I, for one, think this was a fine year for music. I've been called out for giving out too many B+'s amongst my album grades over the last few months, but, if you think about it, it makes sense: at this point, I'm not going out of my way to listen to albums I think are going to be horrible. There are at least, what, 40-50 acts every year that are going to put out albums that I'm going to listen very closely to just based on my previous history enjoying the work of said acts; the rest of the stuff I end up hearing is based on either a (well-informed, I'd like to think) hunch or ideas from friends (usually Beafvy and Bricer). Again, it's not like I'm going around listening to the new Danielson or Grizzly Bear or Best Coast or Vivian Girls or whatever just so I can write something snarky and rubber stamp a "D-" on that garbage. Believe it or not, my time is actually worth more than that.
When 2012 was all said and done, I heard nearly 80 albums, with the final one being the EP Mogwai sneakily released this morning (spoiler alert: it's not worth spending actual money on). The majority of the albums listed below reached double digits in my play count on iTunes.
So, here's the list, unadorned by such frivolities as relevant information about the albums, cover art, or helpful links that would make it easier to locate the individual album reviews, wherever they may be on this site. [EDIT: fixed that.] I'd love to dress this post up and make it a little less bare-bones, but I'll be heading towards JFK in a few short hours, so yer on yer own.
So that's it for now, and I'll check in with y'all before Phish's upcoming 4-night run at MSG (unofficially titled "Four Bros, Four Shows"). HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
So, my goal was to post reviews for every '12 album I heard (about 80 or so) before posting year-end lists, but that ain't gonna happen, so here you have the first part of the "Jaleppies," aka my year-end best-of lists. Part 2 will probably be published Wednesday morning and will consist of the year's best albums, and Part 3 will be random stuff. Enjoy! (Or don't! I don't care! I'll be in Puerto Rico beetches!)
[Note that in a few of the entries below, two songs have been combined into one single entry. You can probably figure out why, but just in case you can't, it's because the songs run together on the album and as such they sound dumb when played apart from one another. Thank you for your patience and understanding.]
1.) Fang Island - "Asunder" (edit)
2.) Lower Dens - "Lamb"
3.) Melvins - "We Are Doomed"
4.) Lower Dens - "Brains" > "Stem"
[Note - I shot this video]
5.) Dan Friel - "Valedictorian"
6.) Tame Impala - "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"
7.) Torche - "Kicking"
8.) Guided by Voices - "Keep It in Motion" > "Tyson's High School"
9.) The Men - "Oscillation"
10.) Dum Dum Girls - "Mine Tonight"
11.) Beach House - "Myth"
12.) Raveonettes - "Young and Cold"
13.) The Men - "Turn it Around"
14.) Melvins - "The War on Wisdom"
15.) Baroness - "Green Theme"
16.) Two Gallants - "Willie"
17.) Sleigh Bells - "Comeback Kid"
18.) Mount Carmel - "Swaggs"
19.) Pelican - "Ataraxia" > "Lathe Biosas"
20.) Fang Island - "Chompers"
21.) Tame Impala - "Music to Walk Home By"
22.) Guided by Voices - "Hangover Child"
23.) Van Halen - "She's the Woman"
24.) Six Organs of Admittance - "Even if You Knew"
Melvins - Freak Puke -- Not a good album, but fear not, they put out a damn fine EP earlier in the year, so all is still well in MelvinsWorld. Freak Puke may be largely hookless, although what you're hearing is the sound of a band eagerly exploring a new setup, with Dale playing a tiny vintage Gretsch jazz kit, Trevor Dunn fuckin' shit up on stand-up bass (!) and Buzz doin' his usual thang. Melvins have always expressed their love for balls-out experimentation, so hopefully they got whatever they needed to out of their system with Freak Puke, and ideally their next release is more in the vein of Houdini or Bullhead or Nude with Boots than Colossus of Destiny or Prick or Chicken Switch, if y'catch my drift.
Best songs: "A Growing Disgust," "Freak Puke," "Let Me Roll It."
Crocodiles - Endless Flowers -- Three albums into the Crocs' career, we know they do two things particularly well: writing hard-driving raveups with huge hooks ("I Wanna Kill," "Mirrors" and "Hearts of Love"), and writing slower, bubblegummy JAMC-indebted stuff, also with huge hooks ("Sleeping With the Lord," "Girl in Black," etc.). This album largely abandons those styles in favor of mediocre, mid tempo indie pop, and awkward-sounding Morrissey-biting vocal phrasing.
Best songs: "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)" kinda rules.
Japandroids - Celebration Rock -- A sloshing bucketful of over the top youthful exuberance. The forced anthemicness of nearly every damn fool song on this album makes it somehow seem overstuffed despite being only 35 minutes long. But say what you want, these guys are a million times better than No Age.
Best songs: "The House That Heaven Built," "Evil's Sway."