Our annual round-up of some of our favorite things of the year.
l-r: Matt Bauer, Snowblink, Bat For Lashes, eskimeaux, Young Moon
Top 10 Music of 2012:
Bad Weather California
Coby Hartzler and the Prisoners
The Cosmic American Band
Eli Modell Dreyfus
Top 10 Restaurants of 2012:
Arlo’s (Austin, TX)
Bouldin Creek Cafe (Austin, TX)
Flavour Spot (Portland, OR)
Green/Nami (Phoenix, AZ)
The Owlery (Bloomington, IN)
Soul Vegetarian 2 (Atlanta, GA)
Spiral Diner (Dallas, TX)
Sweet Melissa’s (Laramie, WY)
The Vegan Nom (Austin, TX)
Watercourse Foods (Denver, CO)
Top 5 Dogs of 2012:
Beans (Gilford, NH)
Bowser (Shreveport, LA)
Chester (South Portland, ME)
Dakota (Washington, DC)
Stella (Phoenix, AZ)
Guy Capecelatro III
Top Albums in No Particular Order
John K. Samson Provincial
Sea of Bees Orangefarben
Lucy Wainright Roche There’s a Last Time for Everything
Dana Falconberry Leelanau
Matt Bauer No Shape Can Hold Me Now
Waxahatchee American Weekend
Julie Doiron Exclaim!
Adam Arcuragi Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It…
Mount Eerie Clear Moon
Sera Cahoone Deer Creek Canyon
Right Away Great Captain The Church Of The Good Thief
Damien Jurado Maraqopa
Will Johnson Scorpion
Awesome albums made by talented friends
Strand of Oaks Dark Shores
Pellet Gun The Great Divide
Mister Baby Great Big Fire Show
Mommyheads Vulnerable Boy
Lori Carson Another Year
Jason Anderson Summer Style
Snowblink Inner Classics
Hello Shark HS
Anna Vogelzang Canary in a Coal Mine
Nate Laban & Eric Ott Love Songs and Isolation
Christine Hayward Going to Somewhere
K. History Grows
The Walking Dead
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Game of Thrones
Chris Holt (Tuna Time)
Top Five Motion Pictures:
5. Sound of My Voice
4. Indie Game: The Movie
2. Safety Not Guaranteed
1. Moonrise Kingdom
Top Five Records:
5. Beach House Bloom
4. Air Le Voyage Dans La Lune
3. Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
2. David Byrne & St. Vincent Love This Giant
1. Bat For Lashes The Haunted Man
Oliver Kalb (Bellows)
1. Xiu Xiu Always – This album is so weirdly anthemic. I liked Xiu Xiu initially because listening to Jamie Stewart’s voice is like being stuck in someone’s mouth. Always feels like a change of form for him. It’s uncomfortably intimate, just like older Xiu Xiu albums, but it’s the first one that feels like its using small thoughts to reach out to a bigger group of people, asking you to say “hi” if you’re wasting your life and wondering if you’re willing to share yourself with the multitudes who feel that way too.
2. Eskimeaux eskimeaux – Gabby Smith is Eskimeaux (she plays in Bellows too). eskimeaux is a reworking of songs Gabby wrote in 2009 that took the form of a demo tape called ixixan, which means “I love you” in the language of the Tlingit. This new album totally re-imagines the humble folk of ixixan, translating the songs into an icy and dark space filled with visceral noise and eerie harmonies- the songs grow out of small spaces and develop into huge dance arrangements that sound like the end of the world. Gabby and Ben Schurr worked really hard on this album and made something beautiful! It really deserves your ears- get dark! Get icy! Seriously!
3. Told Slant Still Water – Told Slant is Felix Walworth, the drummer of Bellows- he finished his first album this year and it’s really amazing. It’s a humble record about the glory of being lost in the woods. Still Water tells an honest story about growing up- stumbling into adulthood and realizing that there’s no big secret that’s been withheld from you, there’s no one way the world should be, and becoming your own full self is about recognizing that nothing’s true until you make it so, alone.
