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.
BEST 2012 REISSUE: It's a tie between two (Numero related) comps: WTNG 89.9FM: Solid Bronze and & Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974 - 1984. Both platters piled high with private press oddments and rarities one could hardly go more wrong than to miss out on these two exemplary feats of the compilation arts. The former being a point of revision for many in that it is essentially a mix of largely unheard "yacht rock"/AOR triumphs of seventies song-writing sensibilities (man, is it ever sensibly sensitive) that confronts one's moral definition of guilty (listening) pleasures. The latter comp, Personal Space - a seemingly dark horse among the usual reissue fare fleshing out the the soul comps shelf space, made the rounds among Amoeba staff regularly thus enjoyed a healthy amount of in-store play as well. Chock full of rhythm-box workouts a la Sly Stone, Timmy Thomas and Shuggie Otis, it's a far-out soul/funk excavation of the highest order. Both of these are solid front-to-back listens for the home vinyl library/curio corner.
Attention party-people! Smack some color on those lips, forget about fastening those top two buttons and get ready kick off your high-heel sneakers 'cause this Saturday night Uni & her Ukelele will be taking the stage early for a sunset (show begins at 5, Uni goes on around 6:30pm) show at Amnesia in San Francisco to promote the release of her latest album Lover's Cliché - an infectious pop record full of heart and heady hooks that is, I can personally guarantee, the only thing missing from the Springtime of your life if you are not bumping it right now. Get into the barrage of choice Uni & her Ukelele visual stimuli that follow and be ready to shake it with Uni at Amnesia this Saturday. This hard-working show pony is the very model of a self-made professional musician and when she brings it, it is just too much good. DING!
It's the most wonderful time of the year! 'Tis the season for the Yule Log's holiday tour-a-thon which also means that the 7th annual anything-goes seasonal revue "Christmas is the BEST!" - going down this Sunday, December 11 at Amnesia SF with hosts Uni & her Ukelele and Dr. Trucker, with the Yule Logs headlining the gig. I borrowed a Log or two for a fleeting yet intriguing interview - do read on, below:
A couple of years ago some friends of mine, Uni (of Uni & her Ukelele fame) and Dr. Trucker (also known as Amoeba's AV master Gabe Wheeler), made their very own Christmas CD called Christmas is the Best! It's chock full of hits, literally with one song actually being titled "The Hit," and exciting original material that has come to be cherished and celebrated in the annual holiday showcase of the same name. This year we'll be cooling it down and heating it up with Uni and Dr. Trucker and friends on Sunday December 14th at Annie's Social Club in San Francisco so get off the couch and come on down to see what all the fuss is about!
Beginning at 7pm there will be crafts and arts including popcorn and cranberry garland threading as well as countdown-to-Christmas paper chains and snowflake cut outs and face painting. Also, please feel free to bring any crap gift you've received for the "shitty re-gift exchange" and, if you can spare any, please bring a non-perishable food item for Mariel a la Mode, our near and dear (and very hungry) sassy, sweet burlesque darling who will also be performing in the show (if you bring something tasty you just might see her pasties). Other acts include the comic stylings of Amoeba's own Sean Murphy, Jumpin Justin of Apple Pie Hopes, Tippy Canoe, Dottie Lux, Ricky Berger, and the fun and unusual vocal duo Corvette Summer who promise to display creations of Christmas never before imagined. Joining the above of course will be Uni & her Ukelele and Dr. Trucker performing songs from their Christmas is the Best opus with Emily and Double DIPtheorya -- a dramatic dance team featuring yours truly. Expect a few surprises as well as an end of the night "smooth and sweaty" dance party to top off this once a year confection of holiday highs and Christmas, umm, thighs. Everyone wins! As Uni and Dr. Trucker would say, "It's Christmas Time -- I'm soooo EXCITED!" Do yourself a favor and come on out to the show, especially you Scrooge McHaters out there...at worst you'll have the best Christmastime of your life, I can guarantee it!
Here is Uni & her Ukelele and Mariel a la Mode performing "All I Want for Christmas is U" with a special guest appearance by Nappi: