The end of the year is the one time on the music industry calendar when the critics take center stage, as best-of lists flood the Internet. While performers become either the objects of affection or the cause of disappointment each December, PopMatters is giving the artists a chance to play critic, asking them to let us in on the albums, songs, musical moments, and whatever else (President Obama’s re-election, Mars Curiosity Rover, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, anyone?) that struck their fancy in 2012. What you’ll see is a broad range of favorites—some echoing the critics, but many not—as well as a good dose of holiday camaraderie among peers.
1. Tame Impala, Lonerism
2. The xx, Coexist
3. Howler, America Give Up
4. Grizzly Bear, Shields
5. King Tuff, King Tuff
6. Grimes, Visions
7. Twin Shadow, Confess
8. Chairlift, Something
GRMLN released a self-titled EP on Carpark in October 2012.
Helado Negro’s Roberto Lange
These are just the things that I listened to and really loved this year. Here are bands that I worked with this year whose records are great too: Bear in Heaven’s I Love You It’s Cool, Guy Fantastico’s Dreamboat, and Sinkane’s Mars.
Monoton, Realtime + Monotonprodukt 07: I first came across Monoton from a friend. It’s got all the right minimal arrangements for minimal repetitive percussive music. Dance movements and the way it transmits all these slow nuanced swells. It was originally released in 1982, but it feels more current than any other electronic music being made…or maybe just more tactile.
Gerry Read, Jummy: I first came across Gerry hearing his 12” “Patterns”. The B-side “Last Time” stuck with me more. The vocal stabs and just this classic house bounce reeled me in. On Jummy, its super stripped down and very collaged rhythms all lock in like overlapping shadows. They are all soft, but have this weight behind them. Song highlight: “Make a Move”.
TOPS, Tender Opposites: I like TOPS because the whole album is like them pushing to make this boogie record, but everything is just their own vibe. There’s nothing boogie about it, but they have this groove that’s so nice. It’s really some daydreamy dance music. The song “Rings of Saturn” is highlight for me.
Kim Ann Foxman, Creature EP: I play this when I’m alone at my house and dance or when I jog. I love this song.
Matthew E. White, Big Inner: There’s a really beautiful classic craft to this record. Listening to it gives you the sense of how ideas can be documented through music. There is such a literal connection between the players and the music that is so clear that the imagery of those two things coming together gets drawn in front of your eyes. The highlight song for me is “Gone Away”.
Mouse on Mars, WOW: MOM are classic to me. I’ve been listening to their music for a long time. They ingrained so many creative thoughts on how to approach music. When I first started making electronic music in 1999, I had just began using a sampler called the MPC 2000, and the way MOM would put their compositions together with cut-up sounds gave me the inspiration to follow their lead. I never tried to mimic, but really listened for inspiration and enjoyment. This release WOW was their second this year, after their Parastrophics release, which was their classic style and the sum of all they’ve done since their last record. WOW, on the other hand, is great…it’s all the smaller details pushed around and pared down to simpler rhythmic structures, overlapped with fucked textures and densities in implied rhythms.
Holly Herndon, Movement: I first heard of Holly stumbling upon a promo video for her new record. The sound immediately wrapped me up because it was refreshing, but also because it sounded like a song I always wished that had been expanded on by Grace Jones on her album Slave to the Rhythm. I went and saw Holly perform at Roulette in Brooklyn soon after, and everything she was doing resonated with me. Her album has been stewing with me a lot recently. The highlight song is “Breathe”.
Jared Wilson, For Professional DJ Use Only + Ghettoblaster 12”: I’m a huge fan of acid and electro. The simplicity and the reverbs on the sounds on these records are my soft spot.
Vladislav Delay, Espoo: The first time I heard Vladislav Delay was when I got the album Anima. I really didn’t know what I was listening to at the time. It was like a dubbed-out broken sequence. Shit was great. Also the Chain Reaction stuff he did back then. Fast Forward to this EP: It has the same soft jerky tendencies, but almost less blurred, just on the surface enough to start making out some of the details. The slow reveal on the song “Olari” is what makes me go back to that record.
