Confession: I was moderately close-minded on new music in 2012.
It wasn't my fault.
I blame the internet? I don't know what's occurring, but I'm starting to develop a theory that hints at an explanation as to why 70% of the new music I was exposed to last year sounded 70% the same. It has to do with the internet as a non-organic, non-spiritual, and soul-free collective consciousness that fosters some "relationships," but clouds, stifles, and standardizes most other creative pursuits. But that is probably a discussion for another day. This is going to be about music, and more specifically, 2012 music. According to me.
2012 was a shit year for music. This is a consensus I have reached with many of my musically informed friends. There have been a few who tried to resist this theory at first, but after requiring these wishful-rememberers to list their top albums of the year, they quickly relented.
It was by no means a lost year, there were some flashes of hope, but this low-tempo, electro retro '80s thing is getting to be a bit much. I get it, guitar-bass-drums music is so passe. So is talent and originality apparently. Why am I hearing Bill Walton's voice as I type this? I think I'm crotchety.
So back to my original statement about my close-mindedness. I probably took a hard stance sometime around July or August on the state of music that could have potentially robbed me of a certain degree of musical enlightenment. But I doubt it. In 2012, my macro approach was most likely the correct path.
Nonetheless, a musical year unexamined is a musical year not worth...listening? Or something. So here we go...
In lieu of the requisite Top 10 list, I decided to do a series of Top 5 lists in different categories. This is partially because I don't think I actually bought 10 albums this year (lame by me), and partially because as I forged the original list, I realized limiting my description of 2012 albums to "best" or "top" was handicapping my discontentment too much.
Here's my recap:
Top 5 Albums 2012
1. Grizzly Bear – Shields
2. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
3. Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods
4. Muse – The 2nd Law
5. Yeasayer – Fragrant World
Top 5 Disappointments 2012
1. The Shins – Port of Morrow
2. Jack White - Blunderbuss
3. The Lumineers – The Lumineers
4. The XX – Coexist
5. Mumford and Sons – Babel
Top 5 Spotify ruiners (the slept-on list)
1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
2. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
3. Gary Clark, Jr. – Black and Blu
4. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city
5. Cat Power – Sun
Top 5 Apathy list (Overrated & Misunderstood by me)
1. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
2. Grimes – Visions
3. Passion Pit – Gossamer
4. Purity Ring - Shrines
5. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes
Ok, a few explanations, qualifications, justifications, and concessions...
Top 5 Albums:
Grizzly Bear - Great album head to toe. This was highly anticipated by me, and much like Karl Malone and my actual mailman, it delivered. Fav songs: "Sleeping Ute", "Gun-Shy"
Alt-J - Only new band in my top 5. By far the best band of 2012 that I hadn't heard of before 2012. Fav songs: "Intro", "Bloodflood"
Silversun Pickups - If you like them, you'll like this. I like them. Fav song: "Gun-Shy Sunshine"
Muse - The first song, "Supremacy" makes you want to pull off one of your limbs, beat a stranger with it, pay his hospital bills, then buy him a tequila shot. And by "you," I probably just mean "me." Fav songs: "Supremacy", "The 2nd Law-Unsustainable"
Yeasayer - It makes little sense why I like this band. Art appreciation is full of inconsistencies, aberrations, and contradictions however, and thus, me + Yeasayer = happy. Fav songs: "Longevity", "Henrietta"
Top 5 Disappointments:
The Shins - James Mercer fired most of The Shins. This album came out. Firing fail. This album is discovering tranny man dong where you though you'd not at all find tranny man dong. Shockingly disappointing.
Jack White - I have a whole theory on frontmen watering themselves down, to be discussed at another time.
The Lumineers - Other people ruined this one for me. Waaay over-hyped. And I can only go SO white on my music. This is just far too white. But not altogether bad. If expectation was a comet, and banjos were an asteroid, they collided (somewhere above Ireland I would guess), blocked out the sun for an extended period of time, and created a level of whiteness I don't know how to process.
The XX - Do I even need to write this? Mr. Miyagi voice: "You. First album. Same-same."
Mumford - See The XX
Top 5 Spotify-Ruiners:
These five albums could easily wedge themselves into my top five, but I don't feel like I gave them a fair shake. Instead of just buying them like I would have a year or two ago, I streamed them in the background and suffering was the result, I'm sure. I'll probably end up buying most of these.
Top 5 Apathy list:
I tried. I've listened. Mostly on Sirius XMU. These bands grab me like a handcuffed T-Rex. I don't get it.
So. That pretty much summarizes my intersection with music in 2012. I bet I have produced at least small amounts of anger due to omissions, opinions, and list order. Good. Refer to message board at the top of the page for comments.
Aloha Friday, friends...