Monday 10 December 2012

Albums of the Year 2012

Just like every year in this blog’s life we will, from tomorrow, be revealing our ten favourite albums of the year.

Last year we wrote an over long explanation of how we decided on our top ten albums. That post still holds true for 2012. So we’re going to repeat it for this year, in a slightly (but not that slightly) summarised form.

Here are the key points

1. We haven’t listened to every album that has been released this year. That’s impossible. So we’re pretty sure we’ve missed some good ones off our top ten. To hear a lot of albums you either have to be time rich or paid to listen, neither of which we are. So don’t criticise us if your favourite album doesn’t appear on our list. We may not even have heard it.

 2. Many of these end of year lists are often the result of a democratic committee vote. This leads to the quirks of the individual being ruled out. Our list is a fan list. This means not only is it from a single viewpoint, but our prejudices can run excitingly rife. It’s why last year an album by Northumbrian folk miserablists The Unthanks was number 1 in the Breaking More Waves list despite hardly featuring on any other lists out there and Girls Aloud member Nicola Roberts was number 3. ‘Teamwork’ in this case buffs down the rough diamonds and that’s not necessarily a good thing in pop music.

3. Our list been calculated using a spreadsheet and some musical maths. We’re all for a bit of qualitative analysis “that’s good,” “this is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G,” “that is a stinking dog turd of a record” but we quite like the Pitchfork idea of giving an album 7.3 out of 10 as well. So we’ve decided our albums of the year by using some numeric criteria, some of which are derived from qualitative data. If this appears somewhat geeky, we make no apologies. Albums of the Year lists are a science unto themselves. Here are the criteria.

Musical quality For that you could just read 'taste' because we have no qualification or evidence to suggest we’re a better judge of quality than anyone else.

Emotional connection to us as a listener Extra points are earned for making us blub uncontrollably, feel really horny, make us thoughtful / melancholy, makes us feel alive, make us want to dance and snog strangers.

Number of times we’ve played the album This is then divided by number of months since first listening. We’ve used a combination of Last FM and a tally we’ve been keeping of CD plays during the year. The theory is if we’ve played it a lot we must like it.

A fan factor This represents our prejudices. For example if the album contains members of Girls Aloud the fan factor is increased threefold before we’ve even heard the album.If the Pigeon Detectives feature at all it is immediately banned from the list no matter how good everyone else says it is.  

We’re not going to bother you with the complexities of the formula but in its simplest terms it involves (Quality + Emotional Connection + Times Played) x (Fan Factor)

So there you have it. We’ll be starting our countdown tomorrow. Until then let’s remind ourselves of our previous albums of the year.

2008 Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

2009 Blue Roses – Blue Roses

2010 The National – High Violet

2011 The Unthanks – Last

The spreadsheet has done its job. 2012 has a clear winner. We’re ready to countdown the top 10. Starting tomorrow.

In the meantime, in case you're wondering where our 2009 album of the year winner has been, here's Laura Groves aka Blue Roses in a new guise as a member of trio called Nautic who also comprise producer Bullion and someone called Tic who we know very little about with a gently bubbling song called Fresh Eyes.

Nautic - Fresh Eyes

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