HALF WAY HOME- the best of 2012 albums, so far......
Yeah, I know, it's been a while since I thrown out my overtly over stated ramblings about the world of music for public scrutiny. The people who frequent this blog appear to have given up and the fewer visitors in my stats page has made that apparent . Let's face it, I didn't want to say anything until I have something to say. The lack of the radio show as a means of venting has bottled up enough useless energy that I will cause my brain to blow up with the force of a thousand Mount Saint Helens. And so we get to the halfway point of 2012.
It's been a pretty good year so far for album releases. I am throwing into the mix albums along with select EPs, by far a better fare than those offered up in 2011, and we are only half way through the year. Here's a few select choices for the year so far:
"Attack on Memory" by Cloud Nothings - a band with potential that actually lives up it, novel thought. The follow up to their 2010 debut shows that not only can they rock but rock intelligently. One of the best bands to come from a vibrant scene in Northern Ohio and the spirit is captured on this album.
"Tramp" by Sharon Von Etten- Listening to this album was like your emotions getting their ass kicked. Call me a softie but I'm a sucker for records about shattered relationships, etc... No better record this year so far in capturing the feeling of pain.
"Better Luck Next Life" by the Royal Baths-a number of albums have surprised me this year. If you weren't hooked on this band before, listen to the seven minute track "Burned".
"Arab Spring" by Literature- another band from Ohio (this time Southwestern Ohio). Imagine taking the band Big Trouble, mixing in the Strokes and throw in the music texture of Let's Active. Start to finish, a complete album with little filler.
"Death Dreams" by PS I Love You- Duo from Ontario, close enough to Detroit to pick up that motor city swagger of the MC5, lead vocals that sound like the Cure's Robert Smith on meth (that's good). You'll be hearing more from Paul Saulnier in the future, the man can play guitar.
"Sweet Heart Sweet Light" by Spiritualized-a band that's been around for years, this may be they're best album to date. Get well Jason Pierce!
"America Give Up" by Howler- band from Minneapolis, the band congers up memories of twin city bands of the past along with a touch of Jesus and the Mary Chain.
Bad Bibles , self titled EP- bicoastal post punk band formed from a dissolved syn-pop band(?). Four songs on the EP are more memorable than much of what has come out this year.
"Killing Time" by Terry Malts- Drunk rock re-incarnated, sloppy guitar driven rock with a brain, albeit maybe not a sober one. Tracks include "I'm Neurotic" and " No Sir, I am Not a Christian". What's not to like?
"Celebration Rock" by Japandroids- I anticipated a good follow up to 2009's "Post Nothing" but got blown out of the water. Husker Du for summer people, the albums awakens ghosts from rocks past that should be exercised.
"Driver" by the Bayonets- formally known as Caleb Caudle and the Bayonets, the Winston Salem band has put out another one of my surprise album picks. The jump from "Snake River" to this album is monumental. Check them out at http://bandcamp.com/ .
"The Money Store" by Death Grips-the best hip hop album I've heard in ages. Combination of techno, rock and super f-ed up beat signatures, the album seriously kicks, check out "Hacker" and "Blackjack".
"Falling Off the Sky" the dB's- a magnificent comeback, the first with original lineup in 30 years. The band does not lose any of the creative energy that made them regulars in the college rock crowd back in the 1980's. Gentlemen, where have you been?
"Let's Eat the Factory" & "Class Clown Spots a UFO" by Guided By Voices- First release of any new guided music since 2003 and the first with the "classic" line up since 1995's "Alien Lanes". After touring all last year the band has managed to recreate some of that magic. Purists will argue that it isn't Lanes or "Bee Thousand" but at least we get the real thing back.
"Burned Youth" by Lantern- Stick me in a garage with this band anytime. Band from Philly, Burned Youth takes us on a trip from the Thirteenth Floor Elevators to Velvet Underground with their fuzzy low- fi back drop. This album has the hooks that make you want more.
"Slaughterhouse" by the Ty Segall Band-including two hold-overs from 2011's year end list, Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, TSB gives us a journey through multiple rock genres and leaves the garage to do it. Listen to "The Tongue" , it echoes early 80's Huskers, "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart" 60's Brit Pop. Ty's done it again. (and has yet another new release slated for September!)
New Multitudes, self titled- indie super group doing Woody Gutherie songs? Not a far-fetched notion. But when they are Yim Yames, Jay Farrar, Will Johnson and Anders Parker, putting music to Woody's lyrics, this is something special.
"Standing At the Sky's Edge" by Richard Hawley-studio musician extraordinaire , Hawley's seventh solo album is musically his best (and most successful commercially). The album moves between Psychobilly and Indie Pop.
"Beard Wives Denim" by Pond- band from Perth Australia that got great exposure at SXSW, the release of BWD has showcased the bands pop sensibilities without shedding any of the psych-rock soul. Check out "Leisure Pony" , you'll be a believer.
"Fear Fun" by Father John Misty -J Tillman's (late of Fleet Foxes)moniker, the first release under the Father John name, the album could have been Laurel Canyon but is more a sampling of Americana mixed with Beatlemania.
King Tuff self titled-San Francisco DIY move out of the garage and turn a fantastic album without losing the garage feel. Not quote polished but not low fi either, the pains of a band growing.
"Total Dust" by Dusted-Dusted is Brian Borcherdt (Holy Fuck, LIDS) and Leon Taheny (Final Fantasy, Rituals, Bruce Peninsula (band) ) and the album would appear to be low fi but none of the low fi noise. Instead the album focuses on melody.
Also considered Jack White "Blunderbuss", Allo Darlin "Europe", A Place to Bury Strangers "Worship", Little Bighorn "Chaperones" and so much more. The list above is a sampling, Listen in on WQFS in August for more great new music.