Favorite albums of 2012

My music listening was way down this year. I blame it on all the movies and starting a new job. The end result is that my best picks here probably aren’t quite as strong as they were in 2008, 2009, 2010, or 2011. But still, some good stuff. As in previous years, the vast majority of this came before 2012, but this was the year I paid attention.
January

Mariah Carey Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits – Mariah Carey. This album saw me through the end of a hard winter. So much goodness. I don’t know if I’ll ever dive into one of her full albums… but some of these peaks are so high I may reconsider. Emotions!

Return to the Winners Circle – Curren$y. If I needed to, I could rank this solely on the strength of Moon & Stars Remix. Rare that the headliner and two guest rappers all just destroy their verses. And I love that backbeat.

The Soul Tape – Fabolous. I like Pain (“An old head told me, let nothing disturb your business / Beef is only good when you in the burger business”) and In the Morning.

February

Da Chip

Da Chip Vol. 1 & 2 was a fun listen, but probably works best if you’re already familiar with Daft Punk, right?

March

Senor Coconut, El Baile Aleman

Sometimes you don’t realize it, but what your life is missing is an awesome collection of Kraftwerk tunes covered with a Latin/lounge feel. Thankfully my buddy John knew what I needed to hear: El Baile Alemán from Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto. For all the campiness, there’s some smart, creative arrangements here. Neon Lights and Showroom Dummies are good examples.

Fuck a Mixtape – T.I.. I don’t loooove the whole album, but worthy of mention: No Competition is my JAM.

Big Bach Set. It’s a great bargain. The Mass in B minor is a big draw, but besides that, the Adagio from the Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1060 really stood out. Pizzicato in stereo is so wonderful on headphones.

April

Young Jeezy, Come Shop Wit Me

My best music month overall.

Come Shop Wit Me – Young Jeezy. I’m 9 years late, but it’s album of the year for me. My faves from Jeezy’s second are: Let Me Hit Dat (love those reverb guitars and the overactive bass; Fi Chief & Big Dank kill it), Take It to the Floor (pump-up/act like I’m someone I’m not song), Come Shop Wit Me (fun storytelling, and the overdriven bass line reminds me of a late ’80s video game), Thug Ya (steel drums!), and Bananas (fat, dopey bass, and something about his voice in the verses here: looser, goofier, unhinged).

Way Down Low from my friend Kat Edmonson. Listen to “Hopelessly Blue”. I mean, geez. Incredible voice.

Blue Afternoon. You’d figure I’d catch on to Tim Buckley sooner, having spent college obsessing over his son’s music. You’d figure wrong. Listen to Happy Time and Blue Melody. He’s got a wonderful back-up band. The whole gang is so loose. And look at that album cover!

And I can’t forget Françoise Hardy’s Soleil. I don’t understand any of it, but the mood is right. My favorite track is Je fais des puzzles.

May

Beach House, Bloom

Bloom – Beach House. It’s a lot like the previous three, which is totally fine by me. (I think only Bach and Camera Obscura beats them in my music archive for comfy, catchy, beloved predictability.) Myth is an obvious stand-out, but I think the verses on New Year are kinda genius. Same for Wild.

Shortly after that album came out, I caught Beach House on tour again. On the drive back from Athens, a friend introduced me to Bad Vibes by Shlohmo. Drippy, druggy lullabies. Places and Seriously are favorites.

June
I got nothin’.

July

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless

Loveless – My Bloody Valentine. Woah. Slept on this one but the Grantland article woke me up. I was so proud of myself when I recognized the Loomer/Optimistic resemblance.

August

Tangerine Dream, Thief

A great month for radio in the car!

Kaleidoscope Dream – Miguel. Adorn has gotten crazy playtime in Atlanta. That bass is perfect for your car. And I love how the harmony is a little suppressed, so that voice and the bass do all the driving.

Trilla – Rick Ross. My friend Katie and I were driving to one of my favorite places to eat too much, if I recall correctly. I heard the opening sample from my favorite Stevie Wonder album in Here I Am and I was sold. I made her Shazam it for future reference.

