Jan 5, 2013

max's 2012

Fuck 2012. Fakest year ever (not, as it turns out, 2011). I made a list of the good albums released in 2012 any way, 'cause at least Black Hippy and some old guys I thought I'd grown out of (Scott Walker, Swans, AnCo) did good stuff. Here's a playlist featuring the highlights/available tracks from the albums on here:

All things considered

Supposedly the summation of Swans' entire career. Impressive, but the world needs another Swans record like it needs another Godspeed You-


Holy shit Curren$y are u back

The sounds remaining from after he killed rock, less important, equally thrilling

I'm sure it'll make sense soon, but whenever I think Until The Quiet Comes has finally found something my iTunes has actually just moved on to playing Fort Romeau

Emotion and joy so frequently lost to tech, retrieved in sludge

To mention age, or put any of this down to an attempt to recapture something (age, obviously) would be to trivialize Young's killer indifference, which is half the way I feel about his...

Uh, speaking of which, Ocean's found and perfected an art where it (indifference... and age too, incidentally) is not only his subject matter, but the music's form too- he'll threaten to jump but it's only a story, and that's over a flattened and smoked out falsetto. Bummer that it translates to laziness in the sequencing and editing, as this betrays its profundity... Anyway, I dig the blunted falsettos that lead me through some of 2012's best written songs

More like...

Finding common ground in Slowdive and T. Rex, weird, I know, but it works surprisingly well

Baroness go all 'that era when heavy metal was popular with alts' in an era where it sort of is, but mostly isn't. See also, Torche

Big K.R.I.T. - Live From the Underground

Aw, c'mon

Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock

An eclectic alt's positive reimagining of krautrock, black metal, and noise rock, where transcendence and beauty necessarily emerge from piles of ugliness and repetition

The Evens - The Odds

Minimal indie 'cause it's bare and un-self-conscious, simple playing and harmonies

Rick Ross - Rich Forever

Ryan Hemsworth - FACT 352

Wait, does this one count?


Modernist electro, removes the conventional drive of its referents and exposes its own construction, less sinister than other Beer on the Rug releases, each 'song' is its own mini-ambience

MediaFired™ - The Pathway Through Whatever

Unless this is the less sinister side, some arguing for genuine affection behind the disorienting looped absurdity of aural advertising (both making claims to artistry, and not), recontextualized and reclaimed, rather than capturing the condition of our collective consciousness, though I can't agree

Action Bronson - Blue Chips

Stranger and slower

The Weeknd - Trilogy

"Did gloomy hipsters ruin R&B in 2012?" gloomy hipsters ruin everything, silly! For convenience' sake

Jeremih - Late Nights With Jeremih

Segue. Yo Dream where the fuck u at? These guys are making pyramids without you-

Terius Nash - 1977


My ass hurts from shaking so much and you've pummeled my guts!

'cause the world needs another meme rapper... there's no Bird On A Wire, but there's one about being a gargoyle. Also it's, what, half the length of Birth of an Icon?

So, fuck capitalism, right?

The list

50. Shackleton - Music for the Quiet Hour / The Drawbar Organ EPs

Music is the weapon of the future, turn of your computer, rhythm electronic system subverter, reality clearer, silence observer

Reality um, hey wait, is this one hopeful???

49. Suis La Lune - Riala

buy / stream

48. Sun Araw - The Inner Treaty

Poor boy went and lost it

47. Mount Eerie - Ocean Roar


buy / stream

46. Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

Wacked out Prince revivalism to Ocean's detached, I don't know, Stevie Wonder, less a work of art where it's important in this era of highbrow r&b revisionism, it hardly matters when Miguel inhabits the damn soundworld himself: 

Do you like drugs? Have you ever felt alone? Do you still believe in love?

