The Artists Pick the Best of 2012, Part 3

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.


Amanda Palmer

Well…as far as I’m concerned, 2012 was the “Year of the Great Piano-Songwriter-Weirdos putting out records like BAM BAM BAM all in a row.”

Regina Spektor kicked it off in spring with What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, which ranks as my favorite Spektor outing since Soviet Kitsch. Even though she hasn’t stipped down on the production totally, she stripped back, and that was enough to re-win me. I was an early Regina-Adopter — she toured with the Dolls and all, and I fell in love with her solo piano sound. Every album after that…lost me a little more. This one manages to combine produced-Regina with old-skool batshit-Regina and get the alchemy right. SOLD! Standout track: “Oh Marcello”. That opening piano riff, condensed to sound like it’s coming out of a pasta-sauce-crusted 1941 kitchen-table-top radio in the kitchen of an insane Italian grandmother is just…perfection. LOOP IT! and BAM.

Then came Fiona Apple’s new record. I’ve always been in awe of this lady. She be what she be. She also keeps winding up in my atmosphere, she got arrested for hash (wheee!) and has to cancel her Austin show the day after we played Austin; she just canceled a tour because she’s going to say with her beloved, dying dog…and wrote a letter to her fans which reflected the inside of my soul, while I’m also dealing with a sick, sick friend and the collision of friendship and schedules. I found her first few albums harder to get into, but then I fell bam-flat in love with Extraordinary Machine. This new one The Idler Wheel yayayaayayayayaya might top that one — the chick just knows how to write a song. This stripped-down format for her is just fucking perfect because the girl has WORDS and can WAIL, and as far as I’m concerned, anything that gets in the way of that can fuck right off. I wanna hear her sing her poems right in my face with a minimum of fanfare. Just a little boking on the piano serves me just fine. Standout track: “Every single night”. Most Bizarre Earworm of the century. BAM.

Then Ben Folds released his epic “The Sound of the Life of the Mind”. I wasn’t totally nuts about Ben’s last album Way to Normal, and I couldn’t put my finger on why…I just wanted more Ben. I felt like he was being too silly and holding out on me. And then he sends THIS shit through the pipe. Holy fuck, the man is spilling some soul here, and it was like the antidote to everything I’d ever been missing from a Ben Folds album. I’ve been playing the song “Draw a Crowd” during my pre-show mix every night on tour for the crowd, and there’s usually a bunch of Ben Folds devotees out there screaming along with the chorus, which has to be the most brilliant chorus EVER WRITTEN: “Ohhhh / If you’re feeling small / And you can’t draw a crowd / Draw dicks on a wall.” How can you not just want to give Ben Folds the biggest high five ever? Other standout track: “Erase Me”, in which Ben even goes a little cabaret and pounds the fuck out of his keys just like we like. BAM.

I’m also fond of the new piano-based Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra record Theatre Is Evil…but I’m not going to get all Fitty Cent on your ass. But still, that’s four BAMS, if you trust that my album was also decent.



2013 will be the year of the lute

2012 was a big year for Amanda Palmer, making headlines for crowdsourcing over $1.2 million to help her create her latest album Theatre Is Evil. Palmer is one of PopMatters’ Artists of the Year and Theatre Is Evil ranked #44 on PopMatters’ list of best albums of 2012.


Peaking Lights

  • Flaming Tunes (Gareth Williams and Marie Currie) release on vinyl for the first time
  • Todd Terje, It’s the Alps
  • Holger Czukay and U-She, La Premiere
  • Francis Bebey, African Electronic Music 1975-1982
  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes
  • Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers 2
  • Wet Hair, Spill into Atmosphere
  • Pharaohs, Island Time
  • Personal Space compilation on Chocolate Industries
  • Chris and Cosey live at the Villette Sonique festival in Paris
  • New Order live at Sonar fest in Barcelona
  • Peaking Lights released a new album Lucifer (Mexican Summer) in June 2012.


    Pearl and the Beard

    Emily Hope Price

    Top Songs

  • Lucius, “Don’t Just Sit There”
  • Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, “Rooftop”
  • Franz Nicolay, featuring Emilyn Brodsky, “Take No Prisoners”
  • Ugly Purple Sweater, “Blue Crab”
  • You Won’t, “Three Car Garage”
  • Anna Vogelzang, “Birdfeeders”
  • Anthony da Costa, “Don’t Count Me Out”
  • Jeremy Styles

    Top Albums

  • You Won’t, Skeptic Goodbye
  • Twin Shadow, Confess
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • Lucius, Lucius EP
  • Jocelyn Mackenzie

    Top Albums

  • David Wax Museum, Knock Get Up
  • Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild soundtrack
  • Kimbra, Vows
  • They Might Be Giants, Join Us
  • Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man in the Universe
  • Pearl and the Beard released its Prodigal Daughter EP (Family Records) in March 2012.


    Francois Peglau

  • Dent May, Do Things: He is a pop genius

  • Django Django, Django Django: Talking Heads meets Devo

  • Los Saicos, Wild Teen Punk from Peru: From 1965, but rediscovered this year!

  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Man on Fire: Better than the first album

  • Grimes, Visions: Hipster electro…loving it

  • Atlas Sound, Logos: From 2009, but discovered this year

  • Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas: Classic and good

  • Beach House, Bloom: Space pop

  • Kanaku y el Tigre, Caracoles: Peruvian folk

  • Deerhoof, Breakup Song: Is there anything more poppish and weird than Deerhoof?

