Monday, December 31, 2012

Obligatory Best Of 2012 List!

Time once again my friends to look back in anger at the year we all just wasted.
2012 was the best of times and it was the worst of times...well not really... it was pretty damned bad though, perhaps not the worst...I mean there was no bubonic plague or Mongol hordes marauding about asking for directions. Yet we can hardly say it was the best of times either.
Well maybe for a handful of corporate types, but chances are they aren't reading this. Chances are they are acting out the "aristocrats" joke.  As for the rest of us, face it 2012 sucked way worse than the Mayans ever could have predicted. The economy was so bad, all new houses were built with foreclosure signs already on them and you serve cat food at parties only when you want to impress your guests.
In December I took the kids to Rockefeller Center, renown for it's giant Christmas Tree...We watched as a giant crane lowered it's boom and it's payload was lowered down into place on steel cables...
it wasn't the tree though,
it was NJ Governor Chris Christie being hoisted into his pants
...a daily occurrence...nothing special.
One of the memorable events of the year however was when a  petition for Texas to secede appeared...
It gathered  25,000 signatures!
However all the signatures were from every state but Texas.
The economy sucked, the weather sucked, the arts suffered, and cold sores were numerous.
There was little to like.
And little reason to believe 2013 will be an improvement.
There were however some musical highlights!

And here they are, the best of 2012!

The best CD released this year was by far
"The Golden Age Of Madness"
By Ben New

Ben New's vision of Meta-pop-rock
with a cunning blend of surreal and effusive lyrics,
sharp rhythmic play,
and latent melodicism;
dreamy, but full of rhythmic energy and passion.

The Best release of 2012!

A very close second.
Boys and Girls
By  Alabama Shakes

Brittany Howard - rock 'n' soul vocalist of the year!
Great music, well written and beautifully performed.
If you haven't heard should!

3rd place honors

Sort of pop/art/rock music here which easily morphs from verse to chorus to bridge in a lovely intelligent way. Outstanding for it's shifting arrangements, jolting starts and stops. The arrangements draw from prog-rock yet this album deals mainly in catchy pop music. The lyrics are dispensed in a way that feels comically overstated at times, with a  film noir feel at other times.
It works well though!


Fiona Apple's first studio album in seven years!
Painful and sometimes startling musical revelations.
Songs of seduction, shaky romances, irresistible sex, loneliness, narcissism and ego-less insecurities.

Esa-Pekka Salonen collaborated with violinist Leila Josefowicz to produce this fascinating Violin Concerto. Salonen's music is diverse and transparent, brilliantly orchestrated and inspired by Stravinsky, Lutoslawski and Debussy yet quite his own. though "pushing the envelope" for both the orchestra and violinist is evident here the end result is a very nuanced music with an extraordinary range of textures performed perfectly.
Must have!

Regina Spektor
What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

Regina is an excellent storyteller, with a musical catalog influenced by the Beatles pop and rock sensibilities and classical training, her music comes alive with drama and with humor. Considered part of the "anti folk" movement, one song on What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is written from the point of view of a painting.
You Gotta love this album!

Leonard Cohen- Old Ideas

Leonard has released only a dozen studio records in 45 years and nothing since 2004.
He's now in his late 70s, so we're not likely to see many more albums.
Old Ideas is a thoughtful bit of philosophy, an insight into aging,
just what you might want from such an outing!
Especially if you live in Woking!
(wink wink nudge nudge)
Seriously though it is a gem, a rare one.
By far one of my favorite live shows of this year...
This Rodrigo y Gabriela's first recorded collaboration with another group of musicians;
a thirteen piece Cuban orchestra composed of some of Havana's finest young players,
collectively known as the C.U.B.A.
I know many fans did not like the idea of them doing something other than a duo...however I did!
This was an incredible band!
Buy the CD!
You will not regret it!

Forty-five years after his debut and eight years since his last record, Jimmy Cliff returns in 2012 with an old-school reggae album that is pure dynamite.
A fantastic selection of songs that old fans and new will enjoy.
The man's voice is golden as ever.
I particularly enjoyed his cover of the Clash’s classic tune, “Guns of Brixton.”
But every cut is a winner.

SOUNDGARDEN – King Animal (Deluxe Edition)

 Yes that's right...
after a 16-year break, the members of Soundgarden have released a brand new CD with the band completely intact and rocking as well as ever.  Chris Cornell is in fine form, and Kim Thayil still can make his guitar roar.  The most unusual thing about “King Animal” is that it essentially picks up exactly where the band left off on “Down on the Upside.”  This album could’ve come out in 1998 or 1999.  Nothing about it screams 2012.  Muscular workouts like “Non-State Actor” and “Been Away Too Long” would be huge hits if radio still played rock music.  Let’s hope this reunion sticks and that there is more to come because it is simply good music. And Rock is not dead.
Though it smells funny.

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