Martin Pavlinic is the singer and guitarist in Reports, the guitarist in Cuffs, and one of the guys behind Ride The Snake Records.
Some awesome records from 2012 in the order they occurred to me:
Julia Holter – Ekstasis (RVNG)
Grew from sleeper to unquestioned favorite album of the year for me; drama without the handwringing, shimmer without giving away its tricks, and endlessly patient. Instead of relying on the artificial patina of so many of her contemporaries, Julia Holter creates warm nostalgia and feeling with impeccable clarity and beauty. I don’t know what else to say, this album is perfect.
Potty Mouth – Sun Damage (Ride The Snake)
I have an obvious bias here, but I wouldn’t be involved with a label if I didn’t think the records we released were going to be the best things I heard that year. Potty mouth is tuff, hooky and make me wish I was a more interesting 19 year old than I was.
Demdike Stare – Elemental (Modern Love)
Sprawlingly spooky electronic noise. Alternating between dread and nervy calm, its about as heavy as I can imagine an ambient record being.
Mohn – s/t (Kompakt)
Much like Demdike Stare, Woflgang Voigt and Jorg Burger decided to plunge into a gross river of murky, musique noir; library music for the occult. It’s odd coming from the kings of clean, misty techno and the clinical precision of Kompakt, but one of the better surprises of the year for me.
Sonic Youth – Smart Bar Chicago 1985 (Goofin)
A year or so after their seeming demise, it was nice of Sonic Youth to remind everyone that they are the north star of almost all modern rock music. Totally savage performances from their best period, I only wish I had been aware of what was going on back then, despite being 7 at the time.
Quakers – s/t (Stone’s Throw)
Drokk – Music Inspired by Megacity One (Invada)
I lumped these three albums together despite sounding wildly different from each other. Geoff Barrow from Portishead, armed with buddies, is a dangerous guy, and 2012 was probably his best ever. Tuff, organic and choppy hip hop served in micro-doses featuring 35 different MCs (Quakers), Gnarly motorik killers (Beak>) and a fake film soundtrack slash analog synth paradise (Drokk), all as meticulously crafted as imaginable, all of them not to miss.
Grass Widow – Internal Logic (HLR)
Grass Widow’s best record, which is saying a lot after the first two EP’s. They kept the sometimes off-putting math of their first LP and let it soak in hook after hook, leaving us with a perfect piece of deceptively intricate and clever-yet-wide-eyed pop.
Andy Stott – Luxury Problems (Modern Love)
Maybe the eurozone crisis is to blame for the excess of amazingly menacing electronics out of Europe this year, but perhaps not. Andy Stott’s muffled, drowning techno keeps his recent streak alive, like tuning in an R&B station after the bomb.
No Comply – Cheat Sheets (Every Day Is A Mixtape)
Sleeper favorite from the local circle. I finally heard this on the eve of the band’s final show, which is what being in grad school gets you (also probably why I have so much grim ambient stuff on here, but I digress). This four song tape gets better with each song, with “Live From the Satellite Lounge” contending for “best song of 2012” for me. Shambolic guitar rock without being sloppy, rock solid songs, of course I’m all over it.
King Cyst – Real Pussy (Underwater Peoples)
The bass man for Big Troubles steps out with an album that sounds as little as what you’d expect from a dude in a dreamy shoegaze band as possible. Somewhere between Daevid Allen’s Canterbury nightmare and Morton Feldman’s abstract modernism, Luka Usmani found gold, and called it “Real Pussy”
Chromatics – Kill for Love (Italians Do It Better)
I wasn’t ready for this record to be a hit for me. So wimpy, so slick, so affected and fey, I feel like every time I try to describe it I’m insulting it, and yet I can’t stop listening to it. Last time I checked in with Chromatics they were a GSL noise rock band, and this record sounds like something Buddyhead would have laid waste to in their Gossip column years ago, but bring it on.
Vatican Shadow – Ornamented Walls (Modern Love)
I’m the kind of lamer who finally jumped on the Prurient train when Dom Fernow decided to make accessible (for him) pop songs (we’re speaking relatively, folks). With his new creepily-gulf-war-themed Vatican Shadow, I think he’s finally hit pure gold. Menacing industrial beats, withering synths, this record, more than the other two he released under this name in the past year, really captures a dystopian and angry ambience so well.
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (Dull Tools)
I debated whether this would make it. I heard it very very late in the year (like, a matter of weeks ago), was immediately completely in love with it, and then doubted such a quick love could be real and lasting, so I deemed it to be a quick fix and not a year-ender. But then I kept listening to it and it kept getting better, so here it is. Straightforward, one-part jammers like Eddy Current, frenzied joyful vocals like Tyvek, but they make it their own, and I’m excited to live out their displaced slacker dreams vicariously. I’m neither stoned nor starving, but glad they were.