Closing the books on 2012
I didn’t hear enough local (Chicago) releases in 2012 to create a definitive best-of list for the year. (This is something I want to rectify in 2013.) But I did hear some solid albums, including those made by Radar Eyes, Disappears, Hollows (pictured above), Angel Olsen and Wes Hollywood. Check these artists out. I also really liked soul / R&B revivalists the Right Now.
Speaking of soul and R&B, I keep playing The Heavy’s The Glorious Dead. It’s not brilliant but it’s a lot of fun. I also give a thumbs up to albums from Purity Ring, Alt-J, Twin Shadow, Jaill, Casket Girls, Sleigh Bells, Prince Rama, Metric, Best Coast and Bear in Heaven. Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Americana has its moments.
Under the radar and fringe
I heard a number of interesting releases by experimental artists like Vinyl Williams and Vex Ruffin. There are always dozens of great garage bands that fly under the radar. I liked Plateaus a lot. Wooden Indian Burial Ground is a lot of fun, too. Moon Duo and Lower Dens aren’t exactly under the radar (at least by my standards) but neither band has yet to really catch fire even after multiple albums. Both made compelling records last year. The Intelligence missed my top 40 by a whisker.
I don’t usually include reissues in my top 10 or top 40 lists. If I did, Archers of Loaf’s Vee Vee reissue would have been a top 5 or 10 album. What an underappreciated band! I also liked Early Times, a collection of EPs released by Silver Jews in the early ’90s. This lo-fi treat is best appreciated by fans of the band or Pavement diehards. Fans of Factory Records, the legendary Manchester record label that once featured Joy Division and New Order will want to check out the compilation Fac. Dance 2. You won’t find the label’s most famous bands on this album but you’ll hear similar artists like A Certain Ratio.
I liked Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Psychedelic Pill and Jack White’s Blunderbuss. Tame Impala’s critically acclaimed Lonerism is good. I just didn’t go nuts over the album like so many bloggers and critics. Likewise, I think Swans is an awesome band but I actually preferred the 2010 release My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky over last year’s The Seer.
King Khan hams it up in Moon Duo’s video for Sleepwalker.