It’s always at this time of year, that lists of what have been the best albums of the year are released. Not to be outdone, I’ve been compiling my lists too. So far, I’ve compiled lists of the best box sets, compilations and reissues. The one I’ve been saving for last is my list of the best new albums of 2012. 

Now during the last twelve months I’ve been lucky to review many new albums, from new artists and some familiar faces. However, the only albums that feature on this list are albums that are truly groundbreaking and innovative. Each album has that wow factor. From the opening bars of the album, you’re forced to take notice, immediately realizing that this is a very special album. There’s neither any albums from tired, washed-up sixties and seventies singers, nor the sympathy vote for has-been singers whose last decent album was a generation ago. What you’ll find, is a list of truly innovative albums. These are artists at either the height of their creative powers or about to begin what will be a long and successful career. In total, there are twenty albums on my list of The Best New Albums Of 2012, which I bring to you in four parts.


Back in February, I reviewed Boddhi Satva’s Invocation, which was released by BBE Music in March 2012. From the first time I heard Boddhi Satva’s Invocation I was captivated. I realized straight away, that this was a very special album. It’s beautiful, spiritual, soulful, emotional and deeply moving. Since then, I haven’t changed my mind and have become spellbound, enthralled and enchanted. Invocation is the result of two years work, started by Boddhi in 2010.

The fourteen tracks on Invocation are an eclectic collection of songs spanning Nu Soul, African Roots and Ragga, all with Boddhi Satva’s own unique sound. Boddhi recorded Invocation during visits to Africa, in his home studio, with a basic, modest setup. To record the album, he used just a PC, ordinary sound card, one microphone, plus drums, koras and a variety of other instruments. On Invocation, Boddhi collaborates with a variety of artists including Oumou Sangare, Vikter Duplaix and Vivian K. On Invocations are fourteen tracks, where Boddhi Satva collaborates with a variety of artists, producing some uplifting, inspirational and beautiful music, music that crosses the musical genres.

Invocation is one of the most beautiful, brilliant and compelling albums I heard during 2012. Boddhi Satva fuses musical genres and influences seamlessly. There’s everything from authentic African music, Ragga and hip hop to Nu Soul, jazz and house music. Each track is unique, given its own twist by Boddhi. The quality of music is peerless, with each track leaving you spellbound. It’s also a deeply emotional musical journey.

For Boddhi, he hoped recording Invocation would help heal the inner pain he talks about in the album’s sleeve-notes. I sincerely hope that recording Invocation proved to be a cathartic experience, because it’s a cathartic experience for listeners. Like all good music, the music on Invocation has the power to provoke a variety of emotions. Happiness, joy, sadness, and frustration are just a few of the variety of emotions the music on Invocation provoked. Mostly I found Boddhi Satva’s music uplifting, which is what he always seeks to do when he records music. So, if you want to experience some of the most beautiful and emotive music you’ll have the pleasure of hearing this year, then you should seek out Boddhi Satva’s brilliant album Invocation.



Although I don’t usually review new wave or punk rock albums, I had to make an exception when Night of Treason’s album Gentlemen and Hooligans, which was referred to as “the best English punk record from the 70s.” Now, you’ve got to either admire their confidence or think that this album is just a bit special. This isn’t youthful exuberance from a young, inexperienced group of musicians, clutching their first record contract. Instead, Night of Treason are veteran punk rockers, with over 250 concerts under their belt and twenty years experience. So did Gentlemen and Hooligans live up to its hypes the “the best English punk record from the 70s?”

Gentlemen and Hooligans started life as a concept album, with the central character returning to their hometown, wondering what became of his idealistic friends, who he shared his adolescent years with. These years were spent with football, war comics and solvents, before working at the local social security office. However, from a concept album, Gentlemen and Hooligans grew legs, with Night of Treason spawning a number of other tracks. These were so good, that it was almost impossible to leave them off Gentlemen and Hooligans. So, from the original concept album, came thirteen songs from lead singer Pinky and the rest of Night of Treason.

Night Of Treason’s debut album Gentlemen and Hooligans was more than a punk rock or new wave album. There’s more to their music than that. On some of the tracks, they demonstrate a similar rocky style to The Clash. Granted on many tracks, the music is punk of new wave music through and through. During the album, Night Of Treason’s influences range from The Alarm, The Clash, The Jam, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Sham 69 and XTC. Unlike many other punk bands, Night Of Treason are much more accomplished musicians and lyricists. Many of their lyrics are intelligent, blessed with a strong narrative, and are clever, poignant and melancholy. Given that Night Of Treason are such an experienced band, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. For anyone who longs for the heady days of ’76, and is an aging punk or new waver, waiting for the next great punk album to arrive, then your wait is nearly over. Gentlemen and Hooligans lived up to the hype as “the best English punk record from the 70s, bringing to mind the spirit of ’76.



