The Ten Best L.A. Albums of 2012 | West Coast Sound | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
Year in Review

The Ten Best L.A. Albums of 2012

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Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:15 AM

click to enlarge Julia Holter
  • Julia Holter
Los Angeles music was a big part of the national conversation this year, from Frank Ocean and Miguel's artisan R&B to Top Dawg Entertainment's hip-hop dominance to the electronic inspirations of Flying Lotus and Gaslamp Killer. Picking but ten albums from this crop as the West Coast Sound writers have was not easy, but we did it for you dear reader because, as Drake once said, you the fucking best. -Ben Westhoff

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10. White Arrows

Dry Land Is Not a Myth

White Arrows' music does not sound much like "tropical crunk," despite how lead singer Mickey Schiff described it to us last year. Nope, it's pretty much standard issue white guy indie rock circa now, with guitars, bass, and some electronic flourishes. But

what melodies! Nearly every Dry Land Is Not a Myth track is an earworm, with Schiff's unusual, enchanting voice giving emphasis to odd vowels, creating intrigue by disguising words. Which is to say: Who knows what he's saying, but we love what he's saying. -Ben Westhoff

See also: White Arrows Singer Mickey Schiff Was Blind, But Now He Sees (Literally)

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9. Julia Holter


The best way to stay sane amidst the smog and suffocating traffic of Los Angeles is to keep a record ready in case you want to escape into the nearest canyon. The further out the better: Temescal, Rustic, Topanga, Mandeville. Any place where you can spot the occasional hitchhiker and entertain your delusion of jettisoning your cramped apartment for a mountain hermitage. This is where Julia Holter's Ekstasis comes in. The sophomore album from the pallid pretty CalArts grad sounds like the soundtrack to an Alain Resnais adaptation of "The Faerie Queen." Allusions to French New Wave co-exist with lyrical fragments borrowed from Euripides, Virgina Woolf and Frank O' Hara. Robotic vocoders mesh with seraphic human vocals. It feels like a vacation to a festival in a primeval forest where an ancestral chorus of Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell chant on. It's a reminder that you can disappear any time you want to, provided you turn off onto the right road. -Jeff Weiss

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8. Miguel

Kaleidoscope Dream

Though rising R&B star Miguel honed his craft with the Art Dealer Chic series, he mastered it on Kaleidoscope Dream with intoxicated love jams oozing self-assurance. His falsetto is sharp, and at its best ("Do You...," "The Thrill," "Candles in the Sun") the work is a brilliant fusion of modern soul and psychedelic rock. Even at its worst, it's a pretty good reminder that, between him and Frank Ocean, introspective R&B is in pretty good hands. -Marcus Arman

See also: Miguel Finds His Place: A rare R&B bird, he falls in somewhere between the hipsters and the mainstream

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