Zillions pt. 2

Favorite songs of 2012, part 2. Presented in no particular order. Download one-by-one below or as a zip here. See part 1 for the rest.

Tame Impala - Keep On Lying

"Keep on Lying" joins Boards of Canada's "Turquoise Hexagon Sun" (and maybe Weezer's "Undone") in the all-time Songs that Feature Party Talk in the Background list, but that's not the most notable thing about this song. It starts in medias res, Kevin Parker's voice in full, soft John Lennon mode (think maybe the beginning of "Julia"), riding a fuzzy bounce, talking some hard talk about deception in relationships and not wanting to say something that he knows is true. The song is essentially over at 1:45, but it goes on for another four minutes. Parker's dragging his feet. He sings "I guess I'll go and tell you just as soon as I get to the end of this song..." [BUY Lonerism]

Quakers - What Chew Want

Not a ton of talk about this record, and I can see why: produced by Geoff Barrow (of Portishead and Beak) and a few others, it's about a thousand tracks long, with mostly anonymous rappers that the producers found by trawling myspace. But it's good. Hits and misses--with something this long and this wide-ranging, that's unavoidable--but if you're a sucker for Geoff Barrow's work, this album is worth checking out. It's weird and diffuse, but then gems like "What Chew Want" rise up out of nowhere. [BUY Quakers]

Melody's Echo Chamber - I Follow You

"I Follow You" is graceful and beautiful, but it has a sort of detached prettiness, uninvolved. Maybe it has something to do with Melody Prochet's voice--she sounds like she's singing this into cold country air. Prochet is another singer whose voice (like the late Trish Keenan's) gives off a vital vibe like the heroines in Antonioni's films. [BUY Melody's Echo Chamber]

METZ - Get Off

Delivers the same hit, the same character of force, as Pissed Jeans or Blood Brothers, but with higher clarity, more precision. METZ. Is it the unit of measure for something obscure and electrical? The kind of thing you'd never want to encounter when you're doing home improvement work? "Your generator fedback 100 METZ into the house, that's why your roof melted." [BUY METZ]

Ty Segall Band - Oh Mary

I loved everything that Ty Segall released in 2012, so it was hard to pick a standout track. I probably listened to "Wave Goodbye" more than any other song of his, but the concision and relentlessness of "Oh Mary" makes it too compelling not to include. Those guitars. It's a pack of motorcycles revving their engines in concordant phases. The freak-out at the end. (this song is great for running, no surprise there). [BUY Slaughterhouse]

Divine Fits - What Gets You Alone

This is desperation from Dan. "Jessica please/take out insurance on me/and when you leave/don't forget to keep yourself/keep yourself all right." And later: "My, my, my heart's a mess." In concert he sang this on his knees, looking wild-eyed and rough. This song is the distillation of that album for me--they could've just released this and the project would've been a success. It's got the bizarre Spoon curvature on the guitars and Dan's perfectly woebegone vocals. A few people thought this album was all over the map, but it's interesting for that aspect, two particular aesthetic outlooks mashed together. [BUY A Thing Called Divine Fits]

Grizzly Bear - Half Gate

I associate this song with driving through the Painted Desert in Arizona, even though that drive happened in August and this album wasn't released until September. I retroactively inserted this song into the continuity of my memories of that trip, but I have no idea why. Maybe because there's a part of this song, I think when Dan takes over the vocals, where it becomes sort of otherworldly, "Checked out so long/unhinged, unwound/come help me on/to let lie what's done/some great beyond/still there, still as you were." The last part of that-- [BUY Shields]

Androgynous Mind - Knock On My Door

Patrick Flegel is restless, and that's a good thing. I don't know whether Androgynous Mind exists in any form anymore, but this song (and the whole EP) is beautiful, bizarre, totally engrossing. (Listen to it.)

Knock On My Door is gloomy and slow, Flegel sings most of the verses like he's half asleep, dying, and he's joined by a female vocalist echoing a few of his words, inconsistently, in the background. I think one of the things that's most impressive about Flegel's songwriting is the way he can turn a song from being dim and dour--pure cloudcover--into something that opens up suddenly and brightly. Some of his best songs are like little engines of possibility: all the elements are there from the beginning, you just have to wait for them to express themselves. [Download Nightstalker]

Spiritualized - Hey Jane

The shortest nine-minute song ever? It's a blast, and maybe a message to go fuck-off? Is it like a last love note, where you recognize that things are 100% not going to work out, but you acknowledge that you'll never do better? (and you don't want the other person to ever do better?) "Hey Jane" captures and depicts a pretty complex emotion better than most novels do. Though maybe I'm reading this way wrong and "Hey Jane" is actually about post-colonial identity or something. [BUY Sweet Heart Sweet Light]

Islands - Never Go Solo

Good concert memory of 2012: Nick indulging his inner Magritte, singing, "This is not a band," while playing this song with the rest of his band in Philly. "A Sleep & A Forgetting" is so solidly a break-up album, one that's easier to lose yourself within when you're also confronting daily bleakness/despair, but it's not a wall-to-wall downer. "Never Go Solo" is, like a lot of Nick's best songs, a shapeshifter, turning to an urgent plea a minute from the end, brighter, flashier, the better to get your attention. [BUY A Sleep & A Forgetting]

Thee Oh Sees - Lupine Dominus

Evil-sounding in the best way, like Liars' "Broken Witch" or maybe this is what a musical version of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" would sound like. The title evokes images of some sick Roman cult, devoted to worshipping wolves due to the caretaking intervention of Romulus and Remus's wet nurse wolf. Twenty-five seconds of disjointed squeal serve as the preface; then the drums, which make this song. A woman (?) and her incantations follow. [BUY Putrifiers II]

Cloud Nothings - Stay Useless

If you haven't heard this must not have Sirius radio, because they played the living shit out of this for three months. But if you haven't heard it, I'd urge you to do so. It's good, and surprising, and lively, and hard, and tight, and springy, and a whole host of other things. Mostly it's just fun to listen to. Also I loved the anecdote that Dylan Baldi told about the recording of the album, where Steve Albini mostly played Scrabble and probably has no recollection of what the album sounds like. [BUY Attack on Memory]

Cat Power - Ruin

Her voice is always great, of course, and better than usual here, throwing shade at complainers (everyone) and telling about where she's been, what she's seen. I could listen to her sing about anything, but I especially love hearing her sing the names of places and cities. Have you ever heard anyone say 'Calcutta' more crucially? Or 'Great Britain' like she does? (you haven't) [BUY Sun]

Old Apparatus - Dourado

Old Apparatus are like Raime, collecting the noisy detritus of the strange micro-scenes that appeared right before dubstep's turn to grossness (or at least the term's application to shitty music), making music that is sinister & unique. OA is a group of producers--they've done a couple releases as a collective, but this year they stepped out individually too, each member putting out an EP, all of which were expressive and difficult and rewarding. There's a lot of really terrible electronic music released every year (as with most other genres obvs.), and a lot of it is just godawfully bland or absolutely bereft of ideas, but Old Apparatus are making something new and worthwhile--they're careful and they know what they're doing. [BUY the Harem EP]

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