Or, better yet, in four minutes of cynical transcendence:

How many drinks would it take you to leave with me? Yeah you look good, and I got money, But I don't wanna waste my time

buy / stream

45. Crystal Castles - (III)

I'm so late to the party. Crystal Castles finally release something that sounds good to me and then someone on their way out tells me that it's a gigantic piece of shit for fans of Bloc Party and Muse (OH MAN I SWEAR I SWEAR TO GOD I DON'T, PLEASE, I SWEAR)

Playing arcade games at night with your best friend and then going home to co-op Herc's Adventures and drink Mountain Dew

buy / stream

44. Pelt - Effigy

R.I.P. Jack Rose, your band just made 2012's heaviest tearjerker and best folk album all in one go

43. Dope Body - Natural History

In 2008 the greatest band in the world (Harvey Milk) released their fourth best album (Life... The Best Game in Town), which, on its second best track, revised The Beatles' day in the life as a sad one where life is the best game in town and death goes to the winner so you wake up get out of bed put a pistol to your head, and then on the first bestest track, they went skypunch pop metal in a way that Torche hadn't yet, and then in 2012 Dope Body made an album out of that song (it's called Motown) and everyone who heard the album was happy and remembered Motown and went oh yeah these Dope Body guys are alright! 'cause now I remember Motown and I'm happy and you write your riffs as fun jokes and then go out to convince us they're worth something, and we're convinced, (you're out of your mind) but in this field that counts for so much, thank you Dope Body, thank you for Natural History

42. Black Breath - Sentenced to Life

Q: are we already so sick of the concept records/eps/band(camp)s allegedly defining this era that an album of serviceable Entombed worship can make its way onto a 'fav' list just because it rocks so hard and good (mmm)

stream / buy

41. Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist

Grab two guys producing some of the most interesting electronic music these days and get them to jam. You won't get any of the heavy concepts that the two frequently deal with, particularly when the collaboration you've imagined (and have here) is improvisation in its truest sense- the musicians go in blind and allow their sounds to converse and react incidentally, that surely being a concept in itself (though the byproduct being neither of their best work)

buy / stream

40. Oren Ambarchi | Keiji Haino | Jim O'Rourke - Imikuzushi

stream / buy

39. Chromatics - Running From the Sun

38. The Men - Open Your Heart

"Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes."

buy / stream

37. Killing Joke - MMXII

Jaz Coleman has always championed his beautiful voice as more of an instrument than anything else, and I've always bought that, but it's only with MMXII that it has consistently transcended its role as guttural melody spewer and become something more like Killing Joke's music or his words- paranoid and angry, but also vulnerable, with a touch of hope

36. Action Bronson & Alchemist - Rare Chandeliers

Welcome to your free sequel to Fishscale! It's so dusty your eyes will dry out, so knowingly strange it's freeform, and your guide's a rapper so hungry he's a character. Get your hands off me woman what the fuck is wrong with you, so good so free

35. Torche - Harmonicraft

As hard as (the superior) Mastodon and Baroness tried on their latest releases, Harmonicraft had Torche rightfully beat them both at the bubblegum metal game

buy / stream

34. Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos - Icon Give Thank

33. John Maus - A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material

stream / buy

32. Fort Romeau - Kingdoms

stream / buy

31. White Lung - Sorry

2012's best guitars

30. Dan Deacon - America

Half-conceptual, half-assed, half of America evokes the ecstasy of Deacon's travels through the American landscape, proggish in its scope (like the wonderful cover), Beach Boys wouldn't-it-be-nice naive wonder, Steve Reich without-the-historical-autobiographical-tragical train-like repetition, Boredoms krautrock-revisionism-with-a-chaotic-core-and-cathartic-endings repetition, and so on, and further than I know, but when I hear it I feel like I get it, which is what matters, I think, but then the other half, the half-assed half, is what's stopping America from being in my top 5 albums of 2012

29. Title Fight - Floral Green

Muscularizes their pop-punk through Jawbreaker emo and shared acknowledgement to preceding experimenters Fugazi and Sonic Youth- Head In The Ceiling Fan sounds like when Boris went Justin Broadrick on Farewell

