This Week’s Theme: 10-Year Anniversary (Music from 2012)
I paid very little attention to new music in 2012. There are many reasons for this, and I don’t feel guilty about it, but I’m always working to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. For this reason, it was interesting to go back ten years and listen to the music of 2012. Unfortunately, I quickly found that a lot of the most popular albums of the year did not peak my interest. Undaunted, I widened my investigative scope and took a deeper dive into the year’s releases, and in the end I was able to find plenty of music that I certainly would have liked back then if I had taken the time to find it. I also have a few favorites from that year which I still very much enjoy, so the final list is a nice mix of the familiar and the new. I’ve selected a wide variety of rock, pop, rap, jazz, blues, reggae, and many other genres and my final conclusion is that, of course, 2012 was filled with a lot of great music.
Welcome to Radio Faux Show volume two, number sixteen.
First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.
Blues Album Of The Year: Blak and Blu by Gary Clark, Jr.
Clark’s third album was his major label debut and received several Grammy nominations. It is fantastic.
Rap Album Of The Year: The Money Store by Death Grips
Yes, I’m an old hipster and I like this record, just like all of the other hipsters from 2012. I know that Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean had extremely important and popular albums in 2012, but I like this better.
Runner-up: Skelethon by Aesop Rock
I’ve been a fan of Aesop Rock’s alternative hip-hop since I first heard him in 2007. This album is a fine example of his version of the genre.
I could make a Top Five or Top Ten or Top Twenty, but it would be filled with albums that I didn’t listen to back then and/or still don’t listen to much even now. However, these two albums were my favorites then and still are today.
Number Two: Transcendental Youth by The Mountain Goats
There is a period of time in the recording history of The Mountain Goats, after the classic trio (Tallahassee, We Shall All Be Healed, The Sunset Tree) and before the current Matt Douglas era, when their albums became harder to distinguish from one another. However, the fifth album in that run, Transcendental Youth, is the highlight of that period. Like all of the band’s 21st century albums, the lyrics are powerful and tell a story that is only slightly discernible, but the songwriting on this one is an introduction to what is about to come with their late-period masterpiece Beat The Champ. Ten years later, this is still an easy listen for any of their fans and a nice place to start for the uninitiated before they begin that joyous trip down the John Darnielle rabbit hole that so many of us have taken through the years.
Number One: Some Nights by Fun.
This is without a doubt the album I listened to more than any other in 2012. The discovery of this record led me to the band’s 2009 debut Aim and Ignite, which is also worth a listen, but while I have seldom returned to that one, I often play this one when I want to listen to some fun (pun intended) music while driving around town. Researching music for this week’s show led me to play it a few more times and it still sounds great ten years on. I always felt that the spirit of Freddie Mercury was present in these songs, and I still feel that is true. There is something about the quality of the vocals and the empowerment of the lyrics that is reminiscent of Queen in the ’80s, and perhaps that is why this album drew me in originally and continues to draw me back. It is unfortunate that the music of Nate Ruess came and went so quickly, with not much more than a few albums and the occasional appearance as songwriter or performer for other artists to his credit. Hopefully he will come back at some point and give us all some more great music. In the meantime, I think I’ll go listen to “Carry On” one more time.
Highlights of the Rest
As for the rest of this week’s selections, here are some highlights.
Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen both put out great records that fans appreciated. If you aren’t a fan, these aren’t for you, but at least they were still going over fifty years into their careers. They are actually still going today – Dylan in his ’80s and Springsteen in his ’70s.
Song selections: “Soon After Midnight” by Bob Dylan and “Shackled and Drawn” by Bruce Springsteen
Jimmy Cliff, on the other hand, put out an album that everyone can enjoy. Rebirth is an old school reggae album that is one of his best, which is saying something for a legend like Cliff. Song selection: “World Turned Upside Down”
Swans had been around for thirty years when they released The Seer. The sound of the band has changed dramatically during its lifetime, with this record a beautiful mix of both their noisier and quieter moments. Song selection: “Song For A Warrior”
Boys & Girls was the debut album for Alabama Shakes. Song selection: “Hold On”
Blak and Blu by Gary Clark, Jr. was his major label debut. Song selection: “Bright Lights”
The Money Store by Death Grips is the group’s debut album and made dozens of Best Of The Year lists. Song selection: “I’ve Seen Footage”
Celebration Rock by Japandroids was their second album and made everyone’s year-end list of best indie-rock albums. Song selection: “The House That Heaven Built”
Light Up Gold is the second album by post-punk act Parquet Courts. Song selection: “Borrowed Time”
Shrines by Purity Ring was their debut album and made a bunch of year end lists. Song selection: “Fineshrine”
Grammy, Billboard, CMA, AMA, and Other Awards
The following artists and/or albums all won some sort of major award in 2012.
