Thirteen Unordered Albums for 2012
Music is the most subjective thing there is (this, of course, is a statement made under the auspices that music is art, which I don’t entirely agree with) so to put a number, a ranking, and thus a value to something like music (art, if you dare call it art. I normally don’t) is partly an exercise in futility. Take Pitchfork’s rating scale, for example. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Pitchfork gave The White Album a 10.0 (not sure if they did, not sure if they didn’t). That would mean that it is perfect. An album without a single weak moment. A water-tight vessel of rock and roll. This I can’t argue with because The White Album is perfect. It is an album without a single weak moment. It’s water-tight.
Now take a recent Pitchfork review, M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. It’s a fine album, I’m, and thus received an incredibly high 9.1 mark from Pitchfork. This is great for the band, for the label, for their fans and for readers of Pitchfork. But where I take umbrage is just how apparently accurately these albums are scored. What this says to me is that Hurry Up is 91% as good as The White Album. Where are the nine percentage points coming from? Was it a mis-cue on a guitar sound? Did the engineers get a little too overzealous with the reverb knob? Was the album about nine minutes too long? What is exactly makes it 9/10’s short of a perfect album? The question is inherently invited by such a strict grading system and it baffles me how people can claim such definitive value for any collection of songs. Which leads me back to my original point. How can you say with any certainty that one record is better than another and how can you possibly say by exactly how much? You cannot. Therefore, this is simply a list of my favorite records of this year. I don’t think White Lung is “better” than Bobby Womack. I don’t think 200 Years is not as good as Father John Misty. But I’m not a graphic designer and I can’t come up with some conceptual design that gives all of these albums equal weight. These are my thirteen favorite albums of this year, in no particular order. Except Black Breath. Best fucking album of 2012.
Black Breath – Sentenced To Life (Southern Lord)
Not many people would guess that a faction of The Everymen are fans of metal. This is one of the most violent records I’ve ever heard. In a way it reminds me of Anthrax in its marriage of metal and 2-step hardcore.
White Lung – Sorry (Deranged)
I wasn’t aware until a friend pointed out that my #1 record of 2012 was by a band called Black Breath followed by my #2 record of 2012 being from a band called White Lung. Oh the irony. Nonetheless, these Canadians coax guitar sounds that I’d previously never thought were possible. Speed, force, action, volume. Holy shit.
Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe (XL)
I had the enormous honor of meeting and hanging out with Bobby for a short time while he was promoting this album. His soul is irrepressible and beautiful. His voice is pretty amazing too. That’s a day I’ll never forget.
Ceremony – Zoo (Matador)
One of the best things about music is hearing a band evolve right before your ears. From their last effort (Rohnert Park) to this year’s Zoo, Ceremony have become almost an entirely different beast.
The Men – Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)
We’re sitting on a precipice right now. People are beginning to rock again. There were a brief few years where it seemed like bands were terrified of a Big Muzz and a roaring guitar solo. Luckily, that’s coming back again and The Men are doing it as good as anyone.
Cate Le Bon – CYRK (The Control Group)
A weird, weird record that is beautiful, terrifying, comforting and alienating all at the same time. I guess you can attribute that to her being from Wales.
Nude Beach – II (Other Music Recordings)
I don’t like rock or rap or metal or EDM or classical or country. I like a good song, no matter what genre it’s called. And Nude Beach can write a hell of a good song.
Bob Mould – Silver Age (Merge)
He’s a legend who apparently hasn’t lost a single step.
Die Antwoord – I Fink U Freeky
If you’re going to do something that could be perceived as ridiculous, you’d better fucking do it well. When this song dropped, I reverted into a 14 year old girl. The kind of 14 year old girl who plays a song on repeat for like a week straight.
Shintaro Sakamoto – (Other Music Recordings)
Vibes, man. This record has ’em for miles. Put it on at a cocktail party. Put it on for a makeout session. Put it on and do a joint with some pals. It fits most any laid back mood.
A.C. Newman – Shut Down The Streets (Matador Records)
One of our generation’s greatest songwriters delivered yet another documentation of his acumen. There is hardly a weak spot on this record and it’s a damn travesty that don’t discuss Carl in the same breath as Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Warren Zevon and songwriters of their stature.
Father John Misty – Fear Fun (Sub Pop)
Speaking of Warren Zevon, this is the record he would’ve written if he were born a quarter century later. Watever preconceptions I may have had were shattered on the first list. Solid front to back.
200 Years – 200 Years (Drag City)
It’s a wonderful way to end a day and a year end list.