The Artists Pick the Best of 2012, Part 1

by Arnold Pan

25 December 2012

Rockstar playing solo on guitar © Vlasov Volodymyr. Image via 

Father John Misty and more...



Top 5 tracks of 2012:

1. Amadou and Miriam, featuring Santigold, “Dougou Badia”: The crazy tight harmonies and swirly melodies mixed with the beats and crushing guitars make me feel like I’m inside a kaleidoscope.

2. Reptar, “Sebastian”: If Animal Collective and Mice Parade had a baby raised by Vampire Weekend. I’m into it…makes me want to dance while I’m making dinner and drinking bourbon.

3. Alabama Shakes ,“Hold On”: I love that this song is all about Brittney Howard’s fucking crazy amazing pipes. It’s the slowly burning cigarette you bummed from a friend after quitting years ago that you tease out drag by drag—and it’s marvelous.

4. Pony Boy, “The Murder Ballad of Carrie Lee”: I’ve known Marchelle for awhile and her voice is sultry and moving in the best way. I was obsessed with murder ballads when I first started playing music, so I’m particularly fond of this tune.

5. Father John Misty, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”: The drums and the repetitive top-of-the-verse lament on this song end up haunting me a few days later. The hella crazy video probably lends to the hangover. I’ve also heard some tales from friends about J. Tillman, and I was surprised to be into his songs—you know, the whole separating the guy from his music. The L.A. music scene can be teeny tiny sometimes.

Correatown, the musical project of L.A.’s Angela Correa, released its latest album Pleiades (Highline) in August 2012.


Anthony da Costa

1. Anaïs Mitchell, Young Man in America: Anais Mitchell has released the best album of her career thus far. I enjoyed her Hadestown project very much, but this album feels a lot more personal and contains some pretty intense songs. Lyrically and melodically brilliant. Look out for “Coming Down”, “Venus”, and “He Did”. Oh, and Todd Sickafoose killed it in terms of production. Wonderful.

2. Nels Andrews, Scrimshaw: Nels Andrews, a fantastic singer/songwriter who’s lived in a million places but now calls Santa Cruz, CA his home, has put out a gem of a record. Also produced by Todd Sickafoose, I happen to know that the songs on this album were largely written for the weekly NYC Songwriter’s Exchange hosted by the late, great Jack Hardy…and it shows. Every song is strong and the arrangements do them justice.

3. Bob Dylan, Tempest: I gotta say it: I love the new Dylan album. I mean, you’ve gotta place it in the right context…People who say he’s old, washed up, and “can’t sing” need not apply. If you’re fascinated by the fact that this guy is still doing it, still being creative and changing up his game, then please buy and listen to this. Some tracks are a little much (the 13- or 14 minute-long re-telling of the Titanic epic), but others like “Narrow Way” and “Pay in Blood” are worth the whole record. He’s having fun. Loosen up!

4. Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra, Theatre Is Evil: The drummer on my last album, Brian Viglione, was in a band with Amanda called the Dresden Dolls for years. She’s been doing her own thing for the past several and this is by far my favorite of her efforts. The girl can write a pop song. Killer energy, and the band is tight. Look out for some brutal honesty in “Grown Man Cry”. There were a couple weeks where I listened to “Want It Back” incessantly on repeat.

5. Cory Branan, Mutt: Cory Branan is one of America’s best kept secrets of songwriting…one of my favorite writers of all time. Gruff, raw, and real. A Cory Branan show is full of surprises and punk rock energy. This album could not have a more fitting title. Cory produced the thing himself and pays tribute to a lot of his influences (from Springsteen and Mellencamp to Waits and Thin Lizzy), while maintaining a sound and soul that is his own.

6. Plume Giant, Callithump: I took these guys on one of their first tours a year and a half ago. Now they’re touring all over the country and taking names. Beautiful folk harmony trio with guitar and two violins. The debut LP, produced by James Frazee in New York, is full of catchy, tender, beautiful songs. The production is just right, lush without overdoing it or killing the live spirit of these three souls who enjoy making music more than anything.