28. Blues Control - Valley Tangents

buy / stream

27. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure

Experimental rap's favourite paranoiac's best album- as corrosive as he's always been but through a wintry lens unusually defeated in tone compared to the exasperated aggression I came to expect (and got from R.A.P. Music), it's Burroughs, it's Dick, it's alt rap's king showing new weirdos how to do it

buy / stream

26. Future - Pluto

The oddball clash of Future's enduring emotional sincerity and Pluto's auto-tuned future-trap sound produced what was easily the year's most fascinating cognitive dissonance and also the year's best emo rap album- jarringly disjointed as the record flipped between playful trap ignorance (on the phone, cooking dope, at the same damn time!), transcendent r&b romanticism (Turn on the Lights), and misty-eyed gangsta existentialism (Permanent Scars), his success in all of said fields encouraged repeated listens and frequently crushed competitors in a year of cynical trap and r&b revivalism

stream / cd

25. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

Rap's most thoughtful thug motivator gets his first set of consistent beats, maybe as noisy as Bomb Squad might've sounded (El-P'd be the guy to do it, surely), for him to spit straight fury. I'm not the guy to ask about it though- I prefer shedding a tear on Can You Hear Me and going Devin the Dude on Woke Up This Morning to almost anything on here, but this is the first statement Mike's made that's so loud the whole world heard it

buy / stream

24. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland - Black Is Beautiful

Bullshit budget improv so upfront about its bullshit budget improvisations that it becomes a statement both bold and mysteriously alluring

23. V/A - Hotline Miami

The soundtrack to 2012's best game- 2011's Drive disarmed viewers with its 80s exploitation schtick, punctuating a flow of transcendent beauty with bursts of violence both captivating and devastating, aestheticizing and moralizing what is frequently only the former, 1983's Scarface established 1980s Miami as the place to set your exercise in violent and economic insanity, and in 2012 Hotline Miami's Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin decided David Lynch was the guy whose movies flick between beauty, kitschy period settings, and violence as frequently as his characters flick between names and personas, marrying Scarface excess and cornballishness with the kind of cerebral bloodbath Refn would accomplish years later. Then, for whatever reason, the Hotline Miami two disregard that last part despite thanking Refn in the credits, retaining a noir-ish element more Lost Highway feverdream than Drive stoic parody, and more than it knows, pursuing its own ultraviolent insanity. The references are there but quickly enough become secondary or redundant. Getting ready to rampage without the giddy M|O|O|N songs seems as pointless as waking up in your shithole apartment without Sun Araw fucking your head up at the same time. Awesome

22. ScHoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions

21. Loma Prieta - I.V.

If I didn't have a ridic hardon for Converge because of Jane Doe I'd happily swap Loma Prieta's I.V. with  All We Love We Leave Behind, or put them right next to each other, and it's actually sneaking up there more and more all the time. Fly By Night is the most varied and epic song on this list and it's only two and a half minutes long! When loud bands record, I love to hear the distorted mess that their instruments naturally leave, and it's all too rare that it remains there for the listener. Jane Doe was that relatable mix of hatred and longing following a breakup all coated in sharp shoegazey noise so Bannon spat shards of distortion in anger and Ballou played drones for the slow parts. I.V. on the other hand, while frequently beautiful, drowns the listener in a thick fuzz more aggressive than vulnerable. Hearing the band try to play their way out of it but losing in Trilogy 6 "Forgetting" is apocalyptic and it'll splode your ears. Hearing them emerge melodic is what makes I.V. work so well

stream / buy

20. Liars - WIXIW

stream / buy

19. Ab-Soul - Control System

This is a story about control, mind-control, Black Hippy's hyperventilating paranoid genius

18. Deftones - Koi no Yokan

As the much celebrated shoegaze/drone/doom duo The Angelic Process began to sound more and more like Deftones, it turns out Deftones were beginning to sound more and more like The Angelic Process, much to the detriment of the latter and to the benefit of the former, the former playing shoegaze at the same time that they were playing alt metal (oh!), crunching and sacrileging but moaning and Romanticizing, their greatest moment not being the gothy broetry of that song from Queen of the Damned, but the directness of the screamed something's wrong with you and I hope we never meet again on a song called When Girls Telephone Boys, knowing at their best they transcended the frustrating pigeonhole many believed they were stuck in (nu metal!) allowed me to apologise for them and even on occasion return to their underrated self-titled record where the aforementioned line is so directly screamed, but seeing them so successfully transcend my expectations as well, meeting Weighing Souls With Sand halfway is just great, Koi no Yokan, you're a great record!

