Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012

I have a few friends who dislike 'best of' lists. That's ridiculous. I have been an avid music fan my entire life so each year I search for the best new music. With the help of Bob Boilen, Magnet, Under the Radar and a few informed friends; I have a gateway to musical awesomeness.

Long before Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" was interpreted by John Cusack I was making mixed tapes. The process of sharing a year's events through music has always been a necessary outlet for me. We'll get back to the corporate world next week, this weekend I recommend spending a little time with your favorite records. Here are my Top 5 records of 2012 in ascending order:

5. Gossamer by Passion Pit
Every year a collection of harmless pop songs emerge to help us enjoy life in the midst of our tragic existence. Much like Mates of States' "Re-Arrange Us", this record makes me smile every time I put it on. 12 songs, all under 5 minutes. Party music for the sun, moon and stars. If you missed playing this record poolside this summer, I recommend you pump it on New Year's eve and find someone to make out with.

4. The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers
If you have seen thoughtful words scrolled on a bar room table, they are probably Avett Brothers lyrics. A little bit of banjo and words of cosmic introspection go a long way. Here, you have a collection of barn burners co-mingled with summer ending anthems. My guess is that young men who have headed off to college away from their sweethearts are still writing excepts from "Life" in love letters.

"You and I know all too well about the hell and paradise right here on earth"

3. The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I went to High School in the early 90's, we pumped NWA on unpaved roads pretending to be ghetto. If 'The Heist' emerged at that time, I would image I might have had to listen to it in my car in the manner I did my tapes by The Cure. This is Hip Hop with a conscious: amazingly introspective regarding the topics of human rights, recovery, the industry, and God. Same Love is undeniably the song of the year. A massively aware effort!

"If you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed, the holy water that you soak in has been poisoned"

2. No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man on Earth
Kristian Matsson's stature is not representative of his moniker but his voice and guitar sound justify the name. In a day and age when electronics and computer production are layering songs like sonic nachos, all Matsson needs is his guitar. His voice is towering, his guitar playing is orchestral, and his words speak gracefully. A reminder that 3 chords and the truth stretch further than anything a machine can create.

1. A Shut-In's Prayer by Advance Base
I first saw Owen Ashworth (formally known as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone) at the Stork Club in Oakland before the millennium turned. He was slightly portly, had thick rimmed glasses (before they were cool), and a case of constant hay-fever. He took the stage with several toy keyboards and plugged them in at various points in a song's loop. His words spoken through his nose over toy band beats. The lyrics he spoke were as innocent as his zip up sweat shirt. Over the years, Owen's production has evolved from four track to soundboard and his piano playing has advanced, but the story telling and electronic accompaniment remain perfectly humble.

Another great year behind us. Our professional lives always evolving. Fortunately, there is a song for every mood. Our great escape is always in the palm of our hand. Take a walk, listen to a tune or two, and reflect on the year in the rear view.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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