23 albums touched by the hand of God in 2012 – a non-numbered list of albums that I’ve played over and over that were released in 2012. Some of them were reviewed here on Jason’s Jukebox, some of them weren’t. All of them are worth your time and attention. The last look back at an amazing year of music. I’ll see you later this week with my 1st review of 2013.
The word “Americana” when applied to music conjures up visions of acoustic guitar, singing with friends around a fire, and an authentic approach to the music and lyrics. All of these things are true – at its best it can incorporate country, folk, bluegrass, and even R&B into the mix. Over the last decade or so a curious thing has taken place – as American indie bands discovered pastoral (think Nick Drake), English indie bands have discovered Americana styled music (think The Band). What happens when the two styles merge? You end up with a band like The Cornelius Crane, who have delivered a masterpiece of a record, E.P. Too.
In a song about Washington D.C. by The Magnetic Fields on their magnum opus, 69 Love Songs (titled “Washington D.C. strangely enough) they recited everything that is great about the city – “Washington, D.C. / It’s paradise to me / It’s not because it is the grand old seat / Of precious freedom and democracy / No, no, no”. The song is actually an ode to the narrator’s true love and not an ode to the great things of DC, but somehow I misinterpreted the songs meanings for years and envisioned it as a tribute to the city itself. The only thing missing from the song? An ode to the great bands that came out of the city. I’m talking about Marvin Gaye, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Thievery Corporation, and countless others from all genres. Go ahead and add Dot Dash to that list.
In the 60’s and 70’s it seemed like artists released records more quickly. They’d put out a great record, tour for a bit, then get right back into the studio. It seemed like this model began to shift in the late 80’s. I’m not sure if it was waiting 4 years for Guns ‘n’ Roses to put out the Use Your Illusion albums or if it was the 3 years between Disintegration and Wish by The Cure. Either way, major acts began to make the fans wait an inordinate amount of time between records. Neil Young has thankfully been (mostly) an exception to this rule.
The late 70’s / early 80’s post-punk scene is probably my favorite period of music. The music made immediately in the aftermath of punk reveled in experimentation, DIY recording techniques, and endless creativity. My top 10 albums would include at least 5 albums from this time period (though to be honest, my top 10 changes quite often). Bands that create this brand of music in 2012 usually fall within two categories – those that mine the original era for inspiration and sound like they are actually from 1979 and those that update the sound for the modern-day, sometimes losing the darkness that is the appeal (for me, anyway). Wonky Doll and the Echo are a modern post-punk band from Greece that fall into the 1st category.
Radiohead have always been a bit of a polarizing band in the indie elitist music community. I view them as the music world’s version of Apple Computers – have a bit of an outsider feel to them, absolutely the best at what they do, and really, really successful. As much as I love almost everything Radiohead has released (with the exception of most of Pablo Honey), the reviews ushered forth from other “indie” music websites were so laughable in their utter fan-boy adulation for ANYTHING Radiohead released it honestly made me a bit Radiohead jaded. For all of the praise on Thom Yorke’s lyrics, consider this comparison:
The day Whitney Houston died I was listening to the new Honeychurch cd, driving on the freeway, formulating a review in my head (to coincide with the launch of this site). Throughout Honeychurch’s history they have received tons of well deserved attention for their covers of The Magnetic Fields, Neil Young, and Dolly Parton. Ah yes, Dolly Parton. The author of “I Will Always Love You” , a song which was made (even more) famous by a certain Miss Houston. I had to laugh as I watched an argument break out on a website over who actually wrote the song – a Whitney fan was in disbelief that Dolly Parton had written this song, a song so associated with Whitney Houston that it was instantly in the charts again once she had passed. Honeychurch – Dolly Parton – Whitney Houston – back to Honeychurch. With their new record “Will You Be There With Me”, Shilough & Larissa Hopwood of Honeychurch have created a masterpiece.