    Francois Peglau came out with The Imminent Failure of Francois Peglau in 2011.


    Pomegranates’ Isaac Karns

    Favorite Albums Released in 2012:

  • Caleb Groh, Bottomless Coffee
  • Beachwood Sparks, The Tarnished Gold
  • Michael Andrews, Spilling a Rainbow
  • Ben Burroughs, An Idea Kind of Person EP
  • Swans, The Seer
  • The Soil and the Sun, What Wonder Is the Universe
  • Damien Jurado, Maraqopa
  • Patrick Watson, Adventures in Your Own Backyard
  • Melody’s Echo Chamber, Melody’s Echo Chamber
  • Favorite Albums Discovered in 2012:

  • Bee Gees, Mr. Natural/Main Course
  • Godley and Crème, Consequences
  • 10cc, How Dare You
  • Willie Nelson, Rainbow Connection
  • AA Bondy, Believers
  • Charles Bradley, No Time for Dreamin’
  • Ryan Adams, Ashes and Fire
  • Blake Mills, Break Mirrors
  • Mercury Rev, Deserter’s Songs
  • Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball
  • Junius, The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist
  • The War on Drugs, Slave Ambient
  • Favorite Books Read in 2012:

  • John Steinbeck, East of Eden
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King
  • Stephen King, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
  • Favorite Desserts of 2012:

  • Pecan Pie Milkshake at CookOut
  • Coconut Creme Pie at Neighbor’s Cafe, Kansas City
  • Cinnamon Rolls at Holiday Inn Express
  • Pomegranates put out Heaven on Modern Outsider Records in June 2012.


    Matt Pond

    1. Angel Olsen, Half Way Home

    2. Melody’s Echo Chamber, Melody’s Echo Chamber

    3. Damon Albarn, Dr. Dee

    4. Sharon Van Etten, Tramp

    5. Chromatics, Kill for Love

    6. Niki and the Dove, Instinct

    7. The Mynabirds, Generals

    8. Spiritualized, Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

    9. The xx, Coexist

    10. King Tuff, King Tuff

    Matt Pond’s upcoming album The Lives Inside the Lines of Your Hand (BMG) will come out on February 5, 2013.

    Seapony and more…



  • Daniel Bachman, Seven Pines: Daniel is our good friend and an incredible musician. His mom is a psychic, his dad is a paleontologist, and his sister is the friendliest person in the world. I’m in a band with Daniel and my Dad called “Drunk Uncle” and sometimes I think my Dad likes him more than he likes me.

  • MMOSS, Only Children: These dudes live in an old 1800s farm house in New Hampshire and we like to hang out with them late at night, have séances, and do Madlibs together. This album is too good.

  • Mike Bruno & the Black Magic Family Band: A magical world of animals and spirits. The Family Band loves Halloween. So do I. Psych folk at its finest.

  • Happy Jawbone Family Band, The Silk Pistol: The Jawbones are sorta like if Lou Reed ate more junk food than drugs. This is just another one of their amazing albums. They have hundreds of songs and every one is killer.

  • Cate Le Bon, CYRK: We played with Cate in September and we got this album from her. I listened to it a lot while going apple picking and cooking pancakes in the mornings.

  • The Music Tapes, Mary’s Voice: I wanna listen to this album when the polar axis shifts and it snows in Disneyworld.

  • Angel Olsen, Half Way Home: The most beautiful voice in contemporary music.

  • Woods, Bend Beyond: I like these dudes. One time Jarvis saved my basketball from being stolen by some crazy dude with a three-foot long wrench in NYC.

  • Fresh and Onlys, Long Slow Dance: I just got home from tour with these dudes so I had the pleasure of hearing this album every night. I already miss shooting hoops with them and hearing Tim’s stage banter.

  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill: Actually, I haven’t even heard this album, but like, it’s probably sick.


  • Tame Impala: I enjoy these Australian fellows and their washy, cloudlike, deep-seated sorrowful, and yet strangely joyous sounds.

  • Shintaro Sakamoto: His album is like bouncing through the dead’s “shakedown street” album while wearing snowshoes. (Here’s an interview I did with him for AdHoc.)

  • MMOSS: These are our friends from New Hampshire who make amazing tunes and keep us warm with their wood stove when we visit.

  • The Migs: These are also our friends from New Hampshire, who make garage-y surf soul music, and whose live shows are among the coolest I’ve seen all year, because they cause a total ruckus and let it all completely loose in the most refreshing way ever.

  • Jacco Gardner: I just found out about this overseas jangly-pop chap, and I’m really excited for what the future holds.

  • Allah-Las: I have fun listening to the immaculate tightness of the songwriting and their execution. It’s like the first day of Groovy Pop Sensibilities 101.

  • Fresh and Onlys: We toured with these tigers for two weeks this fall and had a blast. This was my favorite song of their set.

  • Wymond Miles: I met this fellow on that same tour and This amazing tune makes me feel like a young rocket scientist in training about to do something earth-shattering.

  • Bombino: Easily had the best performance at Austin Psych Fest this year. One of my favorite albums I’ve heard in a long time.

  • Paperhead: I went to get my organ fixed earlier this year and my repairman friend was jamming this record in the shop. This band is so good that we all stopped dead in our tracks with an audible “Screeech!”

