Hey, a year end list that actually waits until the end of the fucking year. HOW NOVEL! This is not a best songs/albums of 2012 list because it was impossible to experience everything, but here’s some stuff I liked. That’s about all you can ask for.
BEST SONG BY AN ARTIST FROM MINNEAPOLIS (tie)
GLOSS / Front Porch
I spent my first quarter century in the Twin Cities — In fact, I left there 15 years ago this January 1st to move here and be with you lovely, lucky people — but I always try to keep up with what’s going on in the music scene back home. If you’re bummed there was no new Real Estate album in 2012, this hazy cut of dream pop by newcomers Gloss is for you.
THE INTELLIGENCE / They Found Me In The Back of Galaxy
Yeah, this is one.
DAMIEN JURADO / Nothing Is The News
And this one, too. Two words to describe this song: peyote headcold. Also, even after 15+ years in the business, I wanna call this guy Damien Jurardo. I don’t know why. Sorry, Damien.
SANDRIDER / The Corpse
Still local, but louder. “The Corpse” sounds like your local water park wave pool if that fucker was filled with dragon’s blood.
ERIK BLOOD / Today’s Lover
My favorite Seattle release hands down was Touch Screens by Erik Blood, and not just because it was a conceptual salute to pornography, aka that one thing in life that I actually like. But it didn’t hurt, nor did its nods to My Bloody Valentine, dream pop, and club hitz (with a z, yes.) All that aside, this was the second best song I heard while on a European subway this year. Freud would have a field day with me talking about how I’m in a train going down a tunnel and this song is relentlessly pumping piston-like in my ears and suddenly the world is an A-OK place. Doesn’t matter. I’m secure with who I am.
So about the first best song I heard while on a European subway this year....
It’s October and I’m in Barcelona for a few days before catching a flight to Paris. Barcelona is dope: Cheap food, plenty of street art, and people of all nations engaging in all-night freeform bar crawls. On my last evening, I can’t sleep ,so after a night of sleep deprivation, I throw on the backpack, grab my suitcase, walk down the street, into the subway, down some long twisty corridors and onto the train car that will take me to Sants station, where I will transfer to the airport light rail. Judging by number of people with luggage, there’s lots of folks doing the same thing. Except for this one middle-aged Spanish guy who has one of those rolling carry-on bags. He unzips the front panel revealing a speaker, and he pulls out a microphone, plugs in his iPod and starts singing a karaoke version of this song.
After a verse and a half, he starts rolling his gear towards the front of the train, seeking coins for the small paper cup clasped between his hand and the baggage grip. I don’t know how much money he made, but I couldn’t get that fucking song out of my head for several hours afterwards.
MORE SONGS I LIKED
JAPANDROIDS / The House That Heaven Built
Part of the reason for my trip to Paris was the Pitchfork Music Festival where I got to see the Japandroids. It was as much fun as you would expect, both their set, the entire festival, and the fun of seeing music fans from around the world come together for a three-day, two stage throwdown. Like the two people next to me during the ‘Droids set. I’m not sure what country the couple was from, but they were the biggest Japandroids fans anyone has ever seen, jumping around frantically, shouting along to every song. When this song kicked in, they lost their freakin’ minds. I even had to dodge a few fistpumps. But the Japandroids are the sound of pushing the entire stack of chips to the center of the table and saying “Fuck it. All in.” Yes, this track might be the most cliche one to put on a year end list in 2012 but you can’t ignore the power of this Springsteen-by-way-of-punk-rock barnburner. (Hell, check out the Boss-like wardrobe frontman Brian King was rocking.)
DIIV / How Long Have You Known?
I saw a lot of bands in Paris, but this is the one I missed. (How’s that for a review?) And I’m bummed because only the night before I put it together that the band formerly known as Dive was now DIIV. “Oh, you’re THAT band,” I said to members of the band at a pre-fesitval party, which is about as lame of an introduction as I could ever hope to make. Later that night, we snuck beers into another bar and I made out with a 21 year old French girl at a raging Halloween party. That has absolutely nothing to do with DIIV, but like the doctor telling his dying patient that he’s fucking his nurse, I needed to share. Plus this song will now always remind me of how it's much easier to make out with someone when a language barrier hobbles conversation and then it becomes a matter of logic, not hormones.
MAC DEMARCO / Freaking Out The Neighborhood
This guy is labelmates with DIIV, who were quick to recommend his music to me. I’ve been enjoying his songs, and it’s safe to say when one of them comes on, I don’t have to check iTunes to see who it is. The songs don’t sound like anyone else’s. That’s some hard currency in the early 21st century, my friends. And speaking of Dire Straits, do I detect a Sultans Of Swing influence on this one a la “Sultans Of Swing?”
POOLSIDE / Slow Down
Slow jam of the year that didn’t involve anyone named Frank Ocean or The Weeknd.
FRANK OCEAN / Thinking ‘Bout You
Yeah, another one on everybody else’s list, but the bridge on this track conquers my jaded what’s-left-of-my heart every fucking time. Frank’s voice dips, dives, and soars at all the right moments.
RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR / Maharisha
Many points for fielding a steady rolling riff-stomper, guys. But man, that video...
HUNDRED VISIONS / Last Cab From Tunis
Does it belong here or not? Apparently it was released as a single in 2011 but made its debut on the band’s proper album this year. All I know is it was one of my most played songs and the best mid-period Talking Heads ripoff/salute I have ever heard.
PRINCE RUPERTS DROPS / Almond Man
And here’s my last new favorite song of the year, as in I just discovered this a couple of weeks ago.. I don’t know who these guys are but thanks to the internet I found them. Which leads me to my five favorite music blogs of the year. They’re in no particular order, but if you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons, these sites are a good place to start:
Not only does The Dadada stay on top of new music, they pump out an intoxicating number of mixes and new music compilations. Their “Something For Later” series is downright essential. They also just put up a free winter themed mix that has even more great stuff on it. Easily the best music blog in all of North Carolina!
The one music blog that never fails to surprise me, with songs of all shapes scattered across it’s clean white facade. A lot of the time words are kept to a minimum, which is awesome because as you know, there’s no sense in reading what other people have to say about music anymore. (On a related note, you’re still here?) Their Best Songs of 2012 post features six hours worth of mp3s. You’ll probably find something you like.
An L.A.-based music blog that spotlights both the familiar and the obscure, usually presented free of comment. Their Artist To Watch feature is of particular interest. (And bonus points for always mentioning what city a performer/grouop is from. That’s what I always want to know, anyways.)
I can’t believe it took me until this year to discover John Laird’s music blog. Based out of Austin in 2006, S1:T1 gets it right, keeping the chit chat to a minimum but giving just enough to make you go “I wanna listen to this.” The (usually) weekly Quickdraw feature is a standout, running down the new releases of the week and usually catching some stuff the other blogs miss.
Another late 2012 discovery and right on time. See, while they have the usual best albums of 2012 roundup, they’ve also selected the top EPs and cassettes and the 30 best 7” singles of the year. So on that note, I gotta get out of here because there’s a ton of music that needs to be listened to.