[LISTEN & WATCH] We're making a list...
Lots of lists of top music picks of 2012 this time of year. Some you agree with and some you don’t. The Pink Line Project reached out to some of our favorite members of the DC arts community to a make our own entirely subjective list.
First, let's start at home....
Paul Vodra of Hometown Sounds DC made a podcast of his top ten releases by DC artists this year. In case you didn't know, Hometown Sounds plays only DC music all the time, all year long. You can listen to the entire podcast here. This list includes the songs he played from each album.
- Misun – The Sea [The Sea]
- Imperial China – How We Connect [Creative License]
- Frau Eva – Underneath Eyelids [Morrissey Smiling]
- Young Rapids – Day Light Savings [Dime Piece]
- The Sea Life – In Basements [Sleep]
- The Funk Ark – High Noon [Road to Coba]
- Drop Electric – Sampler Platter [Santo Domingo]
- Deleted Scenes – Young People’s Church of the Air [The Days of Adderall]
- Heavy Breathing – Body Problems [U The One I Want]
- Janel & Anthony – Where Is Home [A Viennesian Life]
Ben Azarra has been around the DC music scene for many years and continues to play in local bands. One of his bands the Love Load plays this Saturday night at DC9!
- "Where is Home" - Janel and Anthony
- Corin Tucker Band: "Kill My Blues"
- Zedd: "Clarity"
- Friends: "Manifest"
- Beach House: "Bloom"
- Dave Douglas: "Be Still"
- Ellie Goulding: "Halcyon"
- Grizzly Bear: "Shields"
- Japandroids: "Celebration Rock"
- Jukebox the Ghost: "Safe Travels"
- Mike Snow: "Happy to You"
- XX: "Coexist"
- Grimes: "Visions"
- Robert Glasper Experiment: "Black Radio"
Stephanie Williams for DC Music Download
D.C. Music Download is a music magazine website that covers local acts in the Washington, D.C. area, and delivers this news to the computer screens of those who don’t know where to go to satisfy their musical palettes. We don’t merely cover bands, but our jobs are also to promote the ones we feel are the prized jewels of the city and expand their fan bases.
- Album: The Sea Life-In Basements
- Song: Heavy Breathing- "U the One I Want"
Sean Peoples - founder of the awesome independent record label Socket Records.
I used to play the clarinet as a kid. I wasn't too good. Maybe I would have stuck with it if I knew the instrument had the potential of intro-ing one of my favorite songs from this year. This is the b-side to Most Valuable Players' "A Hint" single. And it's so catchy and confusing at the same time: a seemingly classical music ambush followed by instrumental indie pop that does a fine job of avoiding annoying indie pop tropes.
Pratt's singer/songwriter sound isn't new at all: a guitar, a voice, and maybe some overdubs. But, I'm a sucker for the feel of a spare, crackly late 60s and early 70s folk ballad. Yet, instead of being recorded 40 years ago, this was released this year. And it's perfect - so simple and effective. But, more than anything, it's unencumbered by pop cheese and slick compression. More of that please!
Here's my album pick:
I tend to get lost in this record. It's like a completely parallel terrestrial sound environment. Synth drones, appreciated tones, and Laurel's thin and distant voice tease you into thinking that new environment will either explode into something unwieldy or quietly implode in on itself. That tension is constant throughout all of 'Quarantine'. And, after your first few times, you get addicted to the suspense.
Giovanni Russonello is a brilliant writer who focuses mostly on the jazz world. You can also follow him on Twitter @capitalbop.
- Album: Rafiq Bhatia, Yes It Will
Rafiq Bhatia, 25, is a guitarist and a jazz musician, but he's way more than the sum of those parts. He spends the duration of this debut LP toying with your ears' instincts – blurring the bounds between traditional jazz improvisation and techy gamesmanship. Vijay Iyer's darting acoustic piano solo on the opening track glitches to an artificial halt, then the instruments trickle quickly back in: The moment startles you, and reminds you that Bhatia is as influenced by J Dilla and Flying Lotus as he is by John Coltrane.
- Song: Sharon Van Etten, "Give Out" (from Tramp)
It's pretty easy to capture Sharon Van Etten's charm in a single word: unstudied. Her guitar playing never has pretention, her cover art is deliberately unprepossessing. Her lyrics seem content with just one or two sharp twists per song. (In "Give Out," "You're the reason why I'll move to the city / or why I'll need to leave.") So where could she possibly have gotten this perfectly refined vocal attack? When she utters the first words of "Give Out" after 30 seconds of drifty acoustic guitar chords, her voice is both a vapor and a knife – sobbing and proud at the same time. Like Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, she seems to have inherited a natural accent from some disappeared time and place; nothing like this voice exists elsewhere.
Luke Stewart is Gio's partner on @CapitolBop and also works at one the great DC radio stations WPFW. Love these two guys!
