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The Best Albums of 2012... So Far

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 13:50 UK time, Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Six months down, six to go. BBC Music asked a selection of its own DJs and reviewers, plus a handful of friends from across the industry, to name their favourite albums of the year so far. And below are the results. Enjoy!

Please note that these lists are not ranked - they're just five albums that the DJ or writer in question has really enjoyed. That said, the amount of love evident for the Alt-J, Death Grips, Poliça and Grimes albums marks them as true standouts of 2012 so far.

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Sean Adams - founder/editor, Drowned in Sound (external link)

Chromatics - Kill for Love (BBC review)
Blondes - Blondes
Poliça - Give You the Ghost (BBC review)
Blood Red Shoes - In Time to Voices (BBC review)
School of Seven Bells - Ghostory (BBC review)

On YouTube: Poliça - Lay Your Cards Out (external link)

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Matthew Bennett - deputy editor, Clash (external link); BBC reviewer

Death Grips - The Money Store (BBC review)
Gang Colours - The Keychain Collection (BBC review)
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave (BBC review)
Grimes - Visions (BBC review)
Lazer Sword - Memory

On YouTube: Gang Colours - Fancy Restaurant (external link)

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Mike Diver - BBC album reviews editor

John Talabot - ƒin (BBC review)
El-P - Cancer4Cure (BBC review)
Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (BBC review)
The Invisible - Rispah (BBC review)
Death Grips - The Money Store

On YouTube: El-P - The Full Retard (external link; contains strong language and scenes of violence, nudity and drug use which may offend... not to mention puppet abuse)

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John Doran - founder/editor, The Quietus; BBC reviewer

Carter Tutti Void - Transverse (BBC review)
Can - The Lost Tapes (BBC review)
The Thing and Neneh Cherry - The Cherry Thing (BBC review)
VCMG - SSSS (BBC review)
Dope Body - Natural History

On YouTube: The Thing and Neneh Cherry - Accordion (external link; contains language which may offend)

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JJ Dunning - editor, The Fly (external link)

A Place to Bury Strangers - Worship
Guided By Voices - Class Clown Spots a UFO
Grimes - Visions
Graham Coxon - A+E (BBC review)
Here We Go Magic - A Different Ship (BBC review)

On YouTube: Here We Go Magic - How Do I Know (external link)

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Chris Hawkins - DJ, BBC 6 Music

Pepe Deluxé - Queen of the Wave (BBC review)
Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls (BBC review)
Ren Harvieu - Through The Night (BBC review)
Yeti Lane - The Echo Show (BBC review)
Cornershop - Urban Turban (BBC review)

On YouTube: Ren Harvieu - Open Up Your Arms (external link)

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Tom Howard - reviews editor, NME (external link)

Hodgy Beats - Untitled EP
Actress - RIP (BBC review)
Jack White - Blunderbuss (BBC review)
Death Grips - The Money Store
Pond - Beard, Wives, Denim

On YouTube: Death Grips - The Fever (Aye Aye) (external link; contains strong language)

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Paul Lester - Guardian (external link); BBC reviewer

Death Grips - The Money Store
SpaceGhostPurrp - Mysterious Phonk (BBC review)
Nite Jewel - One Second of Love (BBC review)
Hodgy Beats - Untitled EP
Saint Etienne - Words and Music by Saint Etienne (BBC review)

On YouTube: Saint Etienne, Tonight (external link)

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Janice Long - DJ, BBC Radio 2

The Maccabees - Given to the Wild (BBC review)
Richard Hawley - Standing at the Sky's Edge (BBC review)
Django Django - Django Django (BBC review)
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Jack Savoretti - Before the Storm (BBC review)

On YouTube: Alt-J - Breezeblocks (external link)

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Jen Long - DJ, BBC Radio 1; BBC reviewer

2:54 - 2:54 (BBC review)
Poliça - Give You the Ghost
Bright Light Bright Light - Make Me Believe in Hope
Cadence Weapon - Hope in Dirt City (BBC review)
TOPS - Tender Opposites

On YouTube: Cadence Weapon - Conditioning (external link)

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Zane Lowe - DJ, BBC Radio 1

The Invisible - Rispah
Poliça - Give You the Ghost
Jack White - Blunderbuss
Odd Future - The OF Tape Vol 2 (BBC review)
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

On YouTube: The Invisible - Wings (external link)

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Chris Martin - DJ, Amazing Radio (external link)

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Django Django - Django Django
Team Me - To the Treetops
The Maccabees - Given to the Wild
Band of Skulls - Sweet Sour (BBC review)

On YouTube: Band of Skulls - Bruises (external link)

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Ralph McLean - DJ, BBC Radio Ulster

Dexys - One Day I'm Going to Soar (BBC review)
Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Americana (BBC review)
Dr John - Locked Down (BBC review)
Willie Nelson - Heroes (BBC review)

On YouTube: Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Jesus' Chariot (She'll be Coming Round the Mountain) (external link)

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Jez Nelson - DJ, Jazz on 3, BBC Radio 3

