But I still resolve to get this 2012 list in under the wire.
Big thanks, as always, to the lovely Waub for starting this tradition. Without him, numerous inboxes, harddrives, iPods & vinyl crates would be unenlightened.
It’s weird staring down a blank WordPress screen instead of a blank Celtex screen. While I’ve been writing much, much more this year (with/out writing partners…a story for another time, my friends), I’m just not publishing it, & you can thank me for that later.
Maybe 2013′ll yield more benign bloggable topics. Hard to believe 2012 marked the 7 year anniversary for ‘withoutayard’ (archives mercifully under digital lock & key). The Twitter, Tumblr & 8tracks mistresses were also neglected, though not nearly as much as this poor old domain.
All in, 2012 was tough but fair. Lots of change. & not just hair colour, though I did cycle through my Riverdale High School role-playing fantasies with equal turns as a brunette, red-head & blonde.
As the film tour/screenings wound down at the beginning of 2012, new music/festival/conference work picked up. HPX’s inaugural year for digital & NXNE’s ongoing growth in this space were two massive highlights personally & professionally. Doing another Ignite was as terrifying as I remembered & SXSW talks get better every year, thanks to stellar conspirators.
Work-work ‘s been increasingly satisfying, too. Our digital team (& I can take absolutely ZERO credit for most of this cool stuff)’s progress in open data, web mod, intuitive design, visual identity, content strategy & outreach is inspiring (please remember that we work in a resource-restricted, foosball-free workplace before comparing us to Old Spice).
& with that rambling preamble-ing, I present two 2012 music lists.
One acknowledges my repressed-inner-Baby-Boomer-curmudgeon (or more optimistically the indelible mark of my Dad’s musical taste). The other tips its digital-hat to shiny new young(ish) things.
Juicy Rationalizations – 10 LPs for ‘The Big Chill II’ soundtrack supervisor job application
1) Dr. John – Locked Down: Swampy psychedelic southern-fried goodness. Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach’s production adds a nice contemporary touch without changing the funky sounds you’d expect from the best Last Waltz guest of all time.
2) Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream: Poor Ms. Raitt doesn’t get a fair shake with anyone under 40. She’s BB King’s favourite slide guitarist for a reason. She’s equally badass as a lyricist & composer. Trust me.
3) Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano II: Technically, this is an age-appropriate pick for a 30-something, but its family-friendly instrumental perfection makes more sense here. In terms of Chilly’s live performance, Pianovision never disappoints, the Winter Garden Theatre show was one of the best concerts of 2012.
5) Various Artists – Just Tell Me That You Want Me: This was for sale at Starbucks for chrissakes. The artists are really quite good though, & their (Fleetwood Mac, duh) covers aren’t entirely straightforward. I will stop trying to rationalize my love now.
6) Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game: All hail the return of the pop-y cabaret-ish troubadour Rufus. We missed him.
9) Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas: Perfect poetry. Unmistakably unique warm growl. Cheese-free accompaniment (which can’t be said for some past synth-y LPs, unfortunately).
10) Neil Young – Psychedelic Pill//Americana: See #8.
Youthful Declarations – 10 LPs that probably aren’t cool enough to get my Urban Outfitters job back (despite a marked improvement in T-shirt folding)
1) Bahamas – Barchords: Is it so wrong that I still tear up a bit if I actually listen-listen to ‘Lost in the Light’? No, right? Thankfully the rest of the record is more upbeat. The combination of Afie’s vocals – which can swing from raspy M.Ward-y to chirpy Buddy Holly to Auerbach’s Black-Keys-blues – & his retro-reverb guitar-work - sealed this as #1 – the year’s most played LP by a country mile.
2) Allah-Las – s/t: To call these guys garage rock wouldn’t be fair. It’s a sunny light gossamer mix of psychedelia, Californian pop & the best jangly bits of early 60s Brit-invasion.
3) Tame Impala – Lonerism: Fell in love with these (again, psychedelic/pop, but ) guys while visiting Melbourne/Sydney in the winter of 2010. The cities’ cutest record store clerks drawled that TA’ed be big here soon. Not quite Crowded House yet but we’ll clue in eventually.
4) Robert Glasper – Black Radio: Ever since Guru’s Jazzmatazz series in the early 90s I’ve been a sucker for hip hop/jazz collaborations. Some standout vocalists appear (Mos Def, I mean, Yasiin Bey, Erykah Badu & Shafiq Husayn) & some very fun/risky covers (Sade & Nirvana, anyone?) show that Glasper can hop from ‘traditional’ jazz (whatever that means) to R&B to hip hop seamlessly.
5) Zeus – Busting Visions: There will always be a special place in my heart for these guys. Their sound is definitely changing & maturing, but their 70s rock influences still lay a solid foundation for their upbeat melodic pop-rock.
6) Bat for Lashes – Haunted Man: Just when I thought Natasha couldn’t be more Kate Bush-infused, she unleashes this sweeping, orchestral, brooding set of songs that are perfectly mixed, paced & balanced.
7) David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant: I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t exactly a fair fight. I love both of these artists & own all their albums. Who knew that all-brass instrumentation was going to be the glue binding these pleasantly complimentary songwriters, though? One of the most joyous live shows, too – Byrne was very gracious in ceding the spotlight often to Clark – even when they were covering Talking Heads tunes. Class act.
8 ) Fiona Apple – Idler Wheel: Another act that stands out for a live performance as much as an album. This is a powerhouse of a recording on its own, though. Put aside the ‘angsty-90s’ stigma that you probably assign to Apple & listen to the new wry wisdom of a woman who knows who she is, what she wants & how she’ll get it. Well, maybe not the last bit.
9) Cold Warps – s/t//Slimer 7″//Endless Bummer: Halifax knows how to churn out amazing four-piece power-pop/punk bands like it’s nobody’s business. I haven’t been this excited about a CanRock band in this vein since Cub. Serious.
10) Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes: For lack of a better genre-name, I guess ‘glitch-hop’ will do the trick. Imagine Dilla & Caribou & Radiohead (Kid A-era) mixing an atmospheric trippy soundtrack for a co-pro from David Lynch & John Singleton.
Glaring Omissions – 10 LPs that I like-liked, but didn’t love
1) Gary Clark Jr. – Blak & Blu
2) Grizzly Bear – Shields
3) Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
4) Nas – Life Is Good
5) Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d.
6) Bob Dylan – Tempest
7) Jack White – Blunderbuss
8 ) Bright Lights Social Hour – New Year’s Live
9) Asteroid Galaxy Tour – Out of Frequency
10) Vybz Cartel – Kingston Story