Features Music Year End 2012 Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2012)

Year End 2012

Music: Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2012)

15

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

Williams Street Records

With production by El-P, it's clear from the get-go that R.A.P Music is going to share a more-than-close relationship with the history of the genre. As well as that, we get politics, personal reflection, hip-hop namechecking and deconstruction of police discrimination. Production wise it's bold and innovative (electric guitars, organs) and overall feels lean, hardened and confident. Already being labelled "a love letter to rap music" - fans of the genre will love the namedropping and history. (Matt)

16

Soundgarden - King Animal

Universal

Despite Chris Cornell claiming a reunion wasn't on the cards, grunge heroes Soundgarden released their first album in fifteen years in 2012. This isn't revisionism: things still feel urgent and powerful, with Cornell's vocals driving and forcing proceedings onwards. It grooves; it riffs; it experiments. It's not quite toppling their genre-defining work of the mid-90s just yet, but equally it's not the sound of a band making a quick buck touring the nostalgia circuit. (Matt)

17

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

Interscope/Top Dawg/Aftermath

I feel compelled to share my take on Kendrick Lamar’s second studio album Good Kid: M.A.A.D. City because of the impact it has made in the short time since its release. Despite heavy themes, the beats are decidedly subtle and stripped down, more reminiscent of the ‘90s hip-hop and more akin to west coast atmospheric instrumentals. Kendrick has an uncanny ability to juxtapose hard hitting verses with distant beats, making his first person narratives seem more removed and reflective. GKMC stands out in a time when many rap artists choose to release singles and fail to produce cohesive full-length albums. It’s meant to be listened to from beginning to end, and I suggest that you do so at your earliest convenience. (Hayley)

18

Bell Witch - Longing

Profound Lore Records

This is the sound of a haunting. A twenty minute opener; a permanent feeling of pessimism and hopelessness; reverberating endlessly. Mixing dual vocalists and sparse, drawn-out dirges, this is doom for people whose world is consumed by pain. Not an easy listen and certainly not for newcomers to the genre, but challenging and diseased to the core -- in the best possible way. (Matt)

19

Crystal Castles - III

Fiction

Aptly-titled, III is the third album by Ethan Kath and Alice Glass, the Canadian experimental electro-noise duo collectively known as Crystal Castles. They are everything you wish you could be: shadowy, ingenious, skinny, and punk as motherfucking fuck. With percussion that thumps like a persistent authoritarian finger-tapping your congested chest and searing, agitated synths that spike into the backs of your eyeballs with the ease of a hot knife through warm butter, it’s the best dream you’ve ever had and your worst imaginable nightmare colliding face-first deep in recesses of your brain matter; erupting into a tepid, saccharine goo that flows through your body in a hurried uneasiness. I’ve never done heroin, but I’m guessing this is what the first taste is like. III is mood-altering, strangely danceable, and most of all, frightening yet beautiful vandalism. (Nathan)

20

Rush - Clockwork Angels

Roadrunner

On some days, when I’m really brutally honest with myself, I can safely admit that all of my favourite old rock bands from the 1970s have gone completely past the point of no return; they’ll never release an album of the same calibre as those from their heyday, they’ll never sell out huge stadiums and get the attention they used to, they’ll never write another song that will be included amongst their ‘canon’ of tracks in constant rotation on classic rock radio. Every band, except for one, that is. Rush long ago set the standard for virtuosity in rock bands; now they’re just shattering it themselves over and over again. Let me put it this way: some bands Rush’s age are releasing songs that are pale imitations of their former sound. Rush are rewriting their own ‘best of’ collections with every release. (Sarah)

21

Roc Marciano - Reloaded

Decon

New Yorker Marciano digs deep into hip-hop in this noir-themed record encompassing jazz, classic soul, food, sex, and everything in between. Lyrically unique and original, Marciano dwells on the city, his encounters with the law, fish recipes and women. Production is varied and evocative: a record for the nighttime with well-picked guests and smart instrumentation. Reloaded is vibrant, stylish and smoky. (Matt)

22

Bison B.C. - Lovelessness

Metal Blade

Every band reaches their peak at some point. Some blow their wads right out of the gate and spend the rest of their careers desperately trying to recreate an inexplicable combination of luck, talent, and inspiration. Some clumsily struggle through multiple albums worth of missteps before finally finding their collective voice. Others allow you to tag along on their journey from a promising beginning through an exciting period of growth, to the creation of their definitive album. Bison b.c. now fit firmly in this final category. Lovelessness is easily my favorite album of 2012 and should be the one that places Bison b.c. directly in the spotlight as one of the best heavy metal bands in existence. While this album certainly feels like a defining moment for the band, the urgency and confidence on display leaves the impression that they have yet to reach their peak. (Steven I)

