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.
If Amoeba Music were a theme park I'm pretty sure the Electronica section would be our version of Tomorrowland. I mean, for a section so chock full of retro-futuristic realness and fad-tastic appeal it shouldn't really come as a surprise that this year's best mix of backyard barbecue/SoCal beach-walk roller-skating/AM Gold yacht-rockin' jammers is currently filed under the Groove Armada bin card, humbly packaged not unlike any other CD/LP bearing the Late Night Tales standard. That's right, UK-based compilation master-curators have issued this flawless assortment of deep cuts and legit hits from the 70's and 80's Soft Rock heyday, assembled by one Tom Findlay of the aforementioned Groove Armada, under the title Music for Pleasure. The fact that the word "guilty" didn't find it's way between 'for' and 'pleasure' in the title is perhaps saying something about how these songs have come to be appreciated and accepted as a now relatively shameless sonic indulgence (unlike, say, endless deep house mixes for Burning Man survivalists which, for me, summon full-body dry heaves).
Featuring artists like Todd Rundgren, Electric Light Orchestra, Gerry Rafferty, Sugardaddy, The Doobie Brothers, Ambrosia, Robert Palmer, Boz Scaggs and so, so many more this is surely the cheapest ticket to the Indian Summer sunset vibe-ride in your mind. Put it on, turn it up, and feel your cares fade clean away, for, what a fool believes...he sees and no wise man has the power to reason away what seems to be, etc.