Best of 2012…

It’s a woman’s world we live in!  2012 was indeed the year of the woman.  For the first time, a female artist/writer/creator topped the list in every category.  And the world is better for having them done so.  We saw the return of Fiona Apple, the emergence of a future star in Girls’ Lena Dunham and Lynn Shelton made my favorite film of the year.  Good year all around in every category though the books that I read this year really knocked my socks off.  Here it is dear friends, your best in culture of 2012.  Scroll down to see the best in music, tv and books and others by Travis and Ellie.  Many thanks to their contributions.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Best Films of 2012

Films

While it’s still harder and harder to get to the movies, I try and see what I can, when I can.  I wish I could give you a more extensive list but alas I cannot.  So these 10 will have to do.  All of which are worth watching.  I’m sure some of the late releases from this year (Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained) might make the list if I updated it but this is what I give you.  The best films of 2012.  Enjoy!

1)   Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton)

Jack’s (Mark Duplass) brother just died and he escapes  to the cabin of his brother’s ex-girlfriend Iris (Emily Blunt).  There he finds solace in the sister of Iris, Hannah (Rosemary DeWitt).  A love triangle is a simple way of describing this little seen gem.  The best way to describe it?  An outstanding performace by everyone involved.  Emily Blunt has never been better, Rosemary DeWitt is absolutely breathtaking and Mark Duplass proves that he may be one of the most talented person you have never heard of (hint, he co-directed a film on this list as well as playing the lead role on a great sitcom, ‘The League’).  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

2)   I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

Full disclosure, Kore-eda’s earlier film, ‘Nobody Knows’ is the hardest I have ever cried in a film before.  He loves to make emotionally wrenching family dramas that get to you.  He painstakingly makes every detail about having children in the modern world seem flawless.  He’s unlike many directors working today.

3)   Moonlight Kingdom (Wes Anderson)

I’ve always been a big fan of Wes Anderson’s and his films have cracked the top 10 many times before.  With this film however, he may just have hit his highest point.  A beautifully told children’s tale of doing whatever it takes to get away and make a life for yourself.  Do the 2 main characters last on their own, no.  But the ride that Anderson takes us on is truly one for the ages.  I don’t know if it’s his most personal film but it is his most heartfelt.

4)   Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb)

There is no way you won’t want to run out and grab the best pieces of sushi ever after watching this sweetly told story of one of the most revered chefs and restaurants in the world.  I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, it’s a small venue (15 seats?) that is situated inside of a Tokyo subway station.  It’s amazing what the human spirit will do.

5)   The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)

With a career performance from Joaquin Phoenix and an equally incredible score by Johnnie Greenwood, ‘The Master’ is Paul Thomas Anderson’s answer to Scientology.  Phoenix plays Freddie Quell an alcoholic WWII veteran who scatters from job to job until he meets a man that will become his spiritual advisor, Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymuor Hoffman).  The rest needs to be watched.  These 2 characters go at each other with every breath they can muster (and in one scene, literally).  And watching these 2 superb actors is amazing.

6)   Jeff, Who Lives at Home (The Duplass Brothers)

Yes, Mark Duplass from ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ is one of the co-directors on this little seen film.  Another good companion to Adam Wilson’s novel, ‘Flatscreen’.  The loser, stoner trying to make good on his life.  And I thought the ending on this film was surprising and incredibly rewarding.  Try and see it if you can.

7)   Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore)

Most of the films I do get to see is when I take my daughter.  Brave was really good and just missed the list, but this fine piece of work is the type of “kids movie” made for someone of my generation.  And while I was never a big video game fan, it really brought me back to the late 80’s/early 90’s when you had arcades and Sega Genesis.  A finely crafted experience.  And highly original.  Hard to make in a kids movie.

8)   Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

David O. Russell is a weird director to describe.  This big indie (small studio) pic is making the rounds as a front-runner for Best Picture Oscar honors.  Great work done by everyone involved especially Bradley Cooper as the main character.  He brings an emotional characteristic and vulnerability to many actors that would be afraid to take on a role that was so complex.  And if you’re a Philly native or Eagles fan then there’s even more to love for you.

