2012 Album of the Year

And finally we get to the album of the year. I can’t really imagine this one’s going to be much of a surprise for most regular readers – I’ve written about this album a lot over the past year, and even interviewed the band for Trebuchet Magazine.

Panic RoomSKIN

In a year that’s seen the release of many great albums, there is still one that manages to stand out, and that’s the third album by Swansea’s Panic Room.

Their 2008 début was the sound of five supremely talented musicians searching for a new collective musical direction. The second was the sound of a band with a clear vision of what they wanted to be. With SKIN, they’ve consolidated that vision and taken it to another level. With the combination of Anne-Marie Helder’s award-winning vocals, and the amazing vituosity of the band, the result is a an ambitious cinematic work that defies simplistic genre pigeonholing. It’s a hugely varied record, with songs ranging from shimmering jazz and heartfelt stripped-down ballads to hard rock numbers that sound like Kate Bush fronting Led Zeppelin.

For years, Panic Room have been one of the British rock scene’s best-kept secrets. With “Skin”, their strongest and most assured album to date, they’ve delivered a record that deserves to be heard by a far wider audience.

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8 Responses to 2012 Album of the Year

  1. Pete Wharton says:

    I see no mention of Sankara’s album! I think Skin is is great, .but it’s Guided By Degrees for me, Tim :-)

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Look at the whole top 21, and you will fimd Sankara in there


  3. Bruce says:

    It was refreshing to see Morpheus Rising on your list. A Superb Band with a Rock solid Album and better-than-the-studio Live Set, jmo. Panic Room, S K I N is a phenomenal Album and I won’t even think about arguing that point! The only bad part I can see is the amount of money it will take me to purchase the Albums I don’t have! Priorities…. oy!

  4. Tim Hall says:

    That’s an album that’s grown on me over the course of the year. Seeing the band live several times helped.

  5. Adrian Beasley says:

    Tim – I have a slight issue with The Ghost Moon Orchestra in that I would have included Tonight , from the limited edition 2nd disc., on the single disc retail release.
    I know that they played this song as an encore on the tour to promote the album.
    However, I think that many fans, who attended the concerts , would have liked to have been able to hear the song on cd. The same thing happened with Ice from the previous release , which was also played on tour. I know that the live version of Ice appeared on Still Beautiful.

    Do you have any insight regarding Bryan’s thinking in this respect ?

  6. Tim Hall says:

    You’ll have to ask Bryan that. He has said in interviews in the past that he tries to make each record flow as an album rather than just a collection of songs, and sometimes he can’t make the ordering work including every song they’d like to.

    There will be a DVD and presumably a live CD as well, recorded at Zoetermeer, and “Tonight” was in the set. So a version of “Tonight” will almost certainly appear on a retail edition album, much as live versions of “Ice” and “Forever Young” appeared on “Still Beautiful” in 2011.

  7. PaulE says:

    Following on from Adrian’s comments, a Bonus Disc does have a dilemma attached. If it isn’t up to scratch, people complain and don’t buy the special edition, if it is superb, it sells out quickly and people complain that they can no longer get hold of it.
    Personally, I wouldn’t complain if the band wants to re-release some of it at a later date, but I know some people would feel that would diminish the exclusive value of the original. However, I pre-order to invest in the band’s creativity now, not to try and shift something on ebay in five years time.

  8. Tim Hall says:

    When it comes to bonus disks, they can’t win whatever they do. On Heart Full of Sky they probably overreached themselves a bit, committing to delivering a double album then struggling to come up with enough strong material, leading to the whole thing coming out sounding rushed and half-finished.

    But that’s a mistake they’ve avoided repeating on subsequent albums. Go Well Diamond Heart ended up having the opposite problem, there was just too much material, although I did feel a couple of weaker songs ended up on the single-album version at the expense of far better song on the bonus disk.

    As one who pre-ordered the special edition of everything since “Storms Over Still Waters” I don’t think anyone really has the right to complain if the band decide to reissue currently-unavailable songs from those the bonus disks at some point in the future.