ALBUMS of the YEAR 2012 #30-16

AOTY 2012

Splitting this list in half this year, the only reason being my blog is being a pain in the ass and not allowing me to upload so many jpegs into one post.  Weird, I’ve never had this issue in prior years. 

This year I got back to my roots and fell in love with a lot of primitive sounding rock records.  Looking over this part of the list (as well as part 2, coming real soon), it’s overrun with bands that play their guitars really loud (with only a few notable exceptions).  That’s what is doing it for me these days.  Also, it was harder than ever this year to keep up with posting everything I wanted to or was listening to – it just became an impossible task.  It doesn’t mean I was listening any less, and I think this year was a pretty solid one for new music overall. 

Though they didn’t make the cut, this year I also really enjoyed albums from White Fence, Lantern, Gap Dream, Woollen Kits, Mind Spiders, arrange, Dinosaur Jr., Dylan Ewen, Expwy, GY!BE, Craig Finn, Grizzly Bear, Merchandise, No Kill, Benjamin Shaw, Simon Joyner, and Spiritualized.

As always, thanks for reading.  My favorite songs list is coming soon as well.  Hope you are safe, have a handful of wonderful holidays, and that you find some new favorites…….   


30.  Departures / Still and Moving Lines

Stream: Pillars

Stream: Being There


29.  Guided by Voices / The Bears for Lunch

Stream: She Lives In An Airport


28.  Liars / WIXIW

Steam: No. 1 Against the Rush


27.  Hunx / Hairdresser Blues

Stream: Always Forever


26.  King Tuff  /  s/t

Stream: Keep On Moving

Stream: Bad Thing


25.  Howls / Rocky Ground


24.  Ty Segall & White Fence / Hair

Stream: I Am Not A Game


23.  The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now


22.  Great Elk / Autogeography  

Stream: The Weight of the Sea

Stream: I’m Going to Bend


21.  Apache Dropout / Bubblegum Graveyard

Stream: I-80


20.  Lotus Plaza / Spooky Action at a Distance

Stream: Monoliths


19.  Tame Impala / Lonerism

Stream: Apocalypse Dream

04) Beach House

18.  Beach House / Bloom

Stream: Myth


17.  Frank Ocean / channel ORANGE


16.  Thee Oh Sees / Putrifiers II

Stream: Lupine Dominus




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Dig Deeper: Guided by Voices


I’ve spent the better part of the past 2 weeks dipping my toes into the bottomless GBV catalog – yes, of course Bee Thousand and Propeller and Alien Lanes, but more so the myriad EPs, lost albums, boxed sets, and b-sides.  If your familiarity with Robert Pollard’s enormous body of music doesn’t extend beyond the time-tested classics, check out these gems you’ve been missing out on and then go exploring:

“We’ve Got Airplanes”

“Crutch Came Slinking”

King Shit and the Golden Boys was a disc of previously unreleased songs that originally appeared in the Box boxed set – essentially a CD reissue of their first four albums.  There are highlights throughout (“Dust Devil” sounds just like early R.E.M.), but these two tracks could’ve fit nicely on pretty much any early GBV record up through Alien Lanes.

“Dayton, OH-19 Something and 5”

“Key Losers”

“Unabaited Vicar of Scorched Earth”

Tonics and Twisted Chasers was a fan club only release in 1996.  From what I’ve read the album is mostly just Pollard and Tobin Sprout, so much of the LP has a more minimalist, laid-back feel to it.  If you look at the band’s 1996 releases, it’s pretty amazing: Under the Bushes Under the Stars, Tonics and Twisted Chasers, the Sunfish Holy Breakfast EP.

“Cocksoldiers and their Post-War Stubble”

“A Contest Featuring Human Beings”

Speaking of ’96, the Sunfish Holy Breakfast EP is prime, essential GBV.

“Bunco Men”

“Pink Drink”

I actually only picked up Suitcase 1: Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircrafts yesterday.  So needless to say at 100 songs, there’s a lot to get to over the coming weeks.  These two are from Disc 1 – the first sounds like a completed song worthy of a spot on UTBUTS perhaps, the second is Pollard just kicking up a storm with an electric guitar.

“Big School”

From the 1993 EP Static Airplane Jive.  “Big School” is a vintage big anthem.

“June Salutes You”

More from ’96, this one from The Official Ironman Rally Song EP.  


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Departures – Still and Moving Lines

Canada has an extensive history of producing great bands – arguably never more so than the past 15 years.  Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Destroyer, and Wolf Parade are just a few of the indie all-stars to call Canada home.  Hailing from Winnipeg, Departures might someday find themselves regularly mentioned in the same breath.  “Pillars” and “Being There” are two promising examples of their soaring post-punk that can attest to that.  You can stream the whole album here or here.

