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.
FIDLAR – “Gimme Something” video, album up for preorder
Of all the scuzzy, sloppy, boozey garage bands in L.A., FIDLAR is the skuzziest, sloppiest and booziest. OK, they might not be the sloppiest any more now that they’re hitting it big, judging by the sounds of “Gimme Something,” a cleaned-up, jangly country-style track that highlights just how good this band’s actual songwriting is. As if to hammer the point home, the “Gimme Something” video either sees the band dolled up like Creedence Clearwater Revival playing some state fair in the ’70s, or it’s very cleverly edited video of some ’70s band made too look like they’re playing FIDLAR’s song. Either way, it rules! FIDLAR’s self-titled debut is due Jan. 22, preoder it on CD or LP here.
Widowspeak – “The Dark Age,” album up for preorder
Anything that comes out on the Captured Tracks label immediately gets my attention, and one of their newest signees doesn’t disappoint. Widowspeak pair Western jangle-rock riffs — like real ones, not limp little guitar doodles — with sultry, breathy vocals from Molly Hamilton. She reminds me a bit of the late, great Trish Keenan of Broadcast, and similarly Hamilton’s grounded vocals serve as a wise counterpoint to her partner Robert Earl Thomas’ wild guitar work. “The Dark Age” comes from their upcoming album, Almanac, due Jan. 22 on LP and CD.
Up-and-coming L.A. pop band Kitten is releasing a new EP called Cut it Out on Aug. 28th. Teenage frontwoman Chloe Chaidez sure sounds like a star in the making on this buzzy electro single, which has the post-punk feel of Metric while upping both the catchiness and shoegazey sonics. I feel like we’ll only be able to claim Kitten for so long before they move on to bigger and better things, so check them out while they’re still local!
Shows This Weekend
This is a big weekend for local singer Nite Jewel, who recently released her fine album One Second of Love, which manages to be dancey (check out the title track) and cool, with atmospheric and experimental electronics throughout, while remaining classy, with Ramona Gonzalez’s sultry voice more reminiscent of classical pop singers like Barbra Streisand and Diana Krall. Tonight Nite Jewel headlines a krautrock-themed show titled “Krautrock Classics: A Night of German Cosmic Music,” presented by Dublab and the Goethe Institut. It will take place at the Ford Amphiteatre, with Nite Jewel performing a classic of the genre, Kraftwerk’s Computer World, with help from friends like Stones Throw Records’ Peanut Butter Wolf. The show also will include performances from the likes of Sun Araw, Dntel and Daedelus. Starts at 8, all ages, $15, get tickets online here.
Then, on Saturday, Filter Magazine holds its Summer Sessions series at the Original Penguin Store (8215 Melrose Ave.) from 2-6 p.m., featuring a performance by Nite Jewel. RSVP here.
Also on Saturday, California acts Cass McCombs and The Entrance Band play at the El Rey Theatre.
On Sundays it’s usually hard to beat Part Time Punks at the Echo, and this Sunday is certainly no exception: Violens, whom fellow Amoeba-ite Brad also loves, will play alongside Capured Tracks band Catwalk and Surf Club, which features members of Craft Spells. Slumberland's Violens play blurry swoony guitar pop much in the same vein of their labelmates, but they stand out from the back with their strong melodic songwriting (check out the beautiful "Sariza Spring") and the fact that they bother to rock out once in a while (watch the "All Night Low" video below). Their album True is one of the best of the past couple of months. It's a whole lot of shoegazey, guitarry goodness for only 10 bucks. Get advance tickets here or in store at Ameoba.