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The Best Music of 2012

The Best Music of 2012

It’s the last day of the year and I am finally getting around to posting my list of favorite albums of 2012.

The number one album goes to the one I listened to the most during the year, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, by Richard Hawley.

I have no idea how such a great album did not even make it on the KEXP listener’s poll of the top 120 albums. Watch the video. Take minute to request KEXP to play it, and buy the album.

Boys and Girls by Alabama Shakes comes in at number two.

KEXP listeners did approve of this album. It came in at Number 5.

Brian Jonestown Massacre comes in at Number 3 with Aufheben. Inexplicably missing from the KEXP list.

Bruce Springsteen put out his best album in many years. Wrecking Ball ranks Number 4 and it’s a perfect collection of political songs that was my soundtrack for the 2012 elections.

Dr. John put out his best album in decades. Locked Down was produced by Dan Auerback of The Black Keys, and he brought out the best of the Dr on this album.

No videos for the rest of this list. You know where to find them.

6. Banga, by Patti Smith
7. Sweet Heart, Sweet Light, by Spiritualized
8. Sonik Kicks, by Paul Weller
9. In Your Head, by Monophonics
10. Blues Funeral, by Mark Lanegan
11. Tempest, by Bob Dylan
12. Temple Beautiful, by Chuck Prophet
13. Blunderbuss, by Jack White
14. Circles, by Moon Duo
15. Sun, by Cat Power
16. O’ Be Joyful, by Shovels and Rope
17. Elegancia Tropical, by Bomba Estereo
18. Falling Off the Sky, by The dB’s
19. Twins, by Ty Segall
20. Synthetica, by Metric

I could go on but I’ll stop at twenty.

Tulip Frenzy chose Bend Beyond by Woods as the best album of the year. I recently bought it based on the review and it’s starting to grow on me. Other albums that caught my interest are Glad Rag Doll by Diana Krall featuring Marc Ribot on guitar, The House that Jack Built by Jesca Hoop, Tramp by Sharon Van Etten, Psychedelic Pill by Neil Young, Researching the Blues by Red Kross, and I Will Set You Free by Barry Adamson.

KEXP 40th Anniversary Top 40 of Past 40 Years

KEXP 40th Anniversary Top 40 of Past 40 Years

All week during KEXP’s pledge drive, they have been playing the top albums of the past 40 years as voted on by their supporters to celebrate their 40th Anniversary. The list is 650 albums long. Like me, you probably liked a lot of it, and didn’t like some of it.

You can read the whole list of 650 albums on the KEXP Top 40 of the Last 40 years here.

Here is their top 40:

1

NirvanaNevermind

2

RadioheadOK Computer

3

PixiesDoolittle

4

The ClashLondon Calling

5

U2The Joshua Tree

6

Arcade FireFuneral

7

David BowieThe Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust

8

RadioheadKid A

9

Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon

10

WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot

11

Bob DylanBlood On The Tracks

12

Sex PistolsNever Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

13

Beastie BoysPaul’s Boutique

14

The Rolling StonesExile On Mainstreet

15

Michael JacksonThriller

16

Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures

17

Pearl JamTen

18

Prince and the RevolutionPurple Rain

19

The CureDisintegration

20

PixiesSurfer Rosa

21

Neutral Milk HotelIn the Aeroplane Over The Sea

22

RadioheadThe Bends

23

Talking HeadsStop Making Sense

24

Led ZeppelinHouses Of The Holy

25

Fleetwood MacRumors

26

R.E.M.Automatic For The People

27

Paul SimonGraceland

28

New OrderPower, Corruption and Lies

29

The SmithsThe Queen Is Dead

30

Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream

31

The Flaming LipsYoshimi vs. The Pink Robots

32

RadioheadIn Rainbows

33

Led ZeppelinPhysical Graffiti

34

Beastie BoysLicensed To Ill

35

WeezerWeezer

36

Violent FemmesViolent Femmes

37

Neil YoungHarvest

38

Jeff BuckleyGrace

39

Sonic YouthDaydream Nation

40

Sufjan StevensIllinoise

41

R.E.M.Murmur

And now you may be asking yourself why this list of the top 40 goes to number 41. Well let me tell you: In my opinion, Sufjan Stevens’ album is not worthy of being on this list and R.E.M.’s Murmur is.

