It’s that time of year people. Our annual end-of-year roundup. 2012 has been a fantastic year for new music as producers and pop artists get more inventive and take more risks than ever before. As a result the collection this year contains even less dance / disco stuff and even more pop.
After that we hear from a few of our good friends on what they thought of 2012.
Roll on 2013 – keep it emotional…
EMOTIONAL POP – ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Chromatics – Kill For Love
(Italians Do It Better)
For me one of the best albums of all time, the best combination between Pop, Italo, Synth Pop and New Wave. Such a good voice, killer arrangement and a little dark or maybe sometimes in a fresh mood. I listened to this album, since its release, maybe a thousand times and everytime, once again, it’s a killer.
There is nothing worse than regurgitated, un-inspiring, Teeny whining by some phony behind their laptop on a shit mic. However, I can assure you that Grimes is the real deal, a very talented young artist. I remember hearing her a few years ago via 20JazzFunkGreats and being impressed at how unique her sound was compared to the other lo-fi bedroom pop of the time. I’m glad that Visions, her new LP with 4AD, isn’t a let down as major releases sometimes are. It’s effortless, bewitching and hazy in a sense that she doesn’t structure her music robotically, letting her voice glide around the record – almost distant, allowing the squelching baselines and synths to sit up front in the mix. “Genesis” and “Oblivion” being prime examples, the prior being contender for music video of the year self-directed by Claire Boucher (A.K.A Grimes).
The XX – Coexist
The XX’s first album was a high water mark for whispery indie music, all echoey guitars and breathless vocals – songs that stuck in your head either through their simple catchiness (or through their ubiqitous use by every ‘hip’ advertising company in the land). Coexist is all this and more. Here the distant vocals are joined by steel drums and fierce, super slo house kick drums. Off kilter keys are the theme and whilst it takes a couple of listens it is every bit as accomplished as their awesome debut. A future classic.
Wild Nothing – Nocturne
Wild Nothing are a band that sound like loads of other bands. Luckily I like all of the bands that they sound like. They’re light and breezy, jangly guitars, a hint of the Smiths here, a touch of Joy Division there, oh, that sounded a bit like Phoenix, now it’s all chill-wave. Their first album was superb and, whilst this doesn’t necessarily reach the same heights, it’s still a very enjoyable slice of guitar pop.
Big things were expected from Beach House after the success of “Teen Dream”, quite frankly I was worried they were heading for a nose dive being one of the most popular bands around over the past few years. Luckily they’ve turned up with another belter. Fans that like continuity between albums will be very pleased (We love you, never change…!!!), over the last 4 albums they’ve kept putting one foot forward steadily in front of the other. Modifying their sound in the subtlest of ways, just that bit tighter, fuller and richer musically, lyrically head-on and the production is of course gleaming. It takes a few listens but it’s a praise-worthy album whichever way you look at it. Go and see them live if you haven’t before, what a pair of lungs…
Poliça – Give You The Ghost
Our favourite album last year was the mighty ‘Relayted’ by Gayngs and this effort from Polica is the first new music to spring up from the collective in the form of a collaboration between Ryan Olson and Channy Leaneag of the aforementioned soft-rock super-group. This treads a similar path to that of Relayted with atmospheric guitar work kept at a super slow pace. Channy’s vocals veer towards Cher’s -Believe at times but the whole LP is as inventive and listenable as anything else in 2012.
