Friday, January 04, 2013

Best-of for 2012

Only a slight departure from our regularly scheduled programming, I thought it would be nice to put up a formal listing of the best music I heard recorded from 2012.  I don't even want to call this a "best" list.
Rather, this is simply my favorite albums from the past year.

 Dr. John
"Locked Down"

Dr. John has had a long and illustrious career of pumping out bajou-flavored boogie jazz and the Dan Auerbach-produced "Locked Down" shows the world that the Doc is still a force to be reckoned with.
 Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear got the public's attention a few years ago with the single  "Two Weeks" from their album "Veckitamest" but the album couldn't stand up under its own weight.
"Shields" doesn't yield any low-hanging fruit, but it does bind together with cleverly woven tapestries of sound with just enough hook to keep you listening.
 Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile & Stuart Duncan
"The Goat Rodeo Sessions"

Yo-Yo Ma is arguably the only classical superstar left, a relic of a bygone era.  However, he's busied himself for the last couple of decades exploring musical cultures from around the globe. "Goat Rodeo" is his latest journey and he's joined by cross-over titans Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile who have forged their own existence in music-making.  The results are the best since "Short Trip Home."
 David Byrne & St. Vincent
"Love this Giant"

Once you hear these two experimental musicians together you realize how well St. Vincent's tableau weaves into New Wave.
These two great musicians twirl around each other in singing and songwriting, finding the most inventive uses for spare brass-playing musicians that I've ever heard.  Nothing quite compares to having your groove laid down by a tuba.
 Punch Brothers
"Who's Feeling Young Now?" 

Reviewed only a few days ago here, this is Chris Thile's second break into my "favorite albums" for the year.
The Brothers continue their musical evolution, crafting and re-creating tunes that are as at home with prog rockers as they would be with acoustic bluegrass troubadours.  If this is the direction "popular" music is headed, I'm all ears.
Jack White

White, having set out on a mission years ago to convince the world of his musical superiority in every capacity finally gets around to recording a solo album full of songs that self-admittedly "didn't fit anywhere else."
I'll admit this one took me a while to warm up to, but now that I have I have to agree that his songwriting is one of the unique voices of this generation.

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