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30. Yellowcard – Southern Air

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Ever since frontman Ryan Key took the reins with 2001’s One For The Kids, Yellowcard has been an example of what is right with pop-punk – the sunny vibe, the catchy choruses, the heartfelt lyrics, and the ever-so-rare element of consistency. An entire generation has been afforded the opportunity to follow YC’s career like a book, and Southern Air manages to keep stride with an audience that is not only aging, but is also maturing. Here, the energy flows freely and lyrics are chosen carefully. The result is an album that is equally as meaningful as it is infectious, lacing the subtle contributions of Tay Jardine (We Are The In Crowd) and Cassadee Pope (Hey Monday) with off-the-wall drumming and half-minute violin solos to make the most complete sounding album of the band’s career. With Southern Air, Yellowcard has finally managed to merge all of their best qualities into one disc. Bon appetit, pop-punk enthusiasts! -SowingSeason

29. Menomena – Moms

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Breakups are hard, but you wouldn’t know it from Menomena, who followed up a split with founding member Brent Knopf and another in a long line of critically acclaimed albums with Moms, which just might happen…


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50-3130-1110-1

50. Propagandhi – Failed States

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Failed States is Propagandhi’s bitter album. The Canadian punk rockers have always worn their angry, fist-raising politics on their sleeves – a particularly effective formula when mixed with the band’s more recent thrash-punk inclinations – but this time around it’s accompanied by a rather stark sense of futility. Guided by figures such as Chris Hedges, Failed States lambastes the vapid state of affairs which places more value in material culture, political, and religious talking points over genuine discussion. It isn’t hard to find reason for their cynicism; months ago, the band posted an interview of Hedges conducted by Fox News wannabe, Kevin O’Leary. Rather than engage Hedges in a discussion of the Occupy Movement, O’Leary was content in resorting to ad hominem attacks and semantic traps. It was an embarrassing display from what is supposed to be a serious political talk show, and for a band that’s built their career on promoting political activism and intelligent discussion it has to be a bitter pill to swallow. Consequently, much of the Failed States features diatribes against such stupidity, political apathy, and inaction; where previous albums parried against ideological opponents, this time around Propagandhi lament the seeming lack of engagement outside major social movements such as Occupy, YoSoy132, and 15-M. Propagandhi accentuates this with a ferocious…


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So, I have neither the time nor the ability to be creative with my list this year, but there were definitely things that are worth sharing so here goes (just about) nothing…

Note: I used Spotify links because it’s free and you don’t have to sign up as long as you use your Facebook log-in.

50. Moonspell – Alpha Noir

[Review] // [Spotify]

This is Moonspell stripped down to their core. There’s no gothic overtones, no keyboard cheese, no female vocals and the vocalist’s deep goth vocals probably make up no more than 30 seconds of the entire album. Instead the band deliver a blackened thrash version of their former selves, full of heavy riffs and death/black growls. Definitely recommended for those into the blackened metal style (notice I didn’t say black metal), even if you’ve hated everything else this band has ever done.

49. Lunic – Future Sex Drama

[Review] // [Spotify]

This is like semi-atmospheric electro-pop. Kind of like t.A.T.u meets Delerium or something similar. It’s catchy as hell and has little flourishes that set it apart from your average electro-pop.

48. The Saddest Landscape – After the Lights

[Review] // [Spotify]

There is just something about the way…


Why is Santa’s sack so big? He only comes once a year.

(Much like my review publishing rate in 2012, evidently.)

I think it goes without saying that my musical authority on this site has the approximate utility value of a glass hammer or a chocolate teapot, but I digress. It’s a bit of fun creating these individual year-end lists and collaborating with the staffers on the site’s year-end Best of 2012 list (maybe I can give some prizes away for guessing the staffers’ Top 5 or Top 10 for those interested — let me know if there’s any interest).

2012 was a really strange year for yours truly, with a lot of good and a lot of not-so-good, but I’m thankful that the year happened and I’m looking forward to 2013.

Before diving into my Top 25 of 2012, I want to encourage you to stream the music enclosed with each release if you haven’t already heard the records here. If what’s here piques your interest, then I hope you seek out the albums and support the artists by purchasing their records via whatever method you choose.

I wish you all good luck and good health this holiday season heading into 2013, and I certainly hope that your College Bowl Pick’Em Confidence picks are faring better than mine are currently (thanks for nothing, Fresno State).