Troyka - Moxxy (BBC review)
The Thing and Neneh Cherry - The Cherry Thing
E.S.T. - 301 (BBC review)
Asunder Trio - The Lamp
Steve Lehman - Dialect Fluorescent

On YouTube: Troyka - Moxxy (introduction) (external link)

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Nemone - DJ, BBC 6 Music

Poliça - Give You the Ghost
Blockhead - Interludes After Midnight
Richard Hawley - Standing at the Sky's Edge
Hot Chip - In Our Heads (BBC review)
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

On YouTube: Hot Chip - Night & Day (external link)

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Rob da Bank - DJ, BBC Radio 1

Grimes - Visions
Hot Chip - In Our Heads
Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls
Holy Other - Held (bit of a cheat here, Rob - this isn't out until August)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble (BBC review)

On YouTube: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Household Good (external link; contains strong language)

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Laura Snapes - associate editor, Pitchfork (external link)

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (BBC review)
Field Music - Plumb (BBC review)
Ramona Falls - Prophet
Niki and the Dove - Instinct (BBC review)
Sophia Knapp - Into the Waves

On YouTube: Sharon Van Etten - Leonard (external link)

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Huw Stephens - DJ, BBC Radio 1

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar (BBC review)
The 2 Bears - Be Strong (BBC review)
Niki and the Dove - Instinct
Tom Williams and The Boat - Teenage Blood (BBC review)

On YouTube: First Aid Kit - Blue (external link)

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Jo Whiley - DJ, BBC Radio 2

Emeli Sandé - Our Version of Events (BBC review)
Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls
The Maccabees - Given to the Wild
Richard Hawley - Standing at the Sky's Edge
Jack White - Blunderbuss

On YouTube: Jack White, Love Interruption (external link)

BBC Music Video Festival set for UK-wide return

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Sam Hill | 16:31 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

Music video really has come into its own in last fifteen years. Close to being a dying medium at one point, it's risen phoenix-like across the Internet. For lots of us, YouTube and Vimeo have become crucial ways to listen to music, and marvellous opportunities to see some of the most creative, distinctive and talented filmmaking today. Of course, it's difficult to watch them all and every blog will bombast you with the sheer quantity of quality.

We're proud to say that The BBC Music Video Festival is returning for 2012. We can't show you everything, but we can show you some of the year's best music videos from all over the world. We'll even show these on the BBC Big Screens in 22 towns and cities all over the UK. There will also be a panoramic room of music video on the Fusion screen at The Forum in Norwich as well as other events in Norwich and London.

The festival takes submissions from anyone in the world, so we'll be showing some fresh foreign talent alongside some of the breakthrough videos from the new artists and directors of 2012.

Also, this year we're showcasing the fan-films, documentaries, road trips and passion-driven movies that give us unique insights into individual scenes and different towns. We've got films about specific scenes in Bristol and Leeds and ones that uncover hidden underground movements. From Dubstep to Death Metal, we're aiming to show the expanding relationship between film and music.

We'd love to know your favourite music film, or even if you've made one. Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or by mailing bbcmusicvideofestival@bbc.co.uk and you never know, we could end up screening it near you.

If you're are interested in submitting a music video, you can download our submission form. It's free to submit and open internationally.

The BBC Music Video Festival will show videos on Big Screens all over September, October and November 2012. You can find your nearest Big Screen here.

The showcase at Fusion will take place 10am to 5pm every day except Sundays 3rd September - 29th September and The BBC Music Video Festival Film Show Extra will take place 10am to 5pm in The Curve on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd September both at The Forum Norwich. Free Entry, no booking necessary.

Other events in London and Norwich TBA. In the meantime, here's some excellent videos from last year.

The Best Albums of May 2012

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 10:23 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

Plaudits aplenty went the way of one man in May, the driving force behind two special hip hop albums. With his third solo album proper, Cancer4Cure, Brooklyn producer/MC El-P broke new mainstream ground with wall-to-wall positive reviews, and performed on iconic US talk show The Late Show with David Letterman (said performance can be watched on YouTube; that's an external link). He was also heavily involved in Killer Mike's sixth album, R.A.P. Music - "This album was created entirely by Jaime and Mike," says the Atlanta rapper at one point, the Jaime (Meline) in question being El-P. So it's perhaps no surprise that the Album of the Month is...  


Album of the Month

El-P - Cancer4Cure
(Fat Possum/Turnstile; released 28 May)

Recommended by: Rob da Bank

"Cancer4Cure won't replicate the chart success of Drake or Mac Miller; but it's far ahead enough of that competition, intellectually and inspirationally, to exist on another plane of appreciation altogether. This is an uncompromising, unflinching collection that blows away almost any other rap release of 2012 so far. Tune into it, find another place, a welcoming 'elsewhere'. May it be the fire in which the falling-short burn."

Read the full BBC review and listen to clips

Watch the official video for The Full Retard on YouTube (external link; contains language and imagery that may offend)

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The best of the rest...