4. s/s/s Beak & Claw – s/s/s is Sufjan Stevens, Serengheti and Son Lux. For some reason people didn’t pay that much attention to this album, but that’s a mistake. Beak & Claw is manic and lush- Serengheti’s verses on this EP sound like syncopated drums, and the orchestration by Sufjan and Son Lux sounds like being sucked into a vortex. This album definitely fails if you are trying to calm down, but if you are ok with entering the clearing beyond time and space Beak & Claw is definitely what you should be hearing.
5. Advance Base A Shut In’s Prayer – Advance Base is the new project from Owen Ashworth, formerly of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. I heard Advance Base for the first time on that split 7” with Hello Shark and loved Owen’s song about the retired racehorse. A Shut In’s Prayer is the first full-length album by Advance Base and it’s beautiful. It sounds like a slow day in the summer, waking up and being in your thirties but not hating yourself, rather getting lost in your head on a hot day, remembering that things are hard but ultimately finding peace.
6. G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer – This album is undeniably dumb and borderline super-offensive, but “To The World” is an amazing song. R. Kelly totally kills it and Kanye’s verse is its usual brilliant/totally lame: “I’m just trying to protect my stacks, Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax! Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax!”
7. Random Child TRIALS – Random Child is a sometimes metal, sometimes hardcore band from Chicago and Brooklyn- TRIALS is an album that’s been slavishly planned out for two years by Ian Cory, Random Child’s head songwriter who treats metal songs as gigantic novels, meant to be read front to back, torn apart and analyzed with your friends. TRIALS takes on the task of total honesty; it compiles every shitty feeling Ian’s felt about himself, his friends and his family in recent years and vomits them onto the bathroom floor. TRIALS is for thrashing and for listening closely. If you are pissed off, or are interested in hearing a dude exorcise himself out of a really difficult spot, you should definitely check out Random Child.
8. Mount Eerie Clear Moon/ Ocean Roar – I was talking to Henry in the car about why we liked Wind’s Poem so much- I was noticing that it’s an album that has no ideas in it, not that it’s vapid or that it wasn’t thought out properly, but that it’s album about density: Wind’s Poem feels like you’re in the middle of a star with 1,000,000 tons of gaseous matter crushing your body. These two new Mount Eerie albums pick up where Wind’s Poem left off. They’re visceral and hypnotic; an experience rather than an idea.
9. Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan – I think I’m the only one who didn’t really like Bitte Orca, so I’m gonna be weird and admit that this is the first Dirty Projectors album that I’ve actually gotten into. In any case, I REALLY like this album. It’s hypnotizing- it’s sparse but full, so that you don’t realize that you’re only listening to a voice and hand-claps until a single acoustic guitar comes in and sounds like a whole orchestra. The songwriting on this album is also amazing. I was dancing in my kitchen to it, and maybe you guys have already done that too!
10. Usher Looking 4 Myself – I’m sort of lying about this one- I just really like the song “Climax.” I think it’s great that Usher is looking 4 himself though, and you guys should listen to this album so you can help find him.
Dylan Metrano (Tiger Saw)
1. Alabama Shakes Girls and Boys
Seemingly out of nowhere, this was my jam of the summer. Great feeling. Hot album
2. Leonard Cohen Old Ideas
See the terrific biography I’m Your Man, too. Certainly a return to form, and his best album since the seventies. No one sounds like Leonard, and it’s inspiring that he is still as relevant at eighty years old.
3. Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel…
Her Portland, ME show this summer was revelatory. I love all her albums. The song “Regret” has my favorite vocal performance.
4. Solange True
Still fresh. A great EP. Can’t wait to hear more.
5. Sharon Van Etten Tramp
Consistently good. Some real memorable melodies.
6. Young Moon Navigated Like the Swan
The debut from Lazarus’ Trevor Montgomery. One of my favorite voices.
7. Raymond Byron and the White Freighter Little Death Shaker
The debut from Castanets’ Raymond Byron (Raposa). One of his best records ever, and sadly overlooked.
8. The XX Coexist
9. The Walking Dead, Season Three
10. Breaking Bad, Season Five, part one
TV to make your girlfriend tense.