9)   Bernie (Richard Linklater)

Jack Black in his best performance plays Bernie the killer of his 81-year old millionaire wife.  In most director’s hands this film would come across as hammy and soporific.  Especially when you know the story before the movie starts.  But with Linklater, this black comedy becomes a well told tale and uncomfortably funny film.

10) Wanderlust (David Wain)

The director of ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ (and member of the best comedy troupe of all time, ‘The State’) made the funniest film of the year.  Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are a perfect match for a couple trying to find a new slice of life.

Best Albums of 2012

Albums

2012 brought us a very solid year for music.  A couple of debuts on this list, a couple of artists that have never appeared and a few that continue to make my list (what can I say, I’m a fan no matter what).  But this year belonged to Fiona Apple in my opinion.  Eagerly anticipated by me and everyone, it has been on consistent playlist since its release earlier in the year.  If you haven’t heard it, listen to it.  If you didn’t like it, well, I don’t know what to say.  Scroll down for Travis and Ellie’s picks.  Many thanks to them.

1)   Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel…Fiona Apple

One of 2012’s most anticipated albums this record ignites from the very first track.  It’s been a couple of years since Fiona graced us with music.  We better not have to wait much longer for the follow up to this.  Her best to date.

2)   Grimes- Visions Grimes

Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) releases her 3rd disc in 2012 and finally hits the mainstream.  Every track hits you over the head with it’s originality.   She came very close to having the #1 album and #1 song of the year.

3)   Grizzly Bear- Shieldsgrizzly bear

Every album they make continues to surprise me.  I like to think if I made music I could fit in to the Grizzly Bear sound.  I then listen to the album again and realize there’s no fucking way.  Mature, heartfelt and personal.  There’s a strong case that they’re one of the best bands in America right now.  Read the cover story that was in New York magazine and you’ll like them even more.

4)   Japandroids- Celebration RockJapandroids

Vancouver’s rockinest band around (I don’t know many others).  This album has been on constant play since it came out.

5)   Beach House- BloomBeach House

Beach House is the reason you fall in love with voices, words and with music in general.  The 2 members gel so well together it’s astounding.  They topped 2010 with Teen Dream.  This is just as good (2012 was a better year as a whole however).

6)   Cat Power- SunCat Power

2012 brought us the return of not only Fiona Apple but Chan (Cat Power) Marshall as well.  And I never thought the 2 were similar but they both can wow us with their voices, ignite us with their presence and astound us with their durability.

7)   Cloud Nothings- Attack On Memorycloud nothings

To be honest, I was never a fan previously but this Steve Albini produced record just kicked my ass from the second it came out.  And yes, that’s a good thing.

8)   Sharon Van Etten- TrampSharon van etten

Another artist that I was unfamiliar with until 2012.  I will be forever.

9)   Django Django- s/tdjango django

The highest charting debut disc on the list.  Well produced electro-pop at its finest.  Well done newcomers.

10)   Windy & Carl- We Will Always Bewindy and carl

Beautiful ambient sounds from the experimental Michigan band.

11)   Chairlift- Somethingchairlift

Chairlift really hit the indie scene with this sophomore disc.  Highly regarded in the Brooklyn music scene the band has a tough task besting this record.

12)   The Walkmen- Heaventhe walkmen

Ten plus years in, this band can still rock harder as good as any other.  A band that I have grown old with from its beginnings as ‘Jonathan Fire*Eater’, I’m ecstatic that they keep making great record after great record.

13)   Chromatics- Kill For Lovechromatics

Dizzying post punk from this band that has been kicking around the indie music scene for a number of years.

14)   Frank Ocean- Channel OrangeFrank Ocean

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of Frank Ocean.  After last year’s amazing mixtape, ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ he has hit the mainstream running.  Hitting the top of most music site’s best of list, he released the most personal of letters to the world and the world ate him up.  Exactly the type of artist we need leading us.  His words ignited chatter all over the hip-hop world and the world is better for it.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6me6uSdO81qdrz3yo1_1280.png

Jessie Ware15)   Jessie Ware- Devotion

There are times when you hear a sound of an artist singing and can sense every emotion coming out of them.  Personal and dreamy, Jessie Ware is one of those artists.

16)   Alabama Shakes- Boys and Girlsalabama shakes

After a successful gig playing last year’s CMJ, the Athens, Alabama band released their debut earlier this year.  Good ol’ fashioned rock and roll.  They do an outstanding job at taking the most oversaturated genre in music and bring an originality (think classic) that is much needed.

