1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Triumphant return to form, really powerful stuff, nobody does it quite like em. This, the Beak> album and the Peadar O'Riada albums were my favourite albums of 2012 by quite some distance.
2. Beak> - Beak>>
Brilliant dark electro kraut stuff from Portishead's Geoff Barrow, if ya liked Third, you'll like this.
3. Peadar O Riada, Martin Hayes & Caoimhin O Raghallaigh - Triúr sa Draighean
This one kinda slipped by me when it came out in 2010 but it's one of the best trad albums I've heard in ages. Three amazing players and all original songs by O'Riada, funnily enough what's really great about it is how timeless it sounds, really nice minimal trad with a few little experimental touches.
4. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
5. Windings - I Am Not The Crow
6. Mumblin' Deaf Ro - Dictionary Crimes
7. Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
8. Scott Walker - Bish Bosch
9. Pauline Oliveros - The Wanderer
10. Adrian Crowley - I See Three Birds Flying
2012 - A rather minimalist top 10!
Have a great Christmas and all the best in 2013......
Blocker's Top Albums 2010
These are the 2012 albums I listened to more than once...
Mark Lanegan - Blues Funeral
Jack White - Blunderbuss
Band of Horses - Mirage Rock
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
The Shins - Port of Morrow
Soulsavers - The Light the Dead See
Tindersticks - The Something Rain
Cold Specks - I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
Strange Passions (compilation) - My mate Brian's band (Choice) had a track included and followed up with their first gig in over 20 years
Gigs and live events
All Ireland hurling final, Croke Park
Drawn match was incredible, replay was anticlimax
Animal Collective - Vicar St
Slow start, but really picked up and belted out some personal favourites from Feels, Strawberry Jam and Merriweather
Band of Horses - Olympia
Somehow lost my tickets - didn't think we'd get in - but eventually got our tickets and seats to an incredible live experience.
Bonnie Prince Billy - Vicar St
Fantastic live show, as ever
Luke Haines - Whelans
Unusual gig - some great tunes interspersed with reading passages from his novels - cantankerous old f**ker - hilarious
Stone Roses - Phoenix Park
Certainly some incredible moments - especially the last 30 minutes - but did you ever think that you'd hear Ian Browne say "Let's hear the people down the back??????"
Meath vs Kildare, Leinster SFC semifinal
Went hoping not to be hammered. Great win in an otherwise another poor year. Overall a great football championship.
Ireland vs Crotia, Poznan, Poland
Incredible build up, but manner of the loss and associated paddy whackery were very disappointing
By far the best TV show in years was Breaking Bad. Had the DVDs, so many evenings it would be 11.30pm and we'd be saying "Just one more episode". Can't wait for the finale of Series 5 after Christmas. This one is not going to have a happy ending.
Normally I group this section under albums but that is too narrow for me this year. Most of my favourite have been 12" Vinyl EPs, Burial released 75 minutes of music this year, with 3 EPs including 8 tracks, plus another track released with Four Tet. I was in heaven. Then along came Tom Yorke's new band, Atoms for Peace, with the amazing Default, I'm really looking forward to their album, Amok, in February.
Sweet Heart Sweet Light / Spiritualized (21012 album double white Vinyl)
A vinyl album with download codes, the perfect format for me - it can be hard to find out if download codes are available with the album before you buy it.
Pete Namlook the man behind the electronic music label FAX died recently. Here is a youtube playlist of some highlights.
Wonky - Orbital (2012 album CD)
Orbital came out with their first album in 8 years. The last, the Blue album, finished with an amazing track, One Perfect Sunrise. The opener for the new, Wonky, has another brilliant title, "One Big Moment", a real excellent Orbital tune. I so wanted to hear it live and have the album open up for me. But I missed the picnic and I was confined to listening to an hour of their set live in bed over 2fm.
Shackelton, Music For The Quiet Hour / The Drawbar Organ (2012 album FLAC download)
I bought my first flac (Free Lossless Audio Codec) release this year after finding out the format was supported out of the box on my Squeezebox and Samsung S3 phone. It does sound excellent.
Tamer Animals / Other Side - Other Lives / Atoms for Peace (2012 12")
Cooly G - Playin Me (2012 album FLAC download)
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange (2012 album mp3 download)
Truant - Burial (2012 EP mp3 download)
Just released in mid December this has not had time to climb higher.
Disappointment of the year
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday ... Roman Reloaded (2012 album mp3 download)
I tried again. When Nicki raps hard she is awesome but again this is a real weird mix of heavy full on hip hop with hum-de-hum r'n'b.
So I had a ticket for The Stone Roses comeback weekend, for Sunday night at Heaton Park in Manchester but I could not go with a 1 week old! And this year I missed my first Electric Picnic. So the scenario I can barely believe is that I did not go to one gig this year, the best I got was 2 wedding bands. Live music is my favourite things to do, it really makes me feel alive, so this is not a year I care to repeat from that point of view. So to nip that one in the bud I have a ticket for the Kendrick Lamar show in January :-)
The most exciting radio news of the year was that Mary Ann Hobbs is coming back to the BBC, her new weekend morning breakfast show for BBC 6Music starts on January 5th.
I would not have read this one but I got it as present, for cycling fans it's a very good read. He gets his Dad out of the way early by having the first chapter about his tour win. I think this must have prompted Stephen to do his own book this year.
Every Irish person knows where they were watching Katie Taylor take home Olympic gold. Our 2 weeks in the Dingle Peninsula coincided with the Olympics so we made sure to bring a TV and we all watched it in the mobile. Unforgettable. The Olympics were as great as ever and the withdrawal afterwards tough!
