2012 Music as Zombiepaper Heard It
Hello, readers. In celebration of a sleepless night, day one of possibly being snowed in, without any foreseeable work options in the foreseeable future, on the first day of 2013, let’s take a look at that goddamn awful year 2012, and pick out some music that was better than Skillrex or that teenybopper shit. In 2008, I was the world’s foremost expert on new albums – or at the least, I was crazy enough to hear over 700 of them – but this time, time and interest was not on my side, so I went the more subdued route. No hipster indie crap, no poking through hype-maker blogs, just my favorite bands and some extras. Here’s a hint of what the tracklist will look like:
01 – Motörhead – “In The Name Of Tragedy“
My best journalistic insight into the music of 2012 – well besides the Minibosses released Brass 2 in late 2011, so there was some sort of time traveling anachronistic madness going on – was watching Motörhead twice. The first time was in a hockey arena with Lacuna Coil (wow, did they suck), Volbeat (generic rock crap), and Megadeth (good). I was very impressed by Motörhead, especially with Mikkey Dee’s amazing drum solo in “In The Name Of Tragedy,” and they earned my lifetime respect when I went to take a leak after their set and halfway through I realized I could barely hear anything at all. The second time was less impressive, but I blame the emo bitch bands and rednecks for that.
02 – Paul McCartney and Nirvana – “Cut Me Some Slack“
This was a real surprise. In my opinion, the Beatles forged the rock and heavy metal genre with songs ranging from “Paperback Writer,” “Helter Skelter,” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Oh, you disagree? Screw off, you’re wrong. Almost every musician since has had some inspiration by the Beatles, and one of the bands less apparent at first glance to wear that Influence badge was Nirvana. Too bad Kurt Cobain [RIP] couldn’t see that reach full circle, but hey, this thing actually happened – not once, but thrice [including a studio recording] – and I’m stocked for an album in 2013 with some dirty band name and more cut-them-to-the-chase song titles.
03 – Kate Nash – “Death Proof“
I listened to videogame music for years and years, and listened to Nirvana’s discography for around a year almost exclusively, so when I venture out into new musical directions, it’s not always clear what drew me in. Never heard Kate Nash before this EP, and I liked the borrowed title from the movie, as well as the heavy surf rock vibe where the bass guitar is not completely drowned out.
04 – Asian Kung-Fu Generation – “Kakato de Ai o Uchinarase” [Ring Out Love with Your Heel]
So wait, I’m bored by Volbeat and generic American rock bands, but here’s this- this- Asian rock band. What am I, some kind of multiculturalist? I reserve the right to enjoy any type of music I want. Two things I’ve consistently enjoyed about ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION are the singing (even though my understanding of Japanese is laughable at best, it sure is nicer to hear than Lemmy) and the visual style of the album covers.
05 – Kanye West – “Mercy“
Before I really took a serious academic interest in music, (hah hah, you believed me there,) most of my exposure to hip hop was via radio. This was one of the most played songs on a local radio station, besides oddly enough 2011’s “Niggas in Paris.” The song’s big sound is nicely complimented by the multiple rappers, each more odd than the rest, leading up to West’s off-kilter climax, and back down for the rest of the song.
06 – Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe“
The other big hip hop hit on this list wasn’t much of a radio single, but certainly made the rounds on music sites. The weirdest part about exclusively listening to new music is that from out of nowhere, you’ll come across a select few acts that are hyped more than others. Everyone talked about Kendrick Lamar this year, and even though the album didn’t really grab my attention much, the song “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” is a fair statement for any situation, misogyny aside, because anyone can be a bitch.
07 – Nas and Amy Winehouse – “Cherry Wine“
Just like if someone came up to you, the educated gamer, and said “my favorite Final Fantasy was Mystic Quest,” depending on how they explain their viewpoint, you might wonder “haven’t they heard of Final Fantasy Tactics?” or you might inquire about your favorite numerical title in the series. Nas is like that for hip hop, and though Illmatic is still his most widely acclaimed album by far (think of it as what would happen if FF6 and FF7 fans came together and agreed that FF1 was better than either game), this latest album by Nas still has some great songs, including this collaboration with Amy Winehouse [RIP].
08 – The Rolling Stones – “Doom and Gloom“
I saw Van Halen live, despite their weak single “Tattoo.” If ZZ Top had announced their romp through this part of town sooner, I would have rather seen them live by a mile. They also just missed this list, because while their album was good, and their inventive cover “I Gotsa Get Paid” of the hip hop song [!] “25 Lighters” was great, I enjoyed the drum beat (with the slight pause) in “Doom and Gloom” just a bit more. Maybe it was the ‘Louisiana zombies’ line.
09 – The RZA and the Flatbush Zombies – “Just Blowin’ In The Wind“
I already wrote extensively about the soundtrack, particularly the solid neo-Wu Tang Clan song “Rivers of Blood,” but despite some weird rhymes by the RZA, this was my favorite song by far because of the Flatbush Zombies. They have some of the best raps of the album, even with Kool G. Rap in mind, so I’m looking forward to what they release in 2013.
10 – Death Grips – “Lil Boy“
Death Grips are a goddamn firecracker and a welcome change to the old guard of popular music. One part electronic music and one part punk music, “Lil Boy” was when their ultra controversial album NO LOVE DEEP WEB, this music, and this attitude really sunk in. If you’re a musician, your goal is to make music. If anyone stops you from your goal, THEN FUCK ‘EM! They didn’t have your back to begin with. (I missed seeing them live, too!)
11 – Dead Can Dance – “Return of The She-King“
In the mid 80s and 90s, Dead Can Dance, were one of many groups to helped popularize music that was distinctly not one generation removed from the Beatles. They made ambient music, which might downplay Lisa Gerrard’s singing (I only notice the singing if it’s not in English, I guess), with strong musical inspirations from around the world, and this year, are back with Anastasis [resurrection]. “Return of The She-King” might be one of my favorite songs of the year.
12 – Om – State Of Non-Return
Doom metal band Sleep spent years working on their 61-minute magnum opus “Jerusalem.” Telling of how difficult the song must be to play live, they only played about 20 minutes or so of the highlights when I saw them, and when they split, guitarist Matt Pike formed a couple rock bands and the rhythm section formed Om. “State of Non-Return” is one of the two songs on Advaitic Songs that sounds like it could have been made by the musicians from Sleep. The rest lives completely outside of western music.
13 – Sigur Ros – “Daudalogn“
It’s been ten years since I first heard of Sigur Rós via a tastemaker blog that like many back in the early 2000s would feature select songs from certain artists and I probably downloaded it in a hurry while my Internet connection was still good. “Dauðalogn” is the sort of song that that Sigur Rós is best able to make: ethereal, otherworldly. In an aggressive world, where it seems everyone lies and steals, music like this can be a glue to remind us that not everyone is that bad.
14 – Incubus – The Warmth
Morning View was a ubiquitious album in high school. Everyone was listening to it, like I hope the cool kids are with the newest Led Zeppelin [live] album (even though Jimmy Page really should have practiced Stairway to Heaven, what the hell, dude?), and being the sort of person that likes to have a comprehensive listen to any musical group worth its time, I bought the CDs for S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and Make Yourself. Over ten years later, who would have guessed you Incubus would have released high quality videos of the performance online? For free? And you can still buy a CD of the performance.
15 – Buckethead – “Point Doom“
I forget when I first heard “Whitewash” by Buckethead off the album Colma. That sort of gentle, background music, isn’t really what Buckethead is known for – more the enigmatic guitar shredder or maybe Slash stand-in for pre-insanity Guns n’ Roses – but don’t really get much out of that kind of music. Especially nowadays. “Point Doom” has this driving chord progression, which builds, and builds, into the melody that would be perfect for a Buckethead western movie, only to briefly reprise before returning to a completely different sort of cowboy / western / flamenco inspired melody.
