THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE... with FAVES 2012! I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what music -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend. To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours). With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size. It's an unordered list. I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig. Some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment. And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.
THE ORWELLS really released just a pair of EPs this year -- Other Voices and Who Needs You -- but I overlooked their debut LP Remember When in 2012 and mean to rectify my error (chalk it up to them being from Elmhurst). Rock n' Roll always has a place for the young, loud and snotty and that place is where The Orwells live quite comfortably, albeit discontentedly.
SWEARIN': Not as young, loud and snotty as The Orwells on their sophomore LP, Surfin Strange, but this combo led by Allison Crutchfield (twin sis of Waxahatchee's Katie) retains enough of those qualities from their debut; they're just a bit more introspective and musically accomplished this time around.
THE ALLAH-LAs: Their self-titled debut is another one I overlooked when compiling Faves 2012. Vintage garage-y psychedelia. Totally groovy, maaaan.
FOXYGEN: With a title like We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, you can be sure the band's third LP is psychedelic, but whimisical, not garage-y. As inspired as it is strange, one hopes the band's well-publicized internal strife doesn't make this their last.
CHRISTOPHER OWENS: In his post-Girls career, I think people were prepared to dismiss the folk-y concept album Lysandre for lacking the raw exuberance of his former band. I think people will eventually re-discover its gentle charms.
IRON & WINE: Sam Beam gets orchestrated here, moving from his typically minimialist folk-rock to something landing somewhere between Belle & Sebastian and Van Morrisson, which is pretty darn good, as neighborhoods go.
YO LA TENGO: Fade is also orchestrated at points, but also very Yo La Tengo, with consistently solid songwriting and the warmth of a Summer's evening, although released way back in January. Thirteen was not unlucky for them, but the strengths of the LP are not a matter of luck, either.
THE JAMES HUNTER SIX: Mentioning Van Morrison reminds me James Hunter reurned this year leading a combo on Minute By Minute, which is more of his blend of old skool Morrisson, Sam Cooke and other fine ingredients.
CHARLES BRADLEY: Having veered toward vintage R & B here, it's the spot to mention Victim of Love. Some critics found the former James Brown impersonator diversifying too much on this collection, but not me.
CHRIS STAMEY's solo LPs tend to have a more ethereal and introspective quality than his work with the dB's -- and I suppose solo efforts should be more personal. Lovesick Blues carries on that tradition, reminding me most of 1991's Fireworks.
VAMPIRE WEEKEND: Maybe I should be at the point where I'm too cool for this band. But I like Modern Vampires of the City. I find "Diane Young" to be a blast. And "Step" may not be entirely right in asserting "Wisdom's a gift, but you'd trade it for youth / Age is an honor, it's still not the truth,”' but it's entirely rock n' roll.
WIRE: Like Wire is going to put out an album that doesn't go on my list. The fact that Change Becomes Us iscomprised of vintage material recorded for the first time is just a bonus here.
MIKAL CRONIN stepped away from Ty Segall to produce MCII, a tasty slab of power pop for now people, with a dash of psychedelia. There aren't so many practitioners in the genre these days, but this one compares favorably to those of decades past.
TELEKINESIS: Speaking of power pop, it's hard to go wrong with Michael Benjamin Lerner. Domarion might be faulted for not straying much from the formula of prior Telekinesis albums... but when the formula is this good, I don't complain.
TEGAN & SARA: Okay, so Heartthrob really isn't one of my faves of the year, although "Closer" may be the most infectious tune of the year and almost certainly the best 80s song of the year. But I wanted to write about them because I on some level admire how brashly commercial they want to be. The Top 40 could and usually does worse, and I was never enough a fan to feel any sense of betrayal, so I wish them well.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Others on my long list this year included: Neko Case, Deerhunter, Primal Scream, Smith Westerns, Kurt Vile, Laura Marling, and Superchunk. It speaks of a year where more established artists turned in solid efforts than one of dynamic new entries.
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING: It's always somewhere on the net.
WKRP: "Turkeys Away," in its entirety. And here's the turkey giveaway by itself.
THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" ones taught in some public schools. Not to mention the fights over kindergarteners dressing as Native Americans. However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex. Ultimately, Bradford quieted internal discontent by doing away with the collectivism of a company town and granting property rights.
NOW SHOWING? Did that yesterday; check it out.