Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 2012 Volume 1 - Best Of The Best

1. Talk A Walk - Passion Pit
2. ***I've Seen Footage - Death Grips***
3. Bait And Switch  - The Shins
4. Destiny - John Talabot
5. The Nights Of Wine And Roses  - Japandroids
6. No. 1 Against The Rush - Liars
7. To A Poet - First Aid Kit
8. Turn It Around - The Men
9. ***Reagan - Killer Mike***
10. Stay Useless - Cloud Nothings
11. You Are Forgiven - Anais Mitchell
12. Default - Django Django
13. Smoke And Mirrors - Gotye
14. Uglier - Redd Kross
15. ***Sweet Life - Frank Ocean***
16. Tallulah - Allo Darlin'
17. Avatar - Swans

*** = for mature ears only

Track List / Album Summary / Spotify / iTunes
2012 Year In Review

Random Thoughts On This Mixes Selections:

First, let’s talk about the singles.

Take A Walk - the lead single from Boston-based Passion Pit’s sophomore effort Gossamer, with its sad depiction of America’s disappearing middle class as told through the eyes of desperate, once prospering immigrant businessman trying to hold it together while his life and financial fortunes crumble, captured the tenor of this moment in American history better than any other song I heard in 2012.  That it’s also the most infectious electro-pop earworm since MGMT’s Kids just adds to its greatness.

Bait And Switch - from The Shins latest release Port Of Morrow, is much lighter fare, a simple, fun song about a simple, earnest man contending with a spirited love for which he is no match.  Loved the bounce to this song.

Spanish house producer John Talabot’s Destiny, with its killer vocal from featured guest Pional, is one of my favorite electronic tracks of the year. 

Default, from quirky young British pop act Django Django, is another buoyant number, a goofy mix of 60-garage and Devo-like sensibilities.

Finally, Uglier, from local veteran Los Angeles punk-pop act Redd Kross is one of the funniest tracks of the year, a hysterical, tongue-in-check take on the ‘joys’ of aging, not to mention one of the best straight up rockers of the year.

With regards to the albums listed here, let’s work back to front.

Avatar, represents Swans The Seer (Highest Recommend), which to me was without question the best album of the year, an at times punishing, at times gorgeous, but always mesmerizing roller-coaster descent into pure madness. It’s my least accessible album of the year choice ever, the thirty year culmination of a band’s life-long exploration of  rock’s extremes…but twenty years from now, long after Frank Ocean has been forgotten, they’ll still be talking about this art-rock masterpiece with the reverence afforded The Velvet Underground And Nico, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon,  Radiohead’s OK Computer, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and Godspeed You! Black Emporer’s Lift Your Skinny Fists today.  Avatar, just one of many phenomenal tracks, is the most concise demonstration of the album’s slowly evolving style.

English jangle-poppers Allo Darlin’s Tallulah is the softest and most wistful number from their uniformly excellent second release Europe (Strong Recommend), my favorite indie-pop record of the year.

Sweet Life is my favorite and the most spirited track from young neo-soul artist Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange (Strong Recommend), the critical consensus number one album of 2012, made even more notable by the bi-sexual Ocean coming-out on this record in a notoriously homophobic genre. You’ll find a number of wonderfully personal and idiosyncratic brooders, on this, the best soul album of the year.

Smoke And Mirrors is a surprise representative from Gotye’s Making Mirrors (Strong Recommend), given that album also holds monster 2011 hit Someone That I Used To Know.  But I felt Smoke And Mirrors better represented the broad, out-of-left-field eclecticism that defines this decidedly AM-toned but wonderfully solid electro-pop album. one of the best and lightest front-to-back listens of 2012.

You Are Forgiven is just one of many gorgeous, idiosyncratic, immaculately produced numbers from Anias Mitchell’s Young Man In America (Strong Recommend), my favorite Folk album of 2012, and the second time in three year’s Mitchell has claimed that title following 2010’s much different Hadestown.  How the world is still sleeping on this artist is beyond me, she’s been one of the very best on record in any genre in recent years.

Stay Useless comes from young Cleveland grunge-pop act Cloud Nothing’s breakthrough third album Attack On Memory (Solid Recommend) one of the three excellent straight-up rock releases of 2012.

Reagan, the centerpiece to Atlanta veteran rapper Killer Mike’s El-P produced R.A.P. Music (Solid Recommend) and the best rap song of the year, is, like the album as a whole, a strong push for rap to return to its higher-minded “speak unwelcome truths to power” political formative years.

Turn It Around comes from Brooklyn noise/slop-rockers The Men’s Open Your Heart (Strong Recommend), another of my three favorite rock releases of 2012.

With its soaring final 90 seconds, First Aid Kit’s To A Poet may be my favorite folk song of the year, though it receives strong challenges from several other tracks on the album from which it came, The Lion’s Roar (Solid Recommend), which though uneven, might have the best “Best Tracks” of any album in 2012 outside of The Seer.

The Liars’ WIXIW (Strong Recommend) was my second favorite album of the year, a creepy electronic turn for a previously more guitar driven experimental act that invites immediate comparisons to Radiohead’s Kid A, though still feels entirely like it’s own beast.  No. 1 Against The Rush, my favorite track from the album, boasts one of the best glitch beats of the year.

Japandroid’s The Nights Of Wine And Roses just edges The House That Heaven Built (also by Japandroids) for best rock anthem of the year.  Both songs come from the group’s breakout fourth LP Celebration Rock (Strong Recommend), the party-rock album of 2012.

And finally there’s I’ve Seen Footage, the most accessible but still nightmarish cut from Sacramento ratchet-industrial-rap act Death Grip’s major label debut The Money Store (Strong Recommend), which was the most difficult listen of 2012, but also possibly the most forward-looking album of the year.

No comments: