As I wrote recently, it’s been a few years since I’ve done a proper year-end list of favorite songs/albums. Thankfully, Eric – who has stepped up as a very welcome fresh voice around here – came through with a 2012 list. Even if we’re already getting knee deep in 2013 albums, it’s never too late to look back and consider the year that was.
Please forgive the laziness, generic-ness, and
Januaryness Februaryness of all this (Editor’s note: The Februaryness of this is my fault). Yeah, usually there are 10. Usually they’re posted in December. Buuut, considering that’s all pretty arbitrary, aaaaand it’s an easy way to get myself back in this here bloggin’ racket, I’m going to just do it anyway. I’ve talked about some of these already, and you may be familiar with some others, 13 for 2013? That work for you guys? Awesome.
LORD HURON: Lonesome Dreams (IAMSOUND)
Definitely in my roots-y, beard-y, folky wheelhouse. Seattle’s KEXP, my streaming radio station of choice, has been all over these guys lately, with good reason. Fans of Fleet Foxes, take notice. There’s a good chance you’ll like ’em.
[VIDEO]: Lord Huron – Man Who Lives Forever
EL-P: Cancer 4 Cure (Fat Possum)
When I think of ex-Company Flow front man El-P, it takes me back to the late ’90s, when I was first introduced to any sort of off-the-radar stuff, hip-hop wise. I remember my college buddy Dave playing Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus in his dorm room and just being in awe of what I was hearing. Rapid-fire and angry, but intellectual. His show at Crescent Ballroom with Despot, Mr. MFN Exquire and Killer Mike, who almost made the cut for this list as well, was pure energy and head-nodding gold.
[STREAM]: El-P – Tougher Colder Killer
JAPANDROIDS: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Unabashedly fist pump-y, epic rock from Vancouverians on the rise. This album threw a lot of new ears their way without compromising their music or what they’re fundamentally about.
Previous post: Japandroids, the Casbah (San Diego), 6/16/12
[VIDEO]: Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built
MACKLEMORE AND RYAN LEWIS: The Heist (Macklemore LLC)
KEXP strikes again. Over the last couple years, watching that station throw its full support to a local artist it believed in has made me hope for the day when Phoenix bands might also enjoy the fruits of that backing. I imagine I’ll sound pretty corny pledging allegiance to Macklemore as crossover “hipster rap” Exhibit A someday (or now), and that’s certainly justifiable and understandable. He may soon (or now) be “That Thrift Shop Song Guy” (61 million views on YouTube as I write this – guess that rules out a return trip to Club Red on his next visit to the Valley), but before he’s potentially written off as such, I hope people take note of how much is actually going on with him. He’s funny, bluntly honest, and equally comfortable rapping about your grandpa’s coats, marriage equality, former Seattle Mariners announcers’ passings, overcoming addiction, and losing friends to it.
[VIDEO]: Maklemore and Ryan Lewis– Same Love
BEST COAST: The Only Place (Mexican Summer)
Not even the slightly guiltiness to my pleasure at this point. I was a big fan of the simplicity and sweetness of 2010’s Crazy for You. On this one, Bethany Cosentino’s subject matter has shifted somewhat beyond the fertile realms of a) boys she has crushes on and b) her cat. The sound is less garage-y, more singer-songwriter-y. Microsoft commercials or no, happy fun time beach rock has become musical comfort food for me.
[VIDEO]: Best Coast – The Only Place
TAME IMPALA: Lonerism (Modular Fontana)
Simultaneous double fist-pump/knee raise combo to myself for making sure I caught these guys early in the day at Lollapalooza. Not sure I can give myself more pats on the back for seeing a next-level jaw-dropping live band from Australia who neeever plays the U.S. Inevitably, what’s old is new again, and I’m convinced that their brand of psychedelic fuzziness would’ve legitimately been huge in the early ’70s, yet it still sounds fresh in 2012.
[VIDEO]: Tame Impala perform “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
TWIN SHADOW: Confess (4AD)
Along with being one of the better albums I listened to in 2012, Twin Shadow at Crescent Ballroom was also one of the better performances I saw. Having seen them years ago as an opener for Jamie Lidell (?!) at Rhythm Room and part of a tripleheader (with Warpaint and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) at Club Congress in Tucson, my already lofty expectations were exceeded by a tight, focused, high energy show.
[VIDEO]: Twin Shadow performs “Run My Heart”
BEACH HOUSE: Bloom (Sub Pop)
The Baltimore duo, who have been a staple in Casa de Eric since 2010’s Teen Dream, came back with an even dreamier classic. I’m fairly certain Beach House and Twin Shadow need to re-score some ’80s brat-pack era classics together.
[STREAM]: Beach House – Myth
FATHER JOHN MISTY: Fear Fun (Sub Pop)
There’s not a more interesting or naturally funny person in music right now than the former Fleet Foxes drummer turned frontman Josh Tillman. Along with the drumsticks, he scrapped his J. Tillman moniker, at least for now, and created something uniquely his. As previously mentioned, I’d very much like to hang out with him. The stars aligned, and I was actually able to see his show at Rhythm Room with my brother. Quality bro-age indeed.
[VIDEO]: Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
HOSPITALITY: self-titled (Merge)
So twee. So cute. I’m pretty sure going to tell a bunch of friends (or friends’ girlfriends/sisters) about Hospitality. I saw Vincent Gallo in the crowd at their Crescent Ballroom show. No, I didn’t tell him I went to the same college as Roger Ebert when I had the chance to do so. If I had a job deciding what songs would work in movies, commercials, and TV shows, I’m pretty sure I would have used songs from this album in pretty much anything involving young people and/or coffee. Tell me I’m wrong.
[STREAM]: Hospitality – Eighth Avenue
ALT-J: An Awesome Wave (Canvasback)
What’s there not to like? Predictably, KEXP was all over them super early, so I’ve benefited from hearing these guys since pretty early on. I missed out on their Lollapalooza aftershow. At least it was for a Toro y Moi DJ set. Also, they won the Mercury Prize. Which is nice. Check out this clip from Jools Holland, this British musical variety show that always has the most disparate and awesome guests. Also, it’s on that random Palladia channel on cable like ALL THE TIME. It’s pretty great – why don’t we have something like this in the U.S.? Who would host it? My vote goes to Oates from Hall and Oates.
[VIDEO]: Alt-J – Something Good (the Amazing Sessions)
DJANGO DJANGO: self-titled (Ribbon Music)
Another British band, along with Alt-J, that blew my mind in 2012. Bouncier than Alt-J, and sure to be compared to bands that dwell in more Americana-ish circles, Django Django is a band I can’t wait to see more of.
[VIDEO]: Django Django – Firewater (acoustic session)
DIIV: Oshin (Captured Tracks)
DIIV (pronounced and formerly called “Dive” – guess there was another band called that very thing) is the side project of Beach Fossils’ Zachary Cole Smith. Unlike Beach Fossils’ jangly, for lack of a better term, “beachyness,” this is dreamy post-punk that would have fit well on the Donnie Darko soundrack. If you like the Cure, Joy Division, or the like, give this one a spin.
[VIDEO]: DIIV – Doused