  • Davila 666: A really cool Puerto Rican garage rock band that just barely squeezed into my life this year. I only have this one 7-inch of theirs, but this here is a song they did in 2012 on a split with the Coathangers. I want these dudes to come play in Boston!

  • Lastly, I want to put St Vincent on here, but I don’t think she had a 2012 release. Let’s hand it to the lady, though, for being so damn good.

    Quilt just wrapped up our their last tour of 2012 with the Fresh and Onlys. This winter, Quilt will be recording their second full-length album and are also wrapping up recording for a split 10″ single with their friends MMOSS.


    Chelle Rose

    A few of my favorite records from 2012 in no particular order:

  • World Famous Headliners, World Famous Headliners
  • Various Artists, This One’s For Him: Tribute to Guy Clark
  • Elizabeth Cook, Gospel Plow
  • Patterson Hood, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
  • Chris Knight, Little Victories
  • Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Grifter’s Hymnal
  • Chelle Rose released Ghost of Browder Holler (Lil’ Damsel) in May 2012.


    The Ruby Suns’ Ryan McPhun

    Ten tubular tunes of 2012:

  • Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse”
  • Bear in Heaven, “The Reflection of You”
  • El Perro del Mar, “Walk on By”
  • Ice Choir, “Teletrips”
  • When Saints Go Machine, “Church and Law”
  • Opossom, “Blue Meanies”
  • Lawrence Arabia, “Early Kneecappings”
  • Boycrush, “Everybody All the Time”
  • Björk, “Mutual Core”
  • Hot Chip, “Don’t Deny Your Heart”
  • The Ruby Suns’ fourth album, Christopher, is due for release on January 29, 2013 on Sub Pop.


    Sad Baby Wolf

  • DIIV, Oshin
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again
  • Tame Impala, Lonerism
  • Beach House, Bloom
  • Moonface, With Sinaii: Heartbreaking Bravery
  • The Walkmen, Heaven
  • Father John Misty, Fear Fun
  • Dan Deacon, America
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor, ‘Alleujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
  • ABQ-based indie rock band Sad Baby Wolf is the new project led by former Shins keyboardist Marty Crandall.



    Ten cool albums

    1. Rufus Wainwright, Out of the Game

    2. Bear in Heaven, I Love You, It’s Cool

    3. La Sera, Sees the Light

    4. Wild Nothing, Nocturne

    5. Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N 2 It

    6. Father John Misty, Fear Fun

    7. Chairlift, Something

    8. Frankie Rose, Interstellar

    9. Sea Lions, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask

    10. Purity Ring, Shrines

    Seapony released its sophomore full-length, Falling, on Hardly Art in September 2012.


    Secret Colours’ Tommy Evans

    Top 10 of 2012

    1. Tame Impala, Lonerism

    2. Graham Coxon, A&E

    3. Ty Segall Band, Slaughterhouse

    4. Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers ll

    5. Jack White, Blunderbuss

    6. Spiritulized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light

    7. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Aufheben

    8. Disappears, Pre Language

    9. Ty Segall and White Fence, Hair

    10. White Fence, Family Perfume, Vol. 2

    Secret Colours self-released EP3 in 2012.


    John River Shannon

    1. Sharon Van Etten, Tramp

    2. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror

    3. Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself

    4. The Mars Volta, Noctourniquet

    5. Rufus Wainwright, Out of the Game

    6. Sun Kil Moon, Among the Leaves

    7. Metric, Synthetica

    8. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE

    9. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city

    10. John River Shannon, Time Was a Lie

    John River Shannon came out with a new full-length Time Was a Lie on Obliqsound in October 2012.



    1. Simon Lott ‘Simon Lott’s Things’

    1. Death Grips

    1. Death Grips

    1. Death Grips

    1. Brownout ‘Oozy’

    1. The Melvins

    1. Diminished Men

    1. Eyvind Kang

    1. Specs One

    1. Sublime Frequencies record label

    Skerik had a busy 2012, releasing a 12″ EP, Gorelick, with the Dead Kenny G’s and a debut record with his Bandalabra project.


    Slim Twig

    Favourite old album: Rockin’ Horse, Yes It Is

    Favourite new album: Zacht Automaat, Bags Inside of Bags

    Favourite old song: R. Stevie Moore, “Pink Litmus Paper Shirt”

    Favourite new song: Tame Impala, “Apocalypse Dreams”

    Favourite concert: Onakabazien at Double Double Land

    Favourite old movie: Loves of a Blonde by Milos Forman

    Favourite new movie: Paranormal Activity 4 by some guys

    Favourite old books: Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession by Janet Malcolm & Moneyball by Michael Lewis (tie)

    Favourite new book: A Wilderness of Error by Errol Morris

    Favourite art exhibitions: ‘The Clock’ by Christian Marclay & Rineke Dijkstra at the Guggenheim

    Favourite sports team: Toronto Blue Jays

    Favourite album I produced: U.S. Girls, GEM

    Favourite album I wrote: Slim Twig, A Hound at the Hem

    Toronto’s Slim Twig came out with A Hound at the Hem (Calico Corp./Pleasance) in November 2012.


    The Soft Moon’s Luis Vasquez

  • Dave Rata, Hallucigenia
  • Can, The Lost Tapes
  • Ninos Du Brasil, Muito N.D.B.
  • Roxy Music, The Complete Studio Records 1972-1982
  • John Maus, A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material
  • The Soft Moon released its sophomore effort Zeros (Captured Tracks) in October 2012. The album is featured on PopMatters’ best noise-rock and atmospheric music lists.


