Holy shit, it’s August already? Here’s what I spent the first few months of 2012 crying to:
My bones and my preferences tell me I’m getting older, so as much as I’d like to have something sparkly like “Call Me, Maybe” on this list, I…I can’t lie. Crying and rocking back and forth is a good theme for all the awesome stuff released this year. All three of you readers are going to have to settle for what is probably the bitterest (but also the most accessible) Liars album ever released. That’s coming in first:
Liars – WIXIW
While listening to this, I: ended up deleting my twitter account, unfriending half of the people I had listed on facebook, and untagging myself in any picture that testified to “happier times”. I’m so angry! No I’m not! Gaaahhhh Liars! If you showed me a baby while I was listening to this, I would’ve bitten its head of then clubbed it in the stomach with its own decapitated head. I love babies!
Then again, they’re: not exactly known for happy stuff.
Avoid while: driving, making any kind of social contact, great album though.
Outerhope – No End in Sight EP
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Outerhope’s synth experiment, one that went very very well. I hope they never go back to regular pianos because Coldplay and Vanessa Carlton ruined regular pianos for everyone. Are people still making fun of Coldplay? Because they should.
Anyway, this isn’t a list of the best of the year. This is however a soundtrack for the first seven months. Outerhope’s music constituted a very relevant segment of a wonderful summer, and songs like “Lost Year”, no matter how sobering they are, still bring back good memories of looking around the crowd that had gathered at Spike Hill for New York Popfest, and seeing everyone smiling.
Ava Luna – Ice Level
I first heard Ava Luna’s “Clips” when I was more fastidious about trolling music blogs. You won’t find it on this album though, but that’s okay. Ice Level proves just how much you can do with soulful vocal harmonies layered over prog and math arrangements. There’s good texture here, especially on songs like “Sequential Holdings” and “Wrenning Day”. I still cried, though. I just have too many feelings.
The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
Again about feelings! Oh god. OH GOD. I just…You know what, if you need me, I’ll just be in my room. And seriously, I know many of the songs on this album run the risk of dissolving into the typical Kristian Matsson flavored soup, BUT I DON’T CARE. THAT’S HOW MUCH I ENJOYED THIS ALBUM.
I’m not yelling.
TV Girl – The Wild, The Innocent, The TV Shuffle
I don’t know what the first few months of 2012 would have been like had I not found out about this record (or mixtape, or whatever) from Das Racist’s Himanshu. You should all follow him on tumblr if you’re on tumblr as well, because gems like this do come up. I never really thought about the possibility of sampling bits from 60s soul and motown ever being exhausted, but looking at how it’s being used in commercially produced pop leaves you little hope for anyone actually coming up with something better than the original arrangement. And then, boom, here are TV Girl, from San Diego doing AMAZING things not only in terms of elevating this nonexistent, amorphous genre, but throwing in lyrics that are both funny and painful, eloquent and earnest, and it’s all available online for free.
Wild Nothing – Nocturne
I began listening to Wild Nothing when they released Gemini a couple of years back after a friend texted in the middle of the night singing incoherent praises about how amazing this album is. I’m still thankful for that drunk text equivalent of an album review because I have since loved everything they’ve done before and after. Included in the after category would be Nocturne, which leaked before its due date, but WHATEVER. How many of us aren’t pirates, arrr?
Like Gemini, Nocturne is another meditation on relationships, only without the naive optimism and anticipation that that you need to get you through the honeymoon stage. Nocturne is about the kind of love that is relegated to the backseats of cars and needs the harsh light of sobriety to reveal just how unnecessary it is. Nocturne is the kind of album that very eloquently says, “I’ll stop talking about shitty dates once I stop having to go through them.”
Jirapah – Thank you, Max EP
Okay, I’m not just putting Jirapah on this list because Yudhis is supposed to be contributing to this blog. I first heard them/him off a mix my friends Regi and Ceky were playing as we waded through Jakarta traffic, and I thought, “I don’t care if there are better dance parties outside of this car, I’m never leaving.” Which is kind of inaccurate, because Jirapah isn’t a band you dance to. It’s a band you feel the full weight of the week’s Joy Division weather to, which means your limbs just get too heavy for dancing. That’s heartbreak seeping into your limbs, har har har. (I’m sorry, that wasn’t even funny.)
But there are songs that make you seek the sadness out; if not to relish it, at least to sink into an acceptance that feels familiar and comfortable and oddly soothing. This is the kind of music that does that.
Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
Oh god. Again, OH GOD, SHARON VAN ETTEN. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone driving alone somewhere just BLASTING this song both in my headphones and at the top of my lungs because “WE ALL MAKE MISTAAAAAKES!” and “IT HURTS TOO MUCH TO AAAASSSKKK!” because ohmygod, I feel it. I feel it too, Sharon Van Etten.
(I’ll be honest though, I always skip “Kevin’s because that song kind of sucks.)
The Walkmen – Heaven
Oh hey guys, guess what. The Walkmen released something new this year and I liked it enough to put it on a list. The Walkmen are great. Some things never change. Except The Walkmenm who are still great but this album is evidence of a lot of mellowing out, so take note of that, fans of Bows+Arrows and A Hundred Miles Off. Either way, it’s great and I love The Walkmen, I do. This barely even constitutes a review, so go listen to “Dreamboat”. You’re welcome.
Lower Dens –Nootropics
I saw Jana Hunter in the summer of 2011 when she opened for Cass McCombs at the Bowery Ballroom. I didn’t realize until I saw Lower Dens play a pretty old Tiny Desk concert for NPR that it was her singing for Lower Dense and not some dude. I had “Brains” on repeat for weeks until Nootropics finally leaked. Baltimore can do no wrong. Speaking of Baltimore, I wasn’t too keen on Beach House’s Bloom. Speaking of Baltimore…
Dan Deacon – Anything Dan Deacon does is magic
I don’t even care if the album’s out (legally or otherwise), have you seen this video? Forget everything I said earlier about crying and rocking myself back and forth. Dan Deacon.