Well since I listen to so many other types of music, I decided just to call this list "Rock or Other", didn't really know what else to call it. I didn't have any Hip-Hop records this year that were Top 10 worthy(although MellowHype came close), so I guess that name is actually appropriate. I haven't been listening to what people like to call Country these days in quite some time, so again, the list was safe. Had there been tons of Experimental or Hip-Hop or Country or Jazz or....well, you get the idea, I would have composed a third list. But with this list and the previous Metal list I feel quite happy. As I said previously, I know there will be titles that I completely spaced it on, and well, no skin off my dick. So here are the records that really got me off this year:
10. Scott Walker-Bish Bosch:
This record just made the list, as it only came out 3 weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, I have only listened to the entire record 3 times. I just didn't have time or energy for me, with it being so close to the end of the year. But I can also honestly tell you that I know that I will be listening to it a LOT more in the future. So I know I would have felt guilty had I not put it on the list. Scott's music makes me scared and uncomfortable. I think that is very important in music or art. I don't want everything that I listen to make me feel sunny or happy. Music is there to make one feel varied emotions, and fear is a valid emotion. Not enough music makes people scared, and not enough people like feeling or getting something entirely different out of music. Scott has been making records longer than most of us have been alive, he employs so many avant garde recording techniques that I can't begin to list them all. Equally hard would it be to try and list people that he has influenced, but for a shortlist, how is David Bowie, Nick Cave, and U2. If you haven't heard Scott before, I can't honestly recommend this record to you, because chances are you will hate it. But if you know what kind of stuff Scott brings to the table, and some new elements interest you, get Bish Bosch.
9.Beachwood Sparks-Tarnished Gold
This is another record that arrived very late in the year. I actually listened to this one a lot more than the Scott record though. The is the first BS record in 11 years, but it actually sounds like they were never away at all. That's a very strange thing, for a band to take that long of a sabbatical and not reinvent their sound in any way. The only difference in this record and prior records is this one sounds exactly like a long lost Byrds record, where the others sounded like a big mish/mash of the California/Laurel Canyon sound. BS sparks probably saw where TONS of bands like Fleet Foxes and many others were making bank off of a sound that they helped invent, and never got any accolades for. So kudos to the guys for dusting off their guitars and coming back with one hell of a record. This is one of those "Sunday afternoon" kind of records, as I like to call them, and I am sure you know what that entails. Every song sounds like a lost nugget of AM radio gold. So all you hip-kids who love Fleet Foxes and legions of similar bands, check out the band that was doing it when nobody cared about it.
8.Julie Doiron-So Many Days
Julie Doiron is a lifer! She has been in the scene so long, and much to my chagrin, nobody really knows who she is. Such a pity, because she is a top shelf songwriter whose discography is as large as it is varied. She started back in the late 80's as the bass player in Canadian Noise/Indie Rock band Eric's Trip(yes slick, that is a Sonic Youth song title).That band was signed to Sub-Pop and continued on through the late 90's. During that band Julie made solo records under the name Broken Girl, and had a side band with her boyfriend called Elevator to Hell. When they broke up she started making the solo records under her name, and it's impossible to count all of her releases because she does so many splits/cassettes/7'. But "So Many Days" is like her 10th full length release. Her songs are always poetic and usually beautiful, and usually a hybrid of Folk/Country, but it's not uncommon for her to insert Noise or Drone or just Rock & Roll into her sound. This record though, is just straight up Country/Folk, and every song sounds like it should be played on the radio. Too bad it came out in Winter, because it is such a Summery record. So throw it on when you gets the Winter blues and are pining for the sun and the Spring!
7.Guided By Voices-The Bears For Lunch
Nobody is happier about GBV's return than me. But they are a band that is and have always been, insanely prolific. This is their third record of 2012 alone, and by far the best. I was actually quite nervous when hearing the first two releases, because of course, they had a few genius songs. But they were not good, complete records by any means. I was thinking that perhaps that they had lost it? Robert Pollard's last few solo records were very patchy affairs too. But when I put on "The Bears For Lunch" I was completely blown away! They had indeed saved the best for last! By good, I mean "Alien Lanes" good, yes, and even "Bee Thousand" good! Doubt me? Check it out and see.
6.Father John Misty-Fear Fun
Joshua Tillman was the drummer for Fleet Foxes, so you would think with that band getting huge, he would sit back and enjoy the ride? Nope, first he started making sparingly beautiful and confessional solo records under the name J. Tillman. These records were always good, but they were anything but a "good time". They were the kind of records you listened to with a broken heart, or to get through an extremely rough Winter. He quit the Foxes for good, and put out this record that surprised the shit out of me, and I am sure a lot of others. I for sure didn't know he had this in him! The records is definitely not a "downer", in fact, it is a record that I put on and it instantly makes me happy!! I listened to it a lot this year, it's good like "Transistor Radio"-era M. Ward. The songs are stylistically all over the place, but never sound haphazard or thrown together. Josh knew what he was doing when he put this record together. For a man that drums are his primary instrument, he sure knows his way around many more. He deserves all the success he gets.
