Music ’til the end of the world
SN&R music writers on the tunes, trends and obsessions that made 2012 the best last year on Earth
If you’re reading this, it can only mean one thing: The Mayans were wrong, and we’re all still here. Maybe the world didn’t end, but living like it might was fun while it lasted. The following are the albums, shows, trends and sonic addictions that helped SN&R’s music writers survive 2012.
1. Spotify: Because Pandora is hella presumptuous, and I have control issues.
2. Rappers I’ve never heard with huge YouTube followings: What’s up, A$AP Rocky and Macklemore?
3. Coldplay taking a three-year hiatus: Take your time, fellas. Maybe you can make it five years.
4. Ace of Spades nightclub: Saw Snoop Dogg, Wallpaper, Morbid Angel, Gwar and Hatebreed there. ’Nuff said.
5. The Coup and the Roots’ new albums: Because hip-hop should lean in all directions.—Ngaio Bealum
1. Chuuwee, Wildstyle: Easy decision. Sacramento’s 22-year-old rap prodigy takes on hip-hop’s golden era.
2. Sleeprockers x Tajai, Machine Language: The four-man Sacramento Skratch/Production crew teams with the legendary Tajai from Hieroglyphics.
3. Century Got Bars, Forget Today, Remember Tomorrow: A fearlessly personal ride through her life, this album exemplifies why they call her “Got Bars.”
4.Tribe of Levi, Follow My Lead: What underground hip-hop should sound like. Period.
5. J. Good, Bluffington High: One of the most underrated emcees in the city, and this album is proof.—Andrew Bell
1. Aesop Rock and anything from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.: Something about white rappers really shouts “fine line between challenging the status quo and being an embarrassing imitation of a genre,” the beer equivalent of which is Sierra Nevada. It can go either way.
2. King Tuff and a 12-pack of Hamm’s Beer: When the party rockers swung through Bows & Arrows earlier this month, their jangly guitar lines and bouncing bass screamed “good time.”
3. ESS and Ruhstaller Cptn. California Black IPA: When listening to a brooding, heavy band, you best be sipping something equally dark. They’re both too good to pass up come these gloomy winter days.
4. Death Grips and malt liquor, any brand: The Sacramento aggressors were a little distant while breaking through the glass ceiling of hip-hop this year. Hopefully, when they get around to playing their hometown, it will be an impromptu gathering under the freeway overpass and we’ll raise our paper-bagged 40s in celebration.
5. David Bazan and O’Doul’s: Alcoholic ex-Christian-rock musicians like Bazan should really abstain from hitting the sauce, as should the pregnant women and underage kids who ubiquitously populate his shows.—Julianna Boggs
1. Woozy, tripped-out pop: I listened to Best Coast (The Only Place), Frankie Rose (Interstellar) and Dum Dum Girls (End of Daze) so much this year, I’m still waiting for them to take out a restraining order on me.
2. Weirdo girls: Oddball estrogen dominated (Emily Wells, Peggy Sue, Sharon Van Etten, Alex Winston, et al), but it’s Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel … for the win, if only because she postponed a tour to be with her dying dog. Love.
3. Ladies of the ’90s: Cat Power (Sun) and the Corin Tucker Band (Kill My Blues) made it clear that I am, apparently, emotionally marooned in the year 1996.
4. Love is hell: The Babies’ X-styled boy-girl angst (Our House on the Hill); Damien Jurado’s sparse, moody indie rock (Maraqopa); and Paloma Faith’s retro blues (Fall to Grace) made for beautiful heartache.
5. Press play and repeat: There are few better highs in life than playing that one song obsessively; Woods’ “Cali in a Cup,” and Green Day’s “Let Yourself Go” demanded feverishly repeated listening.—Rachel Leibrock
1. K’naan, Country, God or the Girl: This year’s best hip-hop release belongs to K’naan, a Somali civil-war refugee who learned English by listening to classic rap albums, and who collaborates well with such disparate artists as Nas, Nelly Furtado and Bono from U2.
2. Muse, The 2nd Law: Muse experiments with ballads, Queen-esque arrangements, and dubstep; what’s not to like about this ambitious album?
3. Cisco Adler, Aloha: Adler fronted rock band Whitestarr and produced three albums by rapper Shwayze, but his debut album is an ode to his Hawaiian roots—a blend of reggae, hip-hop, soul and pop influences.
4. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded: Sure, “Starships” is hella annoying, but Minaj still brings a refreshing badass attitude to mainstream rap.
5. Green Day, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!: The über-catchy pop punks are back with a triple album; hopefully frontman Billie Joe Armstrong will complete rehab soon so the group can reschedule its recently canceled tour stop at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium.—Jonathan Mendick
1. Every 30- or 40-something who’s a ripper at heart should sing King Tuff’s “Bad Thing” in the shower—complete with air-guitar soloing—each morning. It’ll add years, man.
2. The coolest things about Death Grips’ “Hustle Bones” is the whiplike sound Zach Hill’s drums achieve during the verse, not the obvious choice: The year’s trendiest lyric, “My steez is ballin out!”
3. Hey, so Mom might actually like the psychedelic, classic-inspired jam “Mind Mischief” off of Tame Impala’s sophomore release. Even though they’re Australian.
4. Meanwhile, would Mom even know what the hell was going on if I played any track off Trash Talk’s 119?
5. “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” is the jam of the year, right? What with Kendrick Lamar’s kinda kooky, surely cocky chorus and that smoothed out, R&B bass-guitar backbone. It’s also Jesse Pinkman’s official theme song.—Nick Miller
1. First Aid Kit, The Lion’s Roar: In yet another blow for Scandanavian folk, the latest album from the Swedish sisters Söderberg (Johanna and Klara) includes one of the most American songs I heard all year: “Emmylou,” a paen to country music, love and fidelity.
2. The Mynabirds, Generals: Laura Burhenn—who plays in Bright Eyes—shifts gears in this record full of foot-stomping music that’s more rock than pop.
3. Good Old War, Come Back as Rain: This Philadelphia-based indie-folk trio boasts a wide Americana streak, with occasional rock riffs on acoustic guitars. Think the Carter Family meets Mumford & Sons.
4. Imagine Dragons, Night Visions: These guys are classified as “indie rock,” and they’re the first band I’ve ever heard a free song from on iTunes and immediately bought the whole album. “Radioactive” tops my apocalyptic playlist.
5. Fun., Some Nights: Yeah, I love this poppy stuff. This is workout music, house-cleaning music, driving-around-doing-errands music. If you haven’t heard these guys, you don’t listen to the radio much, do you? Lightweight, but in a good way.—Kel Munger
1. Ceremony at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, March 6: On a random trip to the city with a good friend; this record-store-browsing session turned into a free show, courtesy of our old favorites.
2. Coheed and Cambria at the Knitting Factory in Reno, Nevada, August 2: My ninth Coheed and Cambria experience and Claudio Sanchez still makes my knees weak with his double-neck guitar solos and piercing falsetto.
3. Fucked Up at Slim’s in San Francisco, September 5: Vocalist Damian Abraham stripped down to his skivvies, jumped into the crowd and worked his way to the back of the audience, still holding his microphone attached to a very lengthy cord.
4. Saint Vitus at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub, October 11: These age-old stoner-metal greats from the late ’70s made my neck sore from all the headbanging.
5. NOFX at Ace of Spades, December 10: Fat Mike isn’t so fat anymore. Every song was on point and struck the chords of my teenage years.—Steph Rodriguez