After making our own massive lists earlier this month, we decided to ask some of our favorite Austin artists without a release in 2012 to craft their own Best-of-2012 lists. Below are some of the responses we got, and a whole lot of great recommendations.
Abram Shook, from The Great Nostalgic
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti – Mature Themes
I always wanted to make a whole record worth of songs that sounded like “Every Night I Die At Miyagis” from Pink’s House Arrest. It had this perfect haze of my younger days in California mixed with some serious booty-groove; sloppy and fun. Mature Themes is of course a bit more well put together, with tighter production and cleaner edges, but it still maintains a wild absurdity that I love. The album’s twists and turns call up visions of the best moments of Ween and Sparks.
Tame Impala – Lonerism
Full of all the rock elements I love. Experimental but still catchy, with psychedelic twists and turns. Reminds me a lot of Dungen in spots, or even Grizzly Bear. This album gives me all kinds of good vibes, and makes me want to produce cooler music of my own!
Dana Falconberry – Leelanau
I can’t not include a local band on the list. I may be a bit bias toward this crew of fine folks since I’m in a side-project with two of its members, and work with another, but I’ve been a fan for a long time. he Falconberry singers did backing vocals on the second Great Nostalgic LP, and Dana and I recorded a poppy little duet awhile back. All attempts to get a little closer to that special something that her music contains. Mystic, distant, charming, and romantic, Leelanau easily makes the case as to why musicians should still make albums. Slow down your day and listen for awhile, the world will still be there when you’re done and you’ll see that we’re all more than a collection of singles.
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
I could care less about all the hype, this album is pimp! Drums, basslines, and hooks. The record drips with sex, mood, and some of the best synth sounds I’ve heard in awhile. The lyrics never take them self too seriously, and the production is awesome. “Super Rich Kids” is one to bump in the car, and “Monks” is a headphone gem!
Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
Easily one of my favorite groups. I was singing their praises even back when they were “really” weird. It doesn’t bother me one bit that they’ve come around to a bit more accessible sound these days. This band can’t really do much wrong in my eyes. They are one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a long time, and the songwriting continues to amaze. They can encapsulate all genres, but still make everything sound uniquely Dirty Projectors. Dig deep with this band; there is a lot to offer.
Marc Perlman, from The Midgetmen
Ezra Furman – The Year Of No Returning
Album of the year, no dispute. Work of art of the year, no dispute. Ezra ditched the Harpoons and created a solo masterpiece. The back story of allegedly getting into a fight with a stranger before writing each song just adds to the mystique. “I’m a Jew through and through/And I’m about to write you a Bible.”
The Henry Clay People – Twenty Five For The Rest Of Our Lives
Rock album of the year. “Everybandweeverloved” sums it up perfectly: “Every band we ever loved/Is selling out and breaking up/But we learned to drink for free.”
Titus Andronicus – Local Business
Sparer than The Monitor and less claustrophobic than The Airing of Grievances, Local Business sounds like the right blend of all things rock.
Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory
How Dylan Baldi went from lo-fi basement recordings that sounded mildly derivative of early/mid 90s indie rock to this speaker cone-busting rock album is beyond me.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill/Americana
A tie between Neil Young’s dual output in 2012! Psychedelic Pill is the best Crazy Horse album since the early 90s, which means it is awesome. But Americana is pure lunacy: reworked classic folk songs like “Oh Susannah” and “Clementine” that we’ve heard since we were
children as extended fuzzy guitar jams. Talk about not heading to the ditch.
Spider Bags – Shake My Head
Cohabitants of the same aural space as (and actual friends of) Austin’s Golden Boys, Spider Bags’ hit it out of the park. A record where a band sounds like they’re having a great time with their
friends, consequences be damned. Shocking!
Karl Hendricks Trio – The Adult Section
How I didn’t know about this band until their NINTH album is beyond me. Maybe I thought they were a jazz act with a name like theirs. They are not a jazz trio; they are a rock band that plays like a bemused unwound Silkworm. And they have great song titles: “The Men’s Room At The Airport”, “I Don’t Need A Hippie (To Tell Me How To Talk To My Cat)”, and “Running Like A Girl.”
The Young – Dub Egg
Favorite Austin album of the year. They seem to know how to use distortion quite well.
The Whigs – Enjoy The Company
I don’t quite know what’s going on with the feedback outro of the album opener “Staying Alive”, but there should be more of that in future songs.
The Bare Wires – Idle Dreams
They imploded during SXSW, played a final show, and went home to release this album. It’s more power-pop-garage glam-something-or-other and it’s still great.
Just missed the cut: Japandroids’ Celebration Rock, The Gary’s
Remains, and The Golden Boys’ Dirty Fingernails.
Alex Victoria, from The Midgetmen
Titus Andronicus – Local Business
I can’t be trusted when I say that Local Business is the album of the year. Personal Spiritual Advisor, Patrick Stickles, and the best drummer in rock and roll, Eric Harm, can do no wrong. At this point they could fart into an iPhone and I’d buy it and put it on the top of
my list. So there you have it.
Ezra Furman – The Year of No Returning
I was expecting a rough around the edges, raucous record when I read Ezra’s Kickstarter plea to fund the recording of new songs based on his desire to start fights in public places. Who knew that Ezra was up to something very different? At times, No Returning sounds like a haunting cry for help. Expert instrumentation and master songwriting frame this beautiful arrangement of sad, sad songs. A complete masterpiece.