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripping Lance - Cancer Jesus - Armstrong of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 to present. We are still waiting for the UCI to follow suit. The Paul Kimmage interview is essential listening for any fans.
Bradley Wiggins in the tour de france was awesome, clean and unbeatable.
When I got into climbing I moved to the states and so missed the summer excursions to Chamonix climbing. I finally got to this mecca in Jan/Feb for 5 days snowboarding, my first time in 5 years! What incredible terrain there.
1. Big and Small, Cate Blanchett / Barbican – Super and surreal; best female performance I’ve ever seen
2. Robyn Hitchcock / John Paul Jones – London, Sensational gig in a folk club (and Billy Bragg even got a mention!)
3. Dublin Marathon 2012
4. Ray Davies, O2, not as young as he was but still has the tunes.
5. Elvis Costello, O2, another hit man and what a band!
6. Jack White, O2, this was with the women!
7. A Chorus of Disapproval, Harold Pinter Theatre, London
Books, Movies & Things
1. Born To Run, Christoper McDougall – Inspiring read for runners and non-runners alike
2. The Hare with Amber Eyes - Edmund de Waal – Great period detail and a great insight into wartime Europe
3. A whole bunch of Robyn Hitchcock albums have pretty much taken up the entire year. For those of a weaker disposition who just want to dip in, try Eye, Propeller Time or Gotta Let this Hen out (for a live experience!).
4. Bish Bosh – The new Scott Walker is amazing, although not for background music!
5. Stage Whisper – Charlotte Gainsbourg has been getting a lot of air time as well although a few years old.
6. I’ve gotten into the whole Terry Pratchett thing too…very entertaining
7. A few good movies, some old, some new; The Hobbit is great! Batman was superb! Little Fish with Cate Blanchett was ace and Dancer in the Dark (Bjork) was fab! Hmm don’t get out to movies that much anymore.
It was a struggle to whittle the year's music down to 10
albums, so much good music out there. Next year will be the 1st where
the full music streaming world will be available to me, I'm looking
forward to the challenge of 2013's Top 10 already!
With Kid #1 en route this was about ticking off bucket-list races early as they would be difficult to do later. Irish Championships (first time up Lug, and Carrauntoohil) and Ballycotton. Gigs wise there were some crackers this year but none came close to Die Antwoord. The best gig I have gone to for year. Insane. Had to wring out my t shirt and change after the gig. Absolutely perfect. Looking forward to seeing everyone's lists. Happy New Year!
Generation Kill - Absolutely gripping. Watched them with the kid snoozing on me each night, couldn't wait to get to the next episode. Need to stop telling the kid that we're Oscar Mike whenever we head out of the house
Iconoclasts - Series of interesting double interviews/portraits shown on Sky Arts. Specifically the episode with Eddie Vedder and Laird Hamilton hanging out. Amazing.
Mweelrea 21/07 - An absolutely beautiful Irish Championship race. 766m of breath-stealing ascent, a brilliantly sloppy descent and it all finishes on a beach for a dip to cool down! Even catching my short shorts on a barbed wire fence didn't take too much away from the race (or me thank God).
Liberties 6.5K 19/07 - Really nice, quiet race through interesting streets and along some back roads around the Liberties. Starts and finishes in the grounds of the Royal Hospital and all the locals come out to cheer yiz on.
Carrauntoohil 03/06 - Just had to be done this year and it was everything it should be. 12.5K and 1137m (yes more than the height, we do some bits twice! :-)) of epic messiness. I got lost in the cloud coming back down, I still have scars on my leg from the falls and men much older but also cannier than me beat me down but it was a great buzz!
Art O Neill Challenge 13&14/01 - 55K starting at Dublin Castle in the middle of a January night and finishing in Glenmalure Valley taking in none of the sights and all of the unmarked and self-navigated slop, mud, rocks, ice, snow, rain and darkness that you can. Ah you'd be mad not to!
Ballycotton 10 04/02 - Finally got down to see what the fuss is about and it really is a sweet race. Possibly the best finish of a road race I've seen, along the village main street with amazing coastal views andthe village out cheering you on from both sides.
Too old to train yeah? You have heard of The Iron Nun right? Sister Madonna Buder, who completed Ironman Canada at age 81 this year. She keeps having to get Ironman to add in new age categories into the competition.
My top albums of the year (in no particular order) are as follows (some with explainations!)
1) Jonathan Wilson - Gentle Spirit: Never have I heard such a heartfelt and rousing album as this. Beautifully written, composed and performed. A masterpiece from a Troubadour at the top of his game.
2) Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Back Yard. As with JW's album, simple, effective and emotional. Sung in such a fragile but strong way, a quality piece of music.
3) Father John Misty - Fear Fun. A stablemate of Jonathan Wilson. Praise worthy alone for the track 'Well, You Can Do It Without Me' (essential listening!)
4) Pepe Deluxe - Queen Of The Wave - An aural assault unlike any Pepe Deluxe album - outstanding.
5) Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP - brilliant stuff from the Grizzly Bear man!
6) Damien Jurado - Maraqopa. Stunning, fragile, psychodelic brilliance.
7) Baroness - Yellow/Green Album - I thought i'd left my days of 'rock' behind. How I was wrong and stupid to put those days behind me! A trip into nostalgia but with brutal elegance.
8) Public Broadcasting Service - The War Room EP. A quality mix of World War 2 information and electronic beats.
9) Sharon Van Etten - Tramp. No explaination required
10) Dr John - Locked Down. Woah, a sublime piece of music, stunningly produced, written and performed. (most likely mentioned on other top ten albums!)
