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2012 Year End Best Of

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2012 was not a musical year that grabbed me. I heard a fair amount of good (albeit not great) music; I saw some decent shows. However, very little of it made me go pontificate on the brilliance of a band or show. As PostLibyan suggests in his end of the year, the most notable occurrence of 2012 is we both decided to metaphorically flip the bird at SxSW, never to return again. Still, there were a few things that were exceedingly good, if not excellent, so those are things I've listed below.

  1. Shallow Bed by Dry the River
    Back in 2011, PostLibyan and I randomly encountered this UK band at SxSW. I was totally entranced both by the delicate music as well as the lovely vocals. This 2012 debut record reflects both of these, as well as musical cohesiveness within the band, which results in some beautiful tonal changes that only serve to emphasize the pretty melodies. And I still think lead singer Peter Liddle's voice is one of the prettiest things I've ever heard.

  2. Call It Blazing by A Classic Education
    Reverb and effect coated, skittery rock from a bunch of Italians (and one Canadian). Technically this is a 2011 release, but I came across it in 2012. A lot of reviewers talk about the "potential" of this group, but I love what they've offered up so far.

  3. Gold Motel by Gold Motel
    This second full length by the Chicago group takes the breezy, girl-group influenced pop and makes the sound fuller and the music more complicated. It may not have the over the top energy of their debut, but by all other measures, this is the better record.

  4. Hymns by Cardinal
    This is the follow up record to this collaboration's debut, which was released back in 1994. The music is filled with gently psychedelic chamber pop, and is so very soothing. This one is a nice record to listen to on long trips.

  5. ?Posible O Imposible? by The High Strung
    Admittedly, I've been found of The High Strung for going on 10 years at this point, but there's something both poppy and British Invasion-esque about this latest release. It's not as hard-sounding as some of their earlier works; rather, this one is more jangly and peppy, which suits their overall sound quite well.
  1. Cold Specks on 11.Nov.12 at The EARL
    It was a Sunday night and there weren't many people around, so the band cut the set short. But it was a night of some lovely music topped by Al Spx's amazing voice. If I were a certain type of person, I might think I had a religious experience listening to the soars and swoops.

  2. Milo Greene on 21.Jul.12 at The Drunken Unicorn
    Milo Greene's debut album is solid, but it didn't prepare me for the energy and the precision of this five piece's set at The Drunken Unicorn. They played The EARL later in the year, but this earlier set was my favorite, if only because the opener involved a lady who had dubbed herself "The Ukulele Fairy".

  3. Balmorhea on 4.Oct.12 at The EARL
    The EARL was clean and well lit in preparation for some filming that would occur. The band was clearly nervous, and it took them a couple of songs to hit their stride. But when they did, the music began to swirl like glorious waves.

  4. Kebbi Williams on 18.Aug.12 at The EARL
    Completely unexpected. We came to see a different band and our evening involved a bicycle race through the middle of East Atlanta. Despite the inherent weirdness, we got straight up raucous old school jazz, with enough saxophones and brass to appreciate the intricacies of what they were doing.

  5. Maps and Atlases on 25.May.12 at The EARL
    I'd never seen this Chicago group outside of a SxSW stage, so I was eagerly anticipating seeing them on my home turf, playing a full set. And seeing them without the constraint of a 30 minute set was quite amazing and lovely. And, to top it off, they had fans in Atlanta!
  1. A Classic Education
    Playing in a venue sponsored by HGTV filled with throw pillows, the Italian group used the wood paneling to their advantage, managing to create even more reverb and echo than their debut album.

  2. Dry the River
    This was my second time seeing the British group in my favorite venue in Austin and they were lovely, even if the stone floor was not.

  3. Alpine
    Alpine were a random Australian group we stumbled upon. With two female vocalists (one of whom was wearing the ugliest outfit I've ever seen on stage), the music was electronic, but not overly so. This was likely the best random act we came across in Austin.

  4. Typhoon
    Portland chamber pop, with strings and vocals and a vaguely orchestral sound. This is a group I'd love to see on my home turf, if only to see if they always sound that way.

  5. Library Voices
    A Saskatchewan act that is somehow related, if only by home town virtue, to Rah Rah. Musically, they're sort of similar as well, even if Library Voices manages to move more towards Oh No! Oh My! Territory. Like Typhoon, they're probably a band I'll never encounter live again.
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