Daniel Givens (Other Music Staff)

  • Best of 2012

    Ahh, another year has closed its doors. Throughout 2012 there were a ton of releases -- it seemed like more than ever -- with a plethora of great listening to be had. The remains of what was briefly dubbed "witch house" still lingered in the airwaves, yet took various shapes and entered new dimensions. Hip-hop seemed to have resurrected itself with a new league of MCs taking to the blogs in earnest, becoming more over the top, ridiculous, raw, dirty and adventurous than ever. Everyday seemed to offer a new mix-tape or collab-o and many openly gay MCs finally got some play. On the electronic side lots of familiar faces resurfaced in mostly fine style, while a solar system of new names caused my ears to perk up and gave me my beats & bass fix. Indie continued to gentrify R&B and dance clubs, and the results were more varied and satisfying than in previous years as culture lines continued to dissolve. Newish labels like the Trilogy Tapes, Tri Angle, Black Acre and Night Slugs issued fresh, raw and jaw-dropping EPs and full-lengths, while more established stables like Hyperdub, Modern Love and Planet Mu released several albums that are poised to become classics. So here's a list of the artist and releases that got me hyped, made me feel sexy, soothed melancholy moments, kept me motivated at the gym, and in general became my soundtrack in and out of the house, as well as at work.

     After much consideration, I decided that it wasn't one record that summed up 2012 for me; it was a trio of releases from the duo of Inga Copeland and Dean Blunt, a/k/a Hype Williams. It seemed like each season brought another piece of their self-made musical puzzle into view, becoming an open-ended, unraveling world of thoughts and moments. Along with their official release, Black Is Beautiful, they coupled it with two other otherworldly voyages for free, the 33 track The Attitude Era and Blunt's 'solo' blues-tinted vision, The Narcissist II. Of all the music released this year, Hype Williams had me intrigued, confused, and most importantly kept me coming back. They are not perfect and that to me is part of the appeal in the era of the perfect-biggest-winner-idol. They felt more honest than ironic. No one echoed in my head or set a mood like them. They had all the elements that I hold dear: electronic bedroom music, dub, beats, bass, hip-hop, soul, minimal, art-rock, post-punk, experimental, outsider music, all with an air of casual yet distant eerie beauty. Like a modern version of two others in my extended list, Massive Attack's remixed edition of Blue Lines (an all-time classic in my book), or the awesome Personal Space compilation, theirs was a continuation of the outsider electronic soul tradition, and sounded like no one else this year, which is hard to say of others in the current world of sound we find ourselves in. Their live show from last spring, sharing a bill with the also moody Actress, was one of the equally frustrating and spot-on live shows I've seen in awhile. But as mentioned, there was a ton of good music this year. So my annual year end list overflows with hi-energy jams, moody abstractions, rhythmic filled yearnings, old-school time capsules, and head-nodding, now-school beat science, and above all soul. I've enjoyed them all and hope you may as well. Thanks for reading, shopping, and asking for my opinion. Happy listening! - dMg

    The Official Count:
    1. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland Black Is Beautiful (Hyperdub), Attitude Era (Self-Released), Dean Blunt The Narcissist II (Self-Released)
    2. Actress R.I.P. (Honest Jon's)
    3. Peaking Lights Lucifer + Lucifer in Dub LP (Mexican Summer)
    4. Cooly G Playin' Me (Hyperdub)
    5. Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.D.D City (Aftermath)
    6. Gang Colours The Keychain Collection (Brownswood)
    7. Andy Stott Luxury Problems (Modern Love)
    8. Vessel Order of Noise (Tri Angle)
    9. Traxman Da Mind of Traxman (Planet Mu)
    10. Lukid Lonely at the Top (Werckdiscs)

    20-12 Playlists In Review:

    New Electronic Albums:
    Burial Truant/Rough Sleeper & Street Halo/Kindred  CD versions (Hyperdub)
    Andy Stott Luxury Problems (Modern Love)
    Fort Romeau Kingdoms (100% Silk)
    Jon Convex Idoru (Convex Industries)
    Darling Farah Body (Civil Music)
    XXYYXX XXYYXX (Relief In Abstract)
    Marcellus Pittman Pieces (Unirhythm)
    Jam City Classical Curves (Night Slugs) 
    Ital Hive Dive (Planet Mu)
    Cupp Cave Retina Waves (Ramp)
    Hyetal Broadcast (Black Acre)
    John Talabot Fin - Special Edition (Permanent Vacation) 
    Vladislav  Delay Koupio (Raster-Norton)

