2012 music wrap-up, and mixtape 124

In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2012, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2012.

This year I acquired about the same amount of new music as last year: roughly 150 new releases from around 120 bands, almost all released within the last 3 years.

Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 22.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 2.
Go Team.

Here's your shopping list:

  • Metric - "Synthetica"

    I still prefer "Fantasies", and this one took a little while to grow on me, but now I think it's incredible. Except for the Lou Reed song, which should be killed with fire as soon as possible.

  • Garbage - "Not Your Kind of People"

    It's been seven years since they released "Bleed Like Me", possibly their best album, but that's a long time and so I was worried. I'm happy to report that they've still got it. This one is maybe a bit more on the "rock" side, though they have some mellow numbers too. I do especially enjoy the Terminator name-check on "The One".

  • Blood Red Shoes - "In Time to Voices"

    A bit heavier but less frenetic than their earlier stuff. I saw Garbage live for the first time ever this year, and then rushed over to another venue to catch Blood Red Shoes on the same night -- and though Garbage put on a great show, Blood Red Shoes blew them away. The fact that it was in a small venue instead of an impersonal, gigantic theatre helped, but still. Go see these guys!

  • Purity Ring - "Shrines"

    I guess it's a testament to their success that, when I heard my first song by these guys at the beginning of the year, searching for "Purity Ring" turned up a lot of creepy Do Not Want, but these days, they seem to have taken over most of the first page of hits, so, well played. They have a sound like not a lot I've heard before, kind of an chopped-up underwater feel, and I like her vocal style. They also put on a very cool live show, with the stage filled with strange egg-pod-looking light-reactive midi triggers.

  • Ultraísta - "Ultraísta"

    Layered mellow female vocals over heavily produced, noodly synths. Here's every other review of this band: blah blah blah Radiohead blah blah blah. I never liked Radiohead so I don't know, but this is good stuff. I enjoyed their live show, too; great use of visuals, and a lot of the vocal loops were done live with sampler pedals instead of backing tracks, which is always nice.

  • Vanbot - "Vanbot"

    Icy electro-pop, maybe in the vein of the first Lykke Li album. This has kind of an 80s feel to it. The emotional plaintiveness of it will probably make it a great breakup album, so keep it in mind for that. This is definitely music to mope to. I mean that in a good way, honestly.

  • Voltaire Twins - "Cabin Fever" & "Apollo"

    They said in an interview, "Our band has the most boring name ever: our last name is Voltaire, and we're really twins." Well, lead with your strengths. They both sing, and their voices work well together. Musically I'd compare them to Ladytron.

  • The Dollyrots - "The Dollyrots"

    Good old-fashioned pop-punk! You can't really go wrong with these guys. I contributed to their Kickstarter for this album, which was a neat experience.

  • Wazu - "Robobo"

    Both male and female vocals, drum machines, and spooky guitars with a little bit of a twang. There's some Depeche Mode influence in here, so if goths listened to any music that wasn't released in the 90s, they might listen to this.

  • DarkDriveClinic - "Noise In My Head"

    My friend Rebecca from Stripmall Architecture and Halou made this album with John Fryer of This Mortal Coil (and who has produced NIN, Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode and a zillion other bands). It's much harder than Stripmall is; it's electronic enough that I wouldn't really call it "rock", but it does stray toward the "industrial" end of things. Her voice is awesome. She does some yelling.

  • Niki and the Dove - "Instinct"

    A mechanically-separated cream of Fleetwood Mac, Thomas Dolby, The Knife and Kate Bush? I saw them twice this year! Their stage presence is weird and awesome, like it's dressed up in the 80s fantasy mysticism of a movie like Legend or Labyrinth.

  • The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - "Out of Frequency"

    This is such an odd band, and very hard to characterize. I don't really listen to anything else that sounds like this. I guess you'd call it jazz/funk? Not usually my thing. But this gets its pop hooks into me. I liked the previous album, Fruit, more, but this one is fun, too. Heart Attack is a great, completely nonsensical song.

  • