Recently quitting my job has given me a multitude of time to work on new projects for myself and my blog including sitting down and listening to all of the music that I have been wanting to listen to from this year. Trust me, there is a LOT of music!
Before I get to my list there are a LOT of things I would like to get off of my chest about music. Mainly my animosity towards Lana Del Rey and this terrible fascination the UNIVERSE! has with Frank Ocean. But before that I would like to talk about my process to figure out my list. Just so you can understand how terribly and overtly-complicated a list can become and why somebody should pay me to do this!
Firstly, when I am starting any of my best of sheets, I have a tendency to
steal borrow from lists all over the interwebs. My favorite music website to search any important information on is stereogum. When I was working at the radio station, there were pry about a dozen music blogs that I would check daily, but after college, Stereogum is one of the few that I decided to keep a hold of because it fits the best to my music tastes. Which of course are alternative, crap hop, ironic, indie music stuffs. I also like it because they post music videos a lot and I am a visual person so that is where I learn my music. Also, I look at places like Spin, Rolling Stone, and Uncut for their best of’s to see if I forgot any releases from the year.
Also, I can’t afford music. It’s true. Especially being out of work, I am broke a lot. So NPR’s First Listen has become my saving grace. I can listen to a lot of new albums without feeling that I have to purchase the album. Now that means I miss a lot of albums, but I have access to a diverse array of music that I really like. All Songs Considered of course introduces me to more music than I thought it could. BOB BOILEN IS A GOD! PERIOD! WHEN HE TELLS YOU TO LISTEN TO SOMETHING YOU FUCKING LISTEN!
The thing with these top 10 lists should be that we shouldn’t be looking at them for what the best music was of the year based on some criteria like complexity, controversy or artist repuation. I think by following the kind of thought where we go “what would make me seem the most pretentious or cool” just makes us miss a lot of REAL GOOD music in the year. I really encourage you to make your own list and post it because I think that we can learn from each other about music. Music is about sharing. I like talking to people about music and sharing playlists and mixtapes and learning about new artists. Music is another people connector! Hell, I would have never listened to the band Sword had I not seen it on a bunch of my friends top 10 lists of 2011, and believe you me, old school death metal isn’t half bad!
So without further ado, here is my top 10 list of 2012
10. Santigold- Master of My Make Believe
9. The Lumineers- Self Titled (Local Heroes!)
8. Plants and Animals-The End
7. Dr. John- Locked Down (This man has influenced so many of your bands you listen to now!)
6. Gift of Gab/Action Bronson-The Next Logical Progression/Blue Chips (A Hip Hop tie could have added way more artists)
Robert Glasper has become one of my favorite Jazz Musicians if not my favorite musician. I was recently listening to an interview with Jesse Thorn on the show Bullseye and he compared Jazz Music and Hip Hop together in a way that blew me away. I quote:
The birth of all this stuff comes from the father to the son…I mean hip hop and Jazz is the same fucking thing. you know hip hop cats is all about drugs and women and alcohol…what was Jazz?
It really struck me and made me have a new found appreciation for hip hop. Not only that, Jazz is about musical growth and experimentation. On his newest album, Glasper incorporates all type of music from Nirvana to Mos Def to try and create a rythmical and melodic snapshot of our contemporary society through the jazz lens. It’s great!
I don’t like Lana Del Rey. I think that she was pushed too early and her music feels like a bland and boring sad pop. It’s like an LA party girl who is hung over singing and still thinks she can date a hip hop artist. But, for some reason people feel that her music has somehow changed the scene of independent music. I think that if you want to call it the direction of boring rock than yeah that’s great. My Lady and I fight about it all the time. But for my money I really liked Sharon Von Etten’s new album Tramp because I feel like she has more soul than Lana. Her melancholy sad-pop has sort of an emotional tinge to it that really makes me want to sit and be sad. But also wants to make me punch stuff. Similar reactions when listening to Lana Del Rey, but those are for angry, nonenjoyable reasons.
I love Doom, MF Doom, Dangermouse, The Super Villain or whatever other personality he can take on. I just love it. His music intertwines fierce poetic lines with so many cartoon and nerd references and splashes of cartoon clips that I feel like he is the hip hop response to the Aquabats. His music is so enveloped with layers that I just love trying to figure out what all of his samples are. On his latest release, Doom collaborated with producer Jneiro Jarnel and although it sounds similar to many of his other releases, it still was a breath of fresh air in a world of rap that I occasionally fall in love with. *Special shout out also goes to Aesop Rock and the album Skelethon, that could have also made my number 3. Listen to Doom’s song Guv’nr here.
2. Dan Deacon-America/Swans-Seer
So my number two I always like to put the most pretentious album of the year here for my list. Yes partially because it plays into my hipster sense of entitlement that I am cool enough to listen to this band and have them high on my list. But also, its because I really like to highlight music diversity and that you can appreciate an album because of its concept or the sheer brilliance of its complexity. You may not want to listen to it on repeat but it is an album you go “wow, that really moved me.” Both Dan Deacon and Swans did that this year. Dan Deacon is a DJ who has openly admitted to never doing any hard drugs, but his music feels like he does it all the time. With repetitious, fast paced, loud blips and bleeps. His albums basically make you feel like an acid trip that won’t come down. On his newest album America, Deacon maintains that intense non-stop feel but it feels just so emotional and sincere. He loves what he does and it reflects in his music. The song True Thrush made me tear up the first time I heard it. The music video is a great reinterpretation of the game Phone call and is worth a watch.
The thing about Swans that truly fascinates me is just how intense this band is. Seer is their 11th studio album from a career spanning 20+ years off and on as a band. Known for their droning sounds and instrumentation, Swans have become a staple in the Post-Punk genre. I first listened to Swans on their 2010 release My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope in the Sky and was instantly hooked. The music just screams intensity and animosity. Their title track for their newest album plays out like some terrible bad punk rockers dream where Johnny Rotten is the devil and his pitchfork is a guitar pressed close to his speaker. I love reverb, I love music experimentation and I love making music that evokes feelings and emotions as much as telling a story. This band truly makes me feel all giddy. Now I could never ever listen to it all the time, but when it’s on….oooh it is a good time!
I LOVE THIS BAND! I LOVE THIS BAND! I LOVE THEM! Okay, so I am 25 years old. I live with my parents. I was working at a bakeshop as a Barista, have two college degrees and my life is going knowhere. So of course I am going to need some loud fast anthem punk rock to motivate me and push me to be like “F yeah! My life is flippin’ great!”
Japandroids newest album Celebration Rock was my anthem of the year. It made me yearn for the carefree days of no responsibility, going to concerts all the time, and just partying till the wee hours and not needing to worry about the next day. The music is so fast and loud. I love just letting go and screaming at the top of my lungs with this album. Truly a sight to behold. It actually is what I listen to when I am trying to find motivation and pull myself together. I have laughed, cried, and screamed listening to this album. It has become audio therapy and I couldn’t have asked for a better album for 2012.
There are so many other albums that I missed, didn’t post here that I should have and maybe I will but for me, this was my top 10, what was yours? Find your albums and explore and enjoy!
Also Frank Ocean. I listened to the album in my car, on my headphones, and at a party. I think that it’s cool if you look at hip hop being similar to punk rock and rebelling against the common world, but I think promoting rape and underage abuse of drugs and capping asses, well I felt there was better hip hop out there. It just didn’t do anything for me and there was so much better hip hop this year that got overlooked just because of online controversy. Stop it. Just listen to stuff because it’s good and not because the interwebs was like “oh, he is mischief.”