I Don't (Not) Like
Considering how much I talk about not liking lists, you'd think I'd give this list-making a rest. Yet I still make lists. All the time. H/t to Summer for pointing out this trait to me and how it makes me a classic type A. So, keeping my inevitable heart disease in mind, here are some highlights of my year (FYI, I'm not linking to every album/song/etc., b/c, frankly, a lot of this has already been written up to the D and/or you can find this music easily; instead, I linked to the albums/songs that haven't been as widely discussed or are available through more independent outlets):
Albums released in 2012
Kendrick Lamar good kid, M.A.A.D. City
Too much ink on this kid and his record already (my rec is to check out Noz and Chang). I'm mostly enthralled by Lamar's storytelling, rapping ability, and funny voices. The album is one of the most cohesive of all the supposed "landmark" pop albums that plop down every year.
Patrice O’Neal Mr. P
I don't have an excuse for not seeing him perform more often. We went to his Elephant In The Room taping, which was absolutely stunning. His complete takedown of the loudmouth in center row was Patrice in his comfort zone, but that and a lot of other great asides were either heavily edited or taken out. Which is part of the reason why I chose Mr. P instead. I love this recording because of the intimacy and freedom with which he explores his thoughts. It's a conversational style that even Chappelle can't match, partly b/c Patrice is so much more precise and aggressive with his points, but also b/c he clearly loves talking with people.
Maria Bamford’s Special Special Special!
Bamford's How to WIN! is one of my favorite comedy records and I find her work to generally be miles ahead of her peers. Special x3 is no different, though it is markedly darker. Never one to shy away from airing out her embarrassments, here she gets incredibly personal with some fucked up business, but comes away with some raw insights.
Flying Lotus Until The Quiet Comes
Even FlyLo calls this "beep boop, beep” music. It's in the kid's bedtime rotation.
Ab-Soul Control System
Really, the whole TDE camp did right this year, but Soulo is the member who rhymes closest to my abstract heroes of yore. And, really, who the fuck rhymes about pineal glands?
Killer Mike R.A.P. Music
H/t, once again, to Noz for pointing out the absurdity of the hullabaloo surrounding this record: "While it's nice to see Killer Mike finally get some recognition for being overtly political over El-P beats after years of being overtly political over beats that weren't produced by El-P..." I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind is still my favorite Killer Mike album. That said, R.A.P. Music is a harsh, crushing machine. Mike sounds great over El-P's angry angst. Nice to hear Mike rapping atop some confusing beats; need to give those undie kids something to chew on.
Nicolas Jaar Live at Sonar Lab
Hearing Theo Parrish perform remains an important DJ/music-going moment. Definitely interested to see/hear Jaar spin out; every mix of his I've heard has a similar care and patience.
Bill Burr You People Are All The Same
Similar to Bamford, Burr has some past bits, appearances and albums that remain my personal favorites ("nerd Jesus" Steve Jobs; his take on the media frenzy surrounding Tracy Morgan on Paul Provenza's Green Room; Why Do I Do This?). However, it's easy to get spoiled with Burr. His free, weekly Monday Morning Podcast (which has been the only podcast I've regularly "tuned into" for the past three or four years) is regularly filled with hilarious rants and observations that make most other comedians' albums and performances feel meek. So, it's no small wonder that YPAATS exceeds expectations. And, like Louis and Maria and Tig and Aziz's awesome works self-produced online works this year, it's only a measly $5. Go support this man or GFY.
Other 2012 Albums I liked, but don't have the time to fully write up
Frank Ocean Channel Orange
I think a few other places have sang this album's praises. I'm still not sold on John Mayer.
At this point, Noz is the only hip-hop writer I follow regularly, so full credit to him for this and a lot of the hip-hop nods on this list. The album is filled with bangers and has little patience for filler, which is (sadly) a breath of fresh air. I still can't get with the overtly pop/R&B "Neva End" of "You Deserve It," but "Same Damn Time" and "Turn On The Lights" really sell this record.
A Tribe Called Red s/t
I'm not a big fan of loud wobble, but there are some great noise elements to these guys' production.
Ty Segall Twins
Because I still like guitars.
Roc Marciano Reloaded
I'll be honest, I can't really tell you which song(s) I like on this or Marcberg b/c they all kinda blend into one another. Which I suppose makes this a good album, but in a sorta anonymous way.
Meek Mill Dreamchasers 2
Yes, I'll ride for "Amen." But I'll die for "The Ride." I guess you know my feelings on Drizzy now.