It’s not that I’ve become obsessed with Lana Del Rey. I don’t spend hours on Tumblr reblogging photos of her looking disinterested in ‘cool’ locations. I don’t have conversations with Paolszy about how she isn’t real, she doesn’t actually exist – that she’s entirely fabricated. I definitely don’t do any of the above. What I do though is listen to this album – a lot. Super slick production, great vocals, melancholy lyrics, sexy as fuck lyrics as well, this is a brilliant modern pop album. If we were doing this run down in a chart then I’d put this at number one. ‘Video Games’ remains the stand out track with its Harps and Strings and film plot lyrics but Born to Die, National Anthem, Off to the Races, Ride, Cola, Yayo, they’re all great. Right, I’m off to look her up on Tumblr again…
Poolside – Pacific Standard Time
(Day & Night Recordings)
The second track on this album sounds like a combination of about 5 different classic disco / balearic tracks. There are hints of everything on this album but, crucially, it steers clear of sounding like a pastiche LP. It’s very much an album that wears its influences on its sleeve but when they’re as varied and interesting as those referenced by Poolside then that’s no bad thing. This soundtracked our summer.
(Stones Throw Records)
If like us you like to dance naked from the waist up, in clubs not too dissimilar to that of TechNoir (As found in Terminator), then this is the album for you. Volume 2 of Stone’s Throw impressive ‘Minimal Wave Tapes’ see’s the incredibly hot Veronica Vasicka team up with label Grande Fromage Peanut Butter Wolf to source a number of dark and sinister underground synth tracks, the likes of which can be heard in S&M clubs up and down the country. Lube up and #topsoff….
Various Artists – Metal Dance
Trevor Jackson (Playgroup/Output Recordings) puts together this excellent compilation of EBM/Industrial & Post Punk on behalf of Strut Records to great effect. A mix of classics and rarities from an 80′s period of synthesizer music which has found us using the album mainly as a source of inspiration for pumping heavy weights when in our dungeon.
This LP has been slammed by critics and I’ve yet to see a good review for it. This just goes to show you how full of shit most music critics are. Debut Mini-LP Equatorial Ultravox was a high water moment for the chill wave / nu balearic genre but this LP is far and above that effort and is a classy and accomplished synth pop album that I’m making everyone that I meet listen to. In fact, if you only get one LP on this list get this one.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY ROUND UP
We asked some of our favourite people what Music had done the business for them this year and here’s what they had to say.
Moon Tunes 2012 – Version Balearic
“This was the year Boardman & I finally got our shit together and started a label. Aficionado Recordings released three 12”s, all worthy of a purchase. My personal favourite? Colorama’s epic ‘Hapus?’ featuring a sublime dubbed out remix from Begin. If sub-80 bpm, Welsh sunshine pop is your thing, get it bought!
That in turn leads me on to two more from Mr Holroyd. The Begin remix of Pharao Black Magic – ‘Amulet’ and ‘Day Happens’ from Begin #4.
Simply divine, dubbed-out, Balearic space funk from the Yorkshireman. With an album to come and Begin #5 due out too, 2013 will be his year.
Early on in Spring a record was released that stayed in my box & probably will still be there this time next year. Paqua’s The Visitor (a collab between Mudd & Quinn ‘Bing’ Luke) is as beach bar friendly as a gin & tonic. These two need to get an LP in the bag. More loveliness from Claremont 56 and possibly comp of the year is Originals Vol 8 by Lexx. Worth buying alone for A Band Called O – ‘Coasting’.
I say possible compilation of the year as the other beauty released was ‘Into the light: A journey into Greek electronic music’. I knew only two tracks on this and if you have any interest in hearing some mind-blowing oddness and truly epic ambience then get on this quickly. Limited and a future collectors piece.
I thought I’d leave the best until last and big up the Land of Light LP. I first heard tracks from this on Dr Rob’s Japanese radio show and thought it was some old Innovative Communication oddity. Sweeping synths, lilting guitars and subtle slo-mo drums make this perfect for anyone with a love of vintage Café del Mar tapes and lying around talking shit at after parties. A truly beautiful record made with love.
“There is one outstanding contender for album of the year – the ‘Land of Light’ LP on ESP Institute.
Its just an amazing record that ticks all my boxes and I’m in no doubt that this masterpiece is my LP of the year.
