If there was to be an award for best album liner notes of 2012 then it would surely be won by one of my favourite songwriters Bob Lind. On the album Finding You Again, his first since 1971’s Since There Were Circles there is a short essay and the usual lyric sheet but also a note of caution which simply reads – “Please listen to the songs all the way through before reading the lyrics. Reading the words while you listen for the first time is like consulting a sex manual while you’re making love”. You can’t say fairer than that. Here then, are 11 other albums which have made an impression on me over the past 12 months together with links to songs and performances should you wish to investigate more.
1. Gaz Coombes – Here Come The Bombs
If this had been a debut album from an unknown artist it would have been lauded as the emergence of a great new and exciting talent. Here Come The Bombs absolutely did not get the credit it deserves. With several of the songs not even featuring guitar, this is not a second rate version of Coombes’ previous band, it’s a departure and re-birth. The fact that the single White Noise sounds like a classic hit single that has been around for years is further testament to his writing talent.
Click here to watch the video for White Noise
Click here to listen to Break The Silence
2. Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour/Golden Mile
I’m a fan of the Grizzly Bear album Shields, the group of which Rossen is a member but this I like more. Of course, it’s been totally overshadowed by Shields as a result of both being released this year. This only serves to make Silent Hour/Golden Mile a hidden gem well worth finding. Technically this collection of songs is an EP but in a world where there are precious few Best EP’s Of The Year lists it has found inclusion on this list.
Click here to listen to Silent Song
Click here to listen to Return To Form
3. BMX Bandits – BMX Bandits In Space
This album contains two of may favourites songs of the year in Fucked Up This Time and The Unforgiven. Subjects dealt with within the 15 tracks include love, unrequited love and the simple joy of listening to music, a triumvirate most of us can empathise with at some point or another. In the year that saw Jim Burns’ terrific film on the band , Serious Drugs, being shown nationwide, it’s fitting that the band have produced arguably their finest record to date.
Click here to listen to Fucked Up This Time
Click here to listen to The Unforgiven
4. Allah-Las – Allah-Las
They hail from California and met when working in a record shop. This collection of songs wouldn’t sound out of place on the classic 1972 Elektra Nuggets compilation. This is finely honed garage rock and roll albeit being made in 2012 via 1965.
Click here to watch the video for Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)
Click here to watch the video for Busman’s Holiday
5. James Yorkston – I Was A Cat From A Book
I’m sure to some this may appear a tad downbeat but you don’t want everything at one hundred miles an hour, A Short Blues is an album highlight and the record is made all the more interesting with contributions from members of The Cinematic Orchestra and Lamb. A great late night album but then again, I’ve played it in the morning too.
Click here to watch a short documentary on the making of I Was A Cat From A Book
Click here to listen to Just As Scared
6. Django Django – Django Django
Obviously the Beta Band connection is always appealing to me but this album stands up on its own. I did think it could probably benefit by being two songs shorter but that’s a bit like criticising Diego Maradonna’s second goal against England at Mexico 86 because he didn’t stay on his feet when slotting the ball home. Will be appearing on most end of year lists and with good reason.
Click here to watch a live version of Firewater
Click here to watch a live version of Waveforms
7. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
The first album under the moniker of FJM but certainly not the first album by J Tilman, this man is certainly prolific. His live performance for KEXP in Seattle is a good starting point for a performer who isn’t reticent to move a bit on stage. The songs though speak for themselves and may eventually lead to him being known as an independent musician and not just the the ex-drummer of Fleet Foxes.
Click here to watch the live KEXP session
Click here to watch the video for Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
8. Allo Darlin’ – Europe
This has already been a Rough Trade album of the month this year. Still the only band I know of in indie circles who use a ukulele not just on record but live. A shorter acoustic version of album opener Neil Armstrong was performed on The 3 Minute Chat Show and can be seen here. Also contains the singles Capricornia, Europe and album highlight The Letter.
To listen to The Letter click here
To watch the video for Northern Lights click here
The Letter – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bCbKzM-9A4&feature=related
9. The See See – Fountayne Mountain
Having supported The Brian Jonestown Massacre, this is an album that Anton Newcombe would have been proud of if he had made it himself. Containing one of the years most beautifuly melodious and slightly melancholic songs in Fix Me Up as well as the singles Sweet Hands and Gold and Honey.
Click here to listen to Fix Me Up
Click here to watch the video for Gold and Honey
10. Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold
Eleven years elapsed between their first and second albums but it would appear time hasn’t been entirely wasted if this set of songs is to go by. Shades of Neil Young and a multitude of west coast pop, there’s a lot to like with the album opener Forget The Song being one of the finest tracks released by anyone this year.
Click here to watch the video for Forget The Song
Click here to listen to Mollusk
11. Country Funk 1969-1975
Although the most well known name on this album, Bobby Darin, plays one of his most unrecognizable but brilliant songs in Light Blue, it’s Mac Davis’s Lucas Was A Redneck and Piledriver by Dennis The Fox that set the tone best. A long overdue collection of the country and funk amalgam leading to one of the compilations of the year.
Click here to listen to Lucas Was A Redneck
Click here to listen to Piledriver