I'm pretty glad that the world ends today. It was fun. 2012 was the best year yet. And I'm especially glad that this is the last list you will ever read on the internet. Bye forever.
Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights 10th Anniversary Edition
So I'll stop just short of saying that 2012 seemed like a lousy year for new records. There was a veritable treasure trove of “stand-out tracks” to be sure, but no full albums that I sincerely plan on listening to again, beginning-to-end, a year from now, much less feel like writing a whole fucking paragraph about. (Maybe Hot Chip.) Bright Lights, on the other hand, is a record I would gladly listen to again and again and even write a paragraph about a decade later – so I'm glad they reissued it and gave me an excuse to openly've had that shit on repeat. It was from beginning-to-end an excellent record; at once indifferent and sentimental, cool and urgent, sounding like the love-child of Joy Division and Gang of Four. And its 2002 release took the incipient, New Indie Scene implications of contemporaries The Strokes and White Stripes to an eloquent and stylistic Next Level. The band is still trying to deal with the fact that they'll never match or top this album, but they're very aware of its impact. The re-release edition features a ton of b-sides and rarities previously only available in poorly-labeled Limewire format, presumably offered as a metaphorical handjob to fans, as a thank-you for all the literal handjobs their fans (I'm educated guessing) gave them.
Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Hot Chip is a pretty good band. Most of their previous work has exhibited repeat-playability, staying-power and name-recognition. With In Our Heads, they really didn't have to try too hard to move a couple records and keep their rent paid a bit longer. But they DID because they are TRUE gentlemen. It wasn't a White Album, but then again it wasn't a White Album year (there's only been a few of those ever). However, Hot Chip did all the things that a band at their level should be doing – ameliorate their sound, increase production slightly, and consistently deliver on songwriting – and they did that stuff well. Anyway, I clearly don't have anything specific to say about this record other than that I'm listening to it repeatedly, and that, incidentally, I could have replaced the words 'Hot Chip' with 'Grizzly Bear.' Next Category!
The Growlers - “One Million Lovers”
The Growler Dudes have a propensity for putting out some neat tapes. Their recordings have a mellow, albeit profoundly haunted, surf-vibe aesthetic firmly pinned. Like going to the beach at night in sunglasses and a Freddy Krueger sweater. Attempted studio sessions with Dan Auerbach resulted in dissolution and endless postponement of their next release, but this song was a much welcomed peace offering in Q3 2012. And, to be fair, I doubt Auerbach would have thought to throw that much panned, slapback delay on that snare track towards the end. Hashtag: Got your back, Growlers, wherever you might be doing drugs tonight.
Ariel Pink - “Baby”
From the idiosyncratic bedroom pop of his early tapes, to the reverb-drown, mood-scores of the Paw Tracks series, to the surprisingly polished hipster anthems of Before Today, the musical evolution of Ariel Pink has taken some strange turns. 2012's Mature Themes was more of the Different Same. Even having at one point committed to a study of his 24+ hour catalog (don't ask), I didn't recognize the artist behind the standout track “Baby” when I first heard it. I could've mistaken it for Captain Beefheart performing “So Glad” with Otis Redding's band, with a healthy dose of Beck's rendition of “Only Have Eyes For You” thrown in for good measure. Or vice vice vice versa.
Santigold - Town Ballroom 5/26/12
I was blown away by Santogold's 2008 debut, but struggled to get into a lot of the stuff she released after changing the “o” to an “i”. So I wasn't planning on attending this show until fellow buffaBLOGGER Cliff Parks Jr. offered to get me in for free (“thanks dude!”). Musically, the group seamlessly melded punk, dance, and, I guess, world music into an indelibly catatonic and catchy whole. Imagine if Timbaland gave a bunch of Devo remixes to MIA and the result was released by Mad Decent. But the salient things about the Town Ballroom performance were the Stop Making Sense-esque choreography and the backing band that looked like concierges from an exotic, imperialised vacation resort. You couldn't avert your eyes – let alone ears – even when your sick dance moves required it.
Thee Oh Sees/Ty Segall - Town Ballroom 9/25/12
Another show I miraculously got into for free – funny how free shit tastes so much better – thanks for all the help this year, Promoters. Anyway, I couldn't describe Thee Oh Sees better than buffaBLOGGER Mike Torsell, so I'm just going to direct-quote him:
"At one point, a friend ran up to me to tell me this music was 'terrifying.' ...Despite, in a certain sense, their pop sensibilities, there is a definite sinister undertone to this music. The heavy guitars become droning over time, leaving you tensely waiting on a final climax to each song. In some cases this occurs and the result is cathartic and in other cases it just continues until petering out, leaving a sense of tension to carry over to the next song. This remaining tension never really clears out, even when the build up leads to something. This trance like quality to the music made the show quite memorable."
So yeah, so there's that. I had a nice time except that one of my friends got in a fight there, and I got punched real hard by a lady because she thought I was hitting on her girlfriend (it's called “There's a moshpit behind me, Shithead.”), and my double-fist pints turned into a soaked and torn faux-leather jacket, and my glasses got 100% destroyed, and I lost my car keys, and I don't remember a single second of Ty Segall's set. But I woke up in my own bed the next day, great show!!
OK that's it.