Frank, open and honest
Soulful R&B ... Frank Ocean's Channel Orange was a revelation.
It was the year when local hip-hop came storming over the barricades, when electronic-flavoured R&B and electronic dance took up permanent residence in your most-frequently-played column, when a few old men with wry smiles refused to go quietly into the night and Melbourne seemingly made more funk music than Detroit and Chicago put together.
If 2012 the music year was a sporting team, it was the Sydney Swans: quality in depth, pace on the wings, solid experience and, even if lacking a wholly convincing big presence up front, with no shortage of the kind of youthful flair that makes you want to get up, go outside and do it yourself. So without further ado, here are the winners of Metro M Awards for the best albums of 2012.
Ollo - Ape Delay
Galapagoose - Commitments
TZU - Millions of Moments
Hot Chip - In Our Heads
The Presets - Pacifica
Kim Moyes and Justin Hamilton forgot they were supposed to be ''only'' an electronic group and got funky, poppy, political and dance-floor hard.
DZ Deathrays - Bloodstreams
The Men - Open Your Heart
Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Jack White - Blunderbuss
Jack White swung and rocked and blasted away with a looseness not seen in the White Stripes and this time with more sex. His live shows confirmed it: going solo is doing him good.
Ball Park Music - Museum
Last Dinosaurs - In a Million Years
Deep Sea Arcade - Outlands
San Cisco - San Cisco
Bored Nothing - Bored Nothing
The compilation of EPs from Fergus Miller's one-man band had tunes and sweetness and fuzz and excitement. The prize could have gone to any of the four others, too, as big hooks came back in a big way.
Hermitude - HyperParadise
Chasm - This Is How We Never Die
Def Wish Cast - Evolution Machine
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Urthboy - Smokey's Haunt
In a great year for local hip-hop, Urthboy showed heart and brains could coexist with toughness, and production was a tool of the artist, not its master.
Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
Bettye Lavette - Thankful N' Thoughtful
Bill Fay - Life Is People
Neil Young with Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
Dr John - Locked Down
With producer Dan Auerbach pushing him hard, Mac Rebennack got sinuous and fonky and downright powerful. This wasn't just post-hurricane Katrina, it was post-premature retirement as the energy was palpable.
Grimes - Visions
Chet Faker - Thinking in Textures
Catcall - The Warmest Place
Flume - Flume
Alpine - A Is for Alpine
Another category in which any of the five could have been winners, with blips, beats and strange soul and pop merging into something new. Melbourne's Alpine had freshness you could scrub bathrooms with.
Paul Kelly - Spring and Fall
Bob Dylan - Tempest
Clare Bowditch - The Winter I Chose Happiness
Liz Stringer - Warm in the Darkness
Sarah Blasko - I Awake
Religious metaphors and subtly deployed orchestras captured Sarah Blasko on the way up and out from bindings imposed and imagined.
Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A - Area 52
Gary Clark jnr - Blak & Blu
Saskwatch - Leave It All Behind
The Cactus Channel - Haptics
Neneh Cherry & the Thing - The Cherry Thing
Free jazz and Afro-grooves get all Nordic as Neneh Cherry goes long and abstract with Scandinavian trio the Thing on songs by her father, Don, and the Stooges.
THE ODD ONES OUT
Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun
Julia Holter - Ekstasis
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel …
Grand Salvo - Slay Me in My Sleep
Worming its way into your life with baroque folk, quiet turns and febrile imaginings, Paddy Mann's new album tended to your soul.
METRO M AWARD FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
A compelling, driven story by and about Frank Ocean, setting his life against the background of club and street and the physical - both love and pain - all sung by someone digging deep into himself. With Channel Orange, Ocean took electronica in hand, drew from soul and R&B and wasn't afraid to be tender or paranoid or wildly imaginative. It is a great album in any year.
THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST ALBUM
Australian singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko is the winner for I Awake with 21 per cent of the popular online vote. The runners-up were American rocker Jack White for Blunderbuss (17 per cent) and psych-rockers Tame Impala for Lonerism (16 per cent).