Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012. The year in rear view - obligatory commentary and lists.

Before proceeding further I would like to extend a Happy New Year to everyone.  I'd be remiss if I failed to thank all of you for visiting Wilfully Obscure, and extra special gratitude is in order for those of you who were generous to provide me with music to review, whether it was physical or otherwise.  I don't get to everything, but I am listening.

If I was really stoked about current indie music, I wouldn't be placing such inordinate emphasis on music from twenty to thirty years ago.  So why am I so jaded?  Probably because everything has been seen and done to the nth degree and I require something extra stimulating - akin to that extra dosage of medication that's necessary once the body has built a tolerance to once normal allotments.  Actually it isn't quantity so much as quality that I crave. So what constitutes quality?  Like many of you, I privately "grade" albums/singles on a scale of 1 to 10 all the time, and ideally my Top 20 lists should consist of all 8's or above.  Well, 2012 wasn't exactly ideal, as was 2010 or '11.  There were in fact many, many 7's, but I could only wedge so many into my admittedly self indulgent list.  The majority of slots are occupied by repeat offenders (Ben Folds, Motion City, Ringo Deathstarr, et al), and for good reason given the quality of their records, but this year I'm coming up embarrassingly short in terms of fresh faces.  Could be that I'm not looking hard enough, or that my expenses don't allow me to take chances as I so often used to.  Then there's all the folks who put out new product this year that I simply didn't get to: Gavin Guss, Ken Stringfellow, Bailter Space, Cloud Nothings, NOFX, and oodles more.  I'm sure I've missed some good 'uns, and every new year, without fail, I subsequently find albums from the previous year that in a perfect world would have made it into my Top-20 in time.  Thankfully, none of you are keeping track. 

Though I didn't add any titles to my all-time desert island list, Japandroids came damn close to making the cut.  Had the entire Ben Folds Five reunion disk been as consistent as it's first half it would have probably made my number one pick.  Spotlight Kid's purist dream-pop revivalism was near stunning at times, and Nada Surf clocked in with their most satisfying album in about a decade.  Graig Markel's new acoustic solo platter was a spare and emotional, analogue-tracked delight, rounding out a very solid top-five. Joe from one of my fave '00s enterprises, The Braves reemerged in Wire Sparrows, Pop Zeus brought the fuzz in fine fashion, Songs for Snakes picked at the carcass of Jawbreaker, much to my delight, and Dot Dash may very well have delivered the most gratifying pure-pop album of the year.  As for reissues, I'm going to let my list speak for itself, but I've got a major beef with Moss Icon's supposed Complete Discography, which leaves off songs - and no tracklist, are you kidding me?  At any rate, enjoy.  There is no music accompanying this post.

2012 Top-twenty albums

01. JapandroidsCelebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
02. Ben Folds FiveThe Sound of the Life of the Mind (Sony)
03. Spotlight KidDisaster Tourist (Saint Marie)
04. Nada SurfThe Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (Barsuk)
05. Graig Markel – s/t
06. Passion PitGossamer (Sony)
07. Dot DashWinter Garden Light (The Beautiful Music)
08. Silversun PickupsNeck of the Woods (Dangerbird)
09. Wire SparrowsThe Love of A Loved Life
10. Everyone Everywhere – s/t
11. Pop Zeus – s/t (Burger)
12. Motion City SoundtrackGo (Epitaph)
13. Bob MouldSilver Age (Merge)
14. Beach HouseBloom (Sub Pop)
15. Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope)
16. Machines LearningPendragon’s Lullaby ep
17. Songs For SnakesCharcoal Heather
18. Ben KwellerGo Fly a Kite (Noise)
19. RetisonicRobots Fucking (Arctic Rodeo)
20. Ringo DeathstarrMauve (Sonic Unyon) 

20 worthy reissues (in no particular order)

Blur – 21 box
Archers of LoafVee Vee, All the Nations Airports, White Trash Heroes (Merge)
MedicineBuried Life, Shot Forth box + Always Starting to Stop tape (Captured Tracks)
FeedtimeThe Aberrant Years box (Sub Pop)
Best Kissers in the WorldYellow Brick Roadkill (Hail the Sound)
My Bloody ValentineEPs 1988-1991
The Late ShowPortable Pop (Trashy Creatures)
CandyWhatever Happened to Fun (Rock Candy)
Moss Icon - (in)Complete Discography (Temporary Residence)
PrimitonsDon’t Go Away: Collected Works (Arena Rock)
Interpol - Turn on the Bight Lights, 10th Anniversary Edition (Matador)
Orange RoughiesDetroit (Gangplank)
Cotton MatherKontiki Deluxe Edition
The Velvet Underground and NicoS/T 45th Aniv Deluxe Edition
SloanTwice Removed box set
The TrypesMusic for Neighbors (Acute)
WoolLunar Momento: Lost Rancho Session Vols. 1 & 2 (Dine Alone)
Smashing PumpkinsPisces Iscariot deluxe
SugarCopper Blue/Beaster (Merge)
VariousButtons: From Champaign to Chicago (Numero)


Garageland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garageland said...

happy new year and all the best in 2013!!!

Just8 said...

Good to see The Trypes, Motion City Soundtrack and especially Nada Surf in your list. Nada Surf tends to get overlooked, maybe beacuse it was released in the beginning of 2012, but it is a really great album.

Brushback said...

Van Halen, that's an awesome pick