buy / stream 

17. Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky

I predict that Dinosaur Jr's sound will continue to get drier and more inconsequential, their indifference towards anything other than rocking hard indicating that they might actually be worthy successors to the throne of Neil Young's Eldorado to Mirror Ball period, grown dusty since he re-found politics, buy all their shit up, in a decade you'll think they're classics

buy / stream

16. Beach House - Bloom

buy / stream

15. Laurel Halo - Quarantine

TMT made a link to posthumanism and Trans, and Quarantine being the inverse of Trans, basic human needs and experience, in Low the voice disappeared beneath pure feeling or low-ness, in 808s & Heartbreak it affectingly broke through its mechanical binding, showcasing the victory of human spirit over a cold, heartless world, and I don't know how it does it, but Quarantine takes it all further, leaving the voice bare and me pleasantly moved/disturbed

14. John Talabot - ƒIN

Read whatever Jono says about it!

buy / stream

13. Dean Blunt - The Narcissist II

2012's most disturbing good record after Bish BoschThe Narcissist II drags the listener through a domestic abuse narrative, amateur singalongs, dusty horror soundtracks, deteriorated rain recordings, let's not start a war, it's not enough, *Rick Ross grunt*, for apparently no reason other than the individual listener's reaction, mine being hey this is a homemade MU.ZZ.LE almost as scary as Bish Bosch!, so great job!

12. Harry Pussy - One Plus One

Re-absurds or surrealizes or just re-realizes Harry Pussy jams, the most gut-wrenching as well as simply ear-bleeding in noise rock, as moving as they are primal, funny as they are serious, ugly as they are beautiful, and so on

11. Gonjasufi - MU.ZZ.LE

Simple for-the-love-of-it i.e. indifferent to expectations, trends, etc, soundworld of urban smog, druggy haze, musical ambivalence, nocturnal bliss, and restrained/distant passion- that voice!

buy / stream

10. Scott Walker - Bish Bosch

The final word in the trilogy of Walker's fin de siècle- degeneration, death, misery, slapstick- fuck you absurdist farce, the floaty vampire voice of the ringmaster of the carnivalride of the carnivalground of the postmodern nightmare laughing all the while as he pretends realism through morbidity, supposedly innate (Bosch), juxtaposed with high&low-brow decadence (Bish Bosch), surrealist or absurdist, the effect is undoubtedly surreal, but our vampire voice ringmaster takes on the role of madman- of critic, and of cruel pessimist (Bosch), leading us blindies to the cliff and telling us we've leaped, maybe forcing open our dumb eyes (thanks!), or maybe laughing between the sobs as he's sent shrieking to hell and we've collapsed in a heap of dumb dumb blindness. In terms of avant-garde pop in 2012, my time was spent with Ariel Pink over Walker and will continue to be spent with Pink over Walker, as where the former breaks the flow of what we are comfortable with and what we have come to expect, freezing moments and making them fucking odd, genderfucking and pop-song-ing along the way, Walker's farce belongs purely in the realm of horror, Taxidermia to Pink's Tim and Eric. Pink turns the word schnitzel into a dumb mantra, inviting us to piss gold piss on the golden era of rock n roll as Walker sings of pissing bloody piss on an El Greco to the dark and eerie sounds of his fucked up head- knives being sharpened or recordings of our flatulent pessimistic prophet farting into the mic. Six years ago Walker made what's up doc the scariest thing to happen in pop, and he's managed a similar thing here, Bosch on the mic (wooo!), farting in the face of history, of art, of science, of language, of civilization, of the modern- some think he's clearing the room (of human history, apparently) for hope, while some will look at the title again and remember that's the dude who had God shrinking away from the world well before man turned up, who had owls and demons in the Garden of Eden for the joining of Adam and Eve, who had pleasure followed by torment, flutes up asses, torture related to earthly pleasures, who had The Antichrist at the adoration, who in sum believed that humankind will forever strive for pleasure and goodness, but will inevitably create Hell, regardless of the name it gets given (Heaven). The bish brings Bosch to 2012, or gets a head start on that part of Bish Bosch's narrative- the degeneration of language. I hate it, but I keep thinking, man, at least I hate it. Piss, cunt, some historical figure, abortion, prollicky preace on the old prisser, crum sprurts out the road, old toad, jingle bells, your cunt smells, jingle bells, a man hanged downtown and all his family stand around, he was our son and now he's gone, jingle bells, jingle bells, you fucking hermit creep, fuck you. The hugest record of the decade, I think.

