The year of our Lord: MMXII or 20:12 if you’re digital. What follows is a brief appraisal of the years musical offerings to the fickle hydra that is music. Lay down your first-born at the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan.
Where are we? Ah yes. Music. Follow me…
Beach House – Bloom (Sub Pop)
Ethereal. Otherworldly. Dream Pop. Which means? Beach House have created a fantastic summer record made for lying on the grass and staring at a clear blue sky. Alternatively it can be enjoyed through headphones sitting next to the patio door, pining, as the great British summer pours from the grey heavens.
The title ‘Bloom’ conjures up Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’
‘Bloom’ can be seen as the evolution of the surf-rock revival fad a few years ago, bands such as Wavves, Best Coast, etcetera. Yet it is the wiser, more grown-up brother to the anarchic stoner punks that preceded it.
The record has a euphoric quality which is summed up most perfectly in ‘Lazuli.’ – (which I sounds a bit like ‘Life in a Northern Town‘)
Django Django – Django Django (Because Music)
“Our name has absolutely nothing to do with Django Reinhardt”,
Django, Django, Django, Django. Are they named after four Gypsy, digit-impaired musical maestros? Well apparently not.
The band occupy a new wave of ‘geek-rock’ along with proceeding band (*spoiler warning*) alt-J, therefore a seemingly impenetrable name is de rigueur. Add to that a flourish of obscure lyrics and occasional smatterings of computer-related sound effects and you’ve kinda got the idea. The band stroll down a path previously paved by fellow-Scots Franz Ferdinand & non-fellow Scots Hot Chip. The stand-out single is the stomp-box, computer-inspired pop-song ‘Default.’
The band have an experimental avant-garde sound combined with radio-friendly tunes akin to the *excellent* Beta Band.
2012 has been without a doubt the year of the disastrous sophomore album. Either critically or commercially or any -ally that actu-ally matters. To list but a smattering – Santogold, Marina & The Diamonds, Sleigh Bells, The Temper Trap, Miike Snow & Best Coast. Have all either been shite or failed to meet expectations. I won’t review what I haven’t heard but reservations remain for The xx’s follow-up along with *shudders* Mumford & Sons upcoming record.
***Death Grips review here***
Grimes – Visions (Arbutus) AND Purity Ring – Shrines (4AD)
“Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you,”
Yes two albums for the price of one, i.e. nothing. Due to the limited space I’ve imposed upon myself by arbitrarily declaring this the five best albums of 2012 so far, I’ve had to economise. And with what style. These two albums are perfect bedfellows. Furthermore I gather the two artists are pals. Perfect.
“Grimes is easily my favourite artist of the year. Her often wonderfully haunting vocals over such well produced tracks works so perfectly to me.” – @loluke
Grimes’ album is a mix of dirty ethereal electro, the grimey (urgh) beats are contrasted starkly with Claire Boucher’s sweet vocals. The album is hard to pin down and therefore I won’t. Safe to say ‘Visions’ is highly progressive and Grimes is one of the shining lights of the ever blossoming Montreal music scene.
Purity Ring’s offering is slightly more upbeat-pop than Grimes’ effort, but by no means is it Passion Pit levels of accessibility. Your Grandparents wouldn’t approve. Comparisons can be drawn with The xx at their most voluminous. The titles of the songs are reminiscent of newspeak from George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (Grandloves, Belispeak, Crawlersout) synthesising two words to create new meanings.
Musically ‘Shrines’ is more dub-steppy than ‘Visions’ highlighted by ‘Ungirthed’ -another Newspeak word, maybe. Which features the tried and trusted ‘whomp, whomp’ baseline and ‘yeah yeahs’ -if there’s a better description for those tropes I’m all ears btw.
alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious Records)
Other band name considerations included FILMS & Daljit Dhaliwal
I’ve reviewed this record in depth here. Needless to say it’s easily one of 2012 best, a benchfellow to Django Django’s LP. ‘Tessellate’ is described rather marvellously by Sam Wolfson as being “an onomatopoeic puzzle of angular beats and pointed sexual advances.” It’s perfect coffee-shop faire, as a former barista myself I mean that as high praise.
I firmly believe alt-J’s music is a result of earlier works by bands such as Bloc Party Wild Beasts & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. With Joe Newman’s marmite-like vocals being comparable to the latter two.
To conclude 2012 so far has been the year of geekrock, or post-dubstep electro , or dreampop, or the shit second album ….
Basically anything that wasn’t L*n* D*l R*y. I need more Pale Ale. All hail Tlaloc!