Special mentions also need to go to the under-the-radar shoegaze psyche LP by Minnesota’s Flavor Crystals – ‘Three’ which has been on in the car constantly, the Django Django LP which unbelievably missed out on the Mercury Music prize this year and Tindersticks – ‘The Something Rain’ which has also been on heavy rotation in my yard.
Tako’s ‘Journey Into the Light’ compilation of Greek electronics is also outstanding
Helen Burnip (Moustache Mamas)
“In no particular order here are my five memorable tracks of the year:
- Todd Terje – Inspector Norse
- Omar S/OB Ignit – Wayne County Hills Cops
- James Mason – I Want Your Love
- Andres – New for U
- Batida – Bazuka
After last years release ‘Ragysh’ I thought Todd Terje would never match that…once again he proves me wrong – this man continues to stay at the top of his game while many of his contemporaries who rode the ‘nu-disco’ wave offer no new real surprises to me anymore.
Omar S rarely ever puts out a bad record. I’ve heard this track out lots of times but NEVER get bored of it.
This James Mason track was re-released this year (having originally come out in 1996) so massive props to Rush Hour for bringing this killer record the attention it deserves.
Andres, well – do I need to say anything about this track? – If you haven’t heard this track before there is a chance you haven’t left your house this year! – who said sampling was out of fashion?…..here are some descriptive words of wisdom about this track courtesy of youtube….”Sounds like the Lighthouse Family have just dropped some Garys” Ha!
Last but not least I had a very memorable evening seeing Batida live this year, there wasn’t a soul there who didn’t get down to these riddims!
Every other year I am completely into a certain kind of music. That was almost anything you can think of the past years….This year had two focuses: One was French 60s Fuzz-Pop (if that even is a genre) and (all over again), Chicago House. Or, let´s say, Proto-Chicago-House.
Stella is an amazing little french girl that looks what you expect her to look, but she is/was such a punk, really.
” Cauchemar auto-protestateur (1967)” is such a song that i totally dig right now. Angry little french girl sings a protest song that sounds like the Supremes were recording next door.
Now, i am speaking about the year 1985. Not a great year in music history, at least not known for radcial changes…Virgo did his first, untitled record that year. It sounds like what Trax did all the following years:
808 Drum Machines, Space Effects, sounds. Just pure rhythm. NO SONG TITLES. I love that record. The fact it´s made THAT early, years ahead of what became House Music, makes my day. I hope i can get the rights to include it in my new compilation ELASTE Vol.4
i refer to SIDE TWO TRACK THREE….
And there was another genre this year…Slow Motion House. That´s at least written on a crate at OYE Records in Berlin.
Last Waltz – “Tangiers” was a really inportant track for me. I didn´t DJ it that much, i don´t think it fits mst parties. Unless you think of Indian Summer sunsets in the forest, long roadtrips through northern Italy, the first strips of sun at a terrace when everyone reached that happy point of no return…
Danielle Moore (Crazy P)
“Just when you think music has reached its peak and everything is sounding much of a muchness a couple of beauties push through and remind you its an ongoing love affair!
SO a couple of my favourite tunes of the year are White Lamp – ‘It’s You’ remixed by our very own Crazy P stalwart Ron Basejam. It’s lyrically wonderful and unavoidable to sing every word from the deepest part of your soul. It was a massive summer tune out at The Garden Festival, Croatia and is still going strong. The chord change midway through the track makes my heart pound every time I hear it…which must be approaching the 999 marker now.
The next is a song called ‘Searching’ which I think may be by Sylvia Striplin BUT I am still trying to find out how I managed to acquire it as it’s the business and, although I’ve been playing it all year, it remains a staple in my bag of records. It’s a gloriously energetic disco song and screams love! It’s fuelled by the most heart-warming keys, picky guitar and, finally, a bassline to melt chocolate to. It fills me with belief…and I can’t keep still!”