MP3  ::  Pillars

MP3  ::  Being There

(from Still and Moving Lines. Buy here)


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The Mendoza Line – We’re All In This Alone (2000)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been neck deep in the catalog of the underrated and underappreciated band The Mendoza Line – a group that mastered the fine art of self-destruction as well as The Replacements or Marah or Big Star or any band that ever seemed predestined to crash and burn.  Over their decade long run the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Georgia transplants evolved from noisy indie-rock to fine-tuned purveyors of intelligent and carefully crafted folk rock – all in the face of inter-band squabbling, relocations, marriages, divorces, record label issues, and lineup changes.  Held together as long as possible by doomed lovers Timothy Bracy and Shannon McArdle, The Mendoza Line managed a handful of superb records, the best and most fully realized being 2002’s ramshackle, Dylan-via-Yo La Tengo classic Lost in Revelry.  But it’s the record that preceded (and nearly matches) that one, 2000’s We’re All in This Alone, that I’ve had on repeat the past few weeks.  Seemingly out of print and rather difficult to track down (unavailable thru go-to sources like iTunes or eMusic), We’re All in This Alone was the band’s third full length and first that really hinted at the disheveled genius of its star players (at the time Peter Hoffman and Margaret Maurice were as integral to the songwriting process as Bracy and McArdle).  We’re All in This Alone is all frayed edges, warm fuzz, and blurred melodies that still dig deep.

MP3  ::  Yoko’s In the Band

MP3  ::  A Bigger City

MP3  ::  Where You’ll Land

(from We’re All in This Alone. Bug Bar None Records for some sort of reissue)


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Introducing: Loud Clappers

Even though Boston band Loud Clappers first caught my ear due to their connection to the Minneapolis music scene (both of today and its 1980s prime – singer/songwriter Tom Malec played in a pre-Lifter Puller band with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady; also they are huge Replacements fans), it’s the quality of the songs on their new self-titled EP that’s kept me coming back since.  These four tracks remind me of the well-crafted power/pop of post lo-fi prime/pre-temporary break up Guided by Voices (think Isolation Drills/Universal Truths and Cycles era).   Check out the driving “Analog Sunset” below and the rest of the damn thing over at Bandcamp.

MP3  ::  Analog Sunset

(from Loud Clappers. Download here)


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Introducing: Dylan Ewen

If the songs of Dylan Ewen sound hopelessly brash and juvenile, well, that’s probably what drew me to them in the first place.  That and Fort Worthless might be the “Album Title of the Year”.  In the email he sent along last week Ewen said, “It’s about real life being a bummer, girls that suck, and porn.  I hope you enjoy it.  I really like Bob Dylan.”  Though tracks like “Floral Dresses” and “You’re A Bitch” share little of his idol’s lyrical sophistication, Ewen’s songs tap into a something as similarly raw and passionate as Highway 61 Revisited – or maybe what that unmitigated classic would sound like if it was inspired by The Replacements’ Kids Don’t Follow mini-LP.  Check out those two below and the whole thing on Bandcamp.  The physical release was handled by BUFU Records.

MP3  ::  Floral Dresses

MP3  ::  You’re A Bitch

(from Fort Worthless. Buy here)


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Apache Dropout – Bubblegum Graveyard

Last year Indiana garage-throwbacks Apache Dropout released their torn and frayed self-titled debut, a ragged collection of tunes that recalled the drugged-out gutter pop of White Light/White Heat-era Velvets scoring dope with the Nuggets boxed set.  It’s my own fault that I’m a few weeks late getting to its stellar follow up, Bubblegum Graveyard, which was released not too long ago by Trouble in Mind.  A worthy successor in every sense, the new LP extends the band’s guttural song-craft with slightly cleaner production and a stronger connection to campy comic horror (which was hinted at on the last LP on tracks like “It’s A Nightmare”).  Two of my favorite cuts are the skuzzy “Quaaludes ‘68” and Midwest anthem “I-80”. 

“Quaaludes ‘68”


(from Bubblegum Graveyard. Buy here)


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[stream] Woollen Kits – “Susannah”

More ridiculously cool new music from Australia, this time from Melbourne’s Woollen Kits.  Their upcoming Four Girls (Trouble in Mind, 11/13) is full of driving garage/pop nuggets like this one, the horn-fueled “Susannah”:


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Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

Meant to get to this one earlier, but Sandy has wreaked some serious havoc around these parts over the past week and only recently got power back.  Brooklyn-by-way-of-Texas band Parquet Courts play a sort of revved up, vaguely twangy post-punk that recalls the bare minimalism of Wire or Gang of Four as much as it does Eddy Current Suppression Ring.  Frontman Andrew Savage, of Fergus & Geronimo, brings a brash sing-speak charisma to the vocals in the spirit of Eddie Argos or Brendan Suppression, and the band matches his enthusiasm with sharp-edged hooks and tight rhythms throughout.  Light Up Gold is seriously taut – spitting out 15 blasting tracks in barely over a half hour.  And I thought hurricane season was over.  Buy it here.


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Ty Segall – Twins

Ty Segall pretty much already owned 2012 before dropping Twins.  Earlier this year his collaborative LP Hair (with White Fence) blew me away, and this summer saw the release of the Ty Segall Band’s brutal, pummeling Slaughterhouse.  Twins, his third ass-kicking record of the year, is to be viewed as the true follow up to last year’s Goodbye Bread because it’s a true Segall solo album, thought the differences between it and either Hair or Slaughterhouse are minimal.  It contains a dozen more choice jams from the dude who is quickly becoming one of the best and most prolific garage rockers in the biz.  Like its two predecessors, Twins doesn’t let up, and it covers every facet of what makes him great.  For that reason Twins acts as a near perfect entry point into his quickly multiplying discography.  Buy it from Drag City.


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