    Stu Bangas & Vanderslice

    Stu Bangas

    1. Sean Price, Mic Tyson

    2. Roc Marciano, Reloaded

    3. Vinnie Paz, God of the Serengeti

    4. La Coka Nostra, Master of the Dark Arts

    5. Chino XL, Ricanstructian

    6. Copywrite, God Save the King

    7. Alchemist, Yacht Rock

    8. Gangrene, Vodka and Ayahuasca

    9. Madlib Medicine Show #13

    10. El-P, Cancer 4 Cure


    1. AWAR, The Laws of Nature

    2. Gangrene, Vodka & Ayahuasca

    3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Shame EP

    4. The Alchemist, Russian Roulette

    5. Sean Price, Mic Tyson

    6. Stu Bangas & Vanderslice, Diggaz with Attitude

    7. Rick Ross, God Forgives, I Don’t

    8. Twin Gambino, Still Cookin’ EP

    9. Gangrene, Odditorium

    10. Action Bronson & the Alchemist, Rare Chandeliers

    Stu Bangas & Vanderslice combined on the album Diggaz with Attitude (Man Bites Dog), released in August 2012.


    Sondra Sun-Odeon

    Some of the things that have really moved me /inspired me from 2012 are:

  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new album, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

  • CC Carana’s album Maybe Because: What a voice!

  • The film Beyond the Black Rainbow: I can’t say enough how unnerving this film is. Exquisite.

  • Sun Moon’s live cover of Robbie Basho’s “Blue Crystal Fire” at Zebulon, and all his music really.

  • Ilyas Ahmed’s intimate performance in a friend’s Brooklyn loft

  • The immersive theater experience, Sleep No More: Words cannot describe.

  • Dead Can Dance at the Beacon Theatre: It was so exciting to see these guys, and damn, they still got it!

  • Selda Bagdan at Lincoln Center outdoors, dancing with a heavily Turkish crowd, waving flags and singing along.

  • Antony and the Johnson’s Swanlights at Radio City Music Hall: Made me cry.

  • Björk’s performance at the New York Hall of Science: Hands down, the most inspiring performance I have ever seen in my entire life. It was intelligent, poignant, beautifully transcendental, rousing, and life-affirming in a way that few artists have achieved.

    Sondra Sun-Odeon self-released her solo debut, Ætherea, in November 2012.

  • Teen Daze and more…

    Sunshine’s Trevor Risk

    2012 will probably stand out in my mind as a “crux” year, a year when dance music (or EDM or whatever) swallowed its own bombast and finally tipped over the edge of silliness. Deadmau5 probably had the best, and most self aware, statements about this idea when he wrote about how ridiculous it is that fans are paying over a hundred dollars to see him and his counterparts just press play. Before you think I’m just another guitar-slinging snot who refers to anything electronic as “techno”, keep in mind that I’ve been a DJ for the last decade playing alongside the likes of DJs like Alan Braxe, Fake Blood, Sinden, Jacques Renault, the Magician, Skeet Skeet, and everyone else you can think of in that world. Going into 2013 I believe that “dance” music is about to go the way of hair metal, and we’re looking at a grunge front about to take over, although not necessarily (or even probably) sounding like the grunge of the early ‘90s. Based on albums that came out this year, here is my list of who might be that nouveau Cobain (or Mother Love Bone or Temple of the Dog or whoever you think was that era’s saviours).

  • Ty Segall: The guy’s output is unmatched. He released Twins and Slaughterhouse in 2012 and that footage of him screaming “CHICAGO!!!!” over and over on Chicago breakfast television is far more badass than any DJ’s festival light show.

  • The New Values: Accuse me of homer-ism here, but this Vancouver trio’s self-titled release gets to the point, only makes it once, and then exeunts. One critic referred to them as sped-up Hüsker Dü, but I like to think of them as original punk time travelers sent back from the future to make fun of the fact that nobody has an attention span in this specific era. “Hey have you got a minute?” “Yeah.” “Then you have time for one and a half New Values songs.”

  • The Raveonettes: The Raveonettes have been around since the last guitar populist revolution, but have recently favoured the piano and ignored the surf beat. Their latest album Observator is a mature slice of sunset pop crafted in Los Angeles and perfected on the road. Sunshine were lucky enough to have Sune Rose Wagner produce a song for us on our record, which sparked a giddy elation we have still yet come down from.

  • Lightning Bolt: Sometimes it’s good to get punched in the stomach, and Oblivion Hunter, Lighting Bolt’s 2012 album actually punches THROUGH your stomach and breaks your spine. Lightning Bolt are GI Joe to DFA 1979’s Barbie. Actually if DFA 1979 is a Barbie doll, then Lightning Bolt is a pre pubescent boy with a mean streak and access to a microwave.

  • Shiny Darkly: I like to think that Denmark is a country of well-dressed Nordic people, badminton fans, and where you hear dark, meaningful bands like Shiny Darkly on the radio. Until I go to Copenhagen and am proved wrong, this is what I will go to sleep dreaming about.

  • Black Moth Super Rainbow: Cobra Juicy is a mysterious album of mysterious sounds made by a mysterious man. Writing about it is futile. I dream of a place where twenty-somethings request songs off this album from DJs.

