Statistically, 2012 was a brilliant year for hip-hop. You know better. Apart from Frank Ocean with which I could really not relate to despite numerous efforts, Death Grips gave us the thrill with two threatening siren calls for the genre, breaking grounds, pushing limits fearlessly and ruthlessly. Kendrik Lamar a very close second, all close to brilliant works by Killer Mike, Action Branson and Archetype. It was also instrumentally a lot of fun: BadBadNotGood and Clams Casino let us breathe some fresh air in the sampling hip-hop backyard.
That being said, here I don’t necessarily deal with numbers and blog hypes. I follow some simple algorithms and stay loyal to them in my lists.
First, I do my best to wash my head and ear clean off who’s behind the music. This is the most difficult part and almost no one can stay unbiased eventually. There are always musicians we unconditionally tag as “brilliant”. I’m just trying to avoid that though. But what can one really do if one of them strikes us with yet another astonishing artwork? Well, they are simply very welcome.
Second, I try to make my lists as personal as I can. All the lists you find on Ghost FM merely reflect my own personal picks throughout the year. Even though I find myself jumping from this site to that almost every day and keeping myself aware of what’s topping blogs and charts, I have stayed selfishly maverick and persistent to my own selections.
And third, there are absolutely no strict formula to an album or song. I think it would be stupid to follow unnecessary principles and preventing yourself from enjoying what’s out there to decipher. If something rings my bell, that’s it. Studio quality, instrumentation, vocals, record label, songwriting, root and especially the name of the genre which seems to be quite the barrier to many, must all stayed locked in the basement for emergency. None of which are a part of my vocabulary. I’m neither a journalist nor an instrument player. Music has always been a visceral experiment to me. I have never brought it down to technical grounds and I’m not planning to. That’s only what I try to do when I’m describing it.
Yes, of course there are honorable mentions. But do you even want to hear? OK, then there was Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, pretty impressing pop record, wasn’t it? The terror inside Beak>’s », the inexhaustible Matthew Friedberger in Matricidal Sons of Bitches. Some folks called it pretentious. But there’s distance from Bono to this male half of Fiery Furnaces. I simply don’t think it was pretentious. What? You cannot release a 45-track album of your own? I also enjoyed the hell out of John Maus’ A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material. We also had pretty decent solos from Benjamin Gibbard, A.C. Newman and Jason Lytle. Toy anyone? Stoning burner of an album, right? And Scott Walker at his most nightmarish. All brilliant and fun listens. But these ones sounded slightly better to my eardrums so there you go:
01 Swans :: The Seer
02 Saint Etienne :: Words and Music by Saint Etienne
03 Fiona Apple :: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
04 Foxygen :: Take the Kids Off Broadway
05 Paul Banks :: Banks
06 Tame Impala :: Lonerism
07 Animal Collective:: Centipede Hz
08 Jan Jelinek :: Music For Fragments
09 Symmetry :: Themes For An Imaginary Film
10 Death Grips :: The Money Store
But apart from the rest, 2012 was also the year in which I delved a tad deeper in the realm behind the very concept of music blogging. That’s where I became intermittent, undecided and devoid of a firm purpose to go on. And to be honest, the pondering lingers. What am I contributing to this game and who really cares? I reached the pinnacle of calling it a day. I read about the upcoming demise of blogging for music and the death of journalism. Personally, I became more and more conservative with expressing myself to the point I could barely even name a favorite movie to a friend. I started to abhor the idea of recommending music. I still find it intolerable and rude to recommend music to others. It’s complacent. It’s looking down to people.
For almost all my life, I shared very little things in common musically with the people around me. I tried to make small communities to no avail. This gigantic contrast! There were some here and there but they didn’t stick. But I haven’t given up for this blog is not a professional joint to compete with any other. It’d better remain a shelter of my own. And there is of course all you beautiful strangers who have showed support. All the good fellow blogs which I keep myself up with. I’ll keep writing, listening and making list as much as I can. I’ll write about music and if not, I’ll write around it. I’ll give it song dreams. I’ll be here because this may be the only place on earth where I talk about what I like.
Songs must be in their own context. A fabulous song can pop out of a terrible album and a superb album might not have a stand-out track. But among the ones that alas didn’t make my small list are Animal Collective’s “Honeycomb” which already heralded a great album and guess what? It didn’t even make it to the album. Pff! Nevemind,“Gun Has No Trigger” and “About To Die” out of Dirty Projectors’ eccentric lungs. Man how the hell David Longstreth sing like that? Rufus Wainwright wrote some of his most beautiful songs on Out Of The Game including the marvelous addictive “Jericho”. Same goes for Perfume Genius with “Hood”, tender and fragile. Fiona Apple’s “Valentine” and the depiction of a bleak failed romance cuts through heart like kitchen knife in Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher. But anyway these are the preferred ten:
01 Lambchop - "Gone Tomorrow"
02 Foxygen - "Make It Known"
03 Tame Impala - "Elephant"
04 Leonard Cohen - "Darkness"
05 Susanne Sundfør - "White Foxes"
06 The Magnetic Fields - "Andrew In Drag"
07 Swans - "The seer returns"
08 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Kinski Assassin"
09 First Aid Kit - "The Lion's Roar"
10 Angel Olsen - "The Waiting"
And here you can stream the ten songs if you pledge not to be a skipper. Don’t be a skipper! And for the albums, dude just go and buy them! That’s what I did today.
Thanks for following Ghost FM. Hope you have a fantastic year. I’ll return with more posts in January. And thanks to all the lovely folks who once again took part in our polling and shared their favorite music with me. Lots of love, carrot juice, strawberry marmalade, salmon, guacamole, pomodoro e spinaci, all Christmas songs by Sufjan and all the nice hotels in Phuket. We’re in touch via Twitter aren’t we? And no we don’t have Facebook. Cheers!
(you can read the original post here.)