Aquarium Drunkard :: 2012 Year In Review

Our obligatory year-end review. The following is an unranked list of albums that caught, and kept, our attention in 2012. Go nuts. Cheers — AD

Josh Tillman did more than relocate from Seattle to Los Angeles. He was reborn. Christening himself Father John Misty with the release of Fear Fun, his most fully realized work to date, the album alternates between bleary-eyed short stories, hilarious one-liners and unabashed romance and eroticism. When we asked Tillman about the shift away from the self-described “trifecta of fear, doubt, and self-loathing” that previously defined his catalog, Tillman said that in one moment he “became aware of this giant, blatantly fraudulent contradiction between my internal narrative, my conversational voice, my sense of humor — and singing about my pain like a fucking decrepit wizard.”

Here, the decrepit wizard is gone, replaced by a new cast of narrators populating a mythic L.A. -- one residing somewhere between the black-and-white noir of Raymond Chandler and David Lynch and the deep canyons where wolfkings once prowled. The hopped up scribe with pants around his knees of “I’m Writing the Novel,” the mourning “Only Son of a Ladiesman,” the dissenting Waylon Jennings-type of “Well, You Can Do It Without Me”, and the narcotized Roy Orbison of “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” all live here. Tillman sings in first person, but even when he questions his own name in the swooning “Everyman Needs a Companion,” there’s a puckish sense of smoke and mirrors…a trait the album relishes in.  A carnal celebration far too long absent in modern rock & roll, Fear Fun is intoxicating. Sonically, it is as kaleidoscopic as the lyrical content - bombastic, rollicking, psychedelic and tender. With these 12 songs Tillman, or Misty, has created something we’ll still be listening to, and discussing, a decade from now. An instant classic.

Can - The Lost Tapes: Hallelujah! What could have been an exercise in barrel-scraping turns out to be an essential -- and totally fucking awesome -- piece of the Can puzzle, as the group digs into its archives and comes up with three discs of gold. Motorik addicts will want to go straight to the monumental "Graublau," a 16-minute trip on the Autobahn. (buy)

Thee Oh Sees - Putrifiers II: Psych noise careening off of a scuzz-splattered garage floor, what’s not to like? Thee Oh Sees add pure spoonfuls of each as Putrifiers II matches the band’s best work thus far. Noisy, sometimes messy, not always cheery, but always tons of fun, San Francisco rock epitomized. (buy)

Six Organs of Admittance - Ascent: Ben Chasny (mostly) leaves behind his acoustic ruminations in favor of bracing, feedback-laced psych rock, aided and abetted by his Comets On Fire compadres. Reveling in their company, he plays some of the most unhinged, inspired guitar work of his career. Finally, someone has found the middle ground between Les Rallizes Denudes and Crazy Horse. (buy)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!: The grey eminences of Mile End reemerge from their ten-year recorded slumber and deliver a groundshaking yawn across twenty-minute opener “Mladic,” then drape flashing lights across “We Drift Like Worried Fire” just to prove that they still can. Offset by a pair of drones--one dedicated to the Montreal student movement--’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! flips the politics of its hometown on its back, that it may cut its way toward the heart. (buy)

Liars - WIXIW: Restraint and subtlety aren’t traits typically associated with Liars, but here the computers serve the L.A. trio well: the automatic discipline of click-tracks and the cold internal soundspaces of this mostly electronic record keep the group pinned down to the micro level, where things turn out to be just as terrifying as they are from way up on top of Mt. Heart Attack. (buy)

Eternal Tapestry - A World Out of Time: Blast after blast of interstellar jams. Things get going fast with the 15-minute opener, “When I Was In Your Mind,” as we join the Portland, OR collective seemingly in the midst of an appropriately eternal improv, shifting from Hawkwind-style explorations to scuzzy, ‘Sister Ray”-like scrawls. Momentum from there on is maintained, liftoff is achieved. Eternal Tapestry also pull off the most killer Seals & Crofts rip-off of 2012 here, so there's that, too. (buy)

Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse // Ty Segall - Twins: Any idiot can slap together three releases in a year, just as any idiot can stumble into a brilliant garage-rock record. But it takes a special kind of idiot to put out multiple genre masterpieces in a single calendar year. Segall’s served well by his influences--Hendrix, the Beatles, Nuggets, the Bay Area--but his songs are nimble enough to skirt the tribute/pastiche criticism. (buy)

Ty Segall and White Fence - Hair: Obviously, we love this guy. Hair, his collaboration with Tim Presley (White Fence) finds Segall at his finest, matching his own British Invasion ambitions with Presley’s own knotty, Kinks-ian style. There are punks out there with a lot to prove who’ll spout vitriol like “The Beatles suck — way overrated.” Thankfully, Segall and Presley ain't those kinds of punks. (buy)

Rest of the list after the jump. . .

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