Notable mentions should go to:
Yeti Lane - The Echo Show, Woods - Bend Beyond, Cody Chesnutt - Landing On A Hundred, Deftones - Koi No Yakan, Thee Oh Sees - Putrifiers II, The Sea & Cake - The Runner, Tame Impala - Lonerism.
Films - bearing in mind, I have 2 young children that restrict cinema going!!!!
1) Headhunters- awesome adaptation of the Jo Nesbo book. (still, read the book first!!!!!)
2) Skyfall. Got to see this at the cinema with the added bonus of actually being decent!
3) Avengers Assemble - Dumb but fun!
4) Tin Tin
5) Super 8
7) Cell 211
I have read too much this year, including Life Of Pi, Skagboys, lots of Brookmyre and Bateman and bizarrely almost the entire back catalogue of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. they are dumb, easy to read, formulaic but now almost a guilty pleasure!
Looking forward to seeing everyone else choices!
my deepest respect
This album is without doubt the album of the year for me, so deep and moving, the soul is bared of the very talented Mike Hadreas. Anthony and the Johnsons, DM Stith and Sufjan Stevens all rolled into one. Only criticism is that the album is too short although I combated that by listening to it over and over. You'll be doing well to find a better song than Dark Parts this year.
Sun Kill Moon - Among the Leaves
Another album of spanish guitar plucking from Mark, a bit of a tour diary spanning the many years of mark on the road, stories of fans and picking up stuff he didn’t mean to,generally fairly light material but there are a few deep songs in there too. The main thing is that the music the still amazing and is a great follow up to the excellent Admiral Fell Promises. Caught him for an excellent show in the Button Factory, he was his usual laconic self, wouldn’t want it any other way. Stand out tunes are Young Love and The Winery, up there with the classic Red House Painter songs.
Dirty Three - Towards the Low Sun
It’s been a few years since we had an album from these lads but I’m glad to say they have managed to keep the standards high. The usual classic looping swirling sound, evoking tales of the high seas and adverse weather conditions, has me reaching for my rain gear and scarf and hat. Amazing drumming by Jim White, sounds like there’s more than one of him.Saw them in the button factory from the vantage point of the balcony, great to see these masters in action, although I could have done without seeing Warren Ellis spitting at the wall on numerous occasions. Have a listen to Rising Below and be prepared to be moved.
Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio
Jazz pianist teams up with some of the modern greats of hip hop and soul. Brilliant sound, superb drumming and piano playing that gets better with every listen as all the complex musical layers gradually get revealed. Mos Def, Erika Badu, Bilal are all guests, you don't need any more convincing. Have a listen to the Bowie cover Letter to Hermione to get an idea of how good this marriage can be.
Breton - Other Peoples Problems
Listened to Edward the Confessor in September this year and it blew me away, I had to get the album. Caroline told me she played it to me in March, (you own them Caroline!) I think I tought it was good but didn’t follow up. Music is funny that wasy sometimes. Anyway, hig energy, great mix of sounds, electronic ala Massive attack, math rock (you’ll kill me Enda B) enough to replace my fix of The Foals this year. The video to Edward the Confessor is brilliant. Oxides is another stand out tune that should whet your appetite.
Black Marble - A Different Arrangement
A late entry, a birthday present from Caroline, this ensured that my love affair with 80s influenced synth music continues. It must be middle age beckoning and pulling the nostalgia strings. Some very catchy tunes on this album, kind of reminds me of synth version of Interpol. A Great Design is insanely catchy, if Top of the Pops existed it would be on it.
Calexico - Algiers
My favourite Calexico album since Hot Rail, not a dud track on the album, great mix of their tex mex desert alt country sound and some cuban piano influences. The de-luxe edition comes with a live album called spiritoso recorded with the vienna philharmonic orchestra, it’s like listening to the music in cinemascope. Have a listen to the very catchy Sinner in the Sea to get a taste of that cuban influence or for a more traditional Calexico sound it’s hard to beat No Te Vayas, it will transport you to the Mexico Arizona border.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Bulletproof Brass
Hiphop crossed with a school marching brass band, it does exactly what it says on the tin, it’s hynotic and mesmeric and will have you out of your seat throwing all sorts of shapes, can’t help but getting a lift from this.If you have a listen to World Champions you’ll understand what I’m saying.
Tinderstick - The Something Rain
The third album since 3 of the original members got back together. A little more polished than the first two, the sound is a little less sparse, a real mix of the early days and the lush orchestration of the later albums. Some real dark stuff going on as you’d expect, I love the Stuarts passion in the Fire of Autumn and I love the quiet metronomic A night so Still beautiful stuff. No Irish visit on the tour, pity, their last gig here in Kilkenny was amazing.
Grimes - Visions
Brilliant electronic album from this young canadian woman, very catching tunes that happily stick in your head long after hearing them. You probably heard Oblivion used on the Ericom advert, still hasn’t stopped me from liking it. Even the few Mariah Carey high pitch screeching moments manage to work.
Japandroids - Celebration Rock
High speed, high energy 3 min guitar songs from this duo on their second album, continues to be part of my running soundtrack. It sounds so simple but I’m sure it takes a lot of skill to make a sound fresh and catchy. Listen to Younger Us and try not to be tinged with a touch of melancholy remembering those college days
Grizzly Bear - Shields
Some amazing tunes on this album, soaring atmospheric lush sounds, Yet Again is nearly the perfect song.
Girls Names - Dead to Me
Only 2 songs make it past the 3 minute mark. Superb debut album from this NI band, no nonsense guitar band with hat tips to the likes of the Buzzcocks, Billy Childish and The Drums. Check out Bury Me, why is this not getting more recognition, beautiful, catchy, melodic.