23

Toys That Kill - Fambly 42

Recess

Fambly 42 is a rocker, and it totally lives up to the wait. “Mobbed by the 3’s” is a quick reminder of what sets Toys That Kill apart from their related projects: the upbeat energy and singalong nature of the songs and the subtle changes therein that alter the progression without hindering the flow. This record may have been years in the making, but it feels immediate and relevant—something that usually isn’t said about similarly delayed projects. The chemistry of the band and the distinct songwriting combines to make an early favorite for record of the year as well as prompts me to dig through the CD pile for the rest of their catalog. (Loren)

24

Mission Of Burma - Unsound

Fire

In the early eighties when the Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma announced their decision to stop playing and recording due to guitarist Roger Millers tinnitus issues, it seemed like the end of an era. The band enjoyed notoriety, not on the charts, but among music lovers/fans in general who were in love with the pure ferocity, quirky melodies, and raw lyrics espoused in songs like “Academy Fight Song” and “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”. This July, Mission of Burma released Unsound, continuing to push themselves to the limits. All in all, these guys haven’t lost a step and are still pushing the boundaries of punk and post-punk while still maintaining the edge and feel of when the band first hit the scene. (Scott W)

25

Cheap Girls - Giant Orange

Rise

It takes approximately 30 seconds to decide whether or not Cheap Girls’ latest album, Giant Orange, is to your liking. The overall, upbeat feel of the album is firmly established within the first few lines of “Gone All Summer,” instantly pulling you into the downtrodden world of bassist/vocalist Ian Graham and co. and not letting up once throughout. The 3 years in between full-lengths has culminated into one of the year’s best records that transcends labels of punk and rock and whatever the hell else the kids are calling music these days. Giant Orange leaves only more to be desired from the Midwestern trio and it’ll be exciting to see what they come up with next. (Nick M)

26

Rome - Hell Money

Trisol

Bleak, broken and bereft of hope: Hell Money is the sound of sparse, tormented and crude dwellings on emotion. Mostly acoustic guitar and vocals, it's a challenging but honest listen forcing you to confront sadness, greed, shame and anger. Stark, with hints of industrial noise, and yet folk-like in its stripped nature, this is a haunting but personal insight into the psyche of a troubled mind. (Matt)

27

Gojira - L'Enfant Sauvage

Roadrunner

If there’s any band that defies easy description, it has to be French progressive metal band Gojira. Featuring influences and techniques from a variety of complex metal genres, incredibly technically talented band members, and an environmental fixation only a few degrees short of an actual whale fetish, these guys are anything but your standard death metallers. The title track is one of the most explosive pieces the band has ever released, if not the best individual song of their entire career, and unlike most Gojira pieces, you’ll probably wind up singing along to it, drawn up in the inexorable grip of its anthemic chorus. (Sarah)

28

Classics Of Love - Self Titled

Asian Man

Initial impressions with the record are good. There’s a driving energy, a clear structure to the songs, and it just sounds good. Michaels knows how to put a catchy song together and the sound isn’t a stretch from his previous endeavors. Lyrically, Michaels is his old self. The songs are political in nature, but the lyrics still roll with admirable cohesion given weight of the subject, feeling personal and political alike. The record is a call to action, from referencing Woody Guthrie in “Would-Be Kings” to ending the record on the line “we need a change,” there’s a very clear focus. (Loren)

29

Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Polyvinyl

The sound of this Canadian duo has heartfelt lyrics and their underground sound makes it feels as though they’re performing right in front of you - perfect for summer and great for playing in the background while you and your friends have a couple of pints. The overall sound has been heard before, but the duo ensures that their uniqueness shines through the melodies and sounds in Celebration Rock, captivating their audience and newborn fans. (Lucy M)

30

fun. - Some Nights

Fueled By Ramen

I applaud fun. for taking their chance with this album. Although they’re no strangers to ambition, this was a new direction that they pulled off. It’s hard to compare to their debut as they’re two completely different albums that can appeal to two different audiences. Despite a couple gripes, Some Nights was a pleasure to listen to and is gonna be one of the better albums I hear this year. I welcome whatever water they plan to tread next. This band can only get bigger and they certainly deserve to. (Aaron)

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Words by the SPB team on Jan. 12, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

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Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2012)

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Pages in this feature:

  1. Albums: 15-30
  2. Individual staff lists
  3. Graphs and annual data
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