Presenters’ Picks – 2012

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Alan Johnson

Album: Usher – Looking 4 Myself

I was looking forward to seeing him at the O2 in January – but no sooner had I got tickets than his tour was “rescheduled due to other commitments”! A pretty poor show – but with his usual ability to combine a range of different styles this album is still my pick of 2012.

Single: Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child

The final single from the guys who also worked on Usher’s album. Sometimes a song simply touches the soul – I think this one does for a lot of people.

Bob Simpson

Album: Elton John vs Pnau – Good Morning To The Night

A reworking of some of Elton John’s past album tracks by Australian dance music duo Pnau. Originating from Sydney, the duo consists of musicians Nick Littlemore (vocals, production) and Peter Mayes (guitar, production) and they brought a fresh new sound to some of Elton’s older tracks.

Single: Rod Stewart and Cee Lo Green – Merry Christmas Baby

Seasonal schmaltz but I’m a sucker for it!

Bryan Powis

Album: Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

Frank Ocean, singer more than a rapper, the oldest and most soulful member of Odd Future, and the one to make the biggest waves from the crew in 2012.

channel ORANGE is a staggering achievement of rare scope and variety. Frank Ocean’s honesty shines throughout the record. Struggling with his love addiction (“Thinkin Bout You”), he tries to escape (“Crack
Rock”). Midway through the album, he spirals out of control on a nine-minute track (“Pyramids”), and later questions life’s meanings and his place in it (“Bad Religion” and “Lost”). From start to finish,
the album is the story of him mending together the pieces of his broken heart.

Just before its release too, Frank Ocean announced his homosexuality in a note posted on his Tumblr. Like a crashing piano, the noise of support and criticism blurted out at once. Rarely has anyone, certainly not as recognized as Ocean, come out to the largely homophobic hip hop and R&B community, so props for that too Frank.

Single: Everything Everything – Cough Cough

Favourite Band. Favourite Song, and the soundtrack to my disgusting, long (went around Phoenix FM about 5 times) (and still going) (Scott Ross started it) cold. Thank you Everything Everything. Your new album is ordered.

Ches Moulton

Album: Jo Harman & Company – Live At Hideaway

While technically an album recorded in 2011, Live At Hideaway gained momentum during the past twelve months and exposes the natural and gifted talents of one of the UK’s fastest rising stars. The collection of songs on this album is a wonderful mix of blues, soul, and rock that keeps the listener entranced and expectant of what is to come … not just on the following track, but on the next verse and chord structure as well as the next release.

Single: Richie Milton – Everybody Sang The Blues

The song while a basic blues melody and rhythm structure, embodies much of what has become the traditional blues standard while involving a more contemporary feel in the sound and playing style of the musicians. Lyrically, the song speaks to the many daily situations that arise in families and with people the world over. The real Blues reflects our lives… and real life is reflected in this song.

Chris Siviter

Album: Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

Grabbed me from the first listen. Noisy, scuzzy, lo-fi, punky and at times drenched in feedback, it’s an album I’ve been back to countless times and will continue to do so.

Single: Antlers – Undersea EP

After bagging the album of the year title last year with Burst Apart, The Antlers returned with a truly gorgeous EP this year. Ethereal melodies mixed with Peter Silberman’s amazing voice, it really is music that takes you on a journey you can get completely lost in.

Dave Rothwell

Album: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

This long awaited album from Scotland’s biggest export (DJ/Producer wise) lived up to its expectations and basically contains a showcase of Calvin’s production skills and past, present and future hits with collaborations aplenty! You could easily put the entire album on form start to finish and it’s guaranteed to get you in the mood to go out for a night on the town.