Liars - Wixiw
Very dark electronic album, very like one of my favs from last year, Patrick Kelleher, obviously hitting the nostalgic note for my eighties upbringing, but it also pulls in some dancey stuff reminiscent of Massive Attack, very meaty. Have a listen to No.1 Against the Rush and you’ll get the idea.
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, mAAd City
Didn’t get enough listens to this to make my top 10 but I’m loving it and really looking forward to the live show in January.
John Talabot - Fin
Lots of catchy dance tunes to get you moving rounf the living room floor.
Young Man Vol. 1
Brilliant second album from this Chicago native, song 21 is amazing 7 minutes of pure bliss.
Mark Kozalek @ Button Factory
Dirty Three @ Button Factory
Liars @ Forbidden Fruit
Beiruit @ Forbidden Fruit
Efterklang @ Meeting House Square
Enda Bates @ Fumbally
Shabazz Palaces @ Twisted Pepper
Bell X 1 @ Vicar Street
Scraping around for highlights of things I did of some interest to anyone but me....
Last Saturday I went to the Heineken Cup match Munster v Saracens. Atmosphere was crackling and I enjoyed that a lot. Saturday evening kick-off. Excellent. Last year I went to a Heinken Cup match v Edingurgh. Sunday lunchtime. Tame match. Sleepy atmosphere. Kinda put me off! As far as live rugby is concerned, its good to go along just to see the grunt and grind and flashes of skill, speed, strength, flair, which is something I would do a lot more often if (a) I had more time (b) the ticket prices didn't make it a case of sacrificing something else. 30 quid or thereabouts is still a bug chunk of money to me, and if I have it "spare", I would generally not chuck it away lightly.
Same reasoning with gigs. These tickets at 100 quid is just never going to happen for me. Take Springsteen - Thomond Park next July. He's up there with my favourite artists ever, and hell yeah I'd love to see the gig. But the tickets are over 100 quid. No thanks. I'll be happy enough listening to some live 70's E-Street band gigs while I work.
Highlights from TV-Sport this year :
Watching the "grande tours" and a few other events on Eurosport. The Vuelta was particularly enthralling with Joaquin Rodriguez and Alberto Contador involved in some seriously exciting bike racing on many stages. The Tour was absorbing as ever, but a bit of a procession for Team Sky, so not much "drama". Fair play to Wiggins. Great achievement. We had the young rider (Thibault Pinot) from the France de Jour team winning a stage. The director sportif was going ape with excitement
flailing out of the window of the team car cos FDJ win so few stages. That was classic!
Olympics were enthralling. Big enjoyment with watching sailing of all things. BBC's red button coverage of the Olympics was awesome - pick your sport from whatever is going on. Class - no longer have to go with the lowest common denominator. If you want sailing, watch sailing. If you want to see the bike racing and you've no interest in wrestling, then thats what you do. Liberating!
Loved the opening and closing ceremonies too!
Galway v Kilkenny 3 times this year. Excellent.
Donegal v Mayo was memorable for the sense of occasion for the counties involved. I have a wife from Donegal and a mother from Mayo. Two counties that were craving success.
TV : The one thing I did do was watch "The Wire" one episode a week right from series one to where I am right now late in series 4. (Advances in TV technology making this possible - this time its Series Link...no ads, never miss an episode...watch it when I do have the time which was generally about 8AM on Saturdays with coffee and cornflakes...TV and couch all to myself...aaaaah!) Its absorbing. I think series can only be watched this way. Take Love/Hate. I hear its good, but whats the point watching it now that I've missed the build up. I suppose it depends on the series itself. Some like the Wire are slow
burners with plots taking 12 episodes to play out, with a big win for the audience at the end. Some like Grays Anatomy have plots that last on average 7 minutes.
More TV : Decided to "series link" "QI" the panel show with Stephen Fry. I find it Quite Interesting.
2012... The CD racks are getting full, as I contemplate a switch to buying digital music for the first time. In the meantime, endless tunes were enjoyed and shared via Kick out the Jams, Dineen back on the airwaves, Taobh Tuathail, NPR First Listen, and TunezGalore/Dropbox. Then along comes Spotify - suddenly, everything is changed...
Albums of the Year
Without further ado... (not all 2012, but new to me)
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy. No debate this year, head and shoulders above the rest for me
Tame Impala – Lonerism. Psychedelic and brilliant
Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin'. Stomping good tunes
Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls. More stomping good tunes
SBTRKT - SBTRKT
The XX - Co-exist. The difficult second album, no problems here
Beth Orton - Sugaring Season. A late-breaking entry after being on rotation all week
Grimes - Visions
Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Bonnie Prince Billy – Wolfroy goes to town
Albums: Honourable Mentions/older releases/didn't get quite enough listens
Other Lives – Tamer Animals
Sigur Ros - Valtari
Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man
The Kinks - The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
Wild Beasts - Smother
Autolux – Transit Transit
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Flying Lotus – Until the quiet one comes
Jack White - Blunderbuss
The Beatles - Revolver. Special mention, far and away the kids' favourite album, and a Saturday morning regular - timeless
Not many gigs in 2012, but the new year is already looking good
Elvis Costello at the O2
Stone Roses at the Phoenix Park (finally...)
Beth Orton at the Pepper Canister church
Spiritualized at Body and Soul (finally...)
Herbalizer at Body and Soul
Luke Haines at Whelans
Big Maggie - John B. Keane (Gaiety)
Famine - Tom Murphy (Gaiety)
Events, Activities, Sports...
Live (in no particular order)
Powerscourt WAR (Wicklow Adventure Race). My fourth WAR and highest placing - great day out
Martin and Nessa's wedding. Great venue, food, company, music - just a super night...