  • Turbo Fruits: Nashville is a funny place because it’s got three tiers of the music world. Tier 1: White bread country nostalgia at places like the Grand Ol’ Opry and the city’s honky tonk district. Tier 2: Top of the Billboard charts with Ke$ha, Taylor Swift, and Kings of Leon. But then there’s Tier 3: Literal garages full of rock. Garage rock if you will. Butter is Turbo Fruits’ latest offering and it’s moved them up a notch. They have the power to topple anyone with this kind of attitude and songwriting prowess.

  • Fucked Up: There’s only two problems with hardcore shows: that “punching the ground” dance that people do and the fact that there’s no women around. Fucked Up added a gorgeous female voice on David Comes to Life and the result is the world’s finest hardcore covered in delicious icing. It’s sweet, but it’s good for you!

  • BA Johnston: BA is a guy who gets basically ignored by the Canadian public even though he loves this country more than Nardwuar and Stephen Harper combined. I figure he gets tragically overlooked most of the time because his lyrics are kind of blatant and joke-y, so his songwriting ability gets lost in the chuckles the listener makes when he realizes that the song is about NBA Jam or Sean Astin. Hi Dudes! is a cherished tribute to this country and everything Johnston grew up with. He’s the last of the great white slackers.

  • Frankie Rose: Charming ex-Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts lady whose Interstellar might have outshone any of her previous bands’ releases. Although I’ve never been a fan of the “You have to see them live!” argument, Frankie Rose is the funniest performer I’ve ever seen. She had us all in stitches between the recital of hit after hit on this album, and nobody ever yells at her to drop the bass.

    Vancouver’s Sunshine is preparing to release its self-titled debut album in February 2013.


    Taddy Porter

    Joe Selby

  • Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again
  • Band of Skulls, Sweet Sour
  • Diamond Rugs, Diamond Rugs
  • John Fullbright, From the Ground Up
  • Fun., Some Nights
  • Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu
  • Andy Brewer

  • Best Coast, “The Only Place”
  • Dr. Dog, “That Old Black Hole”
  • The Black Keys, “Gold on the Ceiling”
  • Grizzly Bear, “Yet Again”
  • Passion Pit, “Take a Walk”
  • The Oh Sees, “Lupine Dominus”
  • Leonard Cohen, “Darkness”
  • Gary Clark Jr., “Bright Lights”
  • Beach House, “Myth”
  • Florence + the Machine, “Shake It Out”
  • The Lumineers, “Ho Hey”
  • Taddy Porter will release its sophomore album Stay Golden (Primary Wave) on February 26. The album was co-produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Cornell, Shooter Jennings) and Mark Neill (The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach).


    Talk Normal’s Andrya Ambro

    1. Matthew Dear, Beams: Dark dance grooves and a languid baritone voice. These jams could roll on for hours and I’d be content.

    2. Angel Haze, Reservation: I love every ounce of this album. This little pip has whole lot of soul and talent. And she’s smart. I find myself stopping what I’m doing to listen to her heartfelt (and often wrenching) stories. She commands sincere attention. Just waiting for her to blow up.

    3. U.S. Girls, Gem: Wow! Finally U.S. Girls is exposing her voice. I’ve been waiting for this album and knew Meghan Remy had it in her. Plus the arrangements and songs rule.

    4. Daughn Gibson,All Hell: Totally just bobbing to this as I type. Great sounds. Great re-invention of past genres/styles w/ timeless feelings. Plus Gibson’s a weirdo. I love it. Great arrangements/orchestration too.

    5. Future Islands, “Tomorrow” b/w “The Fountain” 7”: In regards to “Tomorrow,” as Sam from FI says himself, “this song’s just a good piece of soul.”

    6. Liars, WIXIW: It took me a while to like this one (sorry Liars). And then it just clicked. I could feel the fire from earlier albums with a more slick glitch approach. Goddamn drummer rules and makes me feel the possibility of beats, whether digital or of this tangible earth.

    7. The Dreebs, Bait an Orchard: It has moments of Butthole Surfers meets Brainbombs with more unusual and interesting guitar work, sometimes shimmering, sometimes disturbed. Sorry to pigeonhole. I just like them, plus all of the above bands mentioned.

    8. Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE: Frank is just stunning. The whole album. The whole experience.

    9. Julia Holter, Ekstasis — Beautiful album. I very much like her imagination.

    10. Grimes, Visions: I’m a total sucker for Visions. The production is excellent. Such good ear candy and I love her wackadoo aesthetics.


  • Lower Dens, Nootropics: Admittedly this second album is more jammier than I expected, BUT some songs just take off! The band is killing. And Jana with all her vocal subtleties is transcendent.

  • Sic Alps, Sic Alps: A quieter and cleaner pasture for Sic Alps. Still weird and beautiful. I’m still sitting with this one. I feel I will love it soon…

    Talk Normal’s second full-length Sunshine came out on Joyful Noise in October 2012.


    Tanya Morgan


    10 Things I Remember Playing, Discussing, or Recommending:

  • 1-O.A.K., Special Request
  • Sean Born, Behind the Scale
  • Danny!, Payback
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city
  • Wiz Khalifa, Taylor Allderdice
  • Chance the Rapper, 10Day
  • Oddisee, People Hear What They See
  • Hawthorne Headhunters, Myriad of Now
  • Ill Poetic, Synesthesia The Yellow Movement
  • Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE
  • Von Pea

  • Ab-Soul, Control System
  • Oddisee, People Hear What They See
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city
  • Hawthorne Headhunters, Myriad of Now
  • Skyzoo, A Dream Deferred
  • Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
  • Rapsody, The Idea of Beautiful
  • The Red Giants, Supercharged
  • Nas, Life Is Good
  • Roc Marciano, Reloaded
  • Pac Div, GMB
  • Acclaimed rap duo Tanya Morgan released You and What Army in 2011.