Single: Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child

As a Club DJ I always get asked what my favourite song is and I always answer “I don’t have one!” and the main reason is I like so many tunes, so it’s always hard to pick a favourite. Don’t YoU Worry Child is the song that has had the best reaction and requests in my sets (and no its NOT Gangnam Style!) This song has been produced in such a way that it has all the correct ingredients for a club anthem and enough to be able to cross over to the Official Sales Chart and achieve the No 1 position. The Video was filmed at the Milton Keynes Bowl at their farewell gig this summer just shows the reaction a crowd gives when it hears such a tune and it’s exactly the same in the nightclubs all over the world. This single was to be their last release as a collective, so indeed thet have gone out at the top of their game.

Elle Flynn

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

2012 has been an amazing year for music and Emeli has become my favourite artist – I could listen to her soulful and melodic voice all day. “Our Version of Events” is a refreshing and powerful album with great lyrics and musical content. It’s been a dream year for Emeli from supporting Coldplay’s US tour to the opening Olympic ceremony. I’d love to hear a collaboration with Adele … watch this space!

Single: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me

I’m a big fan of this New Jersey producer, who has earned a steady stream of adulation from across the globe, with his unique soulful house cuts and “So Good to Me” continues to get well-deserved airplay. This brilliant piece of feel-good electro house, heart warming vocals and a musical harmony beautifully supported from his label French Express captures the futuristic sounds of electronic soul music.

Elliot Smith

Album: Little Comets – Life Is Elsewhere

The second album from my favourite up-and-coming band, Little Comets. It stays true to their original and recognisable style with some lively, upbeat and some slower, more pensive tracks (not one song from either category I would skip). It’s a really good album and well worth a listen.

Single: Muse – Madness

A great single from a well-established rock band, released in August from the album “The 2nd Law”. It’s definitely a grower that exhibits classic traits from Muse as well as infusing these with newer, exploratory ideas (i.e. being more synth-based). The more times you listen, the better it gets.

Gary Casserley

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

This was a difficult choice and I suppose many people will groan at this. She has a great voice and “Next To Me” is a brilliant song, and not forgetting “Read All About It”, another quality tune. Overall a really good debut album, but will the next one be as good?

Single: Rudimental ft John Newman – Feel The Love

Choosing this has taken hours of deliberation (yes I know, I’m sad). There have been some great singles out this year…skrillex – bangarang, plan b – I’ll manors but the single I will pick for this year is Rudimental ft John Newman – Feel The Love. Why? It’s just a brilliant uplifting song

Graham Stannard

Album: E.V.P – Neroplasticity

E.V.P has been a stalwart in the psychedelic trance scene for many years and always looking to innovate and evolve his sound. He has also been instrumental in helping to raise the profile of the label he’s on, Wildthings, and move out of the psychedelic underground scene and now he and fellow label artists play major festivals throughout the world all year round. Neroplasticity is his latest recent release and continues to provide unusual, enjoyable journeys and rocking beats.

Single: Hypnocoustics – Ashtamangala

This song encapsulates most of what I like about psy trance, with its powerful driving beat and baseline with a great selection of psychedelic sounds and melodies floating over the top. It takes me on a wonderful journey every time I hear it and it was a nice common thread throughout the summer with a few DJs playing it at various points at the festivals on my trip.

Jed Shepherd

Album: Beach House – Bloom

2012 has been an incredible year for new albums, and it was difficult narrowing it down to just one. In the end I plumped for the safe bet. I went with the album that is already a new classic, up there with Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” and Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”. Beach House have taken all of the best things from the albums you listened to while growing up and assimilated them into “Bloom”. It sounds effortless and standout single “Myth” is what ears were made for. You might have already heard the song “Myth” if you’ve ever had a dream where you’ve died and gone to heaven. Hear that music they are playing in the background? That’s “Myth” by Beach House. If you haven’t already bought this album, then find it, steal it, marry it and eat it.

Single: Chvrches – The Mother We Share

In my humble opinion, this song by Glasgow based newcomers, Chvrches, is not only my single of the year, but probably my single of the 21st century so far. It came out of nowhere with its bucketfull of hooks and a melody straight out of earworm academy. Dreamy vocals with a Scottish twinge, coupled with an 80s anthem style reverby chorus makes this song fresh, different but at the sane time, essential. Even though Chvrches is a new band, if they ever write a song even half as good as this it will probably get my vote for next year’s single of the year.