Holidays - Wales, Pembrokeshire this time, and great to get back to Kerry for first time this millenium. Parknasilla is magic - we'll be back
Wales MTB - another super trip
Body and Soul - a lot of work with 3 kids, but a great weekend had by all. Shared with McDaids, and Andy & Jill
Ballyhoura MTB - finally biked the full 50km loop, on the new bike - textbook weekend with Cormac and Conor
Molls Gap, Gap of Dunloe and Black Valley bike loop - just stunning with the snow-clad Reeks as a back-drop
Olympics. Katie and all the Irish medals.Super coverage on BBC, just compelling viewing night after night
What Richard Did
The Killing 2, 3 (Danish original)
Homeland series 1, 2
Breaking Bad series 1, 2
Mad Men series 4, 5
A Sunday in Hell (documentary of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix bike race)
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky. My first Russian novel, a real page turner. Novel of the year for me
The Sisters Brothers - Patrick de Witt
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The General in his Labyrinth - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Room - Emma Donoghue
Post Office - Charles Bukowski
Homicide - David Simon. My book of the year. A year on the killing streets of Baltimore
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson. A close second, absolutely compelling
I was surprised when I went back to look at the albums I'd listened to all year at how few albums showed up from 2012 in my library. I'd been actively listening to music live, online, on headphones, in the office and at home all year. Where were they all? Many of the albums I dug this year were from other eras: psychedelic pop from the late sixties, including Van Dyke Parks (Song Cycle, 1968), J.K. & Co. (Suddenly One Summer, 1968), Billy Nichols (Would You Believe?, 1968), lots of Emitt Rhodes; the brilliant sonic adventures of Keith Jarrett's Sun Bear Concerts (1976); uncovering classic reggae/dub (Horace Andy). However, it was more than that. My musical consumption had left behind the album format. I listened to many more podcasts, DJ sets and self-released tracks via SoundCloud and BandCamp this year than ever before. There are lifetimes worth of fresh, non-album-based tunes available out there for all to stream. This has made music much more ephemeral for me. Tough to collect mp3s that aren't bundled into albums with art and release dates. I'm also thrilled by how open the music scene has become and the exposure that new artists are able to achieve online. In my new home city of Pittsburgh, key innovators like the VIA Music & New Media Collective have expanded my musical horizons and fostered nascent electronic and hip-hop scenes here that have kept me very happy over the past year. In other words, it's been a great musical year for me, one that doesn't add up properly when viewed in terms of albums.
The list below represents those albums that I liked enough to acquire, but I've also included some of the artists releasing material piece-wise that I've followed with keen interest over the past months.
Nate Morehouse's 2012 Top Ten Albums (in alphabetical order):
alt-J - An Awesome Wave - Simultaneously dark and light, brooding and pop sugar. The oddity of the lead singers voice pulls it all together.
Andy Stott - Luxury Problems - This might have been my favorite album of 2012. It is MASSIVE: growling, fundamental, tumbling, tense, uplifting. His releases from 2011 are not to be missed either. Live show was brilliant.
Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes - Another intelligent piece of electronic sculpture from FlyLo. Really gorgeous, all spangled about with glittery bits.
Grizzly Bear - Shields - Delving into late 60's pop helped me to understand the sonic heritage of this strong album. I'm pleased that we live in a time where the off-kilter song structures of a band like Grizzly Bear can achieve mainstream airplay.
Heathered Pearls - Loyal - Ambient drone loveliness with dance genetics.
Joey Bada$$ - 1999 - Very reminiscent of late 90's and early 2000's hip hop practitioners like Slum Village in terms of lyricism and pace, but somehow fresh. Comfort food with a twist.
Laurel Halo - Quarantine - Biting, experimental electronics executed with extraordinary clarity and vision. Not everyone will see the beauty in this album, but if you do, you know what I'm on to here.
Tame Impala - Lonerism - If you're like me, and liked the Flaming Lips best up until Clouds Taste Metallic, maybe Soft Bulletin, but didn't care much for Yoshimi and beyond, you'll dig this album.
The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now - Been keeping up with this guy since his first full release in 2008. What strikes me most about his music is its authenticity, which might sound odd for a Swede singing American folk music that you now hear overhead at one of your 5 local Starbucks. Something about his lyrics and musical sensibilities resonates deeply with me. If I were drunk enough to get past my hatred of karaoke, I might just belt this sh*t out.
Yeasayer - Fragrant World - This album moved me. Literally. I think I ran about 150 miles listening to this album in the summer months. Sonically, it connects with both the grimace of the up-hill push and the elated grin of the downhill glide.
Been a good year for music in Murphland as I've re-discovered the love of vinyl and got a turntable again!
Murph's albums of the year as as follows:
Dr. John - 'Locked Down'
Hilltop Hoods - 'Drinking From The Sun'
Gin Wigmore - 'Gravel & Wine'
Merry Clayton - 'Gimme Shelter'
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - 'Scandalous'
The Black Keys - 'El Camhino'
The Black Seeds - 'Devil & Dust'
April Smith & the Great Picture Show - 'Songs For A Sinking Ship'
The Jim Jones Revue - The Savage Heart
Jimmy Cliff - 'Rebirth'
Murph's Films of the year in no particular order are:
Stupid, Crazy Love
Get The Gringo
Brave / The Lorax / Dragon Hunters (All great kids films… though Dragon Hunters for older kids)
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Dead Man Running
Murph's Books of the year are:
'Reelin' In The Years' by Mark Radcliffe
'Game Of Thrones' RR Martin (Books 1 to 4 so far…)
'The Girl Who Played With Fire' by Stieg Larsson
'This Is A Call' by Paul Brannigan
'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
'The Memory Keeper's Daughter' by Kim Edwards
'Jasper Jones' by Craig Silvey
Once again respect to Tom for putting in the effort each year!
