Why do the year-end lists always seem to come in tidy sums of ten, twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred? I would have gone and given you a baker’s dozen but I stopped myself at twelve, for fear of being overbearing. You know how overarching these lists can be.
12. Beacon – No Body EP Deep south bass, hip hop beats, angelic male vocals, dramatic segues and video backdrops, girly pop rips and ambient dance grooves, what’s not to dig?
11. White Ring – Felt You 12″ This fearsome electro duo covers Neil Young on one side and puts their razor sharp single on the other, so be on your guard, or your toes, and take note. Their version of Neil Young’s classic “Hey Hey, My My”, alongside their track “Felt U”, is mesmerizing, bewitching stuff.
10. Bleeding Knees Club – Virginity EP I had a feeling they’d win me over sometime during CMJ 2011, as easily as a feather up your nose causes a sneeze, and this Aussie surf/skate punk duo (trio live) is snotty, catchy, Ramones-y, immediate, ballsy fun. Word.
9. S.C.U.M. – Again Into Eyes LP Though I tried not to be a fan, it was in vain. This band revels in making music that’s the best mix of the dark 80s, (not that they’d admit that), yes, but under the veil of an albeit utopian, yet otherworldly mist.
8. The Horrors – Skying LP I never thought the boys in this band would outgrow their batcave looks and brassy Birthday Party licks after their debut to become the well-endowed (in music, that is), subtly anthemic band they are today. Amazing evolution.
7. Dom – Family of Love EP There’s always “time to get gnarly” and this bratty but clever Worcesterite with the wild ginger locks summons playful, twenty-something louche culture in an oddly comforting way that led me to need to hear my daily dose for months.
6. Clams Casino – Rainforest EP Melancholic swoon, dream beats, ghostly samples and hip-hop nuances make this EP by the young NJ-based producer a varied, textural hymn of chill time moods.
5. Atlas Sound – Parallax LP Bowie-esque glam seduction blends with Bradford Cox’s silken croon. The album, dedicated to Broadcast’s Trish Keenan who died this year, is a self-reflective meditation on fame, loneliness, and seduction in all its guises.
4. Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact LP Singer Lizzi Bougatsos is fascinatingly controlled and unleashed in a spirited, animalistic way, perfect for an escapist afternoon. Lizzi B. played wild percussion at the most recent Daryl K runway show in Gavin Brown’s gallery, which was a nice surprise.
3. The Black Lips – Arabia Mountain LP Scruffy, trippy washes of garage psych meets slick, surf rock riffs with lyrics that delve into something deeper than Black Lips have dared before. Plus, the fact that mesmerizing song “Mr. Driver” gets us to stand on tables and break chairs in our apartment means it’s got to be good.
2. Planningtorock – W LP My go-to album of the year. We rushed off the plane a couple of SXSW’s ago to try to see Janine/PTR perform at the SX headquarters but missed it by moments, sadly. This album’s a mixed bag of dramatic, experimental pop and androgynous otherworldly with oft pitch-twisted vocals that’s a constant tweak of soothing, yet unpredictable genius.
1. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake The 8th studio release and this lady is still crossing genres and one-upping herself in a confessional, oddly patriotic and soothsaying way that talks on war and self.