Well, here we are. We weren't thrust into a new dark age oblivion, the world didn't end and neither did my workaday quest for the best music for the day. This year was rife with records that just had to be snatched -- reissues, compilations, and a fair few newbies too.
Here follows my personal, "show and tell" style best-of list for 2012: the year that didn't stop the big wheel a-turnin'. Rather than just dicing up a list of cold-cut favorites, I've included personal events and trends herein that shaped the music I sought and gravitated towards within the past year.
BEST NEW ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Jessica Pratt - JP. No contest. I have naught but the best of things to say about this disc of spun gold and I'm not alone. It seems every Barry, Rob, and Maurice in the blogosphere has been falling all over this record like autumn leaves in the rain. If you really want to know my take check out my real talk review of JP here, otherwise please do enjoy the album's opening track, "Night Faces" below.
Trying to narrow down my favorite 2012 "What's In My Bag?" videos is a little bit like asking me to choose my favorite children. Each one is special and unique in its own way. But 'tis the season of "Best Of" lists, so here is my attempt at naming the top WIMBs from 2012, listed according to date posted because, really, picking 10 was hard enough.
Peanut Butter Wolf - January 3, 2012
We kicked off 2012 with a monster of a WIMB featuring DJ, producer, Stones Throw founder and Amoeba regular Peanut Butter Wolf, who had so many items he renamed the episode "What's In My Boxes." Missed some of his selections? Check out his full list here.
John Flansburgh - March 5, 2012
The guitarist and co-founder of They Might Be Giants, John Flansburgh, did a "show and tell" at Amoeba Hollywood, selecting reissues by The Zombies, Blossom Dearie, and The Hollies, plus California funk by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Band. After posting the video, we found out that half of John's picks from this Amoeba trip, and other records he'd picked up while on tour, were unfortunately burned in a trailer fire. See John's full list of picks here.
The Fresh & Onlys, besides presenting in name one of the best bandtonym-worthy word combinations, are without a doubt one of the most pimped-out live performers reppin the Bay Area these days. Currently on tour, and they tour a lot, The Onlys pack plenty of dirty raw party rockin' vibes into every sweaty show. I'd go so far as to say they bring a guaranteed good time to any venue; unadulterated fun at it's most arrested stage of development. What's more, the minds that inform the Fresh and Onlys' sound are like rich wells of music knowledge, deeply dug and flowing wide. I can say this with a certain degree of confidence having known and worked with three quarters of the band off and on for many, many years. That being the case, as happens with colleagues of any sort, their opinions on all things music, film, Amoeba or otherwise have abutted, aggravated, enhanced and influenced mine over time. It's one of those really good things about the working-at-Amoeba experience that I wish we could share more easily. But I suppose that territory best captured and exposed via our What's In My Bag video vignette series.
But before we get into that, get into this:
A lovely, pastoral portrait of the boys in pastels, looking petal fresh and Easter Sunday garden party pretty in contrast to the live-action, imagery of sloshed, sudorific revelry, above left. Say what you will about the Fresh & Onlys workaday aesthetic, they clean up nice. And though Fresh & Onlys frontman and guitarist Tim Cohen is caught trashing Amoeba SF's Hip Hop section in the video below (for the record: tending said section used to be his responsibility) and bassist Shayde Sartin's picks skewed towards "white guy rock" and his years spent living in Florida on the day this little scene was recorded, I cannot speak more highly about these two dudes' astronomical taste levels when it comes to music, nevermind their particular genus of dusty, road tested rocker species. BUt don't take my word for it, find out for yourself -- check out the video below:
Compared to this time last week when the New York State of Mind Post-Hurricane Sandy Blues was posted to the Amoeblog in the devastating couple of days following the unprecedented impact of the storm that hit the region with a vengeance and brought the city that never sleeps to a standstill, things are looking a lot better in New York City (albeit far from back-to-normal in all places, most notably in the hard hit Staten Island and the Rockaways section of Queens).
Now the majority of power has been restored in most parts of NYC and a large percentage of public transit service (about 85%) is back up and running. In most places, NYC is getting back on track as fast as it can. However, the fallout of Sandy will still be felt here for a quite some time, especially in places that need to rebuild and/or tackle the daunting task of major flood damage repair. Plus, there's the nor'easter / second storm coming this week. Despite all of this, New Yorkers have worked together and around the fallout of Sandy to get things running despite the obstacles presented to them.
The Fresh & Onlys "Presence of Mind" (2012)
San Francisco indie outfit The Fresh & Onlys today premiere the Dawn Carol Garcia directed, zombie themed, music video for "Presence of Mind" (the audio of the song was posted here by Billy Gil a few weeks ago) taken from the band's new album Long Slow Dance which is scheduled for release by Mexican Summer next Tuesday, Sept. 4th. In support of the new album by the band that features Amoeba SF's own Tim Cohen, who founded the group back in 2004, will kick off a North American tour that begins next Wednesday (Sept 5th) in Santa Ana and will include dates at The Echo in LA on Sept 7th and at The Independent in San Francisco on Sept 8th.
Also on the tour will be Terry Malts, Grass Widow and Quilt. The new album has the distinction, according to the band, of been recorded on the same reel-to-reel that Warren Zevon recorded "Werewolves of London." There is a documentary on the making of the album in the works which you can get a sneak peek below. And for a preview of the album you can pick up releases from the Fresh & Onlys back-catalog here + stream a preview copy here c/o Hype Machine Fresh & Onlys tour details.
The Making of new Fresh & Onlys album (2012)