    Teen Daze

    Top 10 albums of the year:

    1. Mount Eerie, Clear Moon / Ocean Roar

    2. Tame Impala, Lonerism

    3. DIIV, Oshin

    4. Mac DeMarco, 2

    5. Mirroring, Foreign Body

    6. Aidan Knight, Small Reveal

    7. Four Tet, Pink

    8. Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes

    9. Lotus Plaza, Spooky Action at a Distance

    10. Frankie Rose, Interstellar

    Top 10 songs of the year:

    1. Willits + Sakamoto, “Completion”

    2. Tame Impala, “Apocalypse Dreams”

    3. Mac DeMarco, “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name”

    4. How to Dress Well, “Ocean Floor for Everything”

    5. Heathered Pearls, “Beach Shelter”

    6. Jai Paul, “Jasmine” (Demo)

    7. Wild Nothing, “Shadow”

    8. Disclosure, “Latch”

    9. Four Tet, “Locked”

    10. Frank Ocean, “Thinkin Bout You”

    Teen Daze had a busier 2012 than most releasing his debut All of Us (Lefse) in June and a follow-up, The Inner Mansions (Lefse), in November.

    Telekinesis and more…


    Lil Meebles top 10 for 2012 (in no particular order)

  • Chris Staples, American Soft
  • Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
  • Hospitality, Hospitality
  • Nada Surf, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
  • The Shins, Port of Marrow
  • The Walkmen, Heaven
  • Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
  • Father John Misty, Fear Fun
  • Beach House, Bloom
  • The Cribs, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull
  • Favorite Reissues of 2012:

  • Donnie & Joe Emerson, Dreamin’ Wild
  • Karen Dalton, 1966
  • Lee Hazlewood, The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes and Backsides (1966-71)
  • Paul & Linda McCartney, Ram
  • Ray Stinnett, A Fire Somewhere
  • My favorite television shows watched in 2012, some not actually from 2012:

  • Homeland: I watched almost all of season one on a trip to New York City recently, and I couldn’t believe how each episode kept my interest. It’s no wonder this show has been awarded so many accolades as of late. And MANDY PATINKIN. Come on.

  • Dexter: I’m so entrenched in this show, even though it sometimes verges on really super cheesy and predictable. I have sipped the Dexter Kool Aid, and now I am hooked in deep.

  • Breaking Bad: Similar to Dexter, I started watching Breaking Bad, and felt like it was pretty cheesy, and predictable. That all changed after the first and second season. This show makes me have so much wonderful anxiety, and the last episode of season five was such a cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see the next season.

  • Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: This might be a controversial choice, but I downloaded all of season one, and literally watched all of the episodes over the course of the day. Say what you will about this family, but they have FUN. Like, capital F FUN. I think they are a charmingly normal family, and the ‘sketti episode is absolutely amazing. There are some serious unintentional comedic gems in some of these episodes.

  • Battlestar Galactica: Just like it is depicted in the Portlandia episode, my girlfriend and I got SO obsessed with this. It’s SO good.

  • Freaks & Geeks: I had never watched this, but it recently became available on Netflix. What an incredible show, with some incredible people that were destined to become famous movie stars and directors. I have no idea why this only went for one season. It’s one of the best coming of age shows ever made.

  • Six Feet Under: My girlfriend had seen all of these, but they were on HBO Go, so we watched them together. What an absolute achievement of a show. The last episode made me cry my eyes out, and that’s hard to get me to do!

  • Girls: I think Lena Dunham is awesome, and she is taking crazy risks, and that’s so refreshing. I really enjoy this show.

    Telekinesis is preparing a new album for release in 2013 on Merge.


    Touché’s Bram Inscore

  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city: I listened to a lot of rap music growing up, especially west coast rap music and this album is the first that I have heard since the 90s that feels like a legit continuation of that genre without feeling like it is copying anything. The writing and storytelling is captivating, and there is enough detail that it took me several listens through to really appreciate the depth of the concept and of the production. I love the way he creates so many different textures with his voice through the course of a song, as well as strings together different pieces of music to create a sense of theatre. And I am not usually a fan of socially conscious rap music, but I’m glad someone made a good rap album that questions social norms instead of glorifying them.

  • Sebastian Tellier, My God Is Blue: Few people nowadays can evoke so much emotion from chords and harmony as Sebastien Tellier. It sometimes seems as if this is a lost art, although it is something I have always admired about French music. And it is refreshing to hear an artist that is not afraid to combine many different styles and still retain a singular voice in an age where homogeny seems to be the norm. This album is beautiful, sad, grandiose, cheeky, absurd, cinematic and sexy… all the things I love about the French.

  • Paradise, “I Love Thousands Every Summer” 7″: Our friend Nedelle Torrisi made a beautiful album of dreamy, intracitely-woven, synth-R&B-pop songs under the Paradise moniker (Although, she just has a 7″ single out now). With links to early Sade and some musical theatre flourishes, these songs feel like Paradise is about searching for a lost sense of beauty from the past, and creating an oasis from the harsh reality of the present. And they have been stuck in my head since the first time I heard them.