2010 was all about getting on a bike and riding out of life, 2011 was stepping back into life and what better way to spend 2012 than enjoying new life, the birth of our daughter Lily and new beginnings, getting married to Nessa. For sure, music and books and especially gigs suffered, but discovering unmissable shows on the radio has made this a bumper year of new music
Radio shows of the year
An Taobh Tuathaill goes out 5 nights a week and has done for over a decade. Cian Ó Cíobháin speaks in Gaelic and is constantly finding incredible music. How he does it I have no idea but his show is unmissable.
6Music Sundays kicks off with Lou Reed's New York Shuffle, then it is Cerys Matthews (The Cardigans) over breakfast, an afternoon with Huey from the Fun Lovin' Criminals and then two hours of Jarvis Cocker....perfect
Jazz Fm is constantly on in our house and Dinner Jazz is a great way to unwind into the evening, especailly when Sarah Ward presents at the weekend.
Donal Dineen has returned to the airwaves and his 3 hour show is as jaw droppingly good as ever. Clearly on the same planet as Cian Ó Cíobháin, if you catch these two then you will quickly find your music collection growing in directions your never imagined
Top 10 Albums
1. Perfume Genius - Put you back N 2 it
2. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, mAAd City
3. Tindersticks - The Something Rain
4. Black Marble - A Different Arrangement
5. Girls Names - Dead to Me
6. Dirty Three - Towards the Low Sun
7. John Talabot - Fin
8. Bantum - Legion
9. Grizzly Bear - Shields
10. Actress - R.I.P.
Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio
Young Man - Vol.1
GSYBE! - Alelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
New Jackson - The Night Mail
Top 10 Gigs
1. Tindersticks - Electric Picnic
2. THEESatisfaction & Shabazz Palaces - Twisted Pepper
3. Azelia Banks - Whelans
4. Forbidden Fruit - Factory Floor
5. Electric Picnic - Perfume Genius
6. Dirty Three - Button Factory
7. Mark Kozelek - Button Factory
8. Efterklang - Meeting House Sq.
9. Electric Picnic - John Talabot
10. The Strypes - everywhere
1. Grizzly Bear- shields
2. The Walkmen - Heaven
3. Wooden Birds - Magnolia
4. Tim Booth - Love Life
5. Beach House - Bloom
6. You Can't Win, Charlie Brown- Chromatic
7. Carminho - Alma
8. Dead Combo - Lisboa Mulata
9. Bob Dylan - Tempest
10. Lisa Hannigan - passenger
Hello again all, here’s my Top 10 for 2012 in no particular order apart from maybe the first one!
1) Kick Out The Jams
So, I am going to kick off this top ten with a bit of blatant self-promotion, as my favourite thing of the year is my own ‘radio show’, a music and chat podcast that I’ve been doing with my friend Matt. It took us months of secret practice recordings and trying to come up with a name, but Kick Out The Jams eventually went live in February 2012. And it was painful like you would not believe waiting for people to listen to our amateurish blend of chat and tunes and tell us what they thought, but now it feels pretty good to listen back to – we play whatever we are listening to at the time, which is generally new hip-hop, punk rock, jazz, soul, funk, folk, post-rock, electronica, dubstep, whatever, with a bunch of classics mixed in as and when, and chat about our lives in London and stuff that we are entertained, amused, or interested by….but it is not as bad as it sounds! We also used to do a ‘news’ section’ but eventually canned it as ten minutes of me ranting about the Tories turned out to not be even slightly entertaining! Anyway, a year on and I am finally not unhappy listening to the sound of my own voice recorded, and while a load of my actual friends don’t listen to it we have recently cracked the 100 regular listeners mark, meaning that a whole bunch of strangers are…which is pretty cool!
Kick Out The Jams lives here...Warning, contains constant bad language and awesome music!
2) All tomorrow’s Parties
Legendary producer Steve Albini once said: "There are three things in the world that I endorse: Abbey Road, Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies, and All Tomorrow's Parties". Not sure about the first two, but All Tomorrow’s Parties was so good to me in 2012 – An incredible eclectic alternative music festival held several times a year in Butlins and Pontins holiday camps (The ticket price includes a shared chalet with beds, kitchens, bathrooms etc…festival bliss!), curated by different artists every time – past curators include Battles, Animal Collective, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jim Jarmusch, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Portishead, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Mars Volta, Vincent Gallo, Slint, Mogwai, Tortoise, Shellac, Autechre… and Matt Groening.
ATP have also been putting on some incredible shows in London over the last couple of years, and between going to the festivals with my best friends and living in London I saw the following in 2012 – The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Boredoms, Thurston Moore, Low, Yann Tiersen, Scratch Acid, Mike Watt & George Hurley performing the songs of the Minutemen (glee!), The Fall, Matana Roberts, Earth, Esmerine, Mogwai, Mudhoney, Dirty Three, Codeine, Harvey Milk, Thee Oh Sees, The Afghan Whigs, Sleepy Sun, Faith No More, The Bug, Shellac, Wire, Mission of Burma, Oxbow, Melt Banana, Mono, Future of the Left, The Ex & Brass Unbound, Buke and Gase, Turing Machine, and Zeni Geva. And that is just courtesy of ATP, who I also endorse….but ahead of Abbey Road and Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies
So Martin keeps banging on about this radio show An Taobh Tuathail (meaning something like “From the left side”, I believe) which plays mon-fri on RTÉ and streams for free online, and it turns out to be a brilliant show, especially to play while working if you are lucky enough to have that option – the guy could easily be compared with John Peel, but with a more contemporary focus, the range of music is staggering, starting off pretty guitar/indie/alternative at the beginning of the week and slowly changing to primarily electronica and dancey stuff by week’s end – I don’t listen every day, but I bang it on at least a couple of times a week if not more, brilliant stuff, a constant stream of tasteful selections made all the more impressive when you consider that he’s on every night – that is a lot of time to fill! Give the guy a listen if you haven’t already!