Atomic Forest, Obsession: I know this was released a long time ago. This shit is just so raw. I love how the guitars are just chilling on top with the drums. The song “Sunshine Day” is fresh.
Helado Negro collaborated with Asthmatic Kitty labelmate Julianna Barwick to form Ombre, which released Believe You Me in 2012. He will have a new solo effort out in March 2013.
The Helio Sequence
1. DIIV, Oshin
2. Menomena, Moms
3. Here We Go Magic, A Different Ship
4. Beach House, Bloom
5. Tame Impala, Lonerism
6. Ultraísta, Ultraísta
7. Lackthereof, Building Personal Strength
8. Pure Bathing Culture, Pure Bathing Culture EP
9. Chairlift, Something
10. Opossom, Electric Hawaii
Here are my top 10 songs of 2012:
1. Menomena, “One Horse”
2. DIIV, “How Long Have You Known”
3. Beach House, “New Year”
4. Here We Go Magic, “Alone But Moving”
5. Tame Impala, “Apocalypse Dreams”
6. Mirroring, “Drowning the Call”
7. Ultraísta, “Bad Insect”
8. Lower Dens, “Propagation”
9. ERAAS, “Fang”
10. Lotus Plaza , “Jet Out of the Tundra”
The Helio Sequence’s latest full-length effort Negotiations came out on Sub Pop in September 2012.
The History of Apple Pie
Beak>, >>: It’s got a bit of everything you’d want; the usual krautrock, motorik rhythms, analogue synths, psychedelia, big stoner riffs, and it’s even better than their first album.
Weird Dreams, Choreography: For me, it’s Choreography by Weird Dreams. The shimmering guitars and dreamy harmonies of Choreography were a perfect accompaniment to my summer.
DIIV, Oshin: Another great release from NYC label Captured Tracks. Dark bass lines and shimmering guitars riffs that stay in my head for days!
Also, Tame Impala, Lonerism...
The History of Apple Pie releases its full-length debut Out of View (Marshall Teller) on January 29, 2013, and is one of PopMatters’ Hopes for 2013.
Holograms’ self-titled debut was released by Captured Tracks in July 2012.
Hunx of Hunx and His Punks
1. Grass Widow, Internal Logic
2. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes
3. The Cleaners From Venus reissues
4. Bleached, live @ the Rookie Prom
5. Saba Lou ,“Until the End”
6. Dragonette, “Live in This City”
7. Ke$ha, “Die Young”
8. Geneva Jacuzzi, live @ Cheetah’s Strip Club
9. Deep Time, “Clouds”
10. The Barbaras, 2006-2008
11. Veronica Falls, “My Heart Beats”
12. The Babies, Our House On The Hill
13. Taylor Swift, “I Knew You Were Trouble”
14. Jaill, Traps
15. Ssion, Bent
16. Pizza Grrrls, live @ Boys Club
17. Donny and Joe Emerson, Dreamin’ Wild reissue
18. Crazy Band, live @ the Smell
19. One Direction, Up All Night
20. Blood Diamonds, featuring Grimes, “Phone Sex”
Hunx released Hairdresser Blues vis Hardly Art in February 2012.
Bay Area rapper IamSu! released the $uzy 6 $peed mixtape recently, along with KILT earlier in 2012.
Incite’s Richie Cavalera
1. Deftones, Koi No Yokan
2. Sylosis, Monolith
3. Lamb of God, Resolution
4. Gojira, L’Enfant Sauvage
5. Testament, Dark Roots of Earth
6. Cattle Decapitation, Monolith of Humanity
7. Soulfly, Enslaved
8. Black Breath, Sentenced to Life
9. Cancer Bats, Dead Set on Living
10. Muse, The 2nd Law
Incite released All Out War on Minus Head in November 2012.