Sufjan bores the hell out of me.

Placement matters. Fore example, when KEXP did their top 903 albums of all time back in 2008. Sufjan placed 15th of all time, and Patti Smith placed 104th. (Anyone that tells me that Illinoise is better than Horses I immediately dismiss as a fool). So as I am glad to see that enough people have come to their senses to drop Sufjan’s album 26 places since 2008 and move Patti Smith’s Horses up 52 spots from 104th to 52nd, I still cannot accept that Illinoise is in KEXP’s top-40 list. Again I must ask who the hell are my fellow KEXP supporters and why do they like such boring music? And I won’t go too far out on a limb to predict that, in the next multi-generational poll, the fools will all have forgotten Illinoise, and Horses will prevail.

Enough of that…

What’s most interesting about these lists besides who made it to the top ten (Congratulations to Nirvana for taking the Number One spot over Radiohead, who usually places Number One in these polls, and yes I have come to appreciate Radiohead more since the last multigenerational poll [more about that here, although I prefer The Bends over OK Computer, but nevermind]) are the albums missing from the list.

What’s missing?

Scott H. Biram – Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever

Capsula – In the Land of Silver Souls

The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across the Land

Jim White – Wrong Eyed Jesus

Nick Cave – every album except Let Love In that placed 591st.

Richard Hawley – True Love’s Gutter

Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine

Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity

Just to name a few…

I can’t blame KEXP for these omissions, because they play and promote all of the above artists who are missing, so all I’m left with is their listeners.

Wake up KEXP listeners! There are way better artists than many of the 650 listed, but you just aren’t paying attention. Maybe some of the ones I’ve pointed out are not in your wheelhouse. I get that, and I also get that expanding your horizons is why KEXP is so loved around the world.

So next time you hear Capsula, Jim White, The Duke Spirit, Scott H. (the “H” stands for “FUCK YOU”) Biram, Alejandro Escovedo, or Lydia Loveless – pay attention and expand your horizons. You might really like some of this stuff. You might even like it more than you think you like Sufjan Stevens!

Oh… I forgot I was done with that.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Bob Dylan, and Richard Hawley

Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Bob Dylan, and Richard Hawley

Here’s Lydia Loveless performing “Crazy” from her 2011 album Indestructible Machine, that would have made my top-ten list for 2011 had I only been smart enough to buy the album a year ago. She will be performing live at The Sunset Tavern on Saturday, October 13th.

Bob Dylan has a new album out, Tempest, and it’s getting rave reviews: Uncut Magazine gave it a 10, and MOJO Magazine gave it five stars. Here’s the video for the opening track, “Duquesne Whistle”.

Here’s the title track from Richard Hawley’s new album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, that’s been on my hot rotation for the past couple of weeks.

Best Albums of 2009

Best Albums of 2009

It’s New Year’s Eve and KEXP is just about ready to star their countdown of the best albums of 2009.  I’ll be listening and commenting on that later but, for now, here’s what you need to know.

The Top 10 Albums of 2009

1. Rising MountainsCapsula:  I first heard Capsula on KEXP on July 3rd and I was immediately hooked.  They are the most exciting band I’ve heard since discovering The Duke Spirit three years ago.  The band is originally from Buenes Aires, Argentina and they relocated to Bilbao, Spain.  They are a guitar driven, hard rocking band that knows how to write songs with catchy lyrics and great hooks.  The album is currently available as an import only.  You can get it at Amazon.  I suggest you go there now and buy it.  They will be coming to the U.S. in March for a show in NYC and then will be in Austin for SXSW.  See them if you can.  More about them here.

2. Something’s Wrong/Lost ForeverScott H. Biram:  Gorby turned me on to this guy by giving me an earlier album to listen to.  In May, I went to Austin with Gorby and Zippy, and we saw Scott live at The Continental Club.  GREAT one-man show.  I bought the album shortly after that, and I’ve been listening to it constantly.  Junkyard blues just don’t get any better than this.  Scott Biram will be in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern on Friday, February 12th.  See you there.

