So, I thought 2012 was a pretty great year for music. A lot of really solid releases in punk, hip-hop, electro and ‘other’. Live was where the year really shone for me, though. A trip to SXSW in March was a highlight, and seeing over 60 acts in 4 days really boosted the band count for the year. Boogie, Laneway and Meredith Festival were great fun too, and so many acts toured throughout the year thanks to our great dollar, that i think i sunk more cash into seeing live bands than i did food for myself this year. It was all worth it.
As for albums though, the following list roughly reflect my favourite for the year, and i’d highly recommend all of them to anyone that reads through this. At least check out some of their songs if you are a little curious.
Cloud Nothing’s - Attack on Memory
Saw these guys in Austin in March, and was expecting something completely different. Live, they were energetic, noisy, and fun, but i didn’t get a full sense of their songs. The most notable moments were during an instrumental that they pulvarised the audience with. It was only on returning home that i grabbed this album (their second) and fell in love with them. I played this album to death for the rest of this year, and it still gives me joy. Recording with Steve Albini has noticeably bolstered their sound, and I can’t wait to see them again in Feb 2013, and for their next album, due next year.
Purity Ring - Shrines I got onto this album late in the year, but grew to love it. Great indie-electro, with really catchy synth-hooks, and the shrill spacey vocals recalls the moments of The Knife and Passion Pit, but, you know, better than that.
Alpine - A is for Alpine
I don’t often laud Sydney bands, but for the last 2 years running, my fave Australian releases have been from north of the Murray (Royal Headache last year). Alpine use the dynamic set in stone by Architecture in Helsinki (half a dozen members, a few vocalists, and being quite twee), but the reason this works for me so well is that they aren’t inherently annoying. Great hooks and the melodies work really well.
The Smith St Band - Sunshine and Technology
I love emo-tinged punk, and whilst I strongly think Wil Wagner is one of Australia’s best lyricists at the moment, his combination with a bigger band is what really brings his tunes to life. This second album from TSSB didn’t grab me as strongly as their previous one from 2010, but it’s still a solid album that details the travails of young shambolic lives in urban Australia. Catchy, sing-a-long choruses, punchy and loud at times, contrasting the more precious moments focusing on some really poignant lyrics.
Collarbones - Die Young
Another album in that indie-electro ambient vein, these guys have produced an album integrating glitchy noise with lots of synth hooks, and have some featured vocalists that really add to the Aussie electro landscape.
Catcall - The Warmest Place
Having seen Catherine Kelleher with Kiosk almost 10 years ago, I never thought she’d go down the path of producing an R&B-tinged pop album, but she has, and I thought it was damn good (even if Pitchfork weren’t blown away). You may recognise some songs from TV, but the album as whole has a great mood, uplifting and danceable, while also having a delicate side. The production is stellar, and live she pulls off most of the intricacies of this album.
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel…
She’s just so damn good. And has been forever. This is better than her previous album, but is definitely a more mature-sounding effort. Still angsty, sarcastic, aggressive, and frustrated, but Fiona Apple sounds more content with her place in the world, and is happy to put others around her in their place too, still.
White Walls - S/T
Poison City Records are fast becoming my favourite label, with bands like The Smith St Band on their roster, they have found another gem in White Walls. Every listen to this album recalls many other acts that I grew up loving and hearing ad nauseum throughout the grungey nineties, but they still create a sound all their own. With time, they might be a little more focused with their sound, but this album is still enjoyable to listen through, and i can only imagine they would rip it live.
White Lung - Sorry
The production is what separates so many punk albums from each other. Some have too much guitar, some not enough vocals, others are just shitty because they have no money. This album is spot-on. The guitars are loud and powerful, the drumming intense, and the vocals from their female singer are perfect. They remind of Pretty Girls Make Graves if they threw away the synthesiser and got really fucking pissed off. Canada’s best band.
Tanlines - Mixed Emotions
Saw these guys in Austin as well, and whilst this isn’t a stellar album, I listened to it a lot, and can’t really explain why I seem to like it so much. They seem a little hipster-than-thou, but if you like sparse synth pop with a moodier under current (which i seem to), this ain’t a bad album to get.
Back of the pack @ city2surf (Taken with Instagram)
Iceberging (Taken with Instagram at Bondi Icebergs)
Cradle Mt, Tas (Taken with Instagram)
Cradle Mountain, Tas (Taken with Instagram)
Cafe and Cabs (Taken with Instagram)
Concrete and Rust, Richmond (Taken with Instagram)
Boogie (Taken with Instagram at Boogie 6 Shake It Loose Together)
JTE, Boogie (Taken with Instagram at Boogie 6 Shake It Loose Together)
The Twilight Sad (Taken with Instagram at Hotel Vegas)
Ohio hoops (Taken with Instagram at Fairlawn, Ohio)
Black Lake, Tassie (Taken with Instagram)
Amish country (Taken with Instagram at Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center)