Skip to main content

Music 2012

At this point, I'm almost completely digital when it comes to music. Yes, I did buy a handful of CDs this year but I don't expect to anymore going forward. While I do still play CDs in the car, I will just as often plug in my iPhone and listen to a podcast or an album I have only in mp3 format. I was also able to listen to a wider variety of music this year thanks to Spotify. Here's what I liked the most...

1. Ben Kweller/Go Fly A Kite - This is an album I've seen on exactly no best-of lists but it's the album I listened to the most this year and with good reason - it's full of great power pop. It's the album I was hoping for after his self-titled album back in 2006 (Changing Horses, while good, didn't quite fulfill that need). It has 11 songs that are a ton of fun to sing along to and I sang along plenty.

2. The Shins/Port of Morrow - A lot of critics shrugged their shoulders at this album but I think it's more a case of group critical backlash than giving the album any real chance. These are great pop songs, both in the classic Shins mode ("September") or something a little different ("Port of Morrow"). "Simple Song" is one of the songs of the year.

3. Aimee Mann/Charmer - Speaking of great pop songs, this album delivers them in spades. I think this is Mann's strongest outing since Lost In Space and I've really liked the albums in between. There is plenty of synthesizer here, especially on the title track, but also some great guitar ("Soon Enough") and a great duet with James Mercer from The Shins. If you don't know Mann's work, this is a good a place as any to start.

4. Japandroids/Celebration Rock - Sure, Justin, this list sounds like your usual suspects, you may have been thinking and you weren't wrong. Here's something new, though. This album is 8 songs that just rock. I have done more air drumming to these songs than anything else and it was a good soundtrack to several runs. "The House That Heaven Built" is a way in - hear that one and you're hooked.

5. Father John Misty/Fear Fun - J. Tillman put out a number of solo albums and was the drummer in Fleet Foxes but this album is different. It's built on top of classic rock but takes things in a direction you don't quite expect. It's fun but it makes you think. Three songs you need to hear - "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings," "Only Son of the Ladiesman," and "Now I'm Learning to Love the War."

6. Divine Fits/A Thing Called Divine Fits - This is a new group featuring Britt Daniel from Spoon (one of my favorite bands ever) and Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade (who I went back to listen to via Spotify and will explore more). Their debut album is great and while it shares some similarities with Spoon, it definitely is its own entity. Listen to that baseline in "Would That Not Be Nice" and try not to groove along.

7. A.C. Newman/Shut Down the Streets - I listened to this album before it came out and it didn't grab me but then I saw some video of him performing the songs live with Neko Case and it opened up to me. Newman has a pretty consistent record as a songwriter and this set of songs proves it all over again. It's a quieter record but bursting with melody and some more direct lyrics than he is typically known for. "I'm Not Talking" will get lodged in your head but I love his song for his son, "There's Money in New Wave," most of all.

8. Bob Mould/Silver Age - Like Superchunk a couple years ago, this album is the roaring return of a rock icon. This really was the year of Mould - his autobiography came out in late 2011 and the Sugar catalog was reissued by Merge - and this album proved his vitality. "Keep Believing" indeed.

9. Kelly Hogan/I Like To Keep Myself In Pain - For her first album in 11 years, Hogan asked her friends to write her songs. They wrote really good ones and she sang the hell out of them with a crack backing band that included Booker T. A winning formula.

10. The Walkmen/Heaven - Great guitar work, Hamilton Leithauser's crooning, and a batch of relaxed songs that still have an edge made this album a favorite this year.

Albums That Could Have Made It If I Hadn't Just Gotten Them
Ty Segall/Twins
Tame Impala/Lonerism

Speaking of Superchunk
Their single, "Last Summer," was killer and featured a great cover of Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" on the flipside.

Speaking of Covers
The Afghan Whigs turned in 2 great ones - "See and Don't See" by Marie "Queenie" Lyons and "Lovecrimes" by Frank Ocean

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sunday Shuffle #413

Summer is here and I'm happy that it is. Jill finished school this week, but Grant and I have to go through Friday. I have the week off from my TTT course, so I'm going to catch up on some reading and TV. There was baseball I could watch yesterday and I can watch some again today, so you can bet I'll be doing that. Few things bring me joy more than baseball and a book in my lap for between innings.

Here's today's ten...

1. I 4 U & U 4 Me (Home Demo)/The Decemberists (15) - last played on 8/19/15
2. Part One/Band of Horses (6) - last played on 5/7/16
3. Shame Chamber/Kurt Vile (5) - last played on 7/23/15
4. In the Eyes of My Friends/Sugar (2) - last played on 10/5/14
5. I Could Have Done This Myself/Lightspeed Champion (4) - last played on 9/1/14
6. Nonstop Disco Powerpack/The Beastie Boys (10) - 5/15/16
7. Mountain/Lucero (7) - last played on 4/29/12
8. Evergreen/Matthew Sweet (1) - played countless times on CD
9. The Sleeping Beauty/American Music Club (4) - …

Sunday Shuffle #448

I'm going to do a bit of a "spring forward" edition this morning, which means I'm going to skip over the first song that pops up and start with the second. I think I'll keep doing that throughout, so you get all the even numbered songs, #2 - #20. Why not?

2. Bechamel/Pernice Brothers (16) - last played on 5/15/15
4. Red Hill Mining Town/U2 (5) - last played on 3/13/16
6. Late-Century Dream/Superchunk (18) - last played on 11/18/15
8. Your Weather/Dinosaur Jr. (19) - last played on 8/3/16
10. Centre For Holy Wars/The New Pornographers (2) - last played on 1/27/15
12. Girls and Boys (Pet Shop Boys 12" Remix)/Blur (3) - last played on 2/28/16
14. Hard To Find/The National (25) - last played on 2/12/17
16. Metal School/Spoon (17) - last played on 1/20/17
18. I'm in Love (With Arthur Dove)/Portastatic (8) - last played on 7/29/16
20. Simple X/Andrew Bird (4) - last played on 5/1/16

5 X 10

I've recently found myself listening to albums that came out 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. Here are some thoughts...

The Broken West/I Can't Go On I'll Go On (2007) - "Down in the Valley" hooked me the first time I heard it streaming on KEXP. At the time, the band was still called The Brokedown, but that would soon change to due copyright issues; that's okay, I like The Broken West as a name better anyway. To get back to "Down in the Valley," what grabbed me were the ringing guitars, layered harmonies, and the organ that weaved in and out. And the lyrics, of course - "I had my feelings like the Dutchman has his gold/Deep in the canyon by the river that runs cold." Speaking of The Dutchman's Gold, that was the name of the EP that I learned had already been out and used my eMusic credits to grab it. "Down in the Valley" was the lead-off track, but there were six other great power pop songs and I was both in love and even mor…