So, I may have mentioned this band last year, as I discovered them a little while ago and was blown away – I was at ATP and one thing I failed to mention above is that they take over two channels of the TV in Butlins or Pontins and play TV shows, films, documentaries – nothing beats waking up hungover to take your turn cooing breakfast in the apartment and discovering that they have put an entire season of The Thick Of It on! Anyway, I came across Dirty Three on some music doc that was playing and was blown away – Deep instrumental compositions with soaring violin, wild jazzy drums swinging from minimal tickles to crashing crescendos all underpinned with a rhythmically barred guitar. They have put out a bunch of albums (Ocean Songs is my absolute favourite, so deep, so transporting) and Toward the Low Sun is their first in about five years I think – it opens with four minutes of brutally twisted noise, switching into a ‘real’ introduction on the second track, before just taking off towards the horizon….beautiful music from a singular band, and you can still stream the LP here: LISTEN: New Dirty Three LP
5) Fugazi/The Evens/Rites of Spring/Joe Lally
So, my favourite band in the world is Fugazi, but they are sadly now on indefinite hiatus. They were this incredible post-hardcore punk band from Washington DC who played this intelligent fiery groovy music while taking care of all their business themselves including running their own label (and also releasing an impressive roster of D.C. bands), booking and running their own tours, and keeping door prices minimal (and playing places without alcohol as often as possible) so that as many people, including young ‘uns, could get in to their shows….and what shows they were! Not just energy packed but relatively free of all the violent crap of punk rock shows as the band themselves just would not stand for it – they would famously stop halfway through a song to tell some idiot to watch themselves, embarrass people into calming down, or actually throw people out of the venues themselves – I heartily recommend a watch of the excellent documentary Instrument, it’s on Youtube in one piece: Fugazi - Instrument
Anyway, I miss this band a lot, and in 2012 I’ve had some partial fixes - bass player Joe Lally brought out his third solo LP at the end of 2011….but I didn’t hear it until January so it’s in! Joe brought a real dubby groove to Fugazi and his solo stuff is brilliant – by turns subtle and energetic, bass driven with disarmingly understated vocals – very assured stuff with a real variety of songs and structures: Joe Lally –Why Should I Get Used to It
Also early 2012, I discovered the excellent Rites of Spring – a band that half of Fugazi (Guy Piciotto and Brendan Canty) had played in before Fugazi was formed – and Wow, no idea how this had passed me by but it was very much like finding a ‘lost’ Fugazi LP, the main disconnect being that only one of Fugazi’s vocalists had sung on it, and that the driven and melodic songwriting was more basic structurally – which I suppose is what I would expect from an ACTUAL early undiscovered recording! Anyway, I listened to this LP a lot in early 2012, it made me very happy, even if it wasn’t an ACTUAL Fugazi record..: Rites of Spring – End To End
And finally, fourth member and Fugazi founder Ian Mckaye has played in a two-piece band called The Evens since Fugazi broke up. He plays baritone guitar, his wife Amy Farina plays the drums, and they both sing, and they are pure class. Their third LP The Odds came out in November 2012, and there is a lot of fire, musicianship, humour, songwriting, invention and intelligence on display – check out the second song “Wanted Criminals” here, a thought-provoking catchy little number on what happens to society when you privatize law enforcement and the penal system, “Jail in search of criminals…” The Evens- The Odds
Oh, one more! My housemate Ryan played me the Wugazi – 13 Chambers album for the first time last spring, it’s a mash-up of Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan which I think I dig, 2012 was kinda the year of Fugazi, even if they weren’t around…
6) Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Everybody has heard of Godspeed, right? This Canadian post-rock collective composing scores for apocalyptic movies that would never get made…..they disbanded before I came across them, in 2007 maybe, and came back in 2010 to curate and play All Tomorrow’s Parties…I was there for the festival they curated, as well as their appearance at Portishead’s two day ATP – I’ll be your mirror in 2011, but between changing stage times, massive queues due to poor planning and security, and just general cock-ups I managed to see maybe forty minutes out of a potential five or six hours…but this year they brought out a new LP out of nowhere, apparently they announced at the end of a gig in Canada that they had a new album for sale at the merch table! Anyway, the new LP came out, they toured, and I managed to catch their full show at the Kentish Town Forum – incredible! They played for over two hours, which I assumed meant they would fit in maybe 7-8 songs, but they only played 4 that I recognized and the rest was just beautiful noise and drone, accompanied by a guy live mixing four reel to reel film projectors onto two giant screens on the stage behind the band…what a show, absolutely transported, just standing there swaying on the spot for two hours…The LP is also excellent, two twenty minute songs bookended by two seven minute ‘drones’….just get it going and let it wash over you…