All the best, everybody! But first, five runners-up to precede my Top 25 of 2012 list.

All the best, everybody!

Songs of ‘12 | Shows of ‘12

25. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

End of the Line” | Spotify

Sleigh Bells always struck me as sort of a gimmick, a one-trick pony on their debut Treats. To be honest, that trick, which makes Nigel Tufnel’s “but these go to eleven” explanation a parody of itself, is still in full effect here—Reign of Terror is loud and brash, letting the guitar slam out chunky, primordial chords with single-minded fervor. Alexis Krauss, however, is the star of Reign of Terror, putting her former teen-pop resume to good use as the shimmery shoegaze counterpoint to Derek Miller’s bludgeoning riffs. For all its volume, Reign of Terror is nuanced and careful in its use of textures and breathy harmonies, less concerned with fist-pumping and headbanging than focusing on the gorgeous tones and dreamlike atmosphere Krauss’ layered vocals achieve. It is a less brutish and far more beautiful Sleigh Bells than I ever expected.

24. Andy Stott – Luxury Problems

“Numb” | Beatport

I wish my old piano teacher was as cool as Allison Skidmore, who really opens up a whole new dimension to Andy Stott’s “negative space” realm (© Alex Robertson). Luxury Problems is intensely atmospheric and intricately layered, as Stott’s brand of minimal techno has tended to be, but Skidmore’s nebulous vocals give a heretofore-unseen…


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Right off the bat I’ll announce that I didn’t get as much of a kick out of 2012, especially when I put it up for comparison next to 2011. Whereas I had trouble putting together a coherent and definite Top 30 last year, this year a decent amount of 3.5s sneaked into my Top 25 (#17-#24) and, heck, even a 3.0 somehow made it (at #25! Unbelievable travesty!). It’s also worth noting that the quality of the Top 10 was only significantly bolstered within the last three weeks or so, when I simply freaked out at how my playlist was starting to look and started massively consuming the stuff which was appearing on the Staff’s Best Of lists (I have the best writing colleagues in the world).

That being said, I don’t think the low mean score of the final Top 25 is necessarily a reflection of the lack of quality of the music that I listened to this year, but rather a direct consequence of the fact that in a finite amount of listening time granted to me (made even smaller by my full-time employment with an oil and gas company), I chose to actively pursue albums and genres which I had never focused on in the years prior. Heavier music took on a priority, for instance (those of you who know my musical inclinations will note that /m isn’t a term generally associated with yours truly), as did hip hop (/h?!??) and…


In March 2012, Lester Chambers (of The Chamber Brothers fame, a 1960s soul group) posted the following image to his official Facebook page:

That hit song? “Time Has Come Today”.

In fighting for an open Internet (especially in the face of threats such as SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and so on), entrepreneurs such as Alexis Ohanian — who once upon a time co-founded reddit and created Breadpig in 2008, an organization he describes as “an uncorporation that deals in delightful geeky wares and helps people helping the world” — have decided to flex their proverbial muscle and do something about such injustices.  Upon seeing Lester’s story, Ohanian asserts that individuals around the world have an incredible opportunity to help support artists in the digital realm.

The two men met in April 2012, with Lester participating in a reddit Ask Me Anything around this time to tell his story and shed light on the corruption and tyranny of the record industry as he understood it. Lester’s story served as a catalyst to get him back in the studio to record another album.

With Breadpig, profits are disseminated to individuals and corporations that “make the world less sucky”, and the “uncorporation” spends its time “discovering and promoting fascinating technology, hacks, and ideas from all over the world” that are inspirational and impressive. Lester is now writing a new record, entitled Lester’s Time Has Come in an effort to not only rekindle his faith and trust in others’ vested interest…


In an effort to coalesce the reviews site with our sister site’s forums, feel free to drop in and introduce yourselves here! Your password for the reviews site will be the same as it is for the forums. Hat-tip to Black Ink for being the catalyst to try things out… until we continue to segregate ourselves, that is!

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of December 11, 2012. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

This will be the last weekly new releases post for the year, but will return on the 8th of January 2013. Happy holidays everyone!

