Saturday, 5 January 2013

2012 Re-View

So here it is - the best music things of 2012.

Best song:
Of course.
I've already raved about this - it's one of those rare songs that I can listen to on repeat. Six months on, I still get a buzz whenever I hear the intro.

Best song title:
Scott Walker - SDSS141E+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)
Clocking in at just shy of 22 minutes, the track almost outdoes the title when it comes to incomprehensibility. Sublime, ridiculous, pretentious, hilarious, impenetrable but totally compelling. Not quite "Make It Easy On Yourself" then.

Best album:
Field Music - Plumb

Or is it Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar?
Or maybe The 2 Bears' Be Strong?
Both strong contenders, but I'll go for Field Music - because of it's brevity, I can listen to it repeatedly SO many more times.

A great "alternative rock" album:
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
What I love about Dirty Projectors is how essential everything is. Every sound, note, hit of a snare drum, have a purpose, each adding something unique - there's nothing superfluous here and no generic guitars strumming with a bass playing the root note. Oh, and the songs are pretty good too, which helps.

A great "alternative electronic rock" album:
Fuxa - Electric Sound of Summer
A Christmas present, so there's still plenty to discover with this as I've only had it for just over a week. Post/space rock and electronica, featuring three brilliant cover versions - Our Lips are Sealed, Some Things Last a Long Time and Cheree (which they have stretched out to 10 minutes). In fact the Suicide references stretch further than covering Cheree, with another track being named "Marty Suicide" and the sound on many tracks coming across a bit like Suicide collaborating with Lali Puna - that is if Suicide were a bit happier and enjoyed spending summer afternoons lying in a field listening to the birds singing.

Five great gigs
So much great live music. Here's five examples.
Grandaddy (Ritz)
Public Service Broadcasting (Soup Kitchen)
Pulp (Motorpoint Arena)
(Green Man Festival)
tUnE-yArDs (Green Man Festival)

Some great album covers:

Three Ambient Records:
It was quite refreshing to find the man who is to blame/thank for the whole genre showing the kids how it should be done. Brian Eno's Lux is one of the most beautiful things he's released in a long time. It sounds even more special now I have it on "180g DMM mastered double vinyl". Honest.

Daniel Lopatin is steadily becoming one of my favourite 21st century artists, with three brilliant albums released over the last couple of years. After Ford and Lopatin's homage to the 80s (1980s and 2080s) that was Channel Pressure, and Oneohtrix Point Never's sublime Replica, we now get a collaboration with Tim Hecker on the Instrumental Tourist album, which might be called ambient, but a thoroughly modern and forward thinking ambient.

Oh and Julian Cope released Woden, which was originally recorded in 1998 but left in the vault. He describes it as "one 72-minute ambulent meditation upon Warden Hill & Avebury". After a difficult opening section, it transforms into a beautiful and absorbing three-note melody accompanied by the distant sound of church bells. Or is it the sound of distant church bells?

Drone Pop:
I'm talking about Circles by Moon Duo, a Wooden Shjips side project (for one member anyway) that takes the sound of Wooden Shjips / Spaceman 3 and blends it with tunes that border on pop. Fantastic stuff.

And talking of side projects...
Tame Impala or Pond? Well, they both released great albums, with TI getting (most of) the accolades. Lonerism was the more consistent, but Beard, Wives, Denim contained Moth Wings - a psych rock masterpiece. A tough one to call.

Hot Chip or The 2 Bears?
Both will put a massive grin on your face. In Our Heads sounds like Hot Chip (understandably), whilst Be Strong is the perfect soundtrack for anyone pining for some post-house, Ian Dury-esque pop...and anyone who is in need of a Bear Hug.

Reissue of the year:
In agreement with 99% of all music publications, it has to be Can's The Lost Tapes. Archive material from 1968-1977 and previously unreleased, this is probably the most remarkable thing I've heard in years. So good, in fact, that I bought it twice.

Oh, how they spoil us:
After a six year gap, Mouse on Mars return with not one, but two shiny new albums of their unique glitchy electronica in a collision with techno, krautrock and hip-hop. One for the head (Parastophics) that you can dance to, which took years to complete, and one for the feet (Wow) that you can admire for it's cleverness, which was thrown together over a few months. Both great.

Best Format:
Barry Adamson - Brighton Rockers. Released as a playable postcard. That's right, a postcard that you can play.

And here's some more albums I've loved this year:
Barry Adamson - I Will Set You Free
Spritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Euros Childs - Summer Special
Neil Young - Psychedelic Pill
Pye Corner Audio - Sleep Games
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Hallelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Four Tet - Pink
Daphni - Jiaolong
Toy - Toy
Squarepusher - Ufabulum
The Flaming Lips With Heady Fwends

Anyway, you get the point...

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