buy / stream / -

9. Aesop Rock - Skelethon

Like Nas' "puff-chested bitch session" Life is Good, Aesop's Skelethon uses maturity to demand relevance, self-awareness to acknowledge irrelevance, and irrelevance to fuel angst, one of the big differences being that with Skelethon, listeners don't have to endure any Swizz Beatz missteps (seriously), and another being that with Skelethon, Aesop's grating abstract verbiage actually suits his conceptual downer, less puff-chested than despondent, less bitchy than dizzy, less therapeutic than a waking-nightmare of obsessions, patterns, regrets, etc

buy / stream / -

8. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

The critics really exhausted the thesaurus on this one! All Converge will ever do is produce the best heavy music of the year any year they release anything

buy / stream / -

7. Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva N a Day

Last comfy release from K.R.I.T. whose first mixtape was one of the best mixtapes of the year in a year full of really good mixtapes and whose second mixtape was one of the best albums of the year in a year of really good albums even though it was a mixtape, and who people had ridiculous expectations for given his previous two mixtapes, and then the story goes he didn't blow it but he did it again, nothing bad, good in fact, but more of the same, and by that stage it meant something, so what you have is a bummer unless you like it regardless of those expectations (why do they matter), or unless you listened to the last comfy release from K.R.I.T., and thought hey this ends the trilogy on a good note, a nice note, his git up git out spirit fitted to a day-in-the-life scenario complete with non-git up git out parts, single line dirty south hooks on top of thoughtfully lush soundscapes, 25 minutes, and that's a lot of minutes, shorter than his best, humble, well thought out, stronger at the start and the end, but that's fine, I'm still listening at that stage any way

6. Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

Retrieves their transcendent escapist pop from the skies and from the 60s, beating and distorting it with radio noise and percussive effects freakouts more blood sweat tears human than heady psych ecstasy, repetitive, aggressive, angst left over from Avey Tare's gloomy/mature Down There, creative simplification from Panda Bear's Tomboy, a frustrated scream through the electric which once elevated their spirits and put them on the radio (now imagined as a migraine), a rejection thereof, a gripping and claustrophobic one too, I wouldn't be surprised if their next one's acoustic

buy / stream / -

5. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes

Pink's project of musical archaeology, resurrecting old sounds and making absurd the history of pop, reaches the hyperactive camp of early Sparks, the dumbass jokes of Zappa, and the brainfried nonsense of Syd Barrett, and so naturally sounds more like Ween than Haunted Graffiti ever had previously, Mature Themes is Pink finally finding relics more fucked up than himself

buy / stream / -

4. Burial - Kindred

To-the-point (it's-an-EP) release relying on familiarly odd Burial dichotomies- dreamlike and gritty, light and heavy, ambient and driving (at its best here), lush and fragmentary, distant and immediate

buy / stream / -

3. Andy Stott - Luxury Problems

What it loses in the way of somber sluggishness, it makes up for with prettiness and, somewhat boldly, an element of the personal- Stott's piano teacher's voice bringing that distant, lost, ghostly sound lo-fi-ers aim for, eerily sitting above the dark, degraded pulses and drones of his spare/suffocating techno

buy / stream / -

2. Actress - R.I.P.

Aimless meaning it bumps and wobbles accordingly but also threatens to dismantle itself, which it also does, frequently

