Tk’s Gangly Gathering of Not-Top-Tens
Do you want to know my Top Ten of 2012? Not so fast! First, you must endure my Gangly Gathering of Not-Top-Tens.
What exactly is a Gangly Gathering of Not-Top-Tens? Well, imagine a Top Ten. Think about how it looks… how it feels and tastes. A Gangly Gathering of Not-Top-Tens is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you just imagined. The yin to that yang. The fire to that ice. The t-shirt to that naked chest. Can you feel me?
Now that we are all on the same page, let’s see what Gangly Gatherers have joined us. 2012 featured more albums competing for my top spot than ever before. There were at least 25 albums that, in another year, would have cozily sat atop my list. Below you will find various Not-Top-Tens in the form of Song of the Year (1), Almost Made Its (5), and Honorable Mention (8).
Song of the Year
Competitors in this category included Cloud Nothings’ “Wasted Days,” Exitmusic’s “Passage,” First Aid Kit’s “Emmylou”, and Shearwater’s “You As You Were.” In the end, though, I went with the song that stands alone swimmingly (not dependent on the album songs around it for its full impact) and features a perfect synthesized riff seemingly ripped from a 1980s chart-topper. It also features a thick bass line and a crafty sing-along section midway through that spills into the powerful, full-circle conclusion. For better and worse, Alt J made quite the impression on me this year (see below) but nowhere more than with this track.
Almost Made Its (new category! Read: I wanted 5 more Honorable Mentions)
Alt J – Awesome Wave: This Mercury Prize winning British band of art-rockers ruled the top of my list for much of the year. At the time of writing, though, I have listened to it 3 too many times and was left apathetic about their live show… should this affect its standing? That’s debatable… but I couldn’t overlook the fact that it just doesn’t feel as fresh and innovative as it once did.
Tall Ships – Everything Touching: Math rock with some glorious climaxes. It offered me some of the highest musical highs of 2012. Alas, the lead vocalist cannot keep up with the finesse of his bandmates. LISTEN TO: Best Ever
Nedry – In a Dim Light: Nedry pulls us into their uncomfortable world of warped vocals and busy electronic beats. It is artful and, at times, brilliant but too often unenjoyable to listen to. LISTEN TO: Post Six
Various Artists – Rework: Overflowing with wonderful Philip Glass covers. But, y’know, they are covers… and there’s that whole various artists thing… so no Top Ten showing for this release.
Bill Ryder-Jones – If… : He is 29 years old but his instrumental cuts would have you thinking that he’s 49 (if that’s not agist, I don’t know what is). Bill is a very savvy British musician who used to play with The Coral. Many of these cuts sound like the best film score you’ve never heard. Unfortunately, a few misfit songs with vocals render the album inconsistent. LISTEN TO: Enlace
Honorable Mention (How long is this damn post anyways?)
PS I Love You – Death Dreams: An energetic release from this Canadian garage rock duo. It’s rock and roll as it should be: sloppy, edgy, and sure to get under your skin. LISTEN TO: Sentimental Dishes
Dave Stapleton – Flight: A Welsh pianist/composer teams up with a tenor sax powerhouse (Marius Neset), string quartet, bassist, and drummer to offer a unique album of jazz eruptions interspersed with classical quietude. LISTEN TO: Henryk Part II
Cafe Tacvba – El Objeto: Going 23 years strong, Rock en Espanol darlings offer a cohesive album with some synth-heavy and Latin-folk-influenced surprises. LISTEN TO: Olita Del Altamar
Grizzly Bear – Shields: CK strongly disagrees (to see how just strongly, click here) but I feel that this is Grizzly Bear’s best album since 1981. And that’s especially impressive considering that they’ve only existed since 2002. Listen to these indie gurus flutter and float through Speak in Rounds.
Exitmusic – Passage: A dark, sometimes brooding, release with haunted female vocals and if-Sigur-Ros-grew-up-in-Pittsburgh instrumentation. LISTEN TO: Passage
Mungolian Jetset – Mungodelics: A Norwegian electronic duo with moments of minimalism, disco, funk, and house. Turn it on and feel its pulse. LISTEN TO: Knights of Jumungus
Errors – Have Some Faith in Magic: Errors consider themselves to be a “post-electro” band, but that may be a semantic error (just kidding… what I just did there was made a reference to their band name for the sake of humor. Do ya dig?). It makes good sense that they are on the same label as Mogwai but their musical project is lighter, more bouncy, and more stylistically diverse. LISTEN TO: Magna Encarta
TOY – TOY: A little bit shoegaze and a little bit krautrock, but what do those words even MEAN?? Rock music channeling the 1990s channeling the late 1960s (kinda dated in the best way possible) that reminds me of Saturday evenings in 1995 sprawled on my brother’s carpet listening to our favorite rock radio special, The Buzz Shop. LISTEN TO: Dead & Gone
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