As a staff, we all have our own unique musical tastes. Sometimes those tastes overlap stylistically and sometimes they veer off into strange directions galore. Below are our top album lists of 2012, separated by writer and summed up with genre tags.
Vivian Hua - dance, electronic, indie, funk, metal
Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul
Ryan Pangilinan - pop, soul, pop-punk, punk
Peter Woodburn - electronic, hardcore, metal, instrumental
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. This round-up list includes our favorite pop tracks from 2012, listed in a spectrum from the chillest to the grooviest to the danciest.
Chromatics - "Into The...
September 30th, 2012 @ Roseland Theatre, Portland, OR
+++ SEE ALSO: FULL SHOW REVIEW + DUSTIN WONG + THRILL JOCKEY RECORDS
On recording, I absolutely adore Beach House, but every time I see them in a live setting, I find myself disappointed by the lack of emotional output and dynamism from husky-voiced lead singer Victoria Legrand. Her performances always feel disingenuous to me, and seem to perpetuate a vapid and shallow sense of drama that may look beautiful -- in fact, an intense light display setup heightened that sense this evening at Roseland Theatre -- but holds no lasting value beneath its surface.
So though I had initially been more excited to give Beach House a chance to redeem themselves, it was show opener and Ponytail member Dustin Wong who actually delivered. He was eye-catching the old-fashioned way: by sheer feat of artistry alone.
With the release of Shields this past week, the transformation of Grizzly Bear from an indie band into a full-fledged pop band is in its final stages. If you've been watching their trajectory over the past 6-7 years, you'll know exactly what I mean. The band started with a rather lo-fi, moody, and cerebral debut with Horn of Plenty (still one of my favorites); the focus then was largely on the sparsely laid out guitar lines and the beautiful, haunting harmonies; there was an experimental leaning that made the whole record extra interesting. This was reasonable, considering that it was a home recording not initially meant for mass consumption. As the band itself became larger and more fully formed, so did the music, and they transcended to a very different style on Yellow House (read: upbeat, Beach Boys-influenced, and more easily accessible). Their third full-length, Vecktamist threw Grizzly Bear into an entirely new stratum with a large listener base, and songs placed in commercials, TV, and movies. It was hard to go into a store without hearing "Two Weeks" being played. Their following soundtrack to Blue Valentine was exquisite but also pushed them further into the collective consciousness.
SEE FULL ALBUM REVIEW
Brooklyn indie poppers MS MR have just started a series of mixtapes called Track Addict. The first installment of this is Ava Luna's "Wrenning Day", which you can find embedded alone separately. Holy crep!
MS MR - Track Addict Vol. 1 Tracklisting
1. Breeze Blocks - Alt-J
2. Seconds - Ghost Loft
3. Move to the Ocean (Baauer Remix) - Brick + Mortar
4. Amber - Electronic Guest
5. Forever - Haim
6. My Better Self - Tennis
7. Lazuli - Beach House
8. Sleep Paralysis - Gabriel Bruce
9. Wrenning Day - Ava Luna
10. Midland - Arthur Beatrice
11. pound your town to hell - Cloudy Busey
12. Suburbs (Cover) - Mr Little Jeans
13. Don’t Move - Phantogram
14. Gone - Vacationer
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Two of indie rock's big hitters, Beach House and Dirty Projectors, continue to explore their own sonic universes with new tracks, upcoming releases, and extensive tour dates.
Two tracks so far for the upcoming record Bloom, Beach House's fourth studio album, which comes out May 15th via Sub Pop Records, Europe via Bella Union on May 14th, Mexico via Arts and Crafts on May 15th, and Australia via Mistletone on May 18th.
Beach House - "Myth"
Beach House - "Lazuli"
Directed by Allen Cordell.
