It’s that time of year again. The only time of year when I will consistently write something on this blog. It’s the end of the year, and that means a “Best of music” list. This year, however, I’m going to do something a little different. There will be two lists. 2012 was a great year for music. However, most of that good music, in my opinion, came in the form of a reissue. The brand new music was…. kind of “meh”. Therefore there will be one list for new music, and one list for reissues.
One quick note before we get to the lists: I hate describing music. I’m pretty terrible at it. Therefore, when I could, I copied some short descriptions from my friend Chris who runs the music blog echoocho (which I have a mix tape on). They’ll be much more descriptive and helpful than anything I could have written.
New Music Released in 2012:
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Recommended Track: Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Their debut album, Innerspeaker, came out in 2010 and was pretty steller. It was heavy, and classic sounding. Their new album is a bit lighter and more catchy. Yet it was still able to keep everything that made their debut awesome.
Jakob Olausson - Morning and Sunrise
Recommended Track: Riding on the Wind
Chris sums it up best: Haunting, melancholy folk music from an organic beet farmer in Sweden. It sounds like a long lost folk relic, an effect heightened by the private-press type “stock” cover art.
Twerps - Twerps
Recommended Track: Dreamin
Technically this may have come out in 2011, but I don’t think it hit the states till 2012, so I’m going to include it here. Austrailia has been putting out a lot of good music lately, and this is another one. 90’s style jangly guitar rock.
Mad Scene - Blip
Recommended Track: Lorelei
From Chris: A “supergroup” of sorts, in which members of The Clean, Yo La Tengo, and others came together for the second time in 17 years to record a warm, eclectic set of VU/Modern Lovers-derived indie rock. The buzzing, analog production from Sonic Boom (of Spacemen 3 and Spectrum fame) makes the whole affair as comfy as a thrift store couch.
Grizzly Bear - Schields
Recommended Track: Yet Again
Grizzly Bear may be getting more poppy with each album, but they still put out a consistently good album.
Angel Olsen - Half Way Home
Recommended Track: Acrobat
Originally from Missouri, now residing in Chicago, this is her debut and it’s fantastic from start to finish. She’s toured as a vocalist with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and I can see why. Hauntingly beautiful while also dark and sparse.
Mount Eerie - Ocean Roar
Recommended Track: Ocean Roar
I tend to like everything that Phil Elvrum has put out, and this is no different. Heavy metal inspiration plus Phil’s folk leanings.
Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold
Recommended Track: Borrowed Time
I can’t top what Chris said so I’ll just paste: Driving slacker-rock that, like many revered 90s indie records, could use a bit of pruning, but the many solid tracks are great. Hits a sweet spot in the Pavement, Tyvek, Feelies, sort of orbit.
MMOSS - Only Children
Recommended Track: Hands
An album that is consistently good. If you like fuzzy psychadelic folk music, give this a listen.
Julia Holder - Ekstasis
Recommended Track: Marienbad
Ethereal bedroom laptop pop
2012 Reissues in absolutely no particular order
Lee Hazlewood - Cold Hard World / Dark in My Heart
Recommended Track: Dark in My Heart
Two compilations of the incomprable Lee Hazlewood. These two albums are a perfect blend of Johnny Cash and Tom Waits.
Misty Hush Revival - Your Heart is Broken
Recommended Track: Your Heart is Broken
A great reissue of a rare and sought-after 1972 LP by this Staten Island garage band.
The New Dawn - There’s a New Dawn
Recommended Track: (There’s a) New Dawn
This Oregon band printed off 500 copies of this record in 1970. Thankfully Jackpot records released it, so we can enjoy the dreamy and moody soft rock.
The Clean - Odditties
Recommended Track: The Clean
Long overdue 2LP reissue of the cassette-only compilation of unreleased tracks, demos, and studio tinkerings. Hit and miss, but there is some great stuff on here.
The Great Unwashed - Clean out of Our Minds
Recommended Track: Hold onto the Rail
Essential reissue of some of the best music to come out of the Flying Nun camp, showing a bit more subdued and acoustic side of The Clean.
The Scientists - Rubber Never Sleeps
Recommended Track: Frantic Romantic
A live album that was, up until now, only available on cassette. Properly brought back with some vinyl.
Donnie & Joe Emerson - Dreamin’ Wild
Recommended Track: Baby
Two brothers from a logging town were pushed into music by their dad. They made this album while in their teens. Even if most of the songs were terrible (which they aren’t), I’d include it here simply because of the amazing soulful track “Baby”.
Dane Sturgeon - Wild ‘n’ Tender
Recommended Track: Queen Bee
Technically this wasn’t reissued. However, I stumbled onto an original copy this year, and a documentary on Dane Sturgeon came out this year. So, that’s reason enough to add it. This album is completely unique and hypnotic.
G.I. Gurdjieff - Improvisations
Recommended Track: All of them
Gurdjieff was a Russian mystic who influenced writers, thinkers and artists (e.g. Frank Lloyd Wright and many French surrealist writers). In the last year of his life, he held dinner parties at his Paris apartment where I am sure very heady conversations took place. He concluded the dinners by extemporaneously playing his harmonium (pump organ) for his guests, who reportedly were often brought to tears by the performances. These recordings are musty, warbly things and are very beautiful. A cool historical and musical document, a museum for the ears and mind. One piece was recorded mere days before his death in October 1949. - Chris
The Steps - Krontjong Warna-Warni
Recommended Track: Mudiang Priangan
Similar to Dane Sturgeon, this hasn’t been reissued. In fact, as far as I know there isn’t much information on this at all other than someone found it, copied it to a cd and now you can find it in the remote corners of the internet. I really hope that someone does do a proper reissue of it, as it’s a great 1970’s pastoral Indonesian surf album.