End Of Year List, Part 1 — 2012

Why My Top 10 is Better than The Onion AV Club’s (and Probably Yours)

In my youth, I tried my hand at writing music reviews professionally. This was a bad idea on many fronts. For example, industry pay rates are still stuck in Charles Dickinson times (for real), and freelancing causes a tax situation so fucked up that you will hate yourself for the poor choices in life you have made. Namely freelancing.

Anyway, this is my way of saying that I have experience in music criticism, and I know why my list is better than the AV Club’s. There are two major reasons:

#1 — Endurance

Professional: When you are reviewing professionally, you get an endless stream of free, shitty music. And you get piles of stuff that may not be bad, but is completely not to your tastes. After slogging through this mighty slush pile, week after week, your senses dull.

Suddenly, a mediocre, competent album breaks the tedium. You fall in love with it! It’s not shit! The End Of Year list is filled with the best of the shit pile!

If you are lucky. If you’re not, then you also get whatever reviews someone has paid bribes to promote. Trust me, even back in the Zine era, I knew popular “good guy” publications that only had a review section for it’s revenue stream. I get the sense that the AV Club is above this. They are not the “good guy” I’m alluding to.

Me: I vet, buy, and listen to ALL of the music I review. I not only have personal but monetary investment in this music. I buy the best, and list the best of the best.

#2 – Trial by Committee:

The AV club has some fucked up nomination/vote combo that makes sure that whatever individual vision put into the list is homogenized to tasteless oatmeal.

Also, they have a self loathing streak that forces them to review mass market dreck like Ke$ha. See, they’re not snobs!

So there. That’s my argument. I may be wrong. I may be hard on the AV Club, but I read those guys every day. I like to think that’s the greatest complement you can pay a writer.

End of Year, Part 2 — 2012

#1 Red Kross — Researching the Blues

Tagline!: The high-highs far out way the lows.
I’m not going to bore you with another review (as you can read the original), but I will say this: there are some great songs here, and some not so great. Other albums were much more consistent, but Researching the Blues, despite it’s dumb name and low parts, hit lots out of the park. Maybe you can’t achieve greatness if you play it safe?

#2 Pujol — The United States of Being

Tagline!; Hyper caffeinated pop songs with well thought out lyrics.
How many albums manage to get out two or three good songs before reaching into the filler barrel? Answer – many. Not this album. Released on a label much more known for music of the electrical bent, there’s a lot of honest rock here. Did I just called electronic bleep bloop music dishonest? Don’t tell anyone!

#3 White Wires — WWIII

Tagline: The funnest album of the year, minus some dumb lyrics.
Yeah, you’ve heard some of these riffs before. Maybe even in a Rick Springfield song. What’s that, you’re way too young to know who Rick Springfield is? Well, rock away, then!

#4 Royal Headache — S/T

Tagline: The energy is infectious.
This album never lets up. It’s always great to hear such joy in hammering on instruments. Which is always kinda funny with such clean guitar tones.

#5 The Men — Open Your Heart

Tagline: A solid long player I kept returning to.
I found faults, but I played this album all the time. That says quite a bit.

#6 Mind Spiders — Meltdown

Tagline: Another solid album that keeps it’s eye on the prize.
All the songs hum along and kept this album in constant rotation.

#7 The Golden Boys — Dirty Fingernails

Tagline. Takes some risks, takes some stumbles, and puts out some fine songs.
Texas rock-y. Expansive, detached songs about feelings are the rage these days. Give me The Golden Boys.

#8 Mount Carmel — Real Women

Tagline: Nostalgia worship done well.
Joe Walsh is still kicking, and writing crotchety songs about how using a cell phone sucks. If he’d quit playing with his ham radio, and hit the cocaine again with the James Gang, we might have something like this album.

Top Songs:

  1. Red Kross – Choose to Play
  2. Red Dons – Auslander
  3. Pujol – Black Rabbit
  4. Golden Boys – California
  5. Superchunk – This Summer
  6. Torche – Letting Go

Amazing Artists I Discovered This Year that Didn’t Happen to Put Out an Album This Year. And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE I discovered right after they played in Portland.

  • Reigning Sound
  • Wussy
  • M.O.T.O.

Bands that missed the deadline, but could have been contenders:

  • Woolen Kits – Four Girls
  • Call of the Wild – Leave Your Leather On