30 Years of Music: 2012

2012 is very recent history, yes, but let’s pretend that this installment of 30 Years of Music is better than all the “Best Of” posts you saw last December and January. We’ve got indie hip-hop, dance party gems, and worry not, a fair amount of guitar too.

Logo for 30 Years of Music: 2012

“Lightning Bolt” – Jake Bugg

I’d never heard of Jake Bugg until I saw him open for Noel Gallagher and Snow Patrol last October in Portland. He had a 30 minute set, stood there on his own and aced it. He’s 19 years old! His self-titled album came out not long after and did really well in the UK. What a start.

“Lightning Bolt” is definitely my favorite song out of the ones I’ve heard. It has such great energy in all its rambling forward motion. He’s definitely one to watch.

“The Malkin Jewel” – The Mars Volta

Seems I’ve managed to mention At The Drive-In, but have neglected to feature both spins-offs, Sparta and The Mars Volta. So here, nearly at the end of this column, let us have one Mars Volta song. (Though if I’m honest, I prefer Sparta. An oversight on my part.) I’m really not that familiar with the band, nor the album Noctourniquet, but I respect what they have going on. So this one’s for you, loud concept-rock fans.

“Freedom at 21” – Jack White

I’ve certainly had a lot to say about Jack White over the past few weeks, in all his various incarnations, despite not owning anything by him. Could someone just be my generous benefactor and buy me his entire catalog? I repay with love. Think about it.

Solo, Jack White is missing none of the oomph felt in his previous bands, though it’s sort of funny to see a video like this from him, directed by Hype Williams. Also, I’m wondering if this was shot in Montana, near Glacier National Park? That tunnel he drives through looks very familiar, as does the other scenery.

“Blood For Poppies” – Garbage

Another reunion for festival season! Hey, never let it be said that ’90s bands don’t know how to get more bang for their buck. Still, this is Shirley Manson and Company that we’re talking about, and the result is fantastic.

I haven’t heard the rest of the album yet. Have any of you? Is it as good as this?

“Blue Jeans” – Lana Del Ray

Lana Del Ray is one of the more recent performers some people like to complain about. Is her music life-changing or super innovative? Maybe not, but I enjoy it, and this line amuses me, “I love you more than those bitches before.”

Maybe I’m reading way too much into it, but her whole Born to Die album strikes me as upper-class ennui performance art.

“How to be a Heartbreaker” – Marina and The Diamonds

Can I tell you how fond I am of “[X] and The [Y]” band names? Yes, yes, it feeds into that whole, “Let’s only pay attention to the singer” thing, but “¦ Well, how many of you care about “The Machine” paired without Florence? Yeah.

Anyway, this Marina and The Diamonds song is a bit of dancey silliness, and the video is filled with showering swimmer-bodied men. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and ain’t nothing wrong with that.

“Sunday Drive” – Ladyhawke

I really enjoy Ladyhawke’s music, and upon streaming her most recent album, Anxiety, “Sunday Drive” stood out immediately. I don’t really have much to say about it other than, y’know, Good tune. Do give it a whirl.

“Small Town Moon” – Regina Spektor

My mom saw Regina Spektor play on SNL and enjoyed her enough to mention it to me, which is unusual for her. I already owned Begin to Hope, but for Christmas, I bought her What We Saw From The Cheap Seats rather than keeping it for myself.

“Small Town Moon” is the opening song, and it and the whole rest of the album is the high quality you would expect from Spektor. I definitely recommend it.

“Every Single Night” – Fiona Apple

Finally, a new Fiona album! To be honest, I haven’t given the album a dedicated, solid listen, though I did buy it almost immediately upon its release. The bit I have heard, I’ve really liked, but let’s take a moment to appreciate another one of her long, long poem-album-titles:

The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

No, it’s not as lengthy as When The Pawn[…] is, but I love that she’s not afraid to be unusual.

“Bon Voyeurs” – Blaqk Audio

I gave this song an Honorable Mention in Alphabet Soup, and my original sentiment remains: This song is damn sexy.

Let’s give them a show they might find alluring…

G’wan, Davey. Sing it.

“Bad Religion” – Frank Ocean

Speaking of “Sing it“ sentiments, what a performance Frank Ocean gave on Jimmy Fallon. In advance of his album Channel Orange, he announced he was not straight (though avoided using a label like “bisexual” or anything else, fair play) and simultaneously knocked everyone over with the greatness that is “Bad Religion.”

I could never make him love me, no…

The lyric content, the strings, The Roots, all of it – I mean, damn, what a debut TV performance.

“Same Love” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (feat. Mary Lambert)

Yes, we all love “Thrift Shop” because it is goddamn brilliant, but I full on believe that Macklemore’s “Same Love” was partially responsible for marriage equality happening in Washington State. The song is beautiful, important, and always leaves me a little verklempt.

“Mourning in America” – Brother Ali

I became familiar with Brother Ali through the mister, who is a big fan of much of the Rhymesayers label catalog. Brother Ali, being an albino Muslim based out of Minneapolis, has a unique perspective. Also, he has the insane talent with which to showcase his viewpoints. His lyric writing ability, political sensibilities, and delivery are among the best.

“Fuck Your Stuff” – P.O.S.

So, that’s an attention grabbing title. Fortunately, P.O.S. has the skills to keep your ears listening, and “Fuck Your Stuff” is the anti-commercial hip-hop. He’s labelmates with Brother Ali, and his other group, Doomtree, is also definitely worth your time.

I saw him open for Atmosphere a few years ago, and he put on an excellent show.

“Sonic Armada” – Air

I love Air’s album tribute to the 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon... or in Air’s native French, Le voyage dans la lune. The band released a special digital version of the album that paired their songs with a restored version of the film. I managed to buy this version on sale, and it was more than worth it. I recommend listening to it on headphones.

Next week, we’ll be covering my favorite songs from 2013 so far, but first, peruse last year’s releases and tell me what you dig.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

7 thoughts on “30 Years of Music: 2012”

  1. I was still reviewing last year, and I managed to get both the Regina and Fiona albums as review copies. Yeah me. I love them both. Fiona is just so ace and weirdly loveable, and as for Ms Spektor, the Russianness alone will do for me ;) Also, “Firewood” is… just… soooo… beautiful. Sob.

  2. I rarely buy albums, but I totally bought Fiona Apple’s album last year and I think I listened to it on repeat for weeks. I really, really loved it.

    I also got a lot of play from Santigold’s stuff last year.

    In the classical realm, I thought Cecilia Bartoli’s Mission work was amazing (and the cover art was just fantastic.) I love how she’s jumped from being a classic repertoire singer to taking on these interesting projects that investigate lesser known works.

    Jeremy Denk’s Beethoven album was also really really good.

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