Tame Impala put out my second favorite record of last year, although I wound up not actually writing a review of Lonerism for this site, which I kinda regret. If I had, it probably would've mentioned how perfectly produced the album was, but I probably would've also invoked the little-known Airing of Grievances clause, wherein a band bursts into awesomeness so suddenly that they can't possibly keep it up, eventually spiraling into oblivion, bottoming out, and releasing a total irredeemable piece of shit just a few years later.
Of course, that would've been wrong; after many relistens to pretty much everything Tame Impala's ever put out, I've determined that there actually are a few good pre-Lonerism tracks out there, and "Half Full Glass of Wine" is the best of the bunch.
[This is a guest review written by my good buddy Bricer - the video above was shot by him, too.]
So my boy Tuddd skipped the 2/19 Tame Impala show in NYC, mostly due to high ticket prices on Stubhub and a crappy venue - the much maligned Terminal 5. Heck, I don't even live in NY and I've heard enough bad things to hate it. I had a (more or less face value) ticket at a decent venue (the 9:30 club) and was able to catch this show in DC last week.
I had two main questions going into the show: 1.) would they be able to recreate the dreamy sound of their hit album, Lonerism, which seems to ooze "studio magic"? 2.) - Would this awesome but mellow album, seemingly best suited for a pair of headphones and a special brownie, be rockin' enough for a standing room only club show?
After skipping the opener, The Growl, in favor of some warm up sauce at local dive Dodge City, I made my way to the 9:30 club. Tame Impala took the stage at a punctual 9:31 with frontman (ok only actual band member) Kevin Parker accompanied by 2 more guitarists, a keyboardist, a tiny woman bassist whose shortness was amplified by her back row placement, and a lanky mop-headed drummer. A screen behind the band projected appropriately psychedelic squiggles, flames, and other mind-bending imagery throughout the show. My first question was answered immediately as the band launched from a brief fuzzy intro jam into a really nice version of Lonerism's "Apocalypse Dreams." The song sounded almost exactly like the album, with just enough edgy guitar tone and chaotic drumming (this guy was ALL OVER the kit) to let you know you weren't at home with a pair of headphones on.
Question 2 was answered almost as promptly. The band launched into my favorite track from 2010's Innerspeaker, "Solitude is Bliss," which reminds me of a modern-day Cream song. As they ripped into the guitar solo, the amount of fuzz and distortion sounded more like a grunge act than the shoegaze-y vibe of Lonerism.
A quick nod to the (notoriously lame) DC crowd. While their feet remained stuck in concrete as per usual, there was enough head bobbing and applause to let you know these kids were really into it. Also, at a venue known for tight security (think guys on elevated watchposts in each corner of the venue scanning for monkey business), plumes of THC seemed to waft through the club at all times.
The rest of the set consisted mostly of Lonerism tunes, nearly all of them with reverb-drenched intro or outro jams to beef them up a bit. Hit single "Elephant" included an off-kilter drums and funk jam (complete with an "Entrance of the Gladiators" tease) that was so weird that I thought at first they were just killing time due to a broken guitar string or something. Nope, just really out there!
The highlight of the set was the closer, "Half Full Glass of Wine," a song I’d never actually heard before off their 2008 self-titled EP. This song absolutely rocked (see clip above), with a driving 70’s rock-ish lead guitar riff that sounded like a different band altogether. The song finished with an awesomely spacey guitar-driven jam that built to a soaring, majestic peak before returning to the song’s structure to close the set. This left me wondering just how awesome these guys could be if they added jams like these to more of their live material.
If I had any complaints, it would be 1) that Kevin’s voice didn’t always quite hold up to what you hear on the albums, particularly in the higher registers, and 2) The performance sounded almost too much like Lonerism at times, leaving you wondering if some of the accompanying music was canned rather than actually being performed live. My buddy Beaf caught this show in Dallas, and said this effect was even more pronounced there. But you know what they say, “Everything’s way way way worse in Texas.”
In short, check these guys out. Really solid show from one of the better bands out there right now.
The (Real) Album of the Year: Class Clown Eats the Factory for Lunch - Guided by Voices [compilation of best tracks from Guided by Voices' three 2012 album releases, Let's Go Eat the Factory, Class Clown Spots a UFO, and The Bears for Lunch]
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"