Is this record worth a spin? Should I buy it? Will it add to or detract
from my credibility? Should I care?
I wish someone could break it down for me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Songs of 2012: The Toe-Tappingest, Finger-Snappingest Tunes Around

One more quick list before the end of the world in a few hours. If the world is ending at midnight EST does that mean it will end at 9pm PST here in California? I just want to make sure I finish Season One of Supernanny before the end.
These are songs that I felt were exceptional on their own merit, were fine representations of their respective music genre, and will stand the test of time. I mostly tried to avoid songs from my Best Records of 2012 List, with the understanding that many of those songs I already consider to be some of the best. I instead opted for singles and songs from albums that may not have been consistently great, but did produce fine tuneage, maximum dance-ability, and massive riffage!

1. A-Trak & Zinc- Like The Dancefloor (feat. Natalie Storm)

2. Carly Rae Jepsen- Call Me Maybe

3. Jessie Ware- Running (Disclosure Remix)

4. Twin Shadow- Run My Heart

5. Kendrick Lamar- Swimming Pools (Drank)

6. King Tuff- Alone & Stoned

7. Chromatics- Lady 

8. Screaming Females- It All Means Nothing

9. C. Spencer Yeh- Something Forever

10. First Aid Kit- Blue

11. Death Grips- Whammy

12. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs- Your Love

13. Frank Ocean- Thinking Of You

14. El-P- The Full Retard

15. Memoryhouse- Punctum

16. Poolside- Give It A Rest 

17. Deerhoof- Fete D Adieu

18. Mt. Eerie- Through the Trees Pt. 2

19. Shout Out Out Out Out- Now That I've Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better

20. Bill Fay- This World

21. Robert Pollard- Who's Running My Ranch?

22. R. Stevie Moore & Ariel Pink- Come My Way

23. Hurray For The Riff Raff- What's Wrong With Me

24. Andy Stott- Luxury Problems 

25. Bob Mould- Star Machine

26. Opossom- Girl

27. Lindstrom- Vos-sako-rv

28. Pallbearer- The Legend

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Best Records of 2012: The Absolutely Exhausting Definitive List

2012 was a solid year for music. Considering that the world will be ending in a little over a week this is probably the best you're gonna get before the lights go out. Best of Lists are pretty silly. I mean, nobody can hear every record that was released in a calendar year so a best of list is only the best of, or what you think is the best of, what you heard. The list is numbered but it isn't totally based on ranking and reissues are mixed in with new releases. I'm not a big rap fan so that genre isn't really represented. I've also lost my metal mojo (although I did give consideration to the new Pallbearer record). 
Plus, I'm getting older so I'm an aging-out demo. I still think the best "rock" music was made between 1960 and 1990. I like electronic music but I know that it will never replace lyrically-driven song structures. These songs appeal to people on an emotional level whereas electronic music generally has a more physical appeal. There is a reason why the most successful electronic artists today are marrying their beats with professional vocalists. Ultimately, storytellers still reign supreme in the world of music. Anyway, here's the list. I'm still thinking about making a best records of the last 40 years list. We'll see how that one works out.

1. Fire Star- Synth Pop & Electro-Funk From Tamil Films 1985-1989

Why compile songs from India's third largest film industry producer? Why draw your sample size from a specific four year period in the mid to late 1980's? Why the fuck not? It sounds great!

2. Tame Impala- Lonerism
 Do you remember when you heard Van Morrison's "St. Dominic's Preview" and decided you needed to write your own Van Morrison song but it ended up sounding warped, not necessarily in a bad way, but definitely not exactly how you imagined Van Morrison would sound. This is Kevin Parker's version of bubblegum pop music.

3.  Spider Bags- Shake My Head
Self-effacing garage rock with distinctive baritone vocals (think Mike Watt with emotion and sincerity). A truly satisfying batch of songs, full of affirmations of love that reject cosmopolitan living.

4. Frank Ocean- Channel Orange

A star in the making, blends some great influences, namely: Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson, and Sly & The Family Stone. Frank Ocean is a storyteller who is finding his voice.


5. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti- Mature Themes

Real curmudgeonly dude but he makes consistently interesting and challenging music. He veers off into Zappa-esque territory but always maintains a genuine pop core.


6. Frankie Rose- Interstellar

Great 80s throwback record, it's brooding yet uplifting. What else would you expect from a 7th level Chaotic Neutral musician?


7. The Beach Boys- That's Why God Made The Radio

Even though most of the Wilsons are still dead and Mike Love is still a huge dickhead, Brian and the crew still make great music. 