    New Electronic Singles/EPs/Vinyl:
    Nguzunguzu Warm Pulse (Hippos in Tanks)
    Dro Carey Journey with the Lonely 12” (Ramp) & Leary Blips 12”  (The Trilogy Tapes) 
    Tuff Sherm Pharmacy 12” (The Trilogy Tapes)
    Willie Burns The Overlord  12” (The Trilogy Tapes)
    Mix Mup/Kassem Mosse MM/KM 12" (The Trilogy Tapes)
    Kuhrye-oo s/t 12" (Uno)
    Zodiac s/t  (Vase)
    Jacques Greene Concealer 12"s (Vase)
    The Bug ft. Inga Copeland Rise Up 7" (Acid Ragga)
    KW Griff Club Constructions Vol. 3 12" (Night Slugs)
    Om Unit Edits Vol. 1 10" (No Label)
    Lapalux Some Other Time & When You're Gone 12"s (Brainfeeder)
    Blawan His He She & She 12" (Hinge Finger) 
    Karenn Untitled 12" (Sheworks)
    Loops Haunt Zenith 12" (Black Acre)
    5kinandbone5 Sex, Lies & Videochat 12" (Unknown To The Unknown)

    Electronic Reissues, Comps, & Deluxe Editions:
    Oneman Fabricelive 64 (Fabric)
    V/A Only 4 U: The Sound of Cajmere & Cajual Records (Strut)
    Dream 2 Science s/t 12" (Rush Hour)
    V/A Ramp 50 (Ramp)
    V/A Kutmah Presents: Worldwide Family Vol. 2 (Brownswood)
    Murk House Masters (Defected)
    Massive Attack Blue Lines Remixed (Virgin)
    Pinch Missing in Action (Tectonic)

    Gay Hip-Hop:
    TheeSatisfaction Awe Natural (Sub Pop)
    Azealia Banks Fantasea (Self-Released Mixtape)
    Le1f Dark York (Self-Released Mixtape)
    The Internet Purple Naked Ladies (Odd Future)
    Zebra Katz Imma Read 12" (Mad Decent)
    Angel Haze Classick (Self-Released Mixtape) & Reservation (Universal Republic)

    Killer Mike R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)
    Kanye West/G.O.O.D Music Cruel Summer (G.O.O.D./Def Jam)
    Quakers s/t (Stones Throw)
    KA Grief Pedigree (Iron Works)
    Big Boi Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors Deluxe Edition (Def Jam/Purple Ribbon)
    JJ Doom Keys to the Kuffs (Lex)
    V/A Odd Future Tapes (Odd Future)
    Captain Murphy Duality (Self Release mixtape)
    House Shoes Let It Go (Tres)
    Death Grips The Money Store (Epic) & No Love Deep Web (Third Worlds)

    Instrumental Hip-Hop/Grime/Footwork:
    Machinedrum Room(s) – Deluxe Edition (Planet Mu)
    Evian Christ Kings & Them 12" (Tri Angle)
    Spaceghostpurp  Mysterious Phonk Instrumental LP (4AD)
    DJ Spinn TekLife Vol 2 (Tek LIfe)
    DropxLife Further & 12x12 (XO)
    Traxman Heat 12" (Sewage Tapes)
    Ruff Sqwad White Label Classics (No Hats No Hoods)
    Romare Meditations on Afrocentrism 12" (Black Acre)
    S-Type Billboard 12" (Lucky Me)

    Soul Nouveau/Jazz Dance/R&B:
    Cody Chestnutt Landing on a Hundred (One Little Indian)
    Frank Ocean Channel Orange (Def Jam)
    The Weeknd Trilogy (XO)
    Jessie Boykins III & Melo-X Zulu Guru (Ninja Tune)
    Jeremih Late Nights with Jeremih (Self-Release Mixtape)
    TheeSatisfaction Awe Natural (Sub Pop)
    Austin Peralta s/t (Brainfeeder)
    Onra Deep in the Night 12" (Fool's Gold)
    Alby Daniels This Dawn 12" (Black Acre)
    Mo' Kolours Banana Wine 12" (One-Handed Music) 
    Menehan Street Band The Crossing (Daptone)
    Funkineven & Fatima Phoneline 12" (Eglo)
    Neneh Cherry & The Thing Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)
    Kelan Philip Cohran & Hypnotic Brass Ensemble s/t (Honest Jon's)
    Tito Deler The Original Harlem Slim (Self-Released)
    Jai Paul Jasmine 12" (XL)