Young Dro Ralph Lauren Reefa / Jay Ant + Iamsu! Stoopid
I know, these two tapes have nothing to do with each other. And I really should have wrote them up separately. Go snag 'em, they're brilliant.
Grizzly Bear Shields
Because I like NPR.
El-P Cure For Cancer
I like Killer Mike over El-P more than El-P over El-P. El-P over El-P is a good thing, don't get me wrong. I just prefer Bigga over El-Producto.
Non-2012 Albums That Got Spins In 2012
Clams Casino Instrumental Mixtape 2
A lot of this material is pre-2012, but this instro tape didn’t come out tll this year. Eh, I’ll count it as old material. I did a lot of reading and writing this year. So, this was, hands down, my most-listened-to joint.
Charlie Rich Fabulous Charlie Rich
I think I first heard Charlie Rich on the Country Got Soul comp, but didn't think much of him until I heard "Life's Little Ups and Downs." What a devastating jawn. That song and "San Francisco is a Lonely Town" are amusingly some of the kid's favorites.
Tammi Terrell Come On And See Me
Had no idea this amount of Tammi material existed. One of my favorite voices and now I get to revel in a couple hours of it.
Bobby Hutcherson and Herbie Hancock CBC Radio’s Jazz Beat Program
Hutcherson is one of the meanest guys I've seen perform, so I'm always fiending for more. This brief performance is 100% aces. Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington round out the group.
Waka Flocka Flame Flockavelli / Gucci Mane The State v. Radric Davis
Because I have been listening to these records for 2 and 3 years respectively that I have to give them their full propers. Absolute bangers.
Rain Parade Emergency Third Rail Power Trip
I've been on a Mazzy Star trip for a couple years now, but it took me a while to work my way back to David Roback's prior groups Opal and Rain Parade. Credit goes to Rob Sheffield's Love Is A Mixtape (I think; or maybe it was Thurston Moore's Mix Tape?) for the passing mention that served as a reminder to me to check out these groups. Rain Parade's first record really apes that '60s psych vibe, but it's a cool record to relax to.
Flat Duo Jets Introducing the Flat Duo Jets
Louis and I talked about this group a few years back, but I never paid them much mind. Sadly, it was the break-up of the White Stripes and the uber-popularity of the Black Keys that made me realize: these guys had this big sound thing figured out a while ago. Sure, the songs are conservative/traditional in comparison, but the recordings are raw. Make me wanna go unhhh...
Laura Nyro And LaBelle Gonna Take a Miracle
A wedding find! H/t to Sarah and Jonathan of WSDIA for requesting some joints from this Justice-League-of-Superheroes-level album . Winehouse (or white-girl-got-soul) fans should get familiar.
Minnie Riperton Come To My Garden
Minnie's sexy-time records are ubiquitous, but I was always partial to her Rotary Connection/"Black Gold of the Sun" work. Her solo work is mostly solid R&B with hints of pop, but the eclectic Come To My Garden (along with Perfect Angel, to a lesser degree) best capture that former, weirdo-folk-soul vibe. "Les Fleur" for president, y'all.
The Pharcyde Labcabincalifornia
Another one of those records that I periodically return to. My first memories about this are reading about it in Tower Records’ magazine Pulse and dreaming about finding an affordable used copy. Instead, I settled for going to Rhino repeatedly and listening to it over and over on the store’s listening station. The last quarter of the album, i.e. the solo cuts, really don’t hold up. Not that they were ever that good. Foreshadowing of the dark days ahead. But what a good vibe-out record.
Fleetwood Mac Tusk
My bad, I didn’t know this album existed.
Young Marble Giants Colossal Youth
This and The Clean albums are pure twee. Cute stuff.
The Au Pairs Playing With a Different Sex
How have I never heard of this band? I watched Urgh! A Music War and was struck by the band. Did a quick search and came across this record. Solid and simple.
Jerry Stiller And Anne Meara Presenting America's New Comedy Sensations
Along with the Nichols/May LPs, this was another neat excursion. Essential listening.
Songs released in 2012
Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” or “m.A.A.d. city”
"m.A.A.d. city" is the better b/c of Eiht's performance which sells the song. That said, "Backseat" is a monster. I kinda want to go to Paris now.
Redman "White People Are Rioting"
I already spoke my piece on this: "BARS."
Lil Dev “I’m Perkins”
Lil B “I Own Swag”
Remain BASED, God.
