timscience: (robotdancer)
So then, time for the traditional end of year roundup, several days late because of the enormous LiveJournal fail of new year.
2012 has been pretty good as far as I’m concerned, as shown by the fact that at least five albums which would for sure have been in last year are edged out. However, top ten means top ten not top fifteen – that’s THE RULES. Some of my choices have been described in the past as “a bit Shoreditch” by SOMEONE WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS but I have decided that, you know what? That isn’t a bad thing. Say what you like about the red trousered community, they have an ear for exciting new music and a willingness to go to obscure indie gigs that I no longer wish to be cynical about. It's not like they're George Osborne or anything.

Anyway, here we go:

Disappointment of the year: Good Don’t Sleep by Egyptian Hip Hop. A few years ago J and I disagreed over this band at Dot to Dot – I was rather taken by their shambolic charm whereas she lambasted them as overprivileged stoners. On the basis of this album which has been THREE YEARS in the making, she wins. There are elements of tune here but by and large they are lost in a sea of self-indulgence. I suspect that the consumption of massive quantities of weed may have been a factor. Say no to drugs, kids.

Honourable mentions:

Pacifica by The Presets. It says something about the musical quality of 2012 that there is a Presets album that is not in my personal top ten. This is the one where, having done the indie album (Beams) and the techno album (Apocalypso) they go all pop in a Pet Shop Boys kind of way. Lovely but really, boys, the lyrics – sort it out.

Held by Holy Other. The natural evolution of Witch House, I guess, into a kind of spacious indie R’n’B. See also Grimes and Purity Ring, who are also good, but this is better than both of them.

Anxiety by Ladyhawke. It’s all gone a bit Bonnie Tyler, frankly. I hated this at first but have since grown to like it. Not enough for the top ten though.

Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! by godspeed you! black emperor. Is the exclamation mark in the right place or have they moved it again? Is the lowercase thing a THING? These thoughts and more may or may not go through your head as godspeed do their thing of unfolding tunes v___e___r___y    s___l___o__w___l___y until they turn into enormous riffs that blow your shit up.

Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells. It was always going to be hard to follow up “Treats” and Sleigh Bells almost managed it. Almost. They clearly couldn’t use the same production trick again, so it’s a little dialled down this time, so the rockers don’t work as well. However, there are a whole bunch of sweet pop songs which now have the space to shine through suggesting that they have found a way forward.

Instinct by Niki & The Dove. Another Dot to Dot favourite. Not in because about half of it had already been released as singles and B-sides which I already owned, and there was nothing as good as “DJ Ease My Mind” on the rest of it. Not that it was bad, mind.

White Math by Blanck Mass. Blanck Mass discovers rhythm and – shock horror – drums. This is ace although tbh it could easily be a Fuck Buttons record. Doesn’t get on because it’s a two track EP lasting only 20 minutes. Them’s the rules.

And so to the utterly subjective Top Ten albums of 2012.

10) Kill for Love – Chromatics.

I was slightly surprised to discover that eMusic had not got it wrong and that the scrappy punky Chromatics were, in fact, the same Chromatics as this – the spacious, spectral disco outfit. Apparently there was some kind of Damascene conversion. I have been listening to Chromatics a fair bit this year (not least because their old track “Tick of the Clock” seems to have been discovered by whoever compiles TV soundtracks) and it keeps growing on me. A big influence on the remix I did for Tiger Mendoza which you can still buy at a surprisingly modest price. Well done Johnny – now hurry up with the next Glass Candy record why don’t you?

9) Wixiw – Liars

Their best album yet, more immediate than “Sisterworld” but still retaining the experimental weirdness. Odd and haunting with occasional moments of euphoria, the best of which is “Brats”, a track which would be best described as banging techno if anyone but Liars had made it.

8) BLCKLSTRS – Blacklisters

“You need to listen to this great new track. It’s called ‘Clubfoot by Kasabian’”
“Club Foot by Kasabian isn’t new…..”
“No, not ‘Club Foot’ by Kasabian. This is ‘Clubfoot by Kasabian’ by Blacklisters”
“Blacklisters?”
“Yes. They’re like the new Mclusky or something. It isn’t a cover, they’ve just named their song ‘Clubfoot by Kasabian’”
“What, are they Kasabian fans or something?”
“It’s hard to tell but I think probably not”.
“Not ‘Club Foot’ by Kasabian then.”
“No.”

7) Synthetica – Metric

I dunno, there’s something about Metric. There’s no reason for me to like their stuff. The same ingredients reshuffled as Broken Social Scene don’t do it for me at all. The instrument arrangements are nothing out of the ordinary, they aren’t especially experimental, and their guitarist wears an annoying trilby. And yet, I love ‘em. I think it’s just that they write really good songs.

6) III – Crystal Castles

It’s a fair bet that pretty much anything Crystal Castles choose to release will be in my top ten and this is no exception. This was made using all analogue equipment although you can’t really tell. Manages to combine all the ingredients of rave into something simultaneously both euphoric and bleak, most obviously in “Sad Eyes”, the closest Crystal Castles will ever get to a club banger.

5) Master Of My Make-Believe – Santigold

Santigold’s been away for a bit and consequently I guess this is something of a make or break record. Hopefully make, with pop sensibilities offset by utter lunacy. In her live show at the Wireless festival this year (surprisingly low on the bill) she managed, in a half hour show, to fit in two costume changes, a pantomime horse and a stage invasion without slowing down the pace at all. Quality.

4) We’ll Be The Moon – Fixers

Fixers were clearly the standout at the Punt a couple of years back and this album should have pushed them to mainstream success, if it weren’t for some kind of weirdness involving their label dropping them a couple of days before release and consequently this getting no publicity at all. Another of those records I keep coming back to. I still don’t really see the Beach Boys comparisons though. Fixers are different, and better.

3) the plot against common sense – Future of the Left

After the new Mclusky, here come the old Mclusky (or something) with a truly great record, accompanied by a hilarious internet spat with a Pitchfork reviewer who took it to task for “corporate slickness” (in fact it sounds as if it was recorded in a tin bucket, which is one of its more endearing features). Ranges from the splenetic (“sheena is a t-shirt salesman”) to the immense (“notes on achieving orbit”). SHALALALALALALALA LALALALALALA!!!!!

2) NO LOVE DEEP WEB – Death Grips

This record counts as a 2012 release because of what can only be described as a truly epic act of internet trolling by Death Grips, who have managed to sabotage everyone involved’s chances of ever making any money from it by leaking it onto the internet early with cover art consisting of an erect penis with the album title written on it with a sharpie, then responding to their record company’s rather plaintive note asking them to stop with the comment “HAHAHAHA FUCK OFF”. None of which should put you off – this is stripped down, aggressive, startling and original. Speaking of which……

1) Light Asylum – Light Asylum

2012 was all about Light Asylum as far as I am concerned. Someone described them as sounding like Grace Jones fronting Suicide, I guess this is at least a reference point (as are 80s synthpop and most prominently NY electro) but Light Asylum are a lot more than a collection of references. Brutal drum breaks, minimalist synth lines, the nerve to keep a song tight until the last chorus and suddenly let it take off, Shannon Funchess’ extraordinary voice, and, in case you missed them (as some reviewers seem to have done) arresting, headspinning, dark and glorious tunes.

May 2017

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