Here are 20 musical things I enjoyed a great deal in calendar year 2012.
- El-P. He released one of the best hip-hop records of the year (Cancer4Cure) and produced another (Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music). He also supplied tracks for 37,000 other songs you heard and loved this year. Dude basically won music in 2012.
- Spiritualized, Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. Even a second-tier Spiritualized record is a cause for celebration. Plus this single. My god.
- Bandcamp. This site has revolutionized the way I discover, consume, and even distribute music. It does one thing, and it does that one thing perfectly. No social element, no ads, not even a goddamn volume slider. A triumph.
- Meshuggah, Koloss. One of those records that makes you want to pile up all your guitar stuff in the backyard and set it on fire. Why bother?
- Being in Kowloon Walled City. I love these guys and the music we make together. It’s a joy.
- Spotify Premium. Another tool that’s revolutionized how I experience music. This is the future, so bands and labels can get on board or get the fuck out of the way.
- Call Me Maybe. Probably listened to this song more than any other in 2012. What a jam.
- Girls Talk. Without a doubt my second-most-listened-to song of 2012. One night last week I sat at my desk and listened to the Dave Edmunds and Elvis Costello versions on repeat for literal hours, just marveling at the writing and arrangement. Simply wonderful.
- Bit of a Blur. This Alex James biog was charming, funny, touching, and informative. Highly recommended.
- Death Grips. Released two crazy-good records in 2012 and managed to get dropped from their major label. None more punk.
- Trash Talk, 119. Just a fucking great hardcore record.
- KWC playing with Sleep in Seattle and Oakland. What an amazing experience, and a total honor.
- Robyn. Only really discovered this badass elfin Swedish woman this year, and, as you can see in the image above, she dominated my earholes.
- SEGER. Not a new discovery per se, but I only really dug into his catalog this year. You need this desperately.
- My Lucifer’s Friend chest-piece. I don’t understand how these guys aren’t incredibly famous. Makes no sense to me. They were so. Fucking. Good.
- Mount Carmel, Real Women. Have you heard of Free? These guys have.
- Devil’s Blood, The Thousandfold Epicentre LP and live show. Billed as “occult rock,” which I guess means “sounds like Mercyful Fate,” this Dutch band released one of my favorite records of the year and also completely destroyed my face when they played Slim’s in April. Thousandfold Epicentre flew under the radar a little bit and didn’t end up on a single year-end list that I’ve seen, at least in part, I assume, due to a January ‘12 release. But you should check it out.
- Mahavishnu Orchestra. I thought I hated fusion until I finally listened to these guys. Turns out I only hated shitty fusion.
- Blur, Parklive. This record would’ve made the list even if it were terrible, but it’s actually pretty great. The crowd noise can be a bit much at times, but the jams are righteous. The old dudes can still bring it.
- Michael Schenker at Mezzanine. Some years ago, I paid a relatively large sum of money to see UFO at The Edge in Palo Alto. The show took fucking forever to get going, and when UFO finally did hit the stage, it was clear that Michael Schenker was in no condition to play. He was shitfaced and combative, and the show fell apart after 2 or 3 songs. It was an enormous bummer, and we never even got our money back.
Fast-forward like 20 years, and MSG is playing in SF. I’m tempted to go, because Schenker is still a god to me, but no way am I paying money to see what might be a debacle. But I end up getting comps to the show, and get to watch the show from the VIP section with James Hetfield.
And Schenker absolutely fucking DESTROYS EVERYTHING.
Every note of every legendary solo was perfect, and his band of olds held it together behind him. But goddamn, what a redemption. Rock n’ roll, y’all. I love it.