To round out the group: Channel Orange – Frank Ocean. WRAS 88.5 FM played Pyramids while I was driving over to another friend named John‘s house and I lost it. I *had* to call in and find out what it was. You can’t beat that feeling.

I didn’t hear it on the radio, but I can’t forget the Thief soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. Probably best if you’ve seen the awesome movie, but it’s great for working on secret projects.

September
{crickets}

October
I didn’t bother with the whole album, but Clique from Cruel Summer is dope. Perfect beat, but the song doesn’t really take flight until Jay-Z gets on the mic (that jet engine glissando helps). Kanye takes lovable insufferability to a new level.

November

Toru Takemitsu, Asterism, Requiem, Green, Dorian Horizon

Asterism/Requiem/Green/The Dorian Horizon – Toru Takemitsu. I really like it, but only recommended if you’ve got ears for late 20th-century orchestral music…

December
It’s not too late for your suggestions!

Fun fact: I have a podcast

I haven’t talked about work much in the 3 or so years I’ve been running this site, but I thought it was time to share a side project I’ve been involved in. I’m a co-host of Stuff from the B-Side [iTunes link], wherein, twice a week, my friend John and I have a conversation about some aspect of the musical world. John knows about 38 times as much as I do and we always a good, low-key time.
I was looking back through the RSS file for our episodes and realized I’d been doing recordings for a half-year-ish now. The first couple (dozen) episodes I was in were pretty rough. But I always listen every week and it’s nice to hear (what I think somewhat resembles) progress. It’s certainly feels more comfortable in front of the microphones. It’s not nearly as strange to listen to my own voice anymore.

It’s nice that we get a lot of freedom to be the curious people that we are, exploring topics as we get fascinated by them or as listeners request them. Favorite episodes? I’m partial to the ones in which we talk about:

  • Musicians who use alter egos (including a discussion about the post-modern meta-cultural qualities of Hannah Montana and Eminem)
  • How to decipher classical music titles
  • The 1980s cassette version of iTunes
  • Guilty pleasures and what makes music “cool”
  • Brian Eno’s Music for Airports
  • Narcocorridos
  • The life and times of Billie Holiday
  • Terry Riley’s In C
  • Wizard Rock
  • Leonard Cohen
  • The West Coast/East Coast rivalry
  • The Dies Irae melody
  • Etc.

Also, I’d be silly not to mention that I’ve got smarter, even more well-spoken colleagues that do many other podcasts [iTunes] that are even better.

DCPD Bangerz, Vol. 1

I get a kick out of nerdcore rapper ytcracker‘s album DCPD Bangerz:

my friend mikey pasted me a link in skype to this police department‚Äôs site –

http://www.dekalbpolice.com/

EVERY page on this website was filled with the most banging beats i had ever heard. whoever picked these beats for this website seriously needs to be an a&r for a major record label.

i decided to make a concept album using some of the hot beats on these pages and creating a backstory for the song based on what information was on the page. the songs are all named after the .html you can find the beat and story on.

I live in DeKalb, so it was a nice surprise to come across this. I think index_home.html [mp3] is my favorite, but executive_command.html is a very close second. [via decatur metro]

I recommend Wieland Samolak’s 1993 album, Steady State Music:

When I was a teenager I used to sit on an empty field listening for hours to the sounds of distant cars, railroads, helicopters, and other motorized objects. These sounds, which are very rough and noisy when they are near, attracted me from the distance because they had merged and diffused into a continuum when they reached my ears. By this experience it came to my mind that it is more satisfying for me to listen to continuous changes within one sound than to the combinations of discreet sonic events usually found in music.

Weekly muxtape, unusual edition

muxtape, unusal edition
The only reason I put together the unusual edition is because of the first track “Strange Overtones”. I’ve been repeating that religiously since I heard it earlier this weekend. I haven’t had a track get such heavy play since “Weird Fishes”. Other highlights include Victor Wooten’s sick bass solo around the 2-minute mark in “Oddity,” and Paul Desmond’s saxophone work in “Strange Meadow Lark,” which has some unusual 10-bar phrases.