Formerly a weekly radio show on WMUC-FM College Park 88.1 at the University of Maryland, College Park for eight semesters. This is now a music blog for a sports journalist living in Newport Beach, Calif., and driving around a lot.
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So, yeah, it’s time for lists everybody. I know I’m missing something — whether it’s a single song or a genre (rap, hip hop, I’m sorry) — but this is what I came up with. 2012 has been dumb, fun, stupid, ridiculous, unreal, dark and awesome year, and these records reflect that, even if my choices get pretty obvious.
15. Ty Segall Band — Slaughterhouse
The first of multiple appearances on both lists for Mr. Segall, Slaughterhouse just obliterated everything in its path. It’s full, intense and feels desperate at times. The full band, possibly live approach added a darker, edgier feel to it, and some of the songs — especially “I Bought My Eyes” — are classics.
14. teen suicide — i will be my own hell because there is a devil inside my body
Other than Ty Segall, Sam Ray’s teen suicide project (RIP) graces my list the most. i will be my own hell, the second release this year for the duo-turned-trio-turned-quartet, built on earlier teen suicide themes and really made me think about emo again. After all, it’s hard to describe some of these songs without using that label. Listening to this album just makes things feel surreal sometimes, like I’m in an alternate universe where I’ll never be happy again. Not that that’s a bad thing.
13. Terry Malts — Killing Time
This was a late entrant to the race in about the last month or so. I recorded a Terry Malts live set back in April and was pretty down with it, but since November, I’ve been putting Killing Time on heavy rotation and really diving into it. It’s yet another band that makes me wish I could live in California and make music instead of what I’m doing now.
12. PAWS — Cokefloat!
Kind of weird cover art aside, this Glasgow-based trio just plays straight rock songs. They roll through with the occasional big time corniness or awkwardness, but the stellar tracks — “Catherine 1956” and “Jellyfish” and “Miss American Bookworm” — carry it and make you remember it.
11. Swearin’ — Swearin’
Fewer things made me feel as free or as happy as this album did back in August. It’s the only thing I could listen to and still feel like a real person sometimes. “Kenosha” is one of the best songs of the year, while “Hear to Here” is beyond solid. The combination of male and female vocals along with the lyrics (“The bluer the water, the closer to hell”) proves its worth.
10. The Men — Open Your Heart
Punk songs are cool songs, and Open Your Heart has plenty of them. Plus, the quartet does a good job mixing up their selection with some longer, more instrumental tracks and alt-country gem, “Candy.” Also, the shredding.
9. Ty Segall & White Fence — Hair
So that last post mentioned shredding, but Hair is the absolute definition of shredding. Ty Segall and Tim Presley don’t stop, mixing all of their own styles together plus almost anything else they can come up with. The live versions of these songs floating around some sessions online are to to die for. So much swag.
8. Woods — Bend Beyond
I’d always felt Woods was always one step away from putting together a masterpiece. The previous releases could be too heavy on the psych jams, like Sun and Shade, or just full of short, whimsically dark pop songs, like At Echo Lake. In Bend Beyond, Jeremy and Jarvis combine the best of both worlds with a collection of songs that seem perfect for driving around California to or just laying back and listening to while looking up at the stars.
7. Beach House — Bloom
Apparently, the Baltimore duo was criticized by some for not departing enough from the formula it perfected on Teen Dream. Well, I’m not one to complain about that. Bloom just builds on those ideas and flushes them out even more. A bit of a brooding album that has its climaxes, it’s an emotional roller coaster at times, which worked out for me.
6. Ty Segall — Twins
So Slaughterhouse was loud and proud and Hair was experimental and coming from all directions at once, but Ty Segall puts everything together on Twins. It’s a collection of songs that just shreds toward one focused point. That point is different for everyone, but there’s just something unrestricted and open about the way it’s put together. Like much of Ty’s stuff, it’s refreshing.
5. teen suicide — DC snuff film
After this dropped back in February, there was really nothing else I could possibly listen to. It puts together all of my favorite genres and molds them into something new and different. Every time I would go through these tracks, something new would strike me or something different would get stuck in my head. It worked, and I’m grateful for this album.
4. The Babies — Our House on the Hill
Now we’re getting to the point where very little separates the final four albums. If Our House on the Hill had come out earlier in the year, it could very well be higher on this list. But since it came out later, I haven’t really had as much of an opportunity to dive into it. I do know most of the songs from live performances and the INTERNET, but listening to the interplay of the tracks and just how they work together is something I take in each time out. Plus, we get to hear Kevin Morby curse pretty hardcore on “Mess Me Around,” which is always a treat.
3. Japandroids — Celebration Rock
The most sing along worthy album of the year, Japandroids just nail it. It could be easy for people to hate on them for being corny and over the top and insincere, but they just make me feel too good for that to be possible. None of the songs on here drag. Each is epic in its own right. The only bummer is that it only times in at eight songs, exactly like Post-Nothing. There could have been, like, two more in the bank guys? Actually, that probably would have been too overwhelming. Rock on.
2. Cloud Nothings — Attack on Memory
Everyone that knows me or has read anything I’ve ever written about music knew that this album was going to be really, really high up. I can’t quite say I’ve ever listened to anything that makes me feel the way Attack on Memory does. It’s one of the darkest things I’ve ever heard, yet it came out at the happiest point of my life. I could still relate to it. Now, one year minus 12 days after hearing it for the first time (its leak was the best Christmas present ever), it still holds so much meaning. Dark events may have changed exactly what it is to me, but the angst is something I’ll remember forever. Dylan Baldi really, really out-did himself with this one, and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. At the same time, “Wasted Days” is all anyone ever needs to hear (in the good way).
1. DIIV — Oshin
For the second straight year, a band I saw on New Year’s gets the No. 1 slot while Cloud Nothings takes the No. 2 slot. I’m too predictable. Oshin was something completely new to me in 2012, even though I spent a good portion of 2011 hating on Z. Cole’s new project. I just thought it was Beach Fossils lite. But through a series of live shows and this album, it’s so much more. Every time I listen to it, I can remove myself from everything and just sort of float through life. It’s something to look for in an album, and DIIV delivers.
// TOP 25 SONGS OF 2012 \
Listen the In Afternoon Air Monthly Mix: February 2012 on 8tracks here.
February is a month that always makes me think and had a profound impact on my musical taste. Four years ago, in 2008, I fell ill and missed about five days of school. I sat in my basement playing NCAA Football 2005 and alternating two CDs in the basement karaoke machine: Modest Mouse’s The Lonesome Crowded West and Lucky by Nada Surf. Every time I hear either of those albums, I’m transported back to my basement in my sophomore year of high school when everything felt like, well, my sophomore year of high school. I tried to channel that in this mix. Enjoy.
In Afternoon Air Monthly Mix: February 2012
1. Islands — “The Arm” — Arm’s Way
2. Nada Surf — “Whose Authority” — Lucky
3. Beach Fossils — “Shallow” — Shallow 7”
4. Dead Milkmen — “Bitchin’ Camaro” — Big Lizard In My Backyard
5. teen suicide — “‘hi’” — DC snuff film
6. Grimes — “Oblivion” — Visions
7. Blitzen Trapper — “Black River Killer” — Furr
8. Air Waves — “Waters” — Dungeon Dots
9. Beach House — “Walk In The Park” — Teen Dream
10. Modest Mouse — “Convenient Parking” — The Lonesome Crowded West
Listen here at 8tracks.