buy / stream / -

Best one

1. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

Links homage, reference, the personal, the political, the social, into an epic yet earthy concept album, the best of its kind since Yeezy's MBDTF, or, as some are saying (c'mon, give it a few years...), the best in its genre since Aquemini. The musical/lyrical/stylistic references serve to create a vivid short-film atmosphere (where opportunistic hipsters settle for superficial 90s nostalgia- countless)- the anxious frenzy of witnessing m.a.a.d city-realism (Now this is not a tape recorder saying that he did it/But ever since that day, I was lookin at him different) only to have the record find familiar direction in angst- MC Eiht's low-voice cool riding out on the sound of familial m.a.a.d city-nihilism (g-funk), relationship woes dressed up in Aquemini space/alien analogies (I can feel your energy from two planets away/I got my drink, I got my music I would share it but today I'm yelling/Bitch don't kill my vibe, bitch don't kill my vibe) both poetic and experiential (where opportunistic hipsters mistake hollow-yet-able mimicry for artistic/emotional empathy- Cloud Nothings), and most surprisingly a brief resurrection of the spirit of unhinged dick-firmly-planted-in-the-ear, brains-against-the-wall Weezy-exemplified absurdism (All my life I want money and power/Respect my mind or die from lead shower/I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower/So I can fuck the world for 72 hours)

  • my name is max and i endorse this product
  • where my motherfuckin Dominoes at
  • four or five friends that all look like the guy from cloud nothings or mclovin stand in a circle and start to beatbox out of time as the most mclovinish one roars 'martin had a dream'
  • aoty if it's not channel orange
  • actually, don't worry about my motherfuckin Dominoes
  • the mclovins go all in on 'all my life i want money and power' but two of them get self-conscious and stop, leaving the other three to it, quite astutely predicting that the upcoming 'lead shower' line will seem as feeble coming from them as the preceding 'money and power' lyric they all took part in, but from which they departed gratefully unscathed
  • drink until i can't no more ay ya ya ya
  • sorry about your friend
  • one wonders if he'll see him around, maybe he'll say that to him, he'll say i heard your skits too and i processed them, narrativized them, i know they fit, like a puzzle fits, and i'm sorry about your friend
  • ya bish (ya bish)
  • another cloud nothing becomes self-aware, reverting to a generic black male impression (amy poehler doing aziz ansari on that shitty office sequel) for the dick boast, but then feels bad immediately afterwards and looks around to nearby festival goers who are pretending not to notice- he gives up and stands closer to those who didn't venture as far as 'lead shower'
  • a dollar might just fuck your main bitch
  • the venue shuts at 12
  • f scott fitzgerald if it's not aquemini
  • condom rappers
  • that leaves two- one of them beatboxes, the other one declares that he has bitches. the first one stops and says that he's never felt so white in his life, the other one repeats that he has bitches, but this time he mutters it, weakened, dwindling, diminished, humiliated. exeunt mclovins into the night
  • drake attempts to return the favour, giving kendrick a drake verse where last year kendrick gave drake a kendrake 3000 verse about aliens and being buried alive
  • enter 5-10 bros in a line. the one to the far right is explaining to his associate that if kendrick forgets any of his lines he'll be able to freestyle his way out this hypothetical predicament
  • a puzzle in its own way
  • does anyone else feel bad for schoolboy q and ab-soul? habits and contradictions was commonly believed to be the best hip hop album of the year until gkmc dropped, and now, in retrospect, it might be dated by its cloud-ish-ness. control system was ultra-lyrical, but its themes were confined to single songs where gkmc announced itself as a map or a puzzle or a 'short film'
  • there's also ab-soul's specificity
  • and mic presence
  • he's remembered all the words, probably deliberated over the sounds and sequences
  • though a freestyle would've been nice
  • the venue shuts at 12
  • i bought it twice in case they ran out of stock
  • aoty if it's not channel orange, it's not channel orange
  • f scott fitzgerald if it's not aquemini
  • ?
  • aoty

buy / stream / -


  1. My AOTY is probably Wadada Leo Smith's Ten Freedom Summers, of course I haven't listened quite enough of '12 to really make that official, that and I am awful at picking favorites.