  • Die Antwoord, “I Fink U Freeky” music video: This video actually freaked me out enough to make me want to watch it over and over. I love how playful this is and how it showcases the band’s personality by bluring the line between the real and the manufactured in a kind of Andy Kaufman-esque way. It’s dark, visceral and ignorant (or at least faux-ignorant) and retains the tongue-in-cheek humor and that made me love Die Antwoord in the first place.

  • I just wrote about a music book. There’s enough music here! Did you ever wish that David Byrne was your college professor? Well, I got a taste of what that would be like with his new book How Music Works. It’s an accessible but illuminating romp through anthropology, music history and some juicy Talking Heads tidbits. I guess we all knew he was kind of a genius, but man he really is!

    Touché recently released its “I Am a Man Not a Machine” single, as well as a cover of Prefab Sprout’s “Wild Horses”.


    Triple Hex

  • Oubliettes, Lil’ One Arm
  • Molly Nilsson, History
  • Trust, TRST
  • Wooden Indian Burial Ground, Wooden Indian Burial Ground
  • Natur, Head of Death
  • Triple Hex will be dropping a new EP (Mon Amie) to celebrate 2013 on January 1 at 12:01 AM.


    Turbo Fruits

    1. Tame Impala, Lonerism

    2. Diamond Rugs, Diamond Rugs

    3. JEFF The Brotherhood, Hypnotic Nights

    4. PUJOL, United States of Being

    5. The Black Keys, El Camino

    6. Guided by Voices, The Bears For Lunch

    7. The Walkmen, Heaven

    8. Ty Segall & White Fence, Hair

    9. Ty Segall, Twins

    10. Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers II

    Turbo Fruits released their third full-length Butter (Serpents & Snakes) in September 2012.


    William Tyler

    My top ten favorite things of 2012:

    1. There were two Cy Young winners (R.A. Dickey and David Price) from middle Tennessee

    2. We will never have to hear the phrase “Vice President Paul Ryan”

    3. Daniel Bachman, Seven Pines

    4. Tasty Kakes will outlive Twinkies

    5. Argo

    6. Ken Burns’ Dust Bowl

    7. Oklahoma City Thunder

    8. Kale

    9. Listening to Josh Turner in the van with Megafaun

    10. Kay Larson, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists

    William Tyler’s sophomore solo album, Impossible Truth, will be released by Merge on March 29, 2013.


    Videotape’s Ian McDuffie

    1. Swans, The Seer: Watching the sun rise on the last day of Earth. A grim and grizzled coyote watches you with a grin. There are worse people to ride out the apocalypse with than Michael Gira.

    2. The Smashing Pumpkins, Oceania: Zeitgeist wasn’t a “bad” album so much as it was just misguided. Billy Corgan proves that he can keep up with his legacy if he listens to himself, and not the “fans” that just want him to “rock”. He’ll “rock” if he wants to.

    3. The Walkmen, Heaven: “The Walkmen are getting old!” they say. Who gives a shit if they still crank out the most beautiful album of the year with infuriating consistency? This is coming from a guy who prefers “Woe Is Me” to “Angela Surf City”, though.

    4. Naughty Spells, Under Our…: Garage Power Psych Hour. The best album of the year you’ve never heard.

    5. Bob Dylan, Tempest: Yes, Bob may be insane. He probably is. But who isn’t, sometimes? Now you can thank him for making an album to soundtrack your lunacy. Bonus Points for “Roll On John”, the only time anyone has made me care about John Lennon.

    6. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill: “I don’t want my MP3!” Yeah, we figured. The very limits of length. It’s like the end of 2001 in slow-motion anger. “I might be a pagan” is maybe the most satisfying end to a 30-minute song ever committed to tape.

    7. Ono, Albino: Ono has become such an integral part of Chicago’s art-rock scene as to be almost mythical. A part of the lore. Albino contains the only version of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” you’ll ever need.

    8. Scott Walker, Bish Bosch: This album hasn’t even come out yet as I write this. But “Epizootics!” is the best song of the year, and any album that contains it is an immediate shoe-in for “best”. Out of the shadows, the old man’s back again.

    9. Peter Buck, Peter Buck: Peter Buck was probably really quite inebriated when he made this. Which makes for the loosest, booziest R.E.M. album you’ve ever heard. Bonus points for making me really miss Corin Tucker.

    10. Lana Del Rey, Born to Die: She’s in on the joke. Get over it. This album is the best pop album of 1998.

    Chicago’s Videotape released the full-length This Is Disconnect in September 2012.


    Wagons’ Henry Wagons

    1. Grizzly Bear, “Sleeping Ute”: My most loved of the year! A song so delicate and drama filled. Its like a weird Chinese Orchestra, in a good way.

    2. David Byrne & St Vincent, “Who”: Incredible sage-like woodwind/brass based production. Charm overdose.

    3. Donny Benet, “Gimme Your Heat”: An amazing song from this this Australian cross between Prince and the guy that sells you parma ham at the local deli.

    4. The Rolling Stones, “Doom and Gloom”: Those atrophied limbs have still got it. Who knew?

    5. Tame Impala, “Elephant”: These Perth natives have got an amazing throwback sound that seems to be making the world take notice. I am also taking notice pumping this track out from my micro-hi-fi in my lounge room.