Rick Kelly (Photographer)
“Holy Other- Tense Past
My fave Ghost Pop/Witch House/Grave Wave track of this year. Also my fave names for a musical genre which is handy. I normally steer clear of anything with a chipmonk vocal as it reminds me of listening to Fantasia/Ratpack tapes as a teenager but this has a lovely haunting quality (I can imagine Partridge saying that).
Soft Lighting- Press Rewind
Get smooth shimmer of a track. It was what the phrase “take the bassline for a walk” was invented for. I can imagine Baggstaff slowing this down so it fits his coma inducing criteria but still great track and nice production as it’s hard to pull off without sounding like you’re trying to be retro.
MMoths- If Only
Only came out towards the end of the year so is a late contender but I’m a fan of anything that sounds remotely like a steel drum so it gets the thumbs up from me. Also has a sample that sounds like those that used to be on those “play at 5am as the sun’s coming up” early 90′s rave tracks.
The Miracles Club- U&Me
A great tops off with gay abandonment of a track.
Crozet- I’m Lost
A lovely slow plodding sleepy synth track. Like the music equivalent of xnax.
Public Transport- Seawall
Reminds me of the sort of track you’d hear when completing a a Snes platform game. 16 Bit grooves.”
Justin Harris (Freaks / Hot Creations)
“For me 2012 has been a big and important year for House music. Not only the re-emergence of labels like Classic & Paper Recordings, to name but a few, but also the steady increase of HIGH quality releases from new and upcoming labels and producers.
It seems the young and dis-affected youth have re-discovered what was, until recently, still regarded as dad-house (hate that phrase) for what it actually is and are embracing it…. recession anyone?
Ok, they’ve had to call it ‘Deep House’ to separate it from the AWFUL commercial mud the big industry now call ‘house music’ (no capitals when used in this context i’m afraid) but whatever works eh? All I know is that I DJ’d at a Warehouse in the middle of Cornwall this summer to a massive 18-25 year old (average age) crowd going NUTS to proper (deep) house music old and new (from 1987 to 2012)… shows promise… not a dub or a step in sight…
So, specifically, the highlights for me this year?.
Sorry but if i were to name them now you’d be here all day…….
Mainstream cross-over wise it’s great to see a band like Disclosure break through against the Zed Factor garbage. Setting an important precedent for next year I hope …..
On the underground? All the producers old and new who despite the poor state of this industry have kept on making amazing music for other people to enjoy knowing full well that they may not even get paid for it – that’s dedication. Although I really think that that dedication might actually pay off next year for many, as the standards are higher than they’ve been for a long long time.”
“‘I like JLS cos they practice, in that one that looks like a teddy bear’s, mum’s garage.
She moves the chest freezer out of the way and, if they do a good routine, they get choc ices.
Sometimes they play darts after practice.
One of them has got a poorly mum too, and the little one can do backflips. What’s not to like.”
“I enjoyed the ‘Land of Light’ LP after getting an early copy to play, whilst driving around Ibiza this summer.
Lee perry and the Orb put a smile on my face too.
Working with aficionado created some great 12′s and Magic Wand has also been making me happy.
Special mention has to go to Leo Mas and Cesar de Melero for their extreme Balearic mixes, real masterclasses.
Here’s to 2013!”
Phil Aouth (Golf Channel)
“I’m currently loving the Trash Company 12″ on PPU, Roberto Auser 12″, Marcellus Pittman “wicked bitch”, Red Greg’s “Inner Rhythm” on Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks in Hell & Yoav B “Energise”.
Justin V has done great again this year with the awesome Phreek plus One and Soft Rocks remixes and of course the edit – Channel XXX.
Bad News on Lies was also killer but my favourite from them this year was that “Journey 1″ with the Wolf on the label…murder.
Also Andrew Ashong “flowers” just beautiful…
LP wise well, Techno Primitivism was fucking awesome, Moon Duo, Michael Kiwanuka (too many of the singles on here though, I hate that), Personal Space comp, I’m sure I’m forgetting some good shit, I always do. “