16 – Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra – “Merry-Go-Round“
You tend to have a certain attachment to the first band you heard in a particular genre, especially when those songs – Lupin the Third and Enter the Dragon – are favorite theme songs. In a way, they remind me of Gogol Bordello – punk bands, with a large number of instruments, that have enough style and musicianship to not grow stale. Plus, the piano and drum intro build-up in “Merry-Go-Round” reminds me of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.”
17 – Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Arranged by Hiroyuki Nakayama – “Searching for Friends“
Remember earlier when I said that I listened to videogame music for years and years? The composer of most of the Final Fantasy series, Mr. Uematsu, is one of my top five favorite musicians, including both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, because I heard some of these songs years before I ever heard a song by the Beatles. I was older than 18 and in college the first time I heard “Yesterday.” Enough asides, what I like best about these arrangements by Mr. Nakayama are how jazzy and inspired they are; just when you’ve heard the same song for over 15 years, it sounds like the first time you heard it, all over again.
18 – Tech N9ne – “Alone“
Tech N9ne is such a dynamic rapper not only because of his rhyming or technical ability, but also because of something that might seem obvious in hindsight: vocal ability. Tech N9ne only released EPs this year, instead of his usual extra-value-long albums, and in a way these are easier to digest. “URALYA,” “Should I Killer,” and “Paint on Your Pillowcase,” are great raps, but “Alone” is a great chance of pace. When you can make any type of music you want, the results are excellent.
19 – disasterPEACE – “Reflection“
If you’ve watched Indie Game: The Movie, then a careful ear might have picked up some of the ambient electronic music in the soundtrack to FEZ. disasterPEACE has been composing chiptune music for small videogames for years, first to imaginary games. them the real deal. Compared to some of his other songs, “Reflection” is not a quick and easy little ditty, rather a mature sort of arrangement with the confidence of including digital ocean waves in the outro to the song. Check out his
20 – Yoko Kanno – “But not for me“
Without Ms Kanno, and in particular the Seatbelts and Cowboy Bebop, it would be safe to say that I would be completely ignorant in jazz music. (At least I’m willing to admit it.) This should be my next step in gaining more appreciation of the entire music spectrum in the year 2013: listen to a variety of jazz classics, figure out what songs I like best, and then look for 2013 compositions that fit the bill.
21 – Motörhead – “Ace Of Spades“ [older, alternate version because you’ve heard this song a hundred times]
The idea for this whole list, originally on Rate Your Music but brought to you here in a much more complete form by insomnia, originally came from my favorite albums of 2012 list, and since The Wörld Is Ours – Vol 2: Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else was my favorite album of the year, I figured, why not include two songs on my hypothetical greatest hits collection of 2012 music? Plus it helps bump the album up to a total two hours of music released in 2012. Who said modern music is shit?
22 – Uakti – Something
This Brazilian instrumentalist group’s Beatles tribute album was literal found on 11th hour. Good time to point out that 2012 was the year I finally figured out what the Beatles were all about and why they’re so revered. Abbey Road became my favorite album, pushing out Metallica’s many year reign with S&M. So why not include a little tribute to that musical revelation at the end of this list?
INCLUDES NINJA ARSENAL?
23 – PSY – “Gangnam Style“
Because that’s not really the end of the list! Hah, hah, hah! Maybe this was your least favorite song of 2012. If so, that’s fine. It can be a rather annoying song. I enjoy it without shame, because
I, for one, welcome our new music ambassadors with generally open arms.
Posted on January 1, 2013, in Music, Occurrences, Opinion and tagged Amy Winehouse, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Best Music of 2012, Buckethead, Dead Can Dance, Death Grips, disasterPEACE, Flatbush Zombies, Hiroyuki Nakayama, Incubus, Indie Game The Movie, Kanye West, Kate Nash, Kendrick Lamar, Motorhead, Nas, Nobuo Uematsu, Om, Paul McCartney featuring Nirvana, PSY, Sigur Rós, Sleep, Tech N9ne, The Rolling Stones, The RZA, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Uakti, Yoko Kanno. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.