    6. Willie Nelson, “Breathe”: Also featuring his son, this song is a delicate gem. His son sounds very much like Willie. I’m not sure if he’d be proud of his son, or feel as though he was ripping daddy off.

    7. Jack White, “Missing Pieces”: An amazing opening statement to a fascinating and bold solo debut. Lots of pressure on a solo release for Jack, after his amazing bands, and he somehow managed to deliver in spades.

    8. Hot Chip, “How Do You Do?”: Best music coming out of this over-the-top bunch of dead-set and proud nerds. Encore!

    9. Animal Collective, “Today’s Supernatural”: This song reminds me of an updated “Golden Brown”. Love the harpsichord. No one has played it as well since Lurch from the Munsters.

    10. Grimes, “Oblivion”: Such a slight and dainty woman, yet somehow so ominous. An epic achievement considering I hear the album came together on GarageBand on her Apple laptop. How she was not distracted by Photo Booth and checking the web I will never know.

    Wagons frontman Henry Wagons is releasing his solo EP Expecting Company? (Thirty Tigers), with guest spots by the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster and the Kills’ Allison Mossheart, in the U.S. on January 22, 2013.


    We Were Promised Jetpacks’ Darren Lackie

  • Deftones, Koi No Yokan
  • School of Seven Bells, Ghostory
  • Caspian, Waking Season
  • Japandroids, Celebration Rock
  • The Walkmen, Heaven
  • Beach House, Bloom
  • Matthew Dear, Beams
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields
  • Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city
  • The Maccabees, Given to the Wild
  • In 2012 We Were Promised Jetpacks toured the U.S. extensively in support of their sophomore release In the Pit of the Stomach (2011) out on FatCat.


    Western Medication

  • Ex-Cult, “Plain Jane” 7” and “M.P.D” 7”
  • Ranch Ghost, “New News” 7” and “Nahla” 7”
  • Cheap Time, Wallpaper Music
  • Crocodiles, Endless Flowers
  • TV GHOST, “Phantasm” 7”
  • The Walkmen, Heaven
  • Death Grips, The Money Store and No Love Deep Web
  • The Bizarros, Complete Collection 1976-1980 2xLP
  • The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride 2 the Pharcyde 2x LP
  • The Clean, Oddities 2x LP
  • After a decade of playing in Nashville’s punk scene, Justin Landis brought together Bad Cop’s Adam Moult and Kevin Kilpatrick, and Alycia Wahn from Useless Eaters, and molded a refreshing southern take on post-punk — Western Medication.



  • Ty Segall Band, Slaughterhouse
  • Mrs. Magician, Strange Heaven
  • Tame Impala, “Elephant”
  • Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light
  • Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory
  • JEFF the Brotherhood, Hypnotic Nights
  • Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Rot Gut Domestic
  • Writer released its debut Brotherface (3 Syllables) in October 2012.


    Yellow Red Sparks

  • Father John Misty, Fear Fun: The first time I listened to this record, it drew me in. There are so many rich layers going on in every song and the vocal melodies seem to ease any pains.

  • Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again: A beautiful record. So nice to hear great new music that sounds so classic.

  • Regina Spektor, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats: I’ve been a longtime fan of Regina and I definitely think this is one of her best records. The writing has the same amount of quirkiness, but a little more refined and mature.

  • The Lumineers, The Lumineers: The kind of record that makes you feel like you’re in a comfortable living room listening to great stories from your favorite uncle. Raw and melodious.

  • Of Monsters and Men, My Head Is an Animal: Every time I listen to this record, the blood rushes back into my head. With such a plethora of sound, you can’t help but feel completely drawn in to every song.

  • Beach House, Bloom: I got in a little late on this band, but they amaze me. Not only are they fantastic musicians, but their entire outlook on the music business is inspiring. The songwriting is so solid and I think the lyrics fit the music perfectly…mysterious, intriguing, and beautiful.

  • Lianne La Havas, Is Your Love Big Enough?: I was lucky enough to see Lianne perform a short stripped down set for a lunchtime performance at her label and she really captivated me. She has the kind of voice that can carry a room and stop you in your tracks. I love her quiet intensity and fierceness, which somehow comes off as very endearing.

  • 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: One of my all time favorite songwriters. Fiona has way with words and the album title alone should compel people to listen to what she has to say.

  • Rufus Wainwright, Out of the Game: One of the most underappreciated songwriters of our time. I feel like Rufus won’t be considered a genius on a global scale until long after he has retired from his craft. He rules.

  • Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas: I am grateful for the opportunity to include this man in a top ten during my lifetime. Some of the instrumentation on this record is insane and Leonard is by far one of the best lyricists of all time.

    Yellow Red Sparks’ self-titled album (Org) will be released in January 2013.


    You Won’t’s Josh Arnoudse

    The Most Ultimate Top Ten Best Tracks of 2012:

  • Dolfish, “Proud of You Joanna”
  • Milagres, “Glowing Mouth”
  • Pearl and the Beard, “40K”
  • Spinto Band, “The Living Things”
  • Lucius, “Turn It Around”
  • Bombadil, “One Whole Year”
  • Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, “Regarding Descending the Stairs”
  • The Milkman’s Union, “Texas Hold Me”
  • The Spring Standards, “Only Skin”
  • The Suitcase Junket, “Eileen”
  • You Won’t released its debut full-length Skeptic Goodbye (Old Flame) in February 2012.