17)   The Men- Open Your Heartthe men

Post-hardcore noise rock from Brooklyn.  Need I say more?

18)   Purity Ring- Shrinespurity ring

Easily the hardest to describe band that I heard this year.  Synthpop, ethereal, indietronica?  Great beats, with an echoing voice.

19)   The xx- Coexistthe xx

It must be hard to create one of the best debut albums in recent memory and have to follow it up.  I’m not saying that Coexist is better then the first album but it should get more attention.  Fine, it’s not as loud and haunting but it is so beautifully made that it just feels, different.  Is that a bad thing these days?

20)   The Weeknd- Trilogythe weeknd

Ok, I cheated a little with this one.  Technically the albums that make up Trilogy came out last year but this “3 albums in one” disc was released last year.  Plus, I’m still trying to get everyone into The Weeknd.  If you’re not yet then I give up.

21)   Kendrick Lamar- good kid, M.A.A.D. cityKendrick Lamar

25-year old Compton rapper strikes it big with his major label debut.  This album has hit all the year end best of charts as well.  Associated with my other favorite rap act of 2012, ‘Schoolboy Q’.

22)    Tame Impala- LonerismTame Impala

The Australian band’s second album is even better than the first.  Borrowing sounds that the Beatles perfected in their career this is neo-psychedelic rock at its finest.

23)   Animal Collective- Centipede Hzanimal collective

Some people were disappointed by the follow up to Merriweather Post Pavillion (arguably the album of the decade) but this is still a solid disc and the boys are still the most talented musicians working today.

24)   Actress – RIPactress

Darren J. Cunningham is the artist known as Actress.  He makes killer electronic music that makes you want to dance your ass off.

25)   Twin Shadow- Confesstwin shadow

The second album from Twin Shadow.  More shoegaze for the world.

26)   Crystal Castles- 3crystal castles

Intense and loud from the 3rd disc by Crystal Castles.  Just the way we like it.

27)   Baroness- Yellow & Greenbaroness

Thom recommended this metal album to me.  Beautifully crafted, this is the new face of metal in the 21st century.

28)   Pinback- Information Retrievedpinback

I always thought this band was surely underrated.  This is their first disc in 5 years.  I hope we don’t have to wait this long again.

29)   Sleigh Bells- Reign of Terrorsleigh bells

Similar comments to The xx, how do you top an album that just kicked your ass over and over?  Well, you can’t.  Just go out and try and kick the same ass and hope everyone likes it.  I did.

30)   ScHoolboy Q- Habits and Contradictionsschoolboy q

The independent hip-hop world has been outstanding the past 2 years.  Everyone is making a mix tape and then following up with killer albums (see Frank Ocean last year) and ScHoolboy Q is another to that list.

 

31)   DIIV- Oshin

32)   Bat for Lashes- The Haunted Man

33)   La Sera- Sees the light

34)   Tanlines- Mixed Emotions

35)   Best Coast- The Only Place

36)   The Big Pink- Future This

37)    Catcall- The Warmest Place

38)    Perfume Genius- put your back n 2 it

39)    Dinosaur Jr- I Bet on Sky

40)    Dirty Projectors- Swing Lo Magellan

41)     Frankie Rose- Interstellar

42)     Friends- Manifest

43)     Polica- Give You the Ghost

44)     Spiritualized- Sweet heart, Sweet light

45)     The Tallest Man on Earth- There’s No Leaving Now

46)     Yellow Ostrich- Strange Land

47)     Howler- America Give Up

48)     Jens Lekman- I Know What Love Isn’t

49)     Hospitality- Hospitality

50)     Haim- Forever ep

Travis G’s picks:

 

1.   Lana Del Ray – Born To Die (The Paradise Edition) Lana Del Rey

Definitely my most played album of the year.  Say what you want about Lana (Lizzie Grant) but the girl has talent, beauty, style, and presence. Yes, she can’t sing live, but what current female “singer” can (excluding Beyonce and the the rest of the female artists below.)  The album is produced to a “T”! Every song is so well done they could be a single.  Her videos for Born to Die, National Anthem, and Ride are mini movies in themselves, with cinematography that out shines pretty much any music video made this year.