Angels & Airwaves – Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal (To The Stars Records)
Blink 182 – Dogs Eating Dogs (Blink 182)
Blue Stahli – Antisleep Vol.3 (FiXT)
Burial – Truant/Rough Sleeper (Hyperdub)
Capture The Crown – ‘Til Death (Sumerian)
Chief Keef – Finally Rich (Interscope Records)
City Lights – Acoustic (Invogue Records)
The-Dream – Terius Nash:1977 (Def Jam)
Genetix – Installation/Natural State (Artikal Music)
Hybris – Occult/Agent (Subtitles Music)
Jenni Rivera – La Misma Gran Senora (Fonovisa Inc)
Kasra – Surface VIP/So Real (Critical Recordings)
Mistabishi – Skum (Noh Music)
PRPLX – Fabric Of Space (Tempo Recordings)
Spktrm – Android Dreams (Project 51)
T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head (Atlantic)
Tiga – Non Stop (Pias America)
Time & Distance – ON (Time & Distance)
Watch This Burn – My…


Time marches on.  Happy Holidays, everybody.

25. Bob Dylan – Tempest

“Duquesne Whistle” is the best song of 2012 that I laughed at upon first listen.  The opening bars sound like some fogeyish variety-hour bullshit, but then the snare kicks in and the song picks up with two-chord electric guitar accents, and it’s clear that Bob is continuing his streak of post-millennial knockout albums.  He could never sing, so his shot voice isn’t an issue, and his lyrics carry as much weight as they ever have:  “It’s soon after midnight, and my day has just begun.”  Just a gorgeous album.

24. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

Middle-aged fat guys making metal sound like the grizzled warrior that it is.

23. Glen Hansard – Rhythm And Repose

This album isn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but that’s alright.  It basically means that it isn’t as good as both Swell Season albums, but those albums didn’t have “High Hope” or “The Storm, It’s Coming” either, so all is forgiven.

22. Pig Destroyer – Book Burner

Pig Destroyer:  putting every wannabe macabre “poet” to shame since 1997.

21. Swans – The Seer

I don’t see the classic album that everyone else does, but it’s impossible to deny that this album is a huge musical achievement.

20. Taylor Swift – Red

Another Taylor Swift album, another few months of neckbeards and…


As the year draws to a close, I reflect upon the vast amount of music released this year.  While 2012 won’t go down as a landmark year by anyone’s standards, it did see a number of incredibly solid releases.  We saw heartbreaking hiatuses and joy inducing reunions.  Not much truly left an incredible impact on me, but the sheer volume of interesting and worthwhile releases was wonderful, to say the least.  Given only 25 albums to play with, choosing selections for this list was difficult.  Describing them was an even greater endeavor (chore).  So I decided to forgo the use of words, and project my feelings through an internet-folk’s most fluent language: cats.

25. Father John Misty-Fear Fun

Psychedelic folk:

24. Evening Hymns-Spectral Dusk

Indie/folk/country:

23. Lost in the Trees-A Church That Fits Our Needs

Indie:

22. Dweller on the Threshold-Dweller on the Threshold

Lo-fi/folk:

21. Gaza-No Absolutes In Human Suffering

Hardcore/Grind:

20. Abyssal-Denouenment

Death/Black Metal:

19. State Faults-Desolate Peaks

Hardcore/Emo:

18. Narrows- Painted

For the average, carefree Sputniker (age averaging as low as 14, the beginnings of facial hair sprouting on their pasty chins, a copy of F#A# (infinity) tucked securely under their arms, and the cover of Converge’s Jane Doe plastered somewhere on their body) the forums have always appeared as something of a mystery; a completely separate side of the site, populated by unfamiliar names and avatars, a strange yet very deep sense of community, and also home to the avant-garde masterpiece that is/was Grumblecunt.

But in all honesty the inverse is also true, and these two distinctly different aspects of the site have lived and evolved separately, begrudgingly aware of each others existence, but with both sides only sporadically encountering the border-jumping antics of immigrants looking to defect to the other side. While both sides are certainly guilty for this rift, this article, primarily directed at the review site userbase, has been designed to not simply try and coax you away from the familiarity of such distinct luminaries like SonicthePlumber and the Hemingway-like prose of a reviewer like SkeletorisSatan (last known photo of the two below), but to simply sell you on the idea of the forums.

