Top 5 LA Albums of 2012 by Marion Hodges

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When RR approached me to put together a list of my favorite local albums, I was really excited. Then when I began working on it, I was surprised by how much I had to rack my brain to come up with local albums that really made an impact on me.

That’s when I realized that my relationship to local music has changed so much in the years since I began blogging, hosting, and attending shows on what now seems like an alarmingly exhaustive basis in 2007.

Every Monday night is no longer spent at Spaceland (the Satellite).  Tuesdays at the Echo, and Wednesday mornings on the internet discussing the Monolators blistering cover of “Psycho Killer” are a thing of the past.Radio Free Silver Lake’s excellent Let’s Independent series of local band showcases has been silent since 2010. Even my beloved Part Time Punks, a place where I used to gather with friends almost every week to hear the best in local and international bands mining the vast landscape of modern post punk has had to take a backseat for most of the year to a good night’s sleep on a Sunday night.

Typing this makes me realize that I need to get out more in 2013, and pay a lot more attention to what’s going on in this awesomely huge, and diverse back yard that us Angelenos are lucky enough to share.

For now, here are the five releases from local artists that struck the biggest chord with me in 2012. Pun intended!

Father John Misty – “Fear Fun 

Further analysis of my Top 10 Records of the year has revealed to me that this was the best record that I heard in 2012. Anyone who bemoans the fact that no one makes albums anymore, needs to put this on immediately. (watch “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” live on KCRW)Julia Holter – “Ekstasis

Many months have passed since I wrote about Julia Holter, and her gorgeous 2012 album Ekstasis for this very blog, and I’m as mesmerized now as I was then. This album has the feeling of some sort of other worldly city that I can escape to anytime the realities of this one are too much. However, knowing that this brave new sonic world was created right down the street from me in Echo Park makes all the more easy to enjoy.

Kendrick Lamar – “Good Kid/M.A.A.D City
Kendrick Lamar is an L.A. native, and the city is a major character on this album. The narrative is all about growing up in Compton, and all of the dangers and moral ambiguities that come along with that. It’s done in the most skillful manner which will certainly draw you in from the first line (which is part of a prayer), and even more certainly will refuse to let you go until it reaches it’s conclusion.

Kendrick Lamar – Real (Ft. Anna Wise of Sonnymoon) by Interscope Records

Watching this band through every stage of their development has been a thrill. Hearing this sparkling debut album (produced expertly by the Mighty Lemon Drops’ Dave Newton) reveals a band who have so fully nailed their sound, and deliver that sound with a mix of poise, sass, and overall sense of FUN. This took that aforementioned thrill to the next level.

GRMLN – “Explore” EP
This one feels a bit like cheating since GRMLN’s music is created from the locational sources of Japan, Santa Cruz, and Southern California. Since Yoodoo Park, who is the main driving force behind this project grew up here, and spends summers here, I feel like it’s fair for us to claim him. The other reason that this feels like cheating for this list is that it’s an EP, not an album. Even though it contains seven songs, it’s just over 15 minutes of music. Still, I spent so much time with this EP over the second half of 2012 that it cannot be discounted. It’s spareness and brevity were comforting, and I really can’t wait to hear where this project goes next.