songs
1. Sigur Ros – Varua
2. Alcian – The Quick and the Dead
3. Toundra – Requiem
4. Servants of Silence – One Million Things – One Million Thoughts
5. The American Dollar – Friends of Friends