Back when I loved Nirvana and Mudhoney, and Seattle was exploding check shirts all over the world, there was this other grunge band called the Screaming Trees that I loved – grunge rock with what I thought of as dirty country vocals….and then I moved on and forgot all about them. Years later I notice that the singer, Mark Lanegan, has done some vocals on the third Queens of the Stone Age LP, and a few years after that a friend plays me some of his solo stuff…and wow. What a voice he has now. It’s the kind of voice that makes reviewers break out the phrases like ‘whisky-soaked’, and the songs all seem perfectly tailored to show it off…Blues Funeral is an odd LP, with weird production choices like bass effects that eventually grow on you so much that you don’t even notice they’re there….I saw The Mark Lanegan Band play at the Kentish Town Forum recently and I was surprised to see that on the first of two nights there that the big ol’ venue was rammed solid, I suppose that just goes to show that you don’t need to be a big name if you’re good enough: LISTEN NOW: Mark Lanegan Band's Blues Funeral
8) The Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio
I tried to win tickets to see Robert Glasper play at the free iTunes festival in Camden a couple of months back but didn’t get lucky, but fortunately he was playing just outside of Washington D.C. a couple of weeks later while I was there working and I was lucky enough to get to go to the show – I’d spent the week before listening to a phenomenal live album of the iTunes show (see below for free download and streaming links) and I was not disappointed in the slightest, whereas there were guest-stars galore at the London gig, they smashed it as a four piece in Virginia, and all I could do was sit there and gawp (and enjoy the fried catfish and delicious pumpkin beers that the waitress brought me, gigs in the states are so civilized!)….incredible musicianship, breathtaking solos (usually these are dull), great play with the crowd – Glasper would joke-flirt with the ladies calling out that they loved him, then they would drop into a ten minute jam amid utter silence from the crowd, followed by a jolly singalong as they busted out a Boys 2 Men cover, followed by a deep jammy Sade number that took the breath away…fantastic. The Black Radio LP is amazing, with some incredible appearance from the likes of Erykah Badu and Mos Def, but I swear I like the live recording better, some of those jams…streams below, you can download the iTunes show as an mp3 album from the Soundcloud page.
9) Lungfish – The Unanimous Hour 10) Codeine – The White Birch
I’ve run out of time by typing too much! These are both LPs by influential and now defunct bands that I have heard of but never gotten around to listening to until now….what an error! Lungfish are from Baltimore and were largely relased through Fugazi lable Dischord Records. This LP is amazing, sea-shanty poetry over tidal riffs and beats that swirl round and round as the band break them down – it may not be immediate but persevere with it, it rewards, truly a singular band…: Lungfish – The Unanimous Hour
Codeine were apparently hugely influential on two sloooow bands that I love, the angular, anguished Slint and the barnyard bleak Low but I had never heard of them until doing my pre-festival homework for ATP’s London Alexandra Palace weekend last summaer, and man…why had I not heard this album before? So understated, so careful and controlled, even when it threatens to gallop away you can feel the hand on the reins…you can see where Slint and Low took their (different) influences from here, but even being a fan of both bands this was totally new…re-released recently on some very sexy vinyl, check it out! Codeine – The White Birch
Also, Burial, Crippled Black Phoenix, Deerhoof, Earth, Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Kowloon Walled City, Neil Young, Om, Sleep Party People, and Torche all released some excellent work in 2012 too, but dammit they just didn’t spend as much time in my ears as the above, maybe that’ll change in 2013!
1. Tonight / Soulsavers
2. Yet Again / Grizzly Bear
3. How Long Have You Known / Diiv
4. Default / Django Django
5. This Fire Of Autumn / Tindersticks
6. Emmylou / First Aid Kit
7. The Feast / Katie Kim
8. Myth / Beach House
9. Blank Maps / Cold Specks
10. Darkness / Leonard Cohen
11. Harbourview Hospital / Mark Lanegan Band
12. I Remember You / Paul Buchanan
13. Seeing In The Dark / Mothlite
14. Baby / Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
15. Kill For Love / Chromatics
16. Reunion / The Xx
17. N.E.W. / Actress
18. USA III: Rail / Dan Deacon
Colin Waugh /Waughboy Highlights of 2012
Albums- a better year than 2011 overall. In variable order depending on the mood.
1- Mala ( & Gilles Peterson) -Mala in Cuba
Wonderful marriage of dubstep and Cuban music
2- Paul Buchanan - In Mid Air
Stripped down to that voice and keyboards- perfect
3- Tame Impala- Lonerism
Restored my faith in psychaedilic rock music
4 - Chromatics - Kill for Love
5- Grimes - Visions
6- Hot Chip- In our heads
7- Lawrence Arabia- The Sparrow
Christchurchs' finest keeps on coming up with the goods
8- Field Music - Plumb
9- Beach House- Bloom
10 - Older Diamonds newly discovered : :
- Casiotone for the Painfully Alone- 2 albums: Etiquette and Vs Children
Best lyrics I've heard since The Smiths
The Wire - Seasons 1-5
Breaking Bad Seasons 1-2
Haven't had time to get to the cinema this year but who needs it when you've got the above 2 shows, both mesmerising,addictive and compelling in so many ways.
Only got to 3 but happy with my lot, sounded even sweeter.
Radiohead - Auckland Nov
Bon Iver - Wellington Feb
Don McGlashan - Christchurch December - One of New Zealands greatest songwriters= check out "Andy" from his first band The Front Lawn, the best song I've ever heard about grief and family. Very special to hear this live .
Fiction : A sense of an ending= Julien Barnes ; Ghostwritten= David Mitchell. Blown away by these 2 writers this year.
Non Fiction: The 2 things that give me a buzz in science= medicine and astronomy get the nod:
The Emperor of all Maladies/Cancer a biography= Siddhartha Mukherje.
The Universe in 100 Key discoveries : Gilles Sparrow
personal highlights, well, thats personal isn't it!
save that for when we catch up face to face over a scoop !