Sights and Sounds
by Mike Evans
THE TANTALIZING 20!
The presents have all been opened and we’re waiting for the big ball to drop. But before it does, let’s take one last look back at 2012 and revisit the 20 albums that mattered most. Shocking, but Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 fail to make the list yet again!
20. LA SERA — Sees the Light (March)
Let’s hear it for spunky indie pop courtesy of “Kickball” Katy Goodman of the Vivian Girls. It’s rare that a side project makes this list, but lately this bonus feature has been better than the main attraction. On her own, Goodman really shines.
19. SLEIGH BELLS — Reign of Terror (February)
The Brooklyn duo suffered a bit of a sophomore slump with Terror. Not because of the songs, but due to the slicker production making this one somewhat less exciting than 2010’s noise-infested Treats. It still packed a mighty big punch though.
18. THE WALKMEN — Heaven (June)
Getting older and maturing doesn’t seem to be a problem for these NYC slackers. On Heaven, the Walkmen proved you could write about family life and not have it sound trite or sappy. The guys have adjusted to less noisy surroundings too.
17. METRIC — Synthetica (June)
Canada’s coolest merging of pure rock and the electronic continues to release icy yet thoroughly “human” records. Their latest explored the isolation of modern life, but still managed to deliver those hefty hooks forcing us to embrace the loneliness.
16. PASSION PIT — Gossamer (July)
And just like Metric, New England electro-pop outfit Passion Pit also explored some darker territories on their second full-length. Gossamer had the same frothy synthesized punch as the outfit’s glorious 2009 debut Manners. Only this time, lyrical topics weren’t always so merry.
15. THE VACCINES — Come of Age (October)
This is the second year in a row these Brits are making the list. Only glossy production and a loss of urgency have caused them to slip a few notches (the lads made the top three last time). But you can’t deny the sheer power of these melodies and a (still) youthful exuberance.
14. DINOSAUR JR. — I Bet on Sky (September)
Think of J. Mascis, Low Barlow and Murph as the grand elder-statesmen on our countdown; true living legends showing the kids how it’s always been done. Indie rock simply doesn’t get any better than this. After all, these guys wrote the book.
13. SPIRITUALIZED — Sweet Heart Sweet Light (April)
Jason Pierce has been making records for more than 25 years; the last two decades with Spiritualized. Sweet Heart is their seventh and the band’s most epic work released this century. An album with spacey jams and plenty of drama, Pierce gave us a reason to slide on a pair of headphones again.
12. THE RAVEONETTES — Observator (September)
When a Danish duo heads to sunny California for relaxation and inspiration, we’re the benefactors. After getting the darkness of 2011’s Raven in the Grave out of their system, the retro duo got happy (well, their version of happy anyway) again. Crankin’!
11. TENNIS — Young and Old (February)
This is the second year in a row the Colorado husband and wife indie duo saw the list. Cape Dory (2011) could have been a tough act to follow, but Tennis met that challenge by coming up with another great batch of tunes and getting Black Key Pat Carney to produce.
That’s all we have room for this week. I’ll see you in 2013 with the Top Ten.