Elizabeth Murphy

Favorites of 2012

Gut and theory—the most impressive musical documents from the past year (and change) bolster exceptional proportions of these typically disparate hallmarks. Sometimes a person just has to clear their throat. No subtext. Still, it is with intent to speak.

Screaming Females
Don Giovanni

This record sits at the top of my list, faithful to both a chronological and a qualitative retrospection. It is with leveled satisfaction that I think back to the amount of hair, sleep, fingernail-matter, and self-esteem I lost trying to pen my review of Ugly—my first for The Agit Reader—back in April. This is not to incite re-visitation. Not here, for the hour is long and I could fare no better; and not there, for attention spans are short and this list is young. (Dear Editor, please don’t hyper-link me as of yet!)

Final Club
Blank Entertainment

The acme of Common Era–garage pop for people who read. This record was sent to the palpable inbox, bereft of any disclosure, and I at once imagined it the result of an after-school program for graduate students vibing off MTV’s representation of lo-fi, as inspired by Vampire Weekend. Before I took a stroll on the internet, this deduction explained why Final Club was not ubiquitous royalty in the Wavves etcetera scene. Turns out these folks are from Denton, Texas, and not an Ivy League social group, but the side-project of familiar bands (like Teenage Cool Kids). Why they are not the top-billing voice of a generation must have something to do with the more elite membership of those liking music this good.

Private Airplane

Connections’ debut album, Private Airplane, appears to have been pre-released exclusively to those on the Ohio internet, meaning, the polished pop gems on Private Airplane were probably only on the radar of those in Central Ohio and in the know. (Obviously, The Agit Reader was among them as our associate editor, Kevin Elliott, sings in the band.) That may change in the new year, but Private Airplane is not of 2012 or 2013 (or December, or last week, or that one shitty day you would have had if it weren’t for this album), but timeless. Most songs crafted today with the original recipe of guitar, bass, drums and vocals are affected disasters worthy of an apocalyptic flush, but Private Airplane hugs the transcendence theory.

Family Band
Grace & Lies
No Quarter

Nine luscious incantations balanced atop heavy swells of narcotic ore, dispatched from a preternatural, androgynous oracle. Back on Earth, Grace & Lies is the debut album of a Brooklyn couple living together in the woods. While the backstory is ultimately harmless, the buttress of this album is first person omnipotence, and it transcends anything tagged with “Brooklyn” or “sustainable living.” Family Band is like the priestess Pythia channeling Apollo at Delphi (the reading that interprets the prophetess as languid, inspired and intelligible, rather than a mouthpiece for gibberish).

Uranium Orchard
1st LP
Cold Vomit

The weird-tipped hardcore punk trio Dry-Rot begat Uranium Orchard, and the transformation is akin to the Mekons’ development from “Where Were You?” to Teeth/Guardian/Kill/Stay Cool. From Dry-Rot, Jordan Darby and Drew Wardkin took a belief system and working interest in music and left bygone inflated shock tactics. Sure, over half the lyrics are pulled from Mein Kampf, but you’re humming “For the first time, men of natural and patriotic mind became rebels” to the resurrected ideologies of Truman’s Water, Polvo, Hood, and what they were drinking too.

Northern Liberties
Glowing Brain Garden

Use this album as a manageable entry point into the world of the Duerr brothers and their longtime best friend Kevin Riley, who, together for over a decade, have been crafting what they call “ghost punk.” I’m inclined to take their word for it, in the least because they have always created within the confines of vocals, percussion, and bass, bending to Occam’s Razor: the law of parsimony, which states that until a greater demonstration reveals itself as necessary, the most succinct one shall rule.

Other Mentionables

d’Eon, LP (Hippos in Tanks)
Cat Power, Sun (Matador)
Terius Nash (The-Dream), 1977 (Radio Killa)

What became no longer operable in 2012 was a patent denial of the internet’s presence in reflective lyrical frameworks. Modern song came up with a telephone in its hand. As a received idea, conducive to the trials of love, acknowledgment of this device was acceptable and appealing. Since new communication technology has taken hold, we’ve seen an apprehension to add it to the lyrical lexicon, no matter how crucially is has molded relationships (the favored subject of modern song). This is to be elucidated further, but I am not talking J-Tull Dot Com or “Email My Heart” plaintive lyrics. These are my favorite recent examples.

Finally, two bands that are too big for this column, followed by two honorable mentions and two singles.

Death Grips, The Money Store (Epic) and No Love Deep Web (self-released)

Botanist, I: The Suicide Tree & II: A Rose from the Dead (Tumult) and II: Doom in Bloom/Allies (Totalrust)

Christian Mistress, Possession (Relapse)

Nervosas, Descension (Datapanik) and Rev 45 EP (Meth Mouth)

Sky Ferreira, “Everything Is Embarassing” (Capitol)

Acid Pauli, “I See a Darkness (Remix)” (self-released)