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do by Fiona Apple did not win any major awards, but it is considered by many to be one of the best albums of the 21st century, including a listing at #213 on the 2020 Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Song selection: “Every Single Night”
Rebirth by Jimmy Cliff won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Song selection: “World Turned Upside Down”
Some Nights by Fun. won two Grammy Awards. Song selection: “Some Nights”
Black Radio by Robert Glasper won the Grammy for Best R&B Album. Song selection: “Afro Blue (with Erykah Badu)”
Red by Taylor Swift won at Billboard and AMA. Song selection: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Vijay Ayer won several Downbeat Critic’s Awards, including Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Small Group of the Year (The Vijay Ayer Trio), Album of the Year (Accelerando), and Rising Star Composer of the Year. Song selection: “MmmHmm”
Artist of the Week: Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan died on February 22, 2022. He was an alt-rock icon for almost forty years, most notably as the co-founder and lead singer of Screaming Trees from 1984 to 2000. Screaming Trees were one of the original powerhouses of the grunge scene, along with bands like Green River, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden. Before Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and the rest of the ’90s acts who watered grunge down into a mainstream, major-label, classic rock concoction suitable for mass consumption, the early grunge pioneers mixed ’60s psychedelia and garage rock with fuzz guitars, teen angst, and lo-fi production to create the sound that birthed the imitators. The glorious noise produced by bands on the SST, SubPop, Amphetamine Reptile, and Touch and Go record labels, and blasted out through dingy college-town club venues across the nation, would never have been possible without the creative talent of artists like Mark Lanegan. Lanegan went on to a successful solo career after the Trees broke-up, but my memories of him will always be dressed in flannel and spit out from the front of a stage over about fifty bouncing, beer bottle wielding, twenty-somethings.
Mark Lanegan died on February 22, 2022. He is the Artist Of The Week.
Ron Miles died on March 8, 2022. Miles never achieved the success of many of his contemporaries, but he was a helluva good trumpet player. He appeared on over thirty albums during his thirty-plus year career, most notably as a frequent collaborator with Bill Frisell.
Happy Birthday (April 17)
Takahiro Moriuchi is the vocalist for Japanese rock band One Ok Rock. They have been around for almost twenty years and play alt-rock. Song selection: One Ok Rock “The Beginning”
Matt Chamberlain is a session musician who has played drums for an incredible list of artists over the last thirty years. Some highlights of his career include brief stints with Pearl Jam and the SNL band, various projects with Bill Frisell, Peter Buck, and Robert Fripp, soundtrack work for the film Frozen, and session work for artists including Leonard Cohen, Brandi Carlile, Chris Cornell, The Wallflowers, Chris Isaak, Fiona Apple, John Mayer, Rufus Wainwright, Lorde, Tori Amos, Stevie Nicks, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Peter Gabriel, The Who, David Bowie, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan. Holy cow! Song selections: Floratone (with Bill Frisell and Ron Miles) “More Pluck,” Brandi Carlile “That Wasn’t Me,” and Bruce Springsteen “Shackled and Drawn.”
Let’s Take a Trip Around the World (in 2012)
This week’s trip around the world includes four songs from 2012.
Metá Metá “Orunmila”: Metá Metá are a prog-rock/jazz fusion/punk/funk band who play Brazilian music. They are cool.
Mala Bahtt “Ghost”: Mala is one half of the dubstep pioneering duo Digital Mystikz. They are from London, but for his first solo project Mala travelled to Cuba to collect source recordings of Cuban street musicians. He then did his production thing to them to create the album Mala In Cuba.
Jimmy Cliff “World Upside Down”: Jimmy Cliff is one of the reasons that you have heard reggae music. He is an icon. If you don’t know his music then go tell Alexa to “play Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff.” His 2012 old school reggae album Rebirth won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album .
One Ok Rock “The Beginning”: One Ok Rock play 20th century alt-rock.
A Little Jazz
I selected a variety of fairly non-traditional jazz from 2012.
Ron Miles (see In Memoriam) was a member of Floratone with Matt Chamberlain (see Happy Birthday) and Bill Frasell. Miles and Frisell also recorded together on many albums, including Miles’ album Quiver. Song selections: Floratone “More Pluck” and Ron Miles, Bill Frasell, and Brian Blade “Doin’ The Voom Voom”
Vijay Iyer is a composer, pianist, and collaborator extraordinaire. He won the Downbeat International Critic’s Poll’s Jazz Artist of the Year in 2012. Song selection: Vijay Iyer with Stephan Crump and Marcus Gilmore “MmmHmm”
Metal Album Of The Year (tie): L’Enfant Sauvage by Gojira and De Vermis Mysteriis by High On Fire
I didn’t include either of these albums in this week’s playlist, but if I was listening to metal in 2012 then I was listening to these two albums. I was and I did.
Thanks for listening (and reading!)
|1||Taylor Swift||We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together|
|3||Japandroids||The House That Heaven Built|
|5||Gary Clark, Jr.||Bright Lights|
|6||Alabama Shakes||Hold On|
|7||Brandi Carlile||That Wasn’t Me|
|8||Bruce Springsteen||Shackled and Drawn|
|10||Ron Miles, Bill Frasell, and Brian Blade||Doin’ The Voom Voom (Spotify = “I Am A Man”)|
|11||Vijay Iyer Trio||MmmHmm|
|12||Robert Glasper with Erykah Badu||Afro Blue|
|13||Aesop Rock||ZZZ Top|
|14||Death Grips||I’ve Seen Footage|
|16||The Mark Lanegan Band||The Gravedigger’s Song|
|17||One Ok Rock||The Beginning|
|20||Jimmy Cliff||World Upside Down|
|21||The Swans||Song For A Warrior|
|22||Fiona Apple||Every Single Night|
|23||Elbow||lay down your cross|
|24||Bob Dylan||Soon After Midnight|
|25||Dirty Projectors||Swing Lo Magellan|
|26||The Mountain Goats||Lakeside View Apartments Suite|
|27||Sharon Van Etten||Serpents|
|28||Parquet Courts||Borrowed Time|
|29||Cloud Nothings||Stay Useless|
|30||Godspeed You! Black Emperor||Their Helicopters Sing|
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