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"
Continuing with the goal of reviewing all of the new-in-2012 albums I've heard, starting with the stuff I heard earlier in the year and (very) slowly crawling out towards newer stuff....
Sharon Van Etten - Tramp -- To me, Sharon Van Etten's previous album, Epic, is probably the greatest singer-songwriter record since the '70s. Where Epic masked often unpleasant, hyper-personal subject matter with gorgeous melodies and perfect instrumentation, Tramp is a decidedly uglier listen.
Best songs: "Serpents," "I'm Wrong," "Leonard."
Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth -- The much-hyped reunion between the Van Halen brothers and "Diamond" David Lee Roth, this album succeeds simply by not being an utter disaster. To prep this album, the band famously mined their vaults, in several cases rewriting songs they never used the first time around and thereby cashing in on riffs Eddie actually wrote back in the '70s. Appropriately, Diamond Dave's lyrics are still as brainlessly hilarious as they were on those early VH albums. To wit, a few corkers:
4.) "I wanna be your knight in shining pickup truck!"
3.) "This suburban garage-a-trois was worth exploring!"
2.) "Your I.Q. plummets fourteen points, her thunder thong around your neck!"
1.) "With a Chevy for my summer home, let's get this party started! It's looking like the city towed my other apartment!"
Oh, wait, I forgot to mention those zingers are ALL FROM THE SAME SONG, "She's The Woman," in which Diamond Dave actually seems to cop to living in his car. Not too shabby.
Best Songs: "She's the Woman," "Outta Space," "Tattoo."
Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II -- These days, if I'm actually going to be revisiting Earth's catalog, it'll be for either of their latter-day masterpieces, 2008's The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull or 2007's almost as great Hibernaculum. To me it seems the last few albums have just been kind of middling and aimless dilutions of the perfection they'd already achieved. Which is not to say that this is a 'bad' album; just that the last few years of redundancies leave it with no real reason to exist.
Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror -- Has there ever been a band that's gone from 'kinda hip-seeming' to 'totally embarrassing' so quickly? I mean, there probably is, but I usually don't listen to music marketed at tween girls, so I probably wouldn't know. Not that I can begrudge Sleigh Bells; there's obviously oodles more moolah to be had playing Terminal 5 in front of throngs of screaming children than there is playing some Brooklyn hole in the wall in front of a handful of stoned, unwashed beardos.