8. W.I.T.C.H.- We Intend To Cause Havoc

Reissue of the entire catalog from 1970's era African rock band. Bluesy, rootsy, funky, ballsy. All four albums from this Zambian outfit are represented, giving the listener a wealth of great music to choose from here.

9. Jaill- Traps

Best band from Milwaukee since the Violent Femmes or The Frogs. This three-piece is basically a grittier version of The Shins (that's a good thing by the way).

 10. Lower Dens- Nootropics

Moody, atmospheric, evocative. It drones like a all good Krautrock records.


11. Wild Nothing- Nocturne

Imminently catchy collection of retro 80's dream pop.

12. Islands- A Sleep and A Forgetting

 Melancholic breakup record from former Unicorn's bandleader Nick Diamond. Displays hints of Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music.

13. Elton John vs. PNAU- Good Morning To The Night

Australian electronic dance duo take vintage 1970's Elton John and put it through the modern groove blender. Satisfies ravers and AORers alike.

 14. Julia Holter- Ekstasis

An ethereal electronic pop record that unfolds in calculating waves of understated bliss.


15. The Fresh & Onlys- Long Slow Dance

This San Fran band of garage rockers is evolving into a more nuanced songwriting force without compromising the treble & reverb.


16. Matthew Dear- Beams

 Another fine collection of pulsating electronic songs infused with Dear's clinical voice. He's mutating into a no-wave force to be reckoned with.


 17. The Funk Ark- High Noon

 An Afro-Cuban version of the Daptone Records roster from this Washington D.C. collective. Some seriously funkafied instrumental scorchers are wafting by the Prez's door as I type.

18. Demdike Stare- Elemental:I-IV

Ambient, in turns industrial, electronic music that incorporates manipulated slices of obscure horror soundtracks. This is some hardcore electronic music.

19. Mac Demarco- 2

The sheer doofiness of this album cover belies the sophisticated nature of Demarco's songwriting, not withstanding his odes to favorite cigarette brands.

20. William Basinski- The Disintegration Loops

Three repetitive notes, looped for 2 hours, underlain with what sounds like basketballs bouncing on hardwood in a cathedral. The tape decays and the notes literally disintegrate. Its a work that is beguiling, enchanting, & beautiful.

21. Poolside- Pacific Standard Time 

Totally infectious dance record that is the perfect compliment to a backyard summertime barbeque.

22. Daphni- Jiaolong

Combines African roots samples with a shitload of mesmerizing synth sounds. Dan Snaith changes monikers so often( from Manitoba to Caribou to Daphni) I'm beginning to think his renegade grooves have made him a fugitive.


 23. Flume- Flume

20 year old Australian Harley Streten makes music well beyond his years, a heady concoction of mid-tempo electronic beat music with assured hip-hop and R&B/soul vocals. Really promising debut.


24. Coke Weed- Nice Dreams
 Great druggy name for this Velvet Underground influenced crew of Mainers.


25. Tim Maia- Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia

Tim Maia basically introduced soul music to his native Brazil and is considered a national treasure there. The Luaka Bop label has reissued a veritable greatest hits record to commemorate what would have been Maia's 70th birthday. If you like Tropicalia, 70's pysch, soul and roots music then this is a must add.


26. Chris Cohen- Overgrown Path

Member of indie legends Deerhoof takes a sun-dappled journey into solo record territory. Overgrown Path is a record of mellow guitar driven songs that recall the 70's pyschedelic folk, but with the quirky time signatures that mark his playing in Deerhoof.


27. Mind Spiders- Meltdown
Satisfying blend of garage and new wave, gets your feet tapping, makes you want to smash shit up.

28. Le Super Borgou De Parakou- Bariba Sound

Another mega-funked up African reissue (see W.I.T.C.H. above). Le Super Borgou De Parakou was a supergroup comprising some of the best musicians in Benin in the early 70's. The music created during this time period in Western Africa was incredibly influential on future Western music.

29. Deep Time- Deep Time
 A pensive pop record from stripped down Austin, TX duo. Jennifer Moore's laconic vocals, which bring to mind Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, can be both disorienting and alarmingly soothing.

Honorable Mentions
Blondes- Blondes
El-P- Cancer 4 Cure
Opossom- Electric Hawaii
Country Funk 1969-1975
Death Grips- The Money Store
Jensen Sportag- Pure Wet EP
Disclosure- The Face EP
Gomma All-Stars feat. Peaches- Casablanca Reworks
How To Dress Well- Total Loss
Shout Out Out Out Out- Spanish Moss & Total Loss
Chromatics- Kill For Love
King Tuff- King Tuff
Matthew E. White- Big Inner
DIIV- Oshin
Cadence Weapon- Hope In Dirt City    
Chelsea Wolfe- Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs 
FRKWYS Vol. 9: Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos