Apparently I only use this space to post year-end "best-of" lists now. So it goes. If you're so inclined, you can hear me as the host and curator of the "Top 50 Breakout Artists of 2012" countdown on Slacker Radio- here. But that list was dictated by Slacker Radio listeners throughout North America, in aggregate. This is my personal list. I post it here as much for me to remember this stuff as I do for you to peruse. Please enjoy.
ScHoolboy Q- Hands On The Wheel
And so Kid Cudi begat Lissie, and Lissie begat ScHoolboy Q, and A$AP Rocky was there the whole time just smoking tons of weed. The Black Hippy crew had a great year.
Toys That Kill- The Nervous Rocks
Because Punk Rock. Because Pedro. Because fuck Pro Tools.
John K Samson- When I Write My Master's Thesis
One of the best live shows I saw in 2012. And even if this weren't a solid record, I would still include John K. Samson on this list, because he helped me discover two of the best books I've ever read via his participation in Canada Reads.
Earl Sweatshirt- Chum
Earl came back from Samoa an adult, it seems. And that's probably tough for a super famous 18 year old dude to deal with all at once. "Tryin’ to figure out how and when the fuck I missed moderate".
CHVRCHES- The Mother We Share
Elephant Rifle- Slow Learner
Yes, this is my brother's band. And I'm super proud of him. But more importantly, Elephant Rifle is contributing towards making Rock and Roll dangerous again- and that's why I love them.
Stars- The Theory of Relativity
I feel like Stars makes Indie Rock For Old People. And I am increasingly an Old Person, I guess.
Solange- Losing You
Beyonce's sister. Way better producers. Way different.
Best Coast- The Only Place
Whatever the regional version of nationalism is- that's what this song makes me feel.
Yellowcard- Here I Am Alive
Because I refuse to disavow my roots. And because Yellowcard has unfairly received some of the rawest deals in this business of music. But mostly because this is a really, really good pop song. Not ashamed.
Pacific Air- Float
These dudes are from San Diego, and every time I see them live, they have a new name. It was White Apple Tree, then KO KO, and now Pacific Air. That makes for a metadata nightmare. And maybe that's why this song isn't a huge hit yet. Because it should be. These guys- and this song specifically- is one great sync away from ubiquity.
Shout Out Louds- Blue Ice
I have not had a personal best-of list that Shout Out Louds or their members did not appear on since 2009. I guess that makes them one of my favorite bands.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down- Holy Roller
This is another one of those songs that is one strong sync away from exploding all over your radio. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer, harder working artist. Is this the "Float On" of 2013? Either way, she will have a big year.
Still Flyin'- Spirits
I included the SoundCloud link to this song because the video IS SO BAD. If you only saw the video without listening to the song first, you'd be like "fuck these clowns". But instead, you can listen to the song on its own merits and be like "this is a pretty faithful interpretation of 'Tenderness". And that's totally OK.
The Burning Of Rome- Ballad Of An Onion Sprout
When you are friends with dudes that make music, you always hope that you truly like their music so that you don't have to be inauthentic when you're all "you guys made a great record!". Even if I weren't so fond of the individuals in this band, it would have been one of my favorite records of 2012. When you start with a cocktail of Mr. Bungle, The Residents, and Zappa- and you add an uncanny knack for writing incredible melodies and hooks, you end up with the most accessible avant-weirdness produced in recent memory. The fact that their live show is among the best I've seen is just a bonus. If anyone can bring esotericism to the masses, this band can.
Twin Shadow- Five Seconds
Twin Shadow made #1 on my list in 2010. And this year he released a Cafe Racer themed album. That's like- two of my favorite things. I don't know why this song isn't #1 my list this year. It's just not.
Wild Nothing- Nocturne
Because I will always, always be a sucker for dreamy/hazy/shoegazy stuff like this. Por vida.
Bob Mould- The Descent
Ice Choir- Two Rings
This is what happens to kids that spent their pre-teen years listening to Prefab Sprout and The Essence and Tears For Fears and Scritti Politti instead of Dr. Dre. I was one of those kids.
THE BRONX- Ribcage
I love El Bronx, but I am so, so happy that BRONX is back. Even if this song was terrible, I would have included it on this list. But it's not terrible, it's the opposite of terrible.
WALK THE MOON- Tightrope
A bunch of fuckin' nerds making their approximation of a Wes Anderson film. SO CATCHY.
Delta Spirit- California
The only reason this is not my #1 song of the year is that I burnt myself out on it by listening to it over and over and over and over again. They did a rad performance of this song during their showcase for us folks at Slacker Radio as well.
Pinback- Proceed to Memory
Did Pinback write a love song? Have they been writing love songs this good all along and I've just been oblivious? So many questions.
Gold Fields- Treehouse
Leading the Australian Invasion of 2013. Mark my words. One of the best live shows I saw in 2012.
Bonus- they do an incredible cover of "Born Slippy" during their live sets:
School of Seven Bells- The Night
Because I wish the Cocteau Twins were still making records as good as "Heaven or Las Vegas". Or making records at all.
Night Marchers- All Hits
Story of my life- ALL HITS. This fulfills the "Whiskey and Fist Fights" portion of my yearly list. With the Hot Snakes reunion coming to a close and the RFTC reunion gearing up, I hope the new Night Marchers album doesn't get lost in the mix in 2013. Because it fucking SHREDS.
Com Truise- Open
Every year a new artist comes along and fills the gaping hole in my soul that would otherwise be occupied by a new Boards Of Canada record. That's not to say this is totally derivative- it just does the same thing to me. Everything I do is a balloon.
Theme Park- Two Hours/Jamaica
My favorite new discovery of 2012. High hopes for these lads. Frequently remixed. Couldn't pick just one song.
Death Grips- Hustle Bones
Worthy of the hype. Absolutely. The first time I heard Death Grips, it was like the first time I heard N.W.A. or Dead Kennedys- it felt dangerous, and bad(good), and maybe illegal. Their live show delivers, and they appear to be 100% committed to whatever it is they are creating. What more can you ask from an artist? Besides, it's about damn time Zack Hill got an international audience for his brand of avant-insanity.
I think this is about a relationship with somebody's mother...but it's applicable to all relationships. Simple and devastating. I'm glad I don't live here anymore, but it's good to revisit once in a while for perspective.
A friend of mine recently asked me if I had "drank the HAIM kool-aid". ABSO-FUCKIN-LUTELY I have. My favorite song of the year for no other reason than it's a really, really, really good song. No reason I can see that these ladies aren't ruling the world this time next year.