7. Swear and Shake, Maple Ridge: More NYC buddies. Swear and Shake is a four-piece indie rock band fronted by Adam McHeffey and Kari Spieler. Adam keeps things grounded with his smooth tenor and non-invasive guitar playing. Kari is a vocal powerhouse and the blend of their two voices is something to hear. The band has a lovely energy about them, and be prepared to sing along.

8. Alberta Cross, Songs of Patience: A buddy of mine (Aaron Lee Tasjan) has been the touring guitarist for these guys for some time. The lead singer was born in Sweden, spent a bunch of time in London, and now is based in NYC. He’s got a distinctive voice with killer range that reminds me of all that was good about alternative rock in the early and mid-‘90s. But this is no grunge band: Alberta Cross lays down some sweet layered jams. Check out “Magnolia”, “Lay Down”, and “Wasteland”.

9. Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons, Old Believers: I love this guy’s voice. I love this guy’s voice. I love this guy’s voice. Saw the band perform on Conan and bought the album immediately. Great tunes, the vibe with his harmony singer is lovely. “Foxgloves” is my favorite. Did I mention I love this guy’s voice?

10. Aziz Ansari, Dangerously Delicious: Okay, so this is a comedy album. But I’ve been listening to a ton of standup lately and this is a killer hour of comedy. You might know Aziz from playing Tom Haverford on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. His standup is full of charm, wit, honesty, and what he might call “swag”.

Anthony da Costa self-released his recent album Secret Handshake in April 2012.


Escort’s Adeline Michèle

  • Gotye and Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know”
  • Santigold, Master of My Make Believe
  • Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE

  • In 2012: we lost Whitney Houston, Etta James and Donna Summer. All 3 were my idols and huge influences. (Donna Summer died on my birthday May 17, which was an even bigger shock.) The fact that we lost 3 divas in a year made 2012 a year very heavy in emotion for me.

    New York City disco revivalists Escort released their self-titled debut in January 2012.


    Father John Misty’s Josh Tillman

    10. Prez P. A. U. L. A. C. R. O. N. Y. M. S. 2055
    9. Blood Diamond Vague Geometric Shapes
    8. Assorted Bears Debts
    7. Skyler No and Terror Maze Electric’s Grid
    6. Holy Matrimony Retrograde Flux
    5. Lil’ Cleopatra $$$ Intro-deucing: Return of The 2nd Queen: Reloaded (Pink Edition)
    4. NOVUS ^
    3. Girl Camp Beach Cat
    2. Tierro and Dempsey CEEEiling FrEEEquencies
    1. Groupthink S/T

    Father John Misty released Fear Fun (Sub Pop) in May 2012, which ranked #27 on PopMatters’ list of best albums of the year.


    Field Report

  • Kathleen Edwards, Voyageur
  • The Weather Station, All of It Was Mine
  • S. Carey, Hoyas EP
  • Anais Mitchell, Young Man in America
  • Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow
  • Damien Jurado, Maraquopa
  • Bro. Stephen, Baptist Girls
  • Old Earth, Low Place in the Old Place
  • Kallispell, Westbound
  • Aimee Mann, Charmer

    Field Report’s self-titled debut was released on Partisan in September 2012.


    Flight Facilities

    For our list of 10, we chose 5 categories with 2 things from each: Favourite single, album, remix, music video, and lastly our favourite song that has passed its statute of limitations and is now totally allowed back into a DJ set:

    1. Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse”
    2. Jai Paul, “Jasmine” (Demo)

    1. Tame Impala, Lonerism
    2. Elton John vs. PNAU, Good Morning to the Night

    1. Munk & Peaches, “You Can’t Run from My Love” (Classixx Remix)
    2. Tornado Wallace, “Rainbow Road” (Lewie’s Bowser Castle Remix)

    Music Video
    1. Client Liaison, “The End of The Earth”
    2. Van She, “Idea Of Happiness”

    1. Klaxons, “Golden Skans” (Erol’s Ekstra Spektral Rework)
    2. Chicken Lips, “He Not In”

    Flight Facilities recently signed to Glassnote and released the single “Claire de Lune” in November 2012.

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