don't you tell me how i feel.

2012: Year in Review by don't you tell me how i feel.
December 28, 2012, 8:18 am
Filed under: angsty boy alert, background noise, Shit I Hate, Shit I love

Where to start with the madness that was 2012? The return of Chris Brown. The persistence of Maroon 5. That Gotye song that overstayed its welcome by approximately 800 years. And my God, the BOY BANDS! Wow, was there a lot of bad music up in here. In fact, so much bad to mediocre stuff out there that I, Steele, am declining to offer a conclusive list of “best.” Instead, here are my favorite albums of 2012.


Frankie Rose, Interstellar. In a year awash with bombast, I kept coming back to this quietly beautiful record, full of synths, cascading vocals and a gorgeous, lush sadness. Imagine Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes if she was reincarnated as a Brooklyn hipster. Lyrically it’s simple and pure, and makes a perfect backdrop for anything from putting on makeup for a night out or reading a book in bed on a rainy afternoon.


Jack White, Blunderbuss. I’ve already made my views on this album clear: I could not enjoy it more. It’s got everything we’ve come to expect from White: sharp, clean songwriting, lovely turns of phrase, unsettling imagery and a common thread of stinging anger, bitterness and resentment born of love that has turned sour.


Beach House, Bloom. Please can everyone just start listening to Beach House? No, we are not being paid by Beach House to endorse them. But we should be. Beach House, call us!


Lana Del Rey, Born to Die: Paradise Edition. Say what you will, haters, but her best songs (“Video Games,” “Blue Jeans,” “Ride”) seem to hint at something dark about the way we live today: that we’re pleasure-seeking, disconnected from our own desires and distracted by the bright lights and shiny pictures. That we’re lonely. I am here to tell you that she is in on the joke, and her subservient, mildly anti-feminist persona is her way of telling a very modern story about the ways we destroy ourselves, both blindly and willfully. No, we are not being paid by Lana Del Rey to endorse her. But we should be. Lana, call us!

Now let’s deal with the rest of this. Big 2012 trends in pop music included:

*More dance-dance-house-mania, which extended this year to something called “dubstep.” I can’t be bothered to explain this but let’s just agree that it’s probably gone too far.

*Folksy-sounding songs with rustic guitars, handclaps and people yelling “HEY!” This is really irritating if you ask me.

*Boy bands. God. Has that cycled around already? Seems like it was just yesterday I was complaining about N*Sync and 98 Degrees. (Editor’s note: that was in 1996)

Best Club Banger: Ke$ha, “Die Young.”

Worst Song of the Year: fun, “We Are Young.”

Except for This One: fun, “Some Nights.”

Most hilarious song title: Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat.”

Target of Irrational Hatred: Mumford and Sons. Is it the facial hair? That’s part of it. It’s also the wailing, emo folk garbage that all sounds the same.

Again With the Whining: Taylor Swift, who unfortunately ain’t goin’ nowhere. Her slick pop record, Red, moved 1.2 million in its first week, making her one of the saviors of the music industry. So, I give up. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Thanks For Not Party Rocking: LMFAO, who went on a “musical hiatus” this year. One might say that’s what they were on last year when they put out “Sexy and I Know It,” but whatever.



Steele basically nailed it — I second the above. Below, my top five albums, and other assorted items of note.

Peaking Lights, Lucifer
Their immaculate 936 landed in my top albums of 2011 list, so these guys are two for two. Lucifer is a dubby, dreamy record that I could happily leave on repeat for a week, weird baby cries on that one song notwithstanding. The album stream is still up here if you somehow missed it.

Hot Chip, In Our Heads
The high-low vocals, the deft fusion of slow jams and dance tracks — these British gents can’t make a bad record.

The Raveonettes, Observator
I’d always felt neutral about the Raveonettes, but I fell in love immediately with Observator’s doom, gloom, and reverb.

Ava Luna, Ice Level
No one sounds like Ava Luna. Beautiful harmonies, complex song structures, impassioned rock shouting followed by moments of pristine restraint…not to mention an amazing show to back it all up. Do yourself a favor and see them live.

Tame Impala, Lonerism
Anyone who drives himself near-insane while making a rock record celebrating loners is okay in my book. Props to Kevin Parker and co. for following up an untouchable debut with masterpiece No. 2. Listen here.

Honorable mentions that weren’t already mentioned:
* Lower Dens, Nootropics: You could do worse than Kraftwerk as a role model.

* Cat Power, Sun: Chan Marshall got happy and we all benefited. She even seemed to develop a sense of humor.

* Grizzly Bear, Shields: Yes, they’ll have to bear Veckatimest comparisons for eternity, but Shields is nothing to sniff at.

Album Everyone Said Was Awesome But I Still Haven’t Heard: Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange

Best Show: St. Vincent at the Brooklyn Academy of Music during the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival. I’d never seen her before (or heard much of her music, for that matter), and her electric punk-rock-robot performance blew me away.

Why All the Hype?: Solange. Even with esteemed producer Dev Hynes at the helm of her debut record, none of what I’ve heard seems to have much staying power.

Biggest Disappointment: Yeasayer’s Fragrant World. I really wanted to like this, guys. I defended you! And yet, nothing about this record or your live performance of it was really memorable.

Biggest Show Regret: Not getting tickets to Kraftwerk’s impossibly sold-out run of shows at MOMA.


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