5.Advance Base-A Shut In's Prayer
Advance Base is the new vehicle for Owen who was previously known as Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. I was a fan of his previous work, but like many home recorders, his work sometimes seemed a little thrown together. Also, he always seemed to have like 3/4 brilliant songs on a record, and sometimes a lot of filler. With his new name comes a new vigor, because every song of this record is fucking classic. He always seems like his songs are written for an imaginary John Hughes film, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Owen has a really deep voice, not unlike Stephen Merrit from The Magnetic Fields, but way less dramatic. I listened to this record so mush this year, I left it on my Ipod for the whole year, and that is VERY hard for me to do. It is that good......you will listen to it over and over. Every song seems like a hit from some obscure 45 from years ago that you unearthed, and no one else has heard.
4.First Aid Kit-Lion's Roar
WOW......all I could say is WOW!! That was my reaction upon first hearing this record. These two Swedish sisters sing so lilting/beautiful together, they often bring me to tears. It's like the harmonies that they create together form these waves that creep inside you and make you feel warm/cozy and instantly make you happy. This record is the equivalent to that blanket/sweater/pillow that you have had forever that is so comfy that it makes you so instantly happy that you couldn't dare part with it. I've listened to this record so many times, I know every creak that the guitar necks make, and the plucks that the strings make. It is like the Civil Wars record from before, it deserves to be heard by many more people. Maybe Taylor Swift or someone else will hear First Aid Kit and take them out on the road, and they can become stars because NO ONE deserves it more than these two nightingales.
I was late in the game on discovering Ty Segall. I'm not a hipster, so I don't always act like I have been a fan from the beginning if I haven't. Yes I was late to the Ty boat, but that is fine because now he has a plethora of releases for me to catch up on. To be fair, I did listen to one of his records a few years back, but at the time, it just didn't click. I have always known that time and conditions can ruin your enjoyment of a record. big time. So if I don't like something, and I know it is of quality, and something that is similar to what I would like, then I will always give it another chance. Boy am I glad I gave Ty Segall another chance! He is a Californian Garage Rocker, that makes songs that are just noisy enough, and just catchy enough to keep him on the fringe. The late Jay Reatard was a HUGE fan of Ty's, and I can hear a little of the late rockers style in "Twins". Ty is not just signed to one label, he is a free-agent that makes records for many labels. I am a huge fan of Drag City, so that was actually the reason that I picked up "Twins" and gave Ty that other chance. Have you given him one yet?
HOLY FUCKING HELL! Nothing can prepare you for what "The Seer" has planned for you! It doesn't matter if you are a prior Swans fan, and you think you know what your getting. This record will blow your mind! It's a double disc masterpiece that have songs that sometimes stretch out to 26 minutes! Don't let that scare....no wait be afraid, be very afraid! Swans have mellowed with age, but their kind of mellow still blows away bands that are young and on fire. I can't say too much about the music, but you need to hear this.
1.Raymond Byron & The White Freighter-Little Death Shaker
Not just any record can be my Number 1, it has to mean many things to me. I have spent a long time with this record to be honest. Ray sent me a copy back in 2011, when it was first completed. You see Raymond Byron is the nom-de-plume of Raymond Raposa of Castanets, and back then the record was done, but I think Ray was in a "chrysalis" phase. After 10 years of doing Castanets, I think he was ready for a change. I would like to think that I am Castanets biggest fan. I've interviewed Ray, and the two of us have become friends, so it was beyond an honor to me, to receive the record so early. I would write him time to time and ask when the record was coming out, and there always seemed to be a delay. So I was blown away when I found out it was coming out, but it wasn't going to be a "Castanets" record! At first I was kind of hurt....I mean I fucking LOVED Castanets. But I realized it was just a name, and Ray is what was important, and somewhere inside, I knew it was too mature for a Castanets record. Little Death Shaker is a fucking barn burner!! There are no two ways around it. I am saddened to know that it isn't already a massive hit like it deserves to be! I really hoped that the name change, and the new band, would not only invigorate Ray, but drive the public to check out what might even be the record of the decade!! There are road songs, and Blues songs, beautiful heartbreaking Country songs, and even the trademark "Raposa noise freakouts" on this record. It flows so damned well, there is no doubt in my mind that God had a hand in sequencing it. This is one of those records that I want to make copies of and give to everyone that I know loves music, in hopes that someone will love it as much as I do. I reckon I might've listened to it 500 times already, and still not tired of it, to me that is a sign of a timeless record. Thank you Ray for bestowing that gift onto me, and making such a wonderful record that I know will be a part of my life for a long time to come!!