3. Truelove’s GutterRichard Hawley:  I read a review of this album in MOJO magazine, and immediately went out and bought it.  It is by far the most sonically interesting album of 2009.  He uses some really rare instruments:  the glass harmonica (based on the haunting tone you get when rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine glass – a.k.a. the hydrocrystalphone invented by Benjamin Franklin), the waterphone, the cristal Baschet, the ondes Martenot(kind of like a theremin), and a musical saw.  The key track on this album is “Remorse Code.”  Can’t stop listening to it. 

4. One Fast Move or I’m Gone, Kerouac’s Big Sur – Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard:  I am a huge fan of Jack Kerouac, so I bought this they day it came out.  The cd is the soundtrack to a movie about Kerouac’s journey back to California to get some down time at Ferlinghetti’s seaside cabin.  The film is excellent.  It features readings of Big Sur by the man himself.  Kerouac’s voice is intoxicating.  I could listen to it for hours.  Oh, and the music by Farrar and Gibbard is stripped down and soulful.  I recommend “California Zephyr” and The “Void.”  They will be performing at The Showbox in Seattle on Sunday, January 24th.

5. Wilco (the album)Wilco:  The guitar work by Nels Cline on this record is incredible.  The songs are great.  Tweedy sounds great.  What more can you ask for from a Wilco album?

6. I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers:  This is a beautiful sounding album produced by Rick Rubin who fleshed out the trio of banjoists and drummer with piano and sometimes lush orchestration.  The title track and “Tin Man” are my favorites. 

7. BrokenSoulsavers:  This is Mark Lanegan at his best.  A dark brooding album that matches his voice perfectly.  He gets excellent vocal support from Rosa Agostino (a.k.a. Red Ghost), and Richard Hawley makes an appearance too.

8. Welcome JoyThe Cave Singers:  I heard of this band, but never really knew what they were about until I saw them at Bumbershoot.  It’s real rootsy stuff with catchy lyrics and great vocals.  “At the Cut” and “Leap” are my favorites.

9. The Spirit of ApolloN.A.S.A.:  That stands for North America South America.  It’s a duo that pulled together a whole lot of artists to sing vocals on twenty-some songs.  Who?  David Byrne, Chuck D, Tom Waits, Kool Keith, Kanye West, Mia, Del the Funky Homosapien, and more.  The first song I heard was “Spacious Thoughts” featuring Tom Waits and Kool Keith.  You just have to hear it.  The two with David Byrne, “The People Tree” and “Money” are really great.

10. A Woman A Man Walked ByP.J. Harvey & John Parish:  The album starts out with one of my favorite songs of the year, “Black Hearted Love,” a pop song, and then it veers off in all different directions.  Thanks to “That Irsih Fella on my block, I got to see P.J. and John put on a great show at The Moore Theater this year.  P.J. was in perfect form, and John and the band were tight.  They are PROFESSIONALS!

The Top Teen Albums of 2009

11. Tell ’em What Your Name Is – Black Joe Lewis and the Honeydrippers:  My Austin pals told me about this band last year.  Black Joe Lewis has a huge fan base in Austin, and I was lucky to see the band at a sold out show there in May.  I love the fun energy in this album.  “Get Yo Shit” and “I’m Broke” are the shit.

12. ¡Let Freedom Ring! – Chuck Prophet
13. Horehound – The Dead Weather
14. Middle Cyclone– Neko Case
15. Together Through Life – Bob Dylan
16. Hombre Lobo – Eels
17. Through the Devil Softly – Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
18. Secret, Profane, & Sugarcane – Elvis Costello
19. The Eternal– Sonic Youth

and number 20…
Backspacer  – Pearl Jam

This year’s best series of reissues is of course the first four albums by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds out on Mute records:  The First Born is Dead, From Her to Eternity, Kicking Against the Pricks, and Your Funeral, My Trial.  Buy them all and play them loud.

The best live album of the year is Tom Waits’ Glitter and Doom.

Friday Night Videos – Richard Hawley, P.J. Harvey & John Parish, Bob Dylan

Friday Night Videos – Richard Hawley, P.J. Harvey & John Parish, Bob Dylan

From what may be the most sonically intriguing album of 2009, Richard Hawley’s Truelove’s Gutter.

And here’s “Black Hearted Love” from one of my favorite albums of 2009, P.J. Harvey and John Parish’s, A Woman A Man Walked By.

And just for fun, here’s Bob Dylan doing  “Must be Santa,” from Christmas in the Heart.