Henry Clay People – 25 For The Rest Of Our Lives
Same old sad story. Band makes records, band gets popular, band promised stardom but it doesn’t happen, band returns to what made them great in the first place, band makes a carrer defining record, no one buys it, and The Midgetmen worship them.
Spider Bags – Shake My Head
Loud, drunk, noise from the deadbeats next door with an undecipherable symphony of guitars, guitars, and more guitars. Shows absolutely no restraint in any way, and this is what makes this album one of absolute finest of the year. Everything great about rock and roll.
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
I’ve tried to wear this album out and I simply can’t. It is the perfect 90s-era hard core indie rock album that was never made, and it will still be great and relevant for rock fans in 20 years. The
live-recorded sound and classic Albini minimalism is what you’d expect, but the songs and the quality of the musicianship blow this out of the park. Also one of the best drummers in rock.
Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense
Cynical, pissy, face-punching drone songs that somehow manage to invoke anthemic fist pumping. I have no fucking idea what this guy is talking about, but he means business, and I am buying what he’s selling.
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Finally Bruce dumped Brendon O’Brien and produced a relevant, timely record with a lot more of the edge I was hoping for on his last over-produced efforts. Definitely the best album from Bruce since the E Street Band reunited.
Breakup Society – So Much Unhappiness, So Little Time
As a high schooler in Pittsburgh, Ed Masley, was a local hero to aspiring punk rockers. Before I met Ed, I thought that rock records were these high dollar hollywood productions that only an elite class of rich and famous people could make. Ed was proof that regular guys could make awesome rock records too. Ed’s continued to pump out great power pop year after year, and this album is a must have.
Cody Ackors, from Quiet Company
5. The Rocketboys – Build Anyway
4. Grizzly Bear – Shields
3. The Eastern Sea – Plague
2. Danny Malone – Balloons
1. Bad Books – Bad Books II
Taylor Muse, from Quiet Company
5. Wally Dogger – Keep Going
4. Rocketboys – Build Anyway
3. Whitman – Weekends
2. Mother Mother – The Sticks
1. Rufus Wainwright – Out Of The Game
Tommy Blank, from Quiet Company
5. Featherface – Actual Magic
4. Whitman – Weekends
3. The Shins – Port of Morrow
2. The Rocketboys – Build Anyway
1. Danny Malone – Balloons
The Bright Light Social Hour
5. Disclosure – “Tenderly / Flow” & The Face
4. High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
3. Beach House – Bloom
2. Chromatics – Kill For Love
1. Tame Impala – Lonerism
Troupe Gammage, from SPEAK
10 Songs I Didn’t Fully Appreciate Until 2012
I spent most of 2012 mixing our next record, which meant digging up tons of references from the past 60 or so years of pop music (thanks Spotify!). In my quest for the perfect mix I stumbled onto a huge trove of incredible music, most of which I had heard before but never appreciated in detail until this year!
“Baby I Need Your Loving” – Four Tops
I grew up on Motown but somehow I missed this track!?! The most angelic chorus of the decade or perhaps the century. Somehow the simplest, borderline-stupid lyric can sound transcendent when sung by a bunch of geniuses.
“Dancing In The Dark” – Bruce Springsteen
I have to admit I have not been the biggest Bruce Springsteen fan throughout my life. This song alone has made me the biggest Bruce Springsteen fan. One of the most inspired vocal performances in pop music.
“Don’t Come Around Here No More” – Tom Petty
How this became a radio staple I’ll never know… but the production pastiche is at least a decade ahead of its time, making Beck’s genre-bending seem passe. Indian Synth-Gospel Rock.
“Get Down Tonight” – KC & The Sunshine Band
The varispeed guitar that’s noodling around in the high octave is so awesomely futuristic. It’s amazing what a subtle innovation like that can do for a track — I had no memory of that guitar even though I listened to this song tons as a kid — but it’s so crucial!
“Panis Et Circenses” – Os Mutantes
The Brazilian Beatles… One of my favorite bands growing up but once again I had no memory of how incredible the production is. From the shredded horn intro to the jamming “Baby You’re a Rich Man”-inspired outro and really aggressive and almost punk-esque for a 60’s group.
“The Girl With The Flaxen Hair” – Claude Debussy
It would be embarrassing to reveal that I re-heard this piece while playing Civilization V. I got really into classical piano this year, probably as a result of this tune. Otherwordly.
“Play The Game” – Queen
We were jamming a Queen’s Greatest Hits CD on the way home from a tour…might have been the one that ended in Minneapolis, and we left at 1 a.m. and drove back home straight down I-35. Probably someway around hour 14 we were totally delirious and this song came and I absolutely flipped out. The synths that come in around 2:00 are INSANE. Probably some of the bolder production I’ve ever heard.
“La Mer” – Charles Trenet
My mom sang a lot of French music as I was growing up, so I have a deep and abiding love for the harmonic complexity of French pop. This song just takes it to a whole other level though…. The number of modulations boggles the mind, and the string arrangement that weaves in and out of the vocal is masterful.
“You Got It” – Roy Orbison
There’s simply not a single weak element in this song. The 16th notes in the drums, the timpani that introduce the chorus and the descending riff that finishes it… so much majesty packed into this record. And Roy slays the entire thing.
“Another Part Of Me” – Michael Jackson
Bad isn’t my favorite MJ record so I didn’t really delve into it too deeply until this year. MY GOD though this track is epic. The riff in the verses rivals the best of Thriller, and his vocal delivery is out of control (“you’re just another pwaaaart of me”). I really miss Michael Jackson.