The Rick Rubin produced tune “Ride”, my favorite track, features an orchestral instrumentation, digitized percussion and a rock-band backing.  A formula heavily found on the album. There something about Lana’s lyrics, that were co-written by “Video Games” writer Justin Parker, and the pacing/ strength of her vocals that remind me of The Killers’s, Brandon Flowers.  Shot in Las Vegas, mashed up with Lana’s poetic voice over, the ten minute video for “Ride” is one of the best things to come from the blossoming star.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py_-3di1yx0

2. Marina + The Diamonds – Electra Heart Marina and the diamonds
The sophomore album of Welsh singer/ song writer Marina Lambrini Diamandis, A.K.A., Marina And The Diamonds, shows the range and growth for the artist. Every song was written or co written by Marina and produced by some of the biggest names in the business: Dr. Luke, Cirkut, Diplo, Greg Kurstin, Rick Nowels, and Stargate.

I had the chance of seeing her in concert recently and was surprised at how the girl can sing.  She took a hold of the crowd and belted out her hits.  The Dr. Luke, Cirkut, and Diplo produced song “Lies” was my favorite performance and one of the best tracks on the album. (insert lots of head bobbing)

https://soundcloud.com/marina-and-the-diamonds/03-lies

3. Jessie Ware – DevotionJessie Ware
With impressive comparisons being thrown her way like: Sade, Aaliyah, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox and so on, Jessie proves her skills as soulful new artist on the scene.  Her videos are often simplistic, think Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares to You, and focused on the talent: Her voice.  Expect to hear more from Jessie in the future, she’s only getting started.

http://youtu.be/bMJkddvJ4L4

4. Lemonade – DiverLemonade
From chilled out tracks like Infinite Style, Neptune; mid tempo songs like Softkiss, Ice Water, and full on alternative dance track Big Changes; Diver has something to offer for the hipster inside us all.  The best part of 2012’s Diver is that somehow all ten tracks cohesively blend together.  Grab a Pabst, your skinny jeans, a couple of friends, and a disco ball.

https://soundcloud.com/lemonademusic/softkiss

5. No Doubt – Push and ShoveNo Doubt
No Doubt’s sixth studio album, Push and Shove,  came out over ten years after the previous Rock Steady.  To me the album comes across as all grown up and verging on one note.  The anthem tracks Settle Down, Push & Shove, and Looking Hot help pep up the mainly adult contemporary effort.  Could it be that every song was co written by Gwen, Tony, and Tom?  Or that all eleven tracks were produced by Mark “Spike” Stent?

Luckily I guess I’ve age with the band as I enjoy pretty much every track on this album.  Not to mention that Gwen Stefani happens to be the coolest chick in the business.

The sinfully stylish, banned for Native American racism, Looking Hot video:
http://www.vuoh.net/no-doubt-looking-hot-video_5f47124fa.html

6. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – TroubleTotally Enormous
Orlando Higginbottom: DJ, artist, producer … Music teacher?  You might not get music Teacher from listen to Trouble, a mainly electronic dance album, but you will get excited.  Know for his crazy costumes and electro beats TEED (short for Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs) knows how to get the party started.

A few months back after purchasing a ticket to one TEED’s NYC shows I was slightly worried.  Would it just be a awkward, tall, skinny guy from the UK pushing play on his Mac book Pro?  Absolutely not.

http://youtu.be/odNebyVXsZg

7. Kimbra – VowsKimbra
She may be best known for the female vocals in Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, but it’s her solo efforts where the 22-year old New Zealand beauty shines.  Her album, described as indie pop/ soul/ jazz, debuting at number 14 on the billboard charts.  When you see Kimbra live, she proves not to need the auto tune that so many of her fellow young artist rely for their existence.