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
(Williams Street; released 15 May)

Recommended by: Rob da Bank

"Jaime and Mike have crafted an abrasive pièce de résistance that grows more agitated as it plays, condemning crooked police officers and the American justice system, among other things. This music declares war: face-punching, heart-stomping, no-holds-barred conflict for your ears and mind. It's an all-out assault on pop culture and its worldly accessories. It's a battle cry for change and a call-to-arms for the socially disadvantaged."

Read the full BBC review

(No official videos available)

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Cadence Weapon - Hope in Dirt City
(Upper Class Recordings; released 29 May)

Recommended by: BBC Introducing in Wales

"Hope in Dirt City is a third album that improves on the Canadian rapper's past releases substantially without wholly detaching its maker from familiar-to-some sounds. Ultimately it stands little hope of entertaining the masses (again); but Cadence has outdone himself, presenting variety with commendable cohesion and experimenting where others might've chased trends for overdue commercial returns."

Read the full BBC review and listen to clips

Watch the official video for Conditioning on YouTube (external link)

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Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
(Infectious Records; released 28 May)

Recommended by: Nemone, Huw Stephens, 6 Music Album of the Day, Zane Lowe, Chris Hawkins

"It's hard to place Alt-J. Originally from Leeds, they spend their time in a Cambridgeshire basement making their own brand of uniquely dubbed "folk-step". However, the noises that An Awesome Wave emits far escape the dull, dark depths such a creative location suggests. Instead, it's a stunning and encompassing affair of both innovative and electrifying musicianship and exemplary song writing."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Breezeblocks on YouTube (external link)

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Paul Buchanan - Mid Air
(Newsroom Records; released 21 May) 

Recommended by: 6 Music Album of the Day, Bob Harris, Tom Robinson

"Sparse in texture, Buchanan's solo debut yields an almost overwhelming emotional kick, best received in the wee small hours. He carries the torch of Sinatra's sensitive-masculine phrasing like no other. His wilfully imperfect vocals defy pat resolutions, hanging in the air like smoke plumes. It's about the notes he leaves out, the spaces between, which, regarding loss, heartbreak and the yearning for beauty, say it all."

Read the full BBC review and listen to clips

Watch the official video for My True Country on Youtube (external link)

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TrioVD - Maze
(Naim Edge; released 21 May)

Recommended by: Jazz on 3

"Almost every second of this new album bubbles over with a sound that's either intriguing or downright baffling. And with its hurtling, remorselessly breakneck pace this isn't an set you listen to as such; rather, you grapple with it. Engaging but volatile, these two often-contradictory states perfectly summarise one of the most inventive and transgressive albums you'll encounter this year."

Read the full BBC review and listen to clips

Watch the official video for Brick on YouTube (external link)

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Beach House - Bloom
(Bellla Union; released 14 May)


Recommended by: 6 Music Album of the Day, Bob Harris, Radcliffe & Maconie, Another Country with Ricky Ross

"After spending time with Bloom, what it most calls to mind is macro photography. An extreme close-up shot often reveals hidden depths and textures of familiar subjects. So too with Beach House on this record; guitar lines are blown up, Legrand's vocals are heady and intense, while melodies reveal like time-lapse videos. Once you manage to pull away from its magnified scenery and consider the record as a whole it's difficult to think of it as anything other than its makers' best work so far."

Read the full BBC review and listen to clips

Stream the track Myth on Beach House's official YouTube channel (external link)

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Niki and the Dove - Instinct
(Mercury; released 14 May)

Recommended by: Nemone, Nick Grimshaw

"Seldom do bands enjoying such hype deliver on the promise. But Instinct is the album Stevie Nicks might've made had she had fallen further from the Fleetwood Mac tree. Doubtlessly Niki and the Dove will one day relinquish this youthful pop abandon in favour of wilful experientialism, but until then be sure to enjoy one of the essential debuts of the year so far."

Read the full review and listen to clips

Watch the official video for The Fox on YouTube (external link)

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Willie Nelson - Heroes
(Legacy; released 14 May)

Recommended by: Another Country with Ricky Ross, Ralph McLean

"Still playing, still with a twinkle in his eye, Willie Nelson at 79 sounds like a man with nothing to prove. And he's all the better for that. And if anyone asks how Heroes differs from the 65 Willie Nelson studio albums that preceded it, the happy answer is: not much. The expressive, intimate tenor, the matchless musical instinct and Willie's distinctive ringing guitar lines are just as compelling, and just as delightful, as ever."

Read the full BBC review and listen to clips

Watch the official video for Just Breathe on YouTube (external link)

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Slugabed - Time Team
(Ninja Tune; released 7 May)

Recommended by: Nick Grimshaw

"Time Team represents Greg Feldwick's debut album as Slugabed, and it would seem that the British producer's early promise has been delivered in some style. He manages to combine humour, melody and movement with thickly layered funk. This is an album worth living and breathing with, and which rewards acquaintance with its wealth of emotional nuances and playful eccentricities."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Sex on YouTube (external link)

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