In April 2012 Galway band Dark Room Notes released their sophomore album, Dark Room Notes on BBE Music. This was the followup to their 2009 debut album We Love You Dark Matter, which contained their highly acclaimed single Love Like Nicotine. Since then, much has happened to Dark Room Notes. They’re now a three-piece band, with drummer Darragh Shanahan leaving in 2010. Apart from that, they’ve toured extensively throughout the US, UK and Europe, including supporting Kraftwerk and had their music feature in movie Kiss For Jed Wood. Listening to Dark Room Notes they’ve come a long way in the three years since they released their debut album We Love Dark Matter. Their sophomore album Dark Room Notes demonstrates this.

Dark Room Notes is crammed full of quality music, with the group fusing electro and synth pop, with even some indie rock thrown into the mix. On several tracks on Dark Room Notes, you can hear a real New Order sound shining through. Sometimes this is so strong that you think somehow, you’ve put on a previously unheard New Order album. That’s testament to the quality of the music on Dark Room Notes. Dark Room Notes’ decision not to replace their drummer was a brave one, but the album doesn’t suffer for the absence of a drummer. In the right hands, which is the case here, a drum machine works well. The same can be said of the synths. Far too often, in the past thirty odd years I’ve heard synths used badly, but not here. Instead, it’s quite the opposite, with the synths key to the success of the album. Used correctly, like it is here, the results can be stunning. Another thing that I liked about the album, were the vocals, which bring the lyrics to life, combining emotion, joy, passion and thoughtfulness during the eight tracks. Truly, there isn’t a poor track on Dark Room Notes, with the group looking like having a bright and successful future ahead.



Ever since Céu released her eponymous titled debut album Céu in 2005 on Opius  Music I’ve been following her career with interest. Since then, she’s released two further albums, 2009s Vagarosa and 2012s Caravana Sereia Bloom. Given just how talented a singer, songwriter and musician Céu is, I’ve always felt that she would eventually make a breakthrough into the mainstream music. It seems I was right. Gradually, Céu’s music is reaching a much wider audience. Her third album Caravana Sereia Bloom, released in April 2012, is her finest album yet and demonstrates that Céu’s talent is deserving of a much wider audience. 

Caravana Sereia Bloom Céu’s third album is a compelling album which fuses a variety of styles of music. There’s everything from Latin, soul, funk, hip-hop, bossa-nova, rock and electronic within the thirteen tracks. Each of these tracks are variously impassioned, emotive, joyous, melancholy and beautiful thanks to Céu and her band. Céu is blessed with a beautiful voice, which is capable of exploring a variety of emotions, each with aplomb. However, she’s not just a singer, but a talented songwriter and musician, who co-produced Caravana Sereia Bloom. On Caravana Sereia Bloom, Céu is accompanied by a multitalented band, who produce the perfect musical backdrop for Céu’s beautiful vocal. Although Caravana Sereia Bloom is just her third album, it’s a highly mature, accomplished and polished album. It’ll appeal to anyone who loves Latin music, soul, funk or just good music. Indeed, Caravana Sereia Bloom is the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to discover the beautiful and stunning music of Céu.



Los Transtlanticos debut album First Trip was released in May 2012 on BBE Music. The story that leads up to the release of Los Transtlanticos is an intriguing and fascinating one. At its heart, is a friendship between two men who shared a common bond. This common bond was a love of Caribbean music. Six years later, this friendship and love of music would lead to the release of Los Transtlanticos’ debut album First Trip.

The Los Transtlanticos story starts back in 2006, when Dean Bagar, a Croatian born, but Berlin based DJ, producer, record shop and record label owner visited Bogota. There he met Pablo Gaviria, a music producer. Quickly, theyr formed a friendship, with their common bond a love of Caribbean music. After this, Dean started making regular visits to Bogota, where he and Pablo started recording in a local studio. Soon, Pablo’s brother Alvaro Gaviria, an instrumentalist, would then join them. Eventually, the next step for the trio was the formation of a band. 

Their new band became Los Transtlanticos. The reason for the name, was not just the distance between the musicians, but their musical approach. Together with a number of Columbian musicians and singers, their new band Los Transtlanticos was born.They made their debut in Berlin, at the Worldtronic Festival in December 2011, where they received an enthusiastic and enraptured response from an enthralled audience. From there, Los Transtlanticos would record their debut album.

From the first to final track, First Trip is a seamless journey where you experience eclectic procession of enchanting music. During that time, the music is variously emotive, impassioned and enthralling. Often the music is compelling, other times it’s bewitching and very often, it’s beautiful. It’s music that’s for the heart and soul. On First Trip, Los Transtlanticos take you on a journey through traditional Caribbean while incorporating reggae, dub and Jamaican DJ toasting. It’s not only Caribbean music that features on First Trip, with soul, Latin and hip-hop all making welcome appearances. There’s even old school Acid House synths which feature on several tracks. Los Transtlanticos’ forthcoming debut album First Trip is a truly compelling fusion of musical styles that once you’ve heard it, you’ll forever be enthralled by its subtleties, charms and beauty. It has an irresistible charm and a sound that’s joyous and is full of the most glorious rhythms. 



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