Clyde Carson “Slow Down (Feat. The Team) (Prince Aries Blend)”
Why didn't the original have a cruising beat? Thank you, Prince Aries Based God.
Earl Sweatshirt “Chum”
If you're gonna be a glum teen, this is a suitable anthem.
Future “Same Damn Time”
This year's "Hard In The Paint."
Mosca “What You Came For” (Feat. Katy B)
Is this song available on wax yet?
Jessie Ware “Wildest Moments”
The video sells it, but at it's core it's a pretty pop song.
E-40 “Function” (Feat. YG, IamSu and Problem)
Young Giftz “Nino” (Feat. Tree)
That was an unexpected sample.
Paul Westerberg “My Road Now”
I love fuck-ups. And I love songs with fuck-ups.
King Louie “Val Venis (Remix)”
Val Venis is after my time, but corny saxes are (sadly) in my blood.
DJ Melo “Carnavalito”
The sample source is the real winner, but this will do for now.
Give the man credit for song selection, ok?
Edit: Whoops, forgot this song from 2010 or 11.
Schoolboy Q “Druggys Wit Hoes Again (Feat. Ab-Soul)”
Is it possible for one song to overpower an entire album?
Action Bronson and Riff Raff “Bird on a Wire”
I think this was a moment in 2012.
Brother Ali and Jake One “Writer’s Block”
Increasingly familiar as I move into middle-age and family life.
The New York Community Choir “I'll Keep My Light In My Window”
B/c I needed a replacement for “Stand on the Word” to end my sets.
P.P. Arnold and Rod Stewart “Come Home Baby”
Does she still sing with the Stones? That would be a reason to go see 'em.
Lulu “Here Comes the Night”
My, Lulu, I didn't know you had this in you.
Dusty Springfield “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”
Eh, thank that Mad Men ep for this.
Doris Troy “Just One Look”
I like this jaunty rhythm. Nice apperitif to Ray Charles' "You Be My Baby."
Wendy and Lisa “Always In My Dreams”
I've got a music nerd crush on their tastes in music. And they weren't half-bad as songwriters, too.
Prince “Mountains” / "Pop Life" (Extended Version)
More joints to close out sets.
Noggin' Noddlers/Motion Man’s verse on Kool Keith’s “Clifton”
"Bada-boom-bada-bing / Bada-bing-da-bing-bong / Yo, check it."
Ago “Trying Over”
Every once in a while, Beat Electric comes through.
Mayer Hawthorne “No Strings”
Kinda corny, kinda catchy, kinda better with Daryl Hall. Maybe that's saying something?
Pete Townshend and Raphael Rudd’s “Let My Love Open the Door” / The Beat’s “Save It For Later”
Great, great songs. Also love the story of Townshend ringing Wakeling to figure out the tuning on "Save It For Later."
Mealticket “Heavy Heart”
At this point, I’ve spent enough time away from Los Angeles that I associate the city more with my past than any tangible aspect of my current life. So, looking through my remaining music collection back at home is like peeking in a time capsule. This is the latest nugget to be recovered. Of the whole third wave ska scene in mid-’90s L.A., I loved these guys the most. H/T to Hannah Slama for crushing so hard on these guys that I drank the juice, too. Fuck if it wasn’t sweet, tho. Genai still sounds great and the songwriting is unbelievably hooky. Would love to hear them perform again.
The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”
"That" moment in "that" Michelle Williams/Seth Rogen movie.
Videos released in 2012
Dormtainment “Ass on the Internet”
DIY til I die.
Bjӧrk “Mutual Core”
Eh, on the MoCA sponsorship, but the visuals...
Solange “Losing You”
Joey Ramone “New York City”
"I Love L.A." for New Yorkers.
Aimee Mann “Labrador”
When did Tom Scharpling become the best music video director?
Antwon “Living Every Dream”
Dreams of Betamax and the Box.
Danny Brown “Grown Up”
Song is mad "Can I Kick It?" The video is mad cute.
Hot Chip “Night and Day”
Need more Serafinowicz in yr life?
Scissor Sisters “Shady Love” Feat. Azealia Banks
Yup, another video with kids pretending to be adults.
Flatbush ZOMBIES "Thug Waffle"
Who doesn’t like waffles?
Ifan Dafydd "Treehouse"
2 Bears' downtempo cousin.
Ms. Clare had a number of good videos this year, but this one stuck.
EDIT (1/2/12): Loads more links and playlists above.