Best Of 2012

Top 5 Records (In Alphabetical Order):
John Cale – Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood (Domino)

2012 finds John Cale making what is perhaps his most vibrant album in years. Swirling synth sounds,electronic elements and dense, heavy layering are the name of the game. Some of the songs are probably too weird (“Mary”) for much commercial appeal but there is a Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton produced track to give it a shot (“I Wanna Talk 2 U”).

Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas (Columbia)
It would seem that any year Leonard Cohen puts together a new record should be a good year.
The master offers some meditations on relationships and aging. Probably one of the strongest releases in his entire catalog to boot. “Going Home” and “Darkness” are essential new additions.

Gary Clark JR – Blak And Blu (Warner Bros.)
Hailed as the next great hope for the Blues genre, I’m into Gary Clark Jr more for the Prince inspired R&B/ Soul songs “Things Are Changin’”, “You Saved Me” that punctuate this release. Some reviews have put it as a bit all over the map, probably for these very tracks. Sure, he wails as only a guitar wizard can on the Blues cuts but it’s these odd balls that keep me coming back for more.

Death Grips – The Money Store (Epic)
The more consistent of the two releases that 2012 saw. This record delivers in uniquely individual ways and felt like a real breath of fresh air.

Nick Waterhouse – Time’s All Gone (Innovative Leisure)
Another entry in the throwback vein, this artist channeling his best Stax era R&B to some success. The sound and feel are there, but it is a debut album. More as it develops.

Honorable Mentions:
Continues – Continues (Mattress)

Rising from the ashes of his long term project, Babyland, Dan Gatto delivers on the first album from his solo project. Coming from a more melodic direction with this release, Continues strips most of the dirty sound of it’s predessessor for more of a ‘80s analogue synth pop feel.

Dot Hacker – Inhibition (Org Music)
I totally forgot that this finally saw proper release this year. This was my pick for best record 2009. Dense, dreamy and just about perfect.

Bob Dylan – Tempest (Columbia)
While I didn’t play this album much, I don’t think his late career work is really of any lower quality than his classics he’s just less relevant. I’m glad he’s still making records and it was miles better than that Christmas album he made (shudder).

Scott Walker – Bish Bosch (4AD)
Mighty. If you know Scott Walker’s last few albums you have some idea what you’re in for. If you don’t maybe watch the documentary “30th Century Man” first. Not for Everyone.

Record that i didn’t put in the top 5 but secretly most played record of 2012:
Hot Chip – In Our Heads (Domino)

This record stayed in my car for months. Playing over and over as I slogged my way across town in traffic. It’s dancy and unrelentingly chipper.

Best Reissue:
Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights -10th Anniversary Edition (Matador)

Two vinyl records and a dvd in a hardbound book, with a digital download of the package and a generous helping of bonus cuts at a $25 price, easily makes this the best reissue of the year, though to be honest i only saw two.

Honorable Mention:
The Rage Against the Machine – XX (Legacy)

While the mastering and the content is great, minus the booklet, which is mostly filler photos contrasted into a punk esthetic, the $100+ price seems excessive. Especially so if you put it next to the Interpol reissue.

Best New (To Me) Album That Didn’t Actually Come Out This Year:
Grace Jones – Hurricane (Wall Of Sound/ Play It Again Sam)

Originally released in 2008, Grace Jones’ first new album since 1989 was re-released in the US with it’s Dub counterpart in 2011. Her reggae influenced sounds from her old albums by way of Massive Attack. Good stuff.

Top 5 Concerts Of 2012:
It’s easier just to pick the standouts when I only saw 15 this year.
I guess I’m getting “too old for this shit”.

1. Roger Waters – The Wall, L.A. Memorial Coliseum
2. Seal w/Macy Gray, Nokia Theatre
3. Johnny Vatos Boingo Dance Party, Mariachi Plaza, East L.A.
4. John Cale – El Rey Theatre
5. Leonard Cohen, Nokia Theatre

Worst Sounding Venue Of 2012:
The Echoplex – 2 blown out and distorted sounding shows (and more in past years) that finally inspired me to start wearing earplugs at concerts. It’s a good thing when your day job is centered around sound. So thanks, I guess.

Most Disappointing Show of 2012:
Hot Chip w/ Passion Pit & Omar Souleyman – Hollywood Bowl
This is not the right venue for these bands, would have been a killer Wiltern show. I’m not certain there should be any rock or dance shows there really, it’s always bad.


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