I'm not exactly a Top40 kind of guy. But when I heard this song, I was immediately struck by how good the Janet Jackson sample sounded and how the producer put it together. Lyrical flow of the song drew me in, and what finally sealed it for me was perhaps my favorite line in the song. "When you figure out it's all right here in the city and you don't run from where we come from" From Drake!
Cynthia Connolly, artist, photographer, letterpress printer and Visual Arts Curator at Artisphere. Previously worked at Dischord Records from 1982-2002.
"Roly Poly" from The Essential Bob Wills 1935 - 1947. (Columbia Records)
This year was full of finding out more about my family in Texas and continuing to always think about food. (food sources, farms, distribution) I have final confirmation that my Great Great Grandmother toured with the Light Crust Doughboys, a band with Bob Wills. They toured Texas to County Fairs promoting the Burrus Mill and Elevator Company's "Light Crust Flour". She set up at the fairs handing out biscuits she made to people to promoting the flour while the doughboys played. (get it.. doughboys?) This was in the 1930's when this kind of promotion was fairly new, and was her idea as the Home Economics Director. (This simply just sounds so familiar!) I finally found on ebay a cookbook she wrote for the same company with, of course, a biscuit recipe. This song makes me think of her, and I wish I could have met her. She apparently was wirey thin, and full of energy to the point that when she was 92 she opened a restaurant in Fort Worth called "Grandma's Cookie Jar". (about in 1962) This is a time where people worked hard, and needed to eat biscuits and gravy and plenty of lard to keep their weight up. We all don't work that way anymore, well, in DC no one does.. and our diets are so different than what you hear "Roly Poly" eating! Biscuits, although still served, seem like a food of another time. The pride expressed in this song of being overweight is completely the opposite of what society thinks of this today.
Jem Bahaijoub is one of the most well-respected music PR folks out there. Call ImaginePR when you need help marketing your new album!
- Santigold 'Master of My Make Believe'.
- Best song is from DC Gypsy Jazz Vocalist Mary Alouette called 'O Be I Your BlueBird'
Jason McCool is one of our favorite all around talents. He's an actor, a musician, a teacher, a tweeter, and the list goes on! Follow him on Twitter at @coolmcjazz.
- DEFINITELY Becca Stevens' album WEIGHTLESS. It's so awesome (and rare) to hear complex, yet listenable pop music played by jazz musicians – their technique means they have so much more flexibility and nuance. It's really a beautiful record. She's at @beccastevensbsb.
Martha Becton and Neal Becton own the best place to find the best vinyl in town at Som Records. Follow them on twitter at @SomRecordsDC
Tame Impala's Lonerism is my new crush for 2012 but Cat Power's Sun came around like an old flame wanting to catch up over a beer. Since Neal brought it home for me a few weeks ago it's been glued to the turntable as we tear through December.
Ah, Cat Power. I haven't followed Chan Marshall's releases these last eight years or so, since back when you would mention Cat Power at a bar and friends would outdo each other with shows that never quite were thanks to stage fright and other ills.
I opened Sun without expectations. Like a friend who's lived a lot and grown even more since we spoke last, she bought me a beer at the opening of Cherokee and we sang together through all the roses and daggers grown and thrown over the years. Coming together for a long holy-crap-we're-really-adults-now embrace with Nothin But Time and raising our glasses to toast our messy but honest lives over Peace & Love.
Neighbors be damned, I've sung Ruin - at the top of my lungs uncountable times since Thanksgiving. It's a little gritty for the holiday cheer, but our three year old belts out Jingle Bells all afternoon, so there's giggles to spare as we finish out one more year in this still fresh millennium.
Ryan Holladay doesn't really need much of an introduction. One half of the dynamic duo known as Bluebrain and the new media coordinator at Artisphere, he's the guy we trust most when it comes to music. He's curated a great show at Artisphere called W3FI that you should definitely see.
Fiona Apple - 'The Idler Wheel...'
Year end lists sometimes tend to be a bit biased towards records that were released in the second half of the year -- and this year will likely be no different. We have Spotify-brains that aren't great at retaining or remembering even the music we like 4 or 5 months after we've enjoyed it and moved on. This year, there were some phenomenal later-year records (Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean) that have eclipsed some earlier ones. And one record in particular that I have seen absent on many year-end lists thus far is Fiona Apple's 'The Idler Wheel' -- I can't say enough wonderful things about this album. Nearly 8 years after her last full-length (which was spotty, at best -- both versions of it), she drops what I would argue is the best record of her career. It's not an instant click and will take some living with, but it's raw and unsettling and is clearly the work of an artist that, despite years between recorded output, is still at the top of her game. 'The Idler Wheel' is that rare sort of record that gives back what you put into it. Invest the time.
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