For the rest of the year, we’ll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2012. You can see what our listeners voted for as their Top Albums of 2012 here. None of these albums are on that list.
Janice’s 2012 Top Ten Albums
As I’ve mentioned in previous years, I’m not a DJ here at KEXP — I work behind-the-scenes in the Programming Department, and in doing so, I consume a lot of music. Here’s what I loved most in 2012:
10) broken water // tempest (hardly art)
My dear friend Ed discovered this band, introducing them to me as “Janice-Music” and proving (yet again) why he’s one of my dearest friends: duh, yes, nailed it. Boy/girl vocals? Noisy, fuzzy guitars? From Olympia? Check, check, check! At times they remind me of Sonic Youth (especially on the track “Coming Down”); other times, they remind me of Versus (on the more melodic songs like “Thread to Connect”). Either way, yes, “Janice-Music.”
9) toy love // toy love double lp (flying nun/real groovy records)
Toy Love was a legendary New (wave) Zealand band, who helped define the “Dunedin Sound” in the the late ’70s. (Founding members Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate went on to form Tall Dwarfs, and Paul Kean went on to The Bats.) In 2012, Toy Love was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, and to celebrate, Flying Nun and Real Groovy records released this insane double-LP compilation of singles, demos, and even a radio jingle. I think it’s vinyl-only, and it may even be import-only, so it’s pricey, but to this girl, so, so worth it. (Also released this year was the concert album Live at the Gluepot 1980, and apparently there’s even a DVD, but I haven’t gotten that yet…)
8) euros childs // summer special (national elf)
I don’t know how Euros Childs does it. The former frontman of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci writes the most beautiful pop songs, and then he gives them away for free?! Oh, Euros! I would worry about your well-being, but if these carefree psych-folk pop songs are any indication, you are happy as a clam. At times, he reminds me of George Harrison, which is odd since George was not Welsh, but maybe it’s the haircut. Note: Euros does have a “donate” button on his website. Click it bunches.
7) violens // true // frankie rose // interstellar (slumberland)
I know, I know, I’m cheating by having a tie, but the fact is, I love these albums for the same reasons! Shoegaze-revival bands abound, but both these artists bring something really special to their dreamy sound. Violens have created their masterpiece with this one. “Der Microarc” is easily one of my singles of the year. Of course, it’s tied with Frankie Rose’s single “Night Swim.” It’s important to note that both these albums were released by the impeccable Slumberland Records. My paychecks might as well direct deposit into their coffers.
6) lambchop // mr. m (merge)
Frontman Kurt Wagner has one of my favorite voices in music: both in craggly, smoking-damaged tonality, and in his perfect command of words. Mr. M is a beautiful album, and it’s also one of their saddest, dedicated to the late Vic Chesnutt. It’s comforting, cathartic, and I’m grateful it exists.
5) hospitality // hospitality (merge)
Sorry, but it must be said: Hospitality are adorkable. Amber Papini’s affected vocals are utterly charming. (Their press release claims she taught herself to sing by repeated listens of Psychedelic Furs’ Talk Talk Talk.) Tracks like “Betty Wang” and “Friends of Friends” are fun like a slumber party. But then you get a moody, melancholy track like “Eighth Avenue,” which I must’ve played a thousand times this year, over and over again. “You won’t understand/I’m lost in a land,” indeed.
4) lightships // electric cables (domino)
Lightships is a side project of Gerard Love of Teenage Fanclub, and this album reflects all the lovely, lilting Scottish folky-pop you’ve loved from that band’s most recent releases. If the guitar line in “Sweetness in Her Spark” doesn’t make you smile, then I’m afraid you might be dead inside.
3) the sea & cake // runner (thrill jockey)
I saw The Sea & Cake play at The Crocodile shortly after this album came out, and as the set list jumped around the two decades of their career, I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t believe this band has been making me happy for two whole decades.” And then I danced some more.
2) twerps // twerps (chapter music/underwater peoples)
Pitchfork reported that when Twerps first formed, their plan was to write a song as good as The Clean’s “Anything Could Happen.” Oh. So, your plan was to WALTZ RIGHT INTO MY HEART. And then at their in-studio session, they introduced my song of the year (“Dreamin”) by calling it their “Go-Betweens song.” And to top it all off, they have a wicked guitarist in Julia McFarlane. Technically, this album came out last year on vinyl, but then it finally came out this year on CD. So, it still counts.
1) grass widow // internal logic (hlr)
Yet again, Grass Widow top the charts for me. I simply cannot get enough of their off-kilter vocal harmonies, their darkly-dance-y bass lines, the post-punk energy to their songs. I’m just so in love with this band.
• the babies // our house on the hill (woodsist)
• deep time // deep time (hardly art)
• cate le bon // cyrk (the control group)
• woods // bend beyond (woodsist)
Janice Headley is a Programming Assistant Extraordinaire at KEXP.