Joe Box

Album: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

TUNE followed by TUNE followed by TUNE. It’s refreshing to see Calvin not rush to release an album but instead take time to release hit singles and then put them all into one place at the end. He has great artists on board and this album is made for a PARTY.

Single: Disclosure feat Sam Smith – Latch

Heard this song on the radio and instantly loved it. It’s catchy without being cheesy and obvious and since then I have downloaded their EP and there’s more hits on there. Expect them to be even bigger in 2013.

Jules Bottazzi

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

There’s a reason she was invited to open the Olympics, close the Olympics, sing at every big event on the BBC and the Royal Wedding (one of these statements is untrue, fact fans). It’s not only that she has the most memorable, lodge-in-your-skull melodies; it’s not just that this album produced more hit singles than your average X-Factor winner manages in an entire career; she’s just got the most extraordinary voice and absolutely rocks it live every time. Oh, and she looks frickin’ amazing.

Single: Maccabees – Pelican

I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of this lot before this year. I heard Pelican for the first time on Phoenix FM while driving and the volume went right up, right away. I love the mixture of Clash-style guitars with the singer’s gentle, melodic warbling. It talks about themes that matter: life, love, death; and it makes you want to rock out. What’s not to love?

Lisa Murphy

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

Single: Emeli Sandé – Read All About It, Pt III

Matt Jolley

Album: Bob Marley – Legends

Single: Daughtry – Life After You

Mike Jones

Album: Young The Giant – Young The Giant

A little-known band who I only discovered by accident on Spotify. It was actually released last year but it’s new to me.

Single: Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire

Totally original and brilliant bassline.

Nick Field

Album: Django Django – Django Django

Been waiting quite a while for this lot to put out an album and it didn’t disappoint. Full of psychedelic energy and ideas, it’s an album to sing, dance and play just about any air instrument to.

Single: Incisive ft Shakka – This Groove

I pretty much lost track of singles this year, but I heard this track recently and really liked it – a laid-back and reflective slice of UK hip-hop.

Nikki Mills

Album: Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music 83

I like so many different artists that I prefer albums where I can listen to all different music rather than just one singer/band so my album of this year is “Now That’s What I call Music 83”. This is simply because it has most of my favourite artists and songs on it.

Single: Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

This was very difficult for me to choose as there has been so many fantastic songs that I have enjoyed, listening, dancing and singing to this year, but since I can I only pick one I’ll choose “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. This is because everyone loved this song when it first came out, and it’s such a catchy tune! I’d also just come back from holiday and swapped numbers with a guy I had just met, coincidentally, (didn’t work out if you was wondering) but it still reminds me of the good holiday I had. Also been used a lot as a chat up line, not that I have ever written by number down on a piece of paper, wrote call me maybe under it and given it to someone …

Patrick Sherring

Album: Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A – Area 52

This is one of the best selling World Music albums of 2012. It is a stunning mixture of Cuban rhythms and rock with unbelievable acoustic guitar virtuosity. Unlike anything you will have ever heard before.

Single: Adele – Skyfall

This is a classic Bond theme in the mould of the last fifty years. It is a track that will never grow old and will be played on the radio during the next fifty years. Also a reminder of the film of the year.

Paul Golder

Album: Bleech – Nude

In the words of the horrible Sum 41, this is All Killer No Filler – ten great female-fronted guitar-driven songs which make you feel that Sleeper never went away, and that’s a good thing. Can’t get my head around why this band are not so so much bigger – maybe the new album they’ve just started recording will sort that out.