What do the forums offer for you? Well, essentially the freedom to talk about anything. For example, feeling a little lonely and in need of a little visual stimulation? Then join Respecs in the attractive girls thread. Video games and movies? They got that as well. Sports, Politics? Sorted. For years…


25-21

25. Mount Eerie – Clear Moon

24. Field Music – Plumb

23. Deftones – Koi No Yokan

22. The Gathering – Disclosure

21. Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – Rot Gut, Domestic

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Listen: Deftones – “Rosemary”
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20-16

20. Coheed & Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension

19. Astra – The Black Chord

18. Ghost Mice – All We Got Is Each Other

17. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

16. Racing Heart – To Walk Beside That Ghost

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Listen: Ghost Mice – “John and Jodie”
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15-11

15. Submotion Orchestra – Fragments

14. Papercranes – Three

13. Beach House – Bloom

12. Killing Joke – MMXII

11. Farewell Republic – Burn the Boats

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Listen: Papercranes – “Save Us”
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10-6

10. The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

9. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

8. Tigers on Trains – Foundry

7. Anberlin – Vital

6. Yellowcard – Southern Air

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Listen: Tigers on Trains – “Mont Ventoux”
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Album of the Year


The Nominees

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!


Godspeed You! Black Emperor are no strangers to post-rock success. They found their calling early, with 1997s F#A#∞, an apocalyptic journey that painted the end of times as both a thing of beauty and an unspeakable calamity. Over time, their name has almost become synonymous with post-rock, and “Allelujah! Don’t…


I won’t begin to say that I listened to all that 2012 had to offer in the metal department. Given the genre’s ever-increasing popularity, listening to every demo, split, EP, LP, or live album would have taken more time than the year itself had to offer us. It’s tough to say I would even want to listen to it all, especially since I honestly thought that 2012 could have used a few heavy-hitters that never materialized. Expectations can be a bitch, so when I go into a year with high hopes I set myself up for failure. It’s good, then, that I entered 2012 with a bit of trepidation, not sure what was going to be a success or what was going to flop.

I’m sure that if I had made a comprehensive list of all of the albums I was going to listen to this year and wrote what I thought each would turn out like, the answers would be almost the polar opposite of how it all ended up being. Who, honestly, would have thought that Katatonia would release their best album since Brave Murder Day? Why did Time I not suck immensely? Did I really just put a Mount Eerie album on my top of 2012 list? These are strange questions for strange times, especially in the veritable cage I lock myself in by being a metal fan.


In an effort to coalesce the reviews site with our sister site’s forums, feel free to drop in and introduce yourselves here! Your password for the reviews site will be the same as it is for the forums. Hat-tip to Black Ink for being the catalyst to try things out… until we continue to segregate ourselves, that is!

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of December 11, 2012. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

A reminder to all that voting submissions are still being accepted for the Users’ end of year feature. If you wish to have your say, head on over to the submission thread, and submit your entries. The votes will close at midnight on December the 14th.

Big Awesome – Birdfeeder (Baby Moon Records)
Big Boi – Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors (Def Jam)
Boys Like Girls – Crazy World (Columbia)
Breach – You Won’t Find Love Again: Remixes (Naked Lunch)
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox (Atlantic)
Catacombs – Exodus (Innamind Recordings)
Circle Of Contempt – Entwine The Threads (Sumerian Records)
Dusky – Calling Me (School Records)
The Game – Jesus Piece (Geffen Records)
Green Day – Tre! (Reprise)
Jamestown Story – Show Me Tomorrow (Jamestown Story)
Lento – Anxiety Despair Languish (Denovali Records)
Loving The Lie – Someone Wants You (Dead) (Loving The Lie)
Masta Killa – Selling My Soul (Ingrooves)
Maztek & Masheen –…


It’s been a wonderful year and I don’t know how to even talk about it in a way that isn’t neurotically structured around lists. Here are my informal reasons behind my favourite things. Merry Christmas!

Albums

25

Zammuto


Another wonderful tongue-in-cheek cut and paste job by the wonderful Books craftsman.  Zammuto is jollily demented, electronic music never short of fun and never over-stretching its ideas. Nick Zammuto has always had a knack for modulating the outreaches into something we can all get down to, and from this outing that almost feels like the point of his new project.

24

The Welcome Wagon

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

Direct songs from Christian to God, but it’s not like the word can’t translate.

23

Bill Fay

Life Is People


What’s so satisfying about listening to Fay’s album is how it doesn’t dispel the mythic rock history surrounding it. His first solo record in forty years, after being chewed out by an industry that took its liberty to take up every musician and then dump them, is a spectacle of sorts, something of a comeback overwrought with the emotion of being able to make music again.…


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