I’ve contributed my hosannas to the year-end list over at Aquarium Drunkard, but I wanted to print out a(n alphabetical) list of my own, including a few records that I dug this year that didn’t make the A.D. list. As a quick side note, I’ve just begun a new (though temporary) job, and, with getting our new house in order in time for the holidays, haven’t yet figured out how to balance all of this with consistent music-listening. The Daily Spin feature will return in 2013, along with other, more robust content.
Year-end lists have become a tradition, which means that they’ve developed their own traditional set of protests. I’m not immune to either. I’ve had enough conversations with thoughtful friends whose musical opinions vary from mine wildly to know that this list is far from definitive, and that it only represents the things that I myself listened to in 2012 with frequency. This is what I was excited by, what I played incessantly, what I nearly made myself sick on and sick of. It’s a snapshot of my own personal taste at this very moment at the end of 2012. This list would be completely different if it were to appear in December of 2013. If I were to rewrite my 2011 list, it would be topped by Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost; that album didn’t even cross my radar last year. I can say that I listened to an inordinate amount of music from Montreal this year. This is in part because I miss it, and in part because it had a great year. Almost without exception, anything that wasn’t from Montreal was scuzzy punk with distorted vocals, except for the case of Matthew E. White’s Big Inner, whose buttery soul is the antithesis of punk. Big Inner was my favorite record this year, followed very closely by Grimes’ Visions, and my love for both surprised me; I’ve never been partial to the soul music to which White is so deeply indebted, and I still feel as though some old cynical part of me must have died without my knowing in order for me to like the mall-nostalgic EDM of Visions. Whatever the case, I’m thankful.
Big thanks to the following, who edited, published, and promoted my writing in 2012: Justin Gage at Aquarium Drunkard; Pat McGuire and Breanna Murphy at FILTER; the folks at Grantland‘s Triangle blog; Mike Spry, Ian Orti, Andrew Forbes, and Jay Ibeas, whose sportswriting on The Barnstormer is essential reading; and, more than anyone, my sweet wife Rachelle, who put up with an incredible amount of noise-rock this year when she really wanted to hear Bill Monroe.
The best live show I saw this year was a three-way tie between Canailles at Parc de la Petite-Italie during Pop Montreal, Mavis Staples at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, AL, and Randy Newman, who also played at Hangout Fest. The best show I missed this year was either Tim Hecker at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, also during Pop Montreal, or Leonard Cohen at the Akoo Theater in Rosemont, IL. The non-2012 record I listened to the most this year was the aforementioned Girls record. My best interview subject was Liars. I don’t feel either way towards Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, and I’ve still never heard “Call Me Maybe.”
And these are the records I loved:
Matthew E. White — Big Inner
Grimes — Visions
Avec pas d’casque — Astronomie
Canailles — Manger du bois
Ceremony — Zoo
Godspeed You! Black Emperor — ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Grass Widow — Internal Logic
Japandroids — Celebration Rock
Liars — WIXIW
The Orwells — Remember When
Parquet Courts — Light Up Gold
Purity Ring — Shrines
Shearwater — Animal Life
Ty Segall — Twins
Ty Segall Band — Slaughterhouse
The Walkmen — Heaven