Single: The Wind-Up Birds – Cross Country

A cross between The Fall and Art Brut, or if you like, just a Northern Art Brut. This was the stand-out track on their debut album The Land – now we just have to get them to play some gigs south of Leeds …

Piers Hewitt

Album: Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Never mind album of the year, this could end up being my album of the decade. All my favourite albums, if I have the time, should be listened to from start to finish, and preferably in the dark. This album drips with melancholy, but then most break-up albums do. And a lot of break ups help develop huge amounts of brilliant creative quality. This is no different. Turn the lights off and drink this one in.

Single: M83 – Reunion

What is a single these days? It’s hard to tell beyond an excuse to push an album and get tracks on the radio. I like the idea of an actual single, but it is dying. In a year or two this will just be my track of the year, but in keeping with actual singles, this is one of my surprise belters of the year. I have liked M83 on and off for a while, but to come out with a double album (I hate them) of such quality and have leading tracks like this is a big plus in my book.

Rob Harvey

Album: Ultravox – Brilliant

This album seemed to pick up from where they left off, yet having all the current sounds of a young band, whilst sounding like a classic Ultravox album. Live wise they delivered a solid 2 hour set with no support, so proving they are still Brilliant.

Single: Chvrches – Lies

Love the dynamic sound and the strong cute Glasgow vocal of Lauren. The song has a raw mix of modern styles with a nudge to early electro pop. I got to see them live too 2012 and wow they have such a big sound for a three piece.

Rob Jelly

Album: Tenacious D – Rize of the Fenix

My album of the year will seem obvious to some, and to others who have yet to meet me in more than passing it might seem a bit silly, but their live show for this very album edges this to the top of my pile for 2012.

Single: Psy – Gangnam Style

A total flip on the head in comparison to The D. I am picking this track on the simple grounds that I have seen, from the dance-floor and the DJ booth, what this song does to both children and adults and whether you love it or hate it you cannot argue with 1 billion views on YouTube.

Scott Ross

Album: Owl City – The Midsummer Station

Single: Train feat Ashley Monroe – Bruises

There are so many great songs to choose from this year that I’ve found it quite difficult to pick my favourite single but I think I’ll have to plump for Bruises. Just love the sentiments expressed in the words – and it’s a great tune to boot.

Stephen Bealey

Album: Amy Macdonald – Life In A Beautiful Light

I loved her first album “This Is The Life”, and was equally as impressed with this album. She has a beautiful singing voice. Perfect for an evening of relaxing with a glass of fine whiskey!

Single: Pet Shop Boys – A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

I really like this song as it starts with a mildly cheeky French count-in of “Un, deux, trois, quatre”. It was originally was recorded as a demo in 2007 for Kylie Minogue – it wasn’t until roughly four years later that it was reworked it into its final form and decided to release it as one of the bonus tracks for their “Elysium” album in August 2012.

Steve Robertson

Album: Grizzly Bear – Shields

The fourth album from the New York band did not disappoint for me, with Yet Again being the stand out track on an album that created the soundtrack of the year for me. When asked to pick an album for the year I wanted to make sure I picked an album I’d be listening in a few year’s time, for which Shields will almost certainly fall into that category.

Single: Blur – Under The Westway

The first single from Blur for a couple of years. This is another song in the tradition of bands such as the Kinks and previous Blur songs like This is a Low, having a purely English sound. With an Essex band singing about London, this is my single of the year for reasons of nostalgia as well as anything else.

Tim O’Sullivan

Album: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Single: Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks

Tony Smith

Album: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

Tough one! 2012 had some great dance albums from Maroon 5 with their fourth studio album, “Overexposed”, Rihanna with “Unapologetic” and David Guetta “Nothing but the Beat 2”. But for me, I think I will go with “18 Months”, the third studio album by Scottish DJ and record producer Calvin Harris. It was released on 26 October and includes the singles “Bounce”, “Feel So Close”, “Let’s Go”, “We’ll Be Coming Back”, “Sweet Nothing” and the upcoming single “Drinking from the Bottle”. The album debuted atop the UK Albums Chart earning Harris his second consecutive UK number one album; I play most of these tracks at home and gigs.

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