    Soul & Jazz Reissues/Comps:
    V/A Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 (Chocolate Industries)
    Love Apple s/t LP (Numero)
    V/A Best of Perception & Today Records (BBE)
    V/A Movements 4 (Tramp)
    The Five Stairsteps The Curtis Mayfield Years (Outta Sight)
    James Mason I Want Your Love/Nightgruv 12" (Rush Hour)
    Bugie The Gospel According to Budgie (Self Released)
    Sun Ra Angels and Demons at Play + Nubians of Plutonia (Ais)
    Alice Coltrane Huntington Asharm Monastery/World Galaxy (Impulse)
    Doug Carn Infant Eyes (and the other Black Jazz reissues) (Pony Canyon)

    Synth Pop:
    Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Trouble (Casablanca)
    Jessie Ware Devotion (Island)
    Major Lazer ft. Amber Coffman Get Free 12" (Mad Decent/Downtown)
    Stubborn Heart s/t 12" (Kaya Kaya) & s/t LP (One Little Indian)
    Solange True 12" (Terrible)
    Ifan Dafydd Treehouse 12" (Push & Run)
    Ango Another City Now 12" (Lucky Me)
    Fantastic Mr. Fox San'en 10" (Black Acre)

    Vessel Order of Noise & Holy Other Held (Tri Angle)
    Shackleton Drawbar Organ EPs (Woe to the Septic Heart!)
    Pye Corner Audio Sleep Games (Ghost Box)
    Fatima Al-Qadiri Desert Strike 12" (Fade to Mind)
    Cut Hands Black Mamba - CD version (Very Friendly)
    Vatican Shadow Ornamented Walls (Modern Love)
    Emptyset Collapsed 12" (Raster-Norton)
    Raime Quarter Turns Over a Living Line (Blackest Ever Black)
    Lee Gamble Diversions 1994-1996 (Pan)

    Indie Rock/Pop:
    Daughn Gibson All Hell (White Denim)
    Liars WIXIW (Mute)
    John Maus A Collection of Rarities (Ribbon Music)
    Tame Impala Lonerism (Modular)
    How to Dress Well Total Loss (Weird World)
    Eric Copeland Limbo (Underwater Peoples) & Get Along 7" (Post Present Medium)
    King Krule Rock Bottom 12" (Rinse)
    Bullion Love Me Oh Please Love Me 12" (Deek)
    Egyptian Hip-Hop Good Don't Sleep (R&S)

    Post Punk/Avant-Dance Reissued Albums & Collections:
    Leslie Winer
    Leslie Winer &c. (Wormhole)
    Cleaners from Venus Volume One CD Box (Captured Tracks)
    Brenda Ray D'Ya Hear Me: Naffi Years, 1979-1983 (EM)
    V/A 5 Years of Claremont 56  & Dog Eat Dog s/t CD (Claremont) 
    V/A Fac. Dance: Factory Records 12" Mixes & Rarities 1980-1987 (Strut)
    Laurie Spiegel Expanding Universe (Unseen Works)
    V/A Trevor Jackson Presents: Metal Dance 80-88 (Strutt)

    Lee 'Scratch' Perry Disco Devil (Trojan)
    Hollie Cook Prince Fatty Presents Hollie Cook in Dub (Mr. Bongo)
    Tsege Mariam Gebru Back Home With Drifting Woods, Mahmoud Ahmed s/tHasabe LPs (Mississippi)
    Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet the Congos Icon Give Thank (RVNG Intl)
    Antibalas s/t (Daptone)
    Mala In Cuba (Brownswood)
    Baden Powell A Vontade (Soul Jazz)

    Bonus: Winner of the 'Not New but New to Me' Spot & Song of the Year
    Gary Numan Replica (Beggars Banquet)
    Miguel Adorn from Kaleidoscope Dreams (RCA)


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