Yeah, so it’s a while into 2013 now, but frankly there were quite a few things I managed not to mention in the various roundups that were great during 2012, and indeed some, or most of these went unmentioned by me last year. So, here are ten that I really need to do justice to…
In case you’d forgotten, the amodelofcontrol.com round-up of 2012 can be found here.
I really didn’t like Grimes to start with. I couldn’t get past that voice. That childlike, overly cutesy cooing that just rubbed me up the wrong way. It took until Genesis, and the Tribe-meets-cyb0r-craziness of the video, before I was finally convinced. Digging a little deeper, the album revealed many charms, but basically, I’d heard her first at the wrong moment and dismissed it. This isn’t dancefloor music, instead intriguing electronics that is looking as much at the past (anyone else note the Kraftwerk nods in the first half of Genesis?) as it is forging new ideas.
I don’t listen to a great deal of recent hip-hop/R’n’B, but there are still the odd artist that makes me sit up and take notice. I finally was compelled to do so later in the year, after hearing an early song of his (Lovecrimes) covered by The Afghan Whigs live to thrilling effect. I wasn’t disappointed, either, finding that rather than being your “average” rapper, his album is layered, intricate and full of clever metaphors and glorious songs. And perhaps most importantly, lacking in the bragging that drags down so many, instead full of contemplation and self-doubt. Oh, and more than a passing knowledge of the work of Prince…
The Plot Against Common Sense
It has long been clear that Andy Falkous is one very fucking angry – and funny – man. mclusky were fantastic enough, but when I finally picked this up…man I fucking missed the boat here. Demented genius from start to finish, this is blistering noise-rock/post-hardcore/whatever-we-are-calling-it-this-week that is catchier than most diseases, too. Best of the album? Robocop 4 – f**k off Robocop, the stop-start ball of fury that has a witty snark at Hollywood and it’s obsession with sequels. While also of note is the brilliant political/class commentary of Sorry Dad I Was Late for the Riots, which is probably nearer the mark than most of the comment on them at the time.
As if there weren’t enough reasons already for me to still be kicking myself that I missed out on the Mute weekend at the Roundhouse way back in 2011, along came this album. Yeah, alright, so this is another that it took me months to get around to picking up, but it is still a remarkable album upon first listen. Semi-improvised industrial electronics, with hypnotic rhythms and vocals, and effects that swirl around the main core like a vortex. This was the forefathers of industrial all but passing the baton onto the new breed, and the whole thing is enthralling (and best listened to on a good pair of headphones).
I got the impression when this was released that it would be right up my street, then kinda forgot about, until a chance conversation at a gig last month reminded me that I’d never picked it up. Cue me cursing myself once I did get it, of course, for not getting it earlier: this pushes all my buttons musically. Sultry, female-fronted, bass-heavy-shoegazey-electronic rock with hook after hook…
I have to confess that despite picking this up in the week of release, and having listened to it a fair bit over 2012, somehow it didn’t make it into my albums of 2012 list. Not sure why, as it isn’t as if it is anything but great. This is Mark Lanegan doing what he does, growling, dark blues, this time with more of an electronic taint but with no loss of what makes his work so good. Still, not quite as glorious as Bubblegum was, but I’m not sure anything he ever does will be, in my opinion.
I don’t listen to half as much extreme metal as I used to, although I think this really does depend on my moods. Obviously, the less happy I am, the more I’m likely to want to listen to stuff like this. AN have in the past been the sound of pure fucking hatred put into musical form, and right from the off this album delivers exactly that, an exquisitely produced blast of industrial-tinged, blackened-death metal whose vocals are howls into a darkened abyss.
Another that I missed from my end of year lists was this release, which got an enthusiastic review from me back in the Spring, and while it got buried in the avalanche of other albums I picked up in 2012, it still remains an impressive, unusual listen. Not many people are doing this kind of thing anymore, slow beats being more distorted and “witchified” than looking at “trip-hop”, if you will. But this isn’t just a throwback to the nineties, it is much darker than that, a malevolent edge that I’m not sure anyone else has added in this kind of style.
Singing Down The Government
Ok, so I don’t totally agree with their politics – my personal left-wing politics are of a different strand to theirs – but there is no denying that they are an absolutely electrifying live band, and they somehow manage to nail down a fair amount of that power on record, too. So quite how I missed them out of my end of year lists is, well, a bit embarrassing. Sorry folks! Anyway, you should go and buy their album(s), and/or catch them live, to see exactly how good their socialist R’n’B (and epic puns) are.
Another band buried in the rush last year (I have no idea how many new albums I picked up last year, but I suspect the answer was probably close to one or two per week), this was an album that I have to confess left me a little cold upon first listen. This might have been something to do with the fact that the title track – and by far the best track here, and the best song the band have released, period – had been on a compilation a couple of years before. But a good few more listens since, and I’ve revised my opinion somewhat. By no means a straight industrial band, in fact they are probably closer to the Gravity Kills kinda mould nowadays: rock-structured songs with a scorching intensity and drenched in industrial electronics, and lyrics dripping with betrayal and hate.