4. Other People
5. The Hours
7. New Year
9. On the Sea
BEACH HOUSE TOUR DATES* w/ Wild Nothing
^ w/ Dustin Wong
May 04 – Jefferson Theatre – Charlottesville, VA Tickets
May 05 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC Tickets
May 06 – Music Farm – Charleston, SC Tickets
May 08 – The Fillmore Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL Tickets
May 09 - Beachan Theatre – Orlando, FL Tickets
May 10 - Free Bird Live – Jacksonville, FL
May 11 - The Bottletree – Birmingham, AL Tickets
May 12 - The Georgia Theatre – Athens, GA Tickets
May 13 - Orange Peel - Asheville, NC Tickets
May 15 - Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY Tickets
July 1 - House of Blues- San Diego, CA *
July 3 - El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA *
July 6 - Belly Up Aspen – Aspen, CO Tickets *
July 7 - Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM *
July 9 - Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK Tickets *
July 10 - Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS Tickets *
July 11 –The Pageant – St. Louis MO Tickets *
July 12 – Minglewood Hall – Memphis, TN * Tickets
July 13 – Forestcastle Festival – Louisville, KY Tickets
July 15- Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, IL Tickets
July 17 – The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN Tickets *
July 18 – The Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, MI Tickets *
July 19 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH Tickets *
July 20 – Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH Tickets *
July 21 – Mr. Small’s Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA Tickets *
July 23 – Central Park Summerstage – New York, NY Tickets
Thu Sep-13 Richmond, VA - The National ^
Fri Sep-14 Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre ^
Sat Sep-15 Nashville, TN - Marathon Music Works ^
Sun Sep-16 Atlanta, GA - Variety ^
Tue Sep-18 New Orleans, LA - Tipitina's ^
Wed Sep-19 Houston, TX - House of Blues
Thu Sep-20 Austin, TX - Stubbs ^
Fri Sep-21 Dallas, TX - Palladium ^
Mon Sep-24 Tucson, AZ - Rialto ^
Tue Sep-25 Los Angeles, CA - Wiltern ^
Wed Sep-26 Los Angeles, CA - Wiltern ^
Fri Sep-28 Oakland, CA - Fox Theater ^
Sat Sep-29 Eugene, OR - McDonald Theatre ^
Sun Sep-30 Portland, OR - Roseland ^
Mon Oct-1 Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom ^
Wed Oct-3 Seattle, WA - Showbox @ The Market ^
The online indie shop Insound have put together a series of poster and t-shirt designs for a bunch of bands that are the who's who of indie rock right now. Here are some of the posters from that series -- the best ones, actually. Some bands got slightly unexciting creations...
Beach House are one of those bands that people kept talking about -- you know, those buzz bands that get hyped up and are made out to be the new cool thing to listen to. However, Beach House actually does live up to all the hype. The indie rock duo is truly amazing; lead vocalist Victoria Legrand has a haunting yet soothing voice that is at once familiar and distant. Their atmospheric dream pop is slow and steady but has an effortless cool that commands your attention from the moment you hear it.
4. Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear are one of those indie bands who I've listened to here and there, but I've never really gotten into them, for whatever reason. I'd seen their music video for their song, "Ready, Able" and thought it was one of the coolest artistic things I'd ever seen, and it really got me interested in them as a band. As a result, I made it a point to see them perform at Coachella. Their performance had a brooding swagger that seems to fit perfectly with their melodic vocals and Brooklyn vibe. Their more upbeat songs had the crowd swinging and singing along with the band, while the slower, more hypnotic songs lulled the audience into a dreamy and intimate state. Their music is layered with harmonies and filled with depth and texture, and their unique delivery made them one of the best live shows at the festival for sure.
3. Thom Yorke and Flea
Seeing Thom Yorke perform live is one thing, but seeing him on the same stage as Flea, from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, is almost overwhelming. These two guys are living legends, so it was pretty special to see them collaborating on a new project together. Flea was doing what he does best -- playing funky riffs on the bass and dancing around the stage like a madman. He is such a rock and roll veteran that he knows when to work the crowd, but also knows when to fade in the background and let Yorke shine. It was quite the sight to see both of them having so much fun on the same
stage. Yorke and Flea basically played Yorke's solo album, The Eraser, in its entirety, as well as some other Radiohead songs. This was probably one of the most anticipated shows of the festival, and the energy in the air was electric.