Check out this amazing live version of “Settle Down”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd7GLvMYSHI

8. Dragonette – BodypartsDragonette
One of my favorite bands from up north, Canada to be exact, released their third studio album this year.  Bodyparts is jammed packed with electro anthems and synth heavy ballads.  The band wrote and produced most of the tracks on the album theirs selves.  Turn it on and crank it up for a good time!

http://youtu.be/ca_W2FajtUQ

9. Niki & The Dove – InstinctNiki and the Dove
Young Stevie Nicks on acid.  That’s how I describe Swedish vocalist Malin Dahlström, of Niki & The Dove.  Falling somewhere in the indie electronic music, Instinct delivers dance beats, power ballads, and something fresh to the genre.

http://youtu.be/eHuci2LUHPA

10. St. Lucia – St. Lucia EPSt. Lucia
Brooklyn-based electro pop group St. Lucia has one of my favorite sounds of the year.  The EP ranges from the romantic “Closer Than This” to the chilled “All Eyes On You.”  Be sure to check out the non-EP hipster dance track they released this year: “September.”

http://youtu.be/SsOtyICowD8

Guilty Pleasure 2012: Carley Rae Jaspen – Kiss
Listen … Maybe?
http://youtu.be/Vf78alvpxRM

Party Album Of The Year: Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Harris’ 18 Months has produced a slew of hits this year: “Bounce (Feat. Kelis)”, “Feel So Close”,  “We Found Love (Feat. Rihanna)”, “Sweet Nothing (Feat. Florence Welch)”, “Let’s Go (Feat. Ne-Yo)”, and “I Need Your Love (Feat. Ellie Goulding).”   From his debut in 2007 Harris has consistently been one of my top 5 favorite DJ/ Producer/ Artist.
http://youtu.be/17ozSeGw-fY

Ellie’s picks:

Kendrick LamarFrank OceanJapandroidsAlt-JAriel Pink

GrimesTame ImpalaDirty ProjectorsWild NothingThe Oh Sees

1. Kendrick Lamar, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City: A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar”
– Favorite Track- “Money Trees”

2. Frank Ocean, “Channel ORANGE”
– Favorite Track: “Pink Matter”

3. Japandroids, “Celebration Rock”
– Favorite Track: “Adrenaline Nightshift”

4. Alt-J, “An Awesome Wave”
– Favorite Track: “Tessellate”

5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Mautre Themes”
– Favorite Track: “Symphony of the Nymph”

6. Grimes, “Visions”
– Favorite Song: “Vowels = Space and Time”

7. Tame Impala, “Lonerism”
– Favorite Track: “Music to Walk Home By”

8. Dirty Projectors, “Swing Lo Magellan”
– Favorite Track: “About to Die”

9. Wild Nothing, “Nocturne”
– Favorite Track: “Through the Grass”

 10. The Oh Sees, “Putrifiers II”
– Favorite Track: “Lupine Dominus”

Best Songs of 2012

Kevin’s picks:

Always the hardest list to come up with.  I always have a favorite off of every album and in some cases you only like 1 or 2 songs off any album.  Those of you that know me know that I love a good pop song and this year there were a bunch of them.  Ke$ha?  Who would have thought?  I also try to keep the list to one song per artist but I had to keep the 2 songs from Grimes because they’re 2 of the better songs in the past 3 years.  Enjoy and listen.  Loud.

1)   Grimes- ‘Genesis’

There was no song I listened to more.  Her voice, the lyrics, the beats.  Everything that a great song needs. 

2)   Chvrches- ‘The Mother We Share’

Haunting electro-pop from Scotland, Chvrches are one to watch in 2013.

3)   Cold Cave- ‘A Little Death to Laugh’

My kick ass song of 2012.  Play this as loud as you can.

4)   Cat Power- ‘Ruin’

The return of Chan Marshall.  The best song of an outstanding album that showed an outstanding musical range of this great artist.

5)   Icona Pop- ‘I Love It’ (NSFW)

The indie summer song of 2012.  And easily the best lyrics of any song on this list.  Play it loud at home, quietly at work.

http://soundcloud.com/xtopherfun/i-love-it-icona-pop

6)   Twin Shadow- ‘Five Seconds’

First single off the sophomore album by Twin Shadow.

7)   Ke$ha- ‘Die Young’

First, I can’t believe I like this song enough to make the list.  Second, I can’t believe I actually typed her name with a $ sign in it.  What has become of me? Too much Travis G. influence.

8)   The Black Keys- ‘Gold On The Ceiling’

I think this album originally came out in late 2011 but the single was released this year.  Great guitar band.  Best song off of an ok album.

9)   Jessie Ware- ‘Wildest Moments’

There are songs that when heard for the first time make you realize how moving music can be.  Heartfelt, honing lyrics that resonate and feel with every listening.  This is one of those songs.  Amazingly beautiful.

10)   Beach House- ‘Myth’

Not much I can say that I haven’t said already about this band.  Every album gets better and this song stuck with me since early 2012.

11)   Carly Rae Jespen- ‘Call Me Maybe’

I have a 4 year old daughter.  It’s her favorite song.  You still want to make fun of me?

12)   Catcall- ‘The World Is Ours’

Another great indie pop song from the unknown Catcall.  You ready?

13)   Chromatics- ‘Back From the Grave’

Equal parts 80’s classic new wave/post-punk this is my favorite song off the record.

14)   Django Django- ‘Default’

Catchy as hell.

15)   Grimes- ‘Oblivion’

The only artist to make this list twice.  I loved this album and could have put every song on it.  An equally great video.

16)   Chairlift- ‘I Belong In Your Arms’

I really dig 2 person (boy/girl) bands and this latest from Chairlift really resonated with me all year.

http://soundcloud.com/chairlift/i-belong-in-your-arms 

17)   Haim- ‘Forever’

Little song off an e.p that Haim put out this year.  I love girl pop.

18)   The Walkmen- ‘Heartbreaker’

This band just keeps improving.  What I felt was the most emotionally deft album of their outstanding career, this was my favorite track.

19)   Tanlines- ‘All Of Me’

My dance track of 2012.

20)   Schoolboy Q (feat A$AP Rocky)- ‘Hands on the wheel’ (NSFW)

Best rap song of 2012.

21)   Baroness- ‘March to the Sea’

Best metal song of 2012.  Really, really kicks ass.  Quietly.

http://soundcloud.com/relapserecords/baroness-march-to-the-sea 

22)   Purity Ring- ‘Fineshrine’

Have you ever heard the words, “cut open my sternum and pull” sound so beautiful?

23)   La Sera- ‘Break My Heart’

Two and half minute indie punk from one third of Vivian Girls.

24)   Japandroids- ‘The House that Heaven Built’

A buddy of mine found the lyrics to this anthem-esque track silly but I loved how these 2 Vancouverites wailed to us.

25)   Grizzly Bear- ‘Yet Again’

Another set of beautiful harmonies from clearly one of the greatest bands in music. 

26)   Alabama Shakes- ‘Hold On’

With visions of 1970’s era rock and roll this Athens, Alabama band brought back the cool in old school rock ‘n’ roll.

27)   Kanye West (feat. Beig Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz)- ‘Mercy’ (NSFW)

Not much Kanye can’t do.  He just brings it every chance he gets.

28)   Animal Collective- ‘Today’s Supernatural’

Best song off a slightly disappointing album.  Killer video.

29)   Best Coast- ‘The Only Place’

Indie bubllegum pop hits it’s high note from the sophomore album.

30)   Frank Ocean- ‘Pyramids’ (NSFW)

Much has been said about Frank Ocean’s debut (although his mix tape last year counts to me as his first) and this is a stunner of a track.  It’s amazing to see someone this gifted hit the mainstream in astounding ways.  Up for multiple Grammy awards.

31)   Fiona Apple- ‘Every Single Night’

32)   M.I.A.- ‘Bad Girls’

33)   The Men- ‘Open Your Heart’

34)   Hospitality- ‘Friends of Friends’

35)   Sharon Van Etten- ‘Serpents’

36)   Dirty Projectors- ‘Gun Has No Trigger’

37)   The xx- ‘Angels’

38)   Solange- ‘Losing You’

39)   Cloud Nothings- ‘Stay Useless’

40)   DIIV- ‘Doused’

41)   Howler- ‘Back Of Your Neck’

42)   Perfume Genius- ‘Hood’

43)   Sleigh Bells- ‘Comeback Kid’

44)   Frankie Rose- ‘Interstellar’

45)   Spiritualized- ‘Hey Jane’

46)   Tame Impala- ‘Elephant’

47)   The Big Pink- ‘Stay Gold’

48)   Dum Dum Girls- ‘Lord Knows’

49)   Santigold- ‘Disparate Youth’

50)   Friends- ‘Friend Crush’

 

 

Travis G’s picks:

The below 15 are the top played songs, that came out in 2012, that I listened to on my “i” devices.  (iphone, itunes)  You have to factor in 3 things:

1. I listen monthly playlists everyday on my walk to work.  95% of the time I only listen to the fast dancy tracks to get my usually late self moving to work a bit faster.

 2. Some of the songs have more advantage being that they came out earlier in the year than others.  So I probably have been listening to them over a longer period of time.  

3. Being such a visually inspired person some of the tracks below are also my most watched music videos of the year.  If the video is good, chances are I’ll like the song that much more.

1. Kylie Minogue “Time Bomb”
http://youtu.be/zL2wGYCINwY

2. Madonna “Girl Gone Wild”
http://youtu.be/tYkwziTrv5o

3. Madonna “Turn Up The Radio”
http://youtu.be/vkYyqxHdwNg

4. Cheryl Cole “Call My Name”
http://youtu.be/IYT6rbxNn30

5. Madonna “I’m Addicted”
http://youtu.be/weTmahAfxzU

6. Dragonette “The Right Women”
http://youtu.be/F26b4Ohtw7c

7. Lana Del Rey “Diet Mountain Dew”
http://youtu.be/F7jhsio5GVk

8. Mark Foster, A-Trak, and Kimbra “Warrior”
http://youtu.be/PUUivXgJ2S4

9. Santigold “Disparate Youth”
http://youtu.be/mIMMZQJ1H6E

10. Little Boots “Every Night I Say A Prayer”
http://youtu.be/GECfUuqS8yc

11. Will Young “Losing Myself”
http://youtu.be/c19BbGGJU5E

12. Dragonette “Let It Go”
http://youtu.be/3KsPIJK17uk

13. Avicii “Silhouettes”
http://youtu.be/6VJBBUqr1wM

14. Jessie Ware “Running”
http://youtu.be/kvlFWmvgeVI

15. Lana Del Rey “Radio”
http://youtu.be/CFjqZpZZ5jI

Best Books of 2012

Books

I gave you a list of 15 of the years best books because to be honest, I read others that I didn’t love.  Next year I’ll try to give you more but it gets tougher and tougher to give you a complete list equal to the albums/songs.  Unless my boss is willing to pay me to just read books and review them for everyone.  I doubt it though.  But anyway, here are my favorites.  Every single one of them worth reading.  Immediately.

  1)   Running the Rift- Naomi Benaron

Naomi Benaron’s beautiful depiction of a Rwanda runner who literally is running for his life and his country.  This novel had me entranced, in love and in awe of those who overcome every obstacle to be great.  The novel of the year!

  2)   Beautiful Ruins- Jess Walter

Jess Walter’s beautiful novel of being lost in a world unlike your own.  Amazingly takes place in 1960’s Italy (with some of the most famous actors in Hollywood as characters) as well as the present.  I can visualize every word on every page.  Beautifully done.

  3)   The Lifespan of a Fact- John D’Agata and Jim Fingal

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and I say I want to every year.  This I just could not put down.  John D’Agata wrote a short story piece that was rejected due to factual inaccuracies.  Jim Fingal was that fact checker.  The piece was eventually accepted by ‘The Believer’ but after much chaos.  The author/fact checker decided to put this book together and show us non-insiders what it takes to write and edit a piece of writing.  I swear to you, if you are interested in words and books, pick it up.  You won’t be able to put it down.

  4)   Hologram For the King- Dave Eggers

Aside from Philip Roth and William Faulkner, Dave Eggers is my favorite writer.  So this synopsis may seem biased.  Eggers just may have created his American classic.  I recently told a friend that I would compare it to the likes of Fitzgerald in it’s true Americanism.  Eggers has always brought the best out in his characters.  Whether it’s in his non-fiction or his novels.  He can write about that singular character, flawed and desperate and make us believe in him.  You know who can do that?  Great writers.  Thanks Dave!

  5)   Flatscreen: A Novel- Adam Wilson

The first novel of what will surely be a voice of the future.  Tragicomedy is at its best here.  Loserdom, parents, lost souls.

  6)   What Happened to Sophie Wilder- Christopher R. Behar

Tin House is probably my favorite of the Indie publishers.  This is Behar’s novel of Charlie Blakeman whose lost love, Sophie Wilder returns to his life.  Great story about missing someone, growing old and of New York City.

  7)   This Is How You Lose Her- Junot Diaz

I honestly don’t know how Junot Diaz does it.  How do you follow up one of the best novels of the decade (the Pulitzer Prize winning, ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’)?  One way is to take characters from that book and include them in this short story collection.  The other is to be one of the best writers alive.  No, it’s not that easy.

  8)   The Fallback Plan- Leigh Stein

This novel came out in January of this year and after re-reading it after watching the TV show ‘Girls’, I realized what a great companion piece it would make.  Leigh Stein depicts the “just out of college and I have no future plans as of yet” rantings of her lead character’s voice.  And it works.

  9)   Telegraph Avenue- Michael Chabon

Another Pulitzer Prize winning author on this list.  Chabon continues to write great american novels (yes, that expression is used often) whether it’s about Jewish comic book artists, college life in Pennsylvania or this one, Berkley, music and friends.  Even his secondary characters are written with such depth that only the great writers can carry something like this off.  Or successfully write a multi-page chapter strictly from the voice of a parrot.  Yes, a parrot.

10)   The Age of Miracles- Karen Thompson Walker

I’m just finishing this beautiful piece of writing by début novelist Walker.  A beautiful story of Julia and her family and friends as they go through some weird changes in the world.  There are a lot of the young novelists in the world that never seem to live up to their first novel.  I don’t think I’ll be saying the same thing about Karen Thompson Walker.

11)    Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures- Emma Straub

12)    The novels of Donald Westlake

13)    An Available Man- Hilma Wolitzer

14)    What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank- Nathan Englander

15)    You & Me- Padgett Powell

Best TV of 2012

TV

The Walking Dead has been dethrowned!  A few years ago it kicked Mad Men off the top spot and Girls did it this year.  It was the best debut tv show ever in my opinion.  Relateable, interesting and hands down the best written show on tv this year.  I was stunned I loved it as much as I did.  But, did you see the past season of The Walking Dead?  Holy shit!  All in all, a great year.

  1)   Girls

The best debut tv show ever! Lena Dunham who writes, directs and created this dramedy about herself and her 3 friends in NYC/Brooklyn has single handedly made everyone forget about Sex and the City.  No single actress on television has put herself in such uncomfortable, uncompromising and vulnerable positions.  I cannot wait for season 2.

  2)   The Walking Dead

Now in its 3rd season the most complex drama on tv gets better and better with each viewing.  How they come up with the stuff they do is mind boggling (yes, it is a comic book).  But this is one of the best tv shows of all time.

  3)   Louie

The most irreverent and original voice in comedy is Louis CK.  This season got more personal with episodes on him dating and the unveiling of his ex-wife.  How he continues to come up with such original material is the stuff of geniuses.

  4)   Mad Men

With all of the success of such new shows like Homeland and Girls, people often forget that this show still may be the best drama around.  This year brought an end to Lane and Peggy (?) and I thought it was the best work of Jon Hamm’s career.

  5)   Parks and Recreation

The funniest show on television.  With the best cast on television.  Bar none.

  6)   Game of Thrones

Intense fantasy drama at its best.

  7)   New Girl

What appeared almost too cute for its own good in season 1 as really become a solid comedy show.  Relatable and believable that these 4 roommates would be friends.

  8)   Portlandia

Very funny comedy from a comdeian and a member of one of the greatest bands in history.  Watch the ‘Around the World in 80 Plates’ skit.  I honestly never laughed harder.

  9)   The Newsroom

Nick and I consider ourselves ‘Sorkinites’.  Those who just go gaga over Aaron Sorkin and his oeuvre.  While far from perfect, this new drama features a career performance by Jeff Daniels as the head anchor of a news division.  Typical Sorkin, lots of witty banter, lots of the “walk and talk” that he has perfected over the years.  One complaint, tone it down on the love triangle thing.  A little tiresome in a show that only has 10 episodes per year.

10)   Enlightened

The most underrated show on tv was this gem with Laura Dern and writer/creator Mike White.  Dern gives her best performance to date and the only actress to appear nearly as vulnerable as Lena Dunham.  I’m glad HBO gave a second season to this one.