Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 according to

This year, my once perfect relationship with has been rocky - it stopped adding my iPod plays to my music charts, and I moved out and forgot about it for a while, so my page doesn't really represent my music listening these days. Still, here's what it says were my top albums in 2012.

At the top is Portishead, reflecting the grim few months I had listening to Dummy. It's a great album, but if you're listening to it without drugs, you're probably not in a great mood.

Then, of course, coming in next is Paralytic Stalks, of Montreal's second-to-last release - a mind-blowingly good album. The first song I heard from it, 'Spiteful Intervention', arrived in my life at the perfect time, but even without that, I think I would have fallen in love with it. Wildly experimental, the whole album sounds like a man vomiting out his soul, gradually, starting with the bilious complaint of 'Gelid Ascent' and gradually spewing up every negative and unsustainable emotion he's ever felt towards a lover, ending with the bitter after-spasms of 'Authentic Pyrric Remission'. Thanks to Paralytic Stalks, I went and found False Priest and Skeletal Lamping, both awesomely crazy albums, but Stalks remains my favourite. There's a depth of darkness there which takes the absurdity out of the sound effects; the earlier albums lack that, and so they're emotionally tiring. Still worth a listen though. And a dance.

Then there's the project of Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, One of my Kind, the new album. I wrote about it recently on here but it deserves another plug. Oberst said in an interview once that his Bright Eyes material was usually made mostly in the studio, messing with sounds, whereas the Mystic Valley Band run through with much more of a live focus, recording together, and so you get a different listening experience from the two projects. I like the Mystic Valley Band's output - it may be less analysable than Bright Eyes' music, but it's very listenable.

Lee Ranaldo and The Cribs are, of course, also in amongst my most-listened - both albums are atmospheric, though for different reasons - Between the Times and the Tides is rich with Ranaldo's warm guitar and vocals, whereas In the Belly of the Brazen Bull is violent, raw, unhappy, but provides an escape from reality in much the same way, though into a greyer, more desolate realm.

I've also been listened to the old favourites - Reuben, Bright Eyes, Mother Mother and Belle and Sebastian appear (I can't stop listening to Tigermilk for some reason) and a couple of artists I hadn't given much attention before - most notably No Doubt and Joan Armatrading.

I recommend all of the above, and say to anyone who reads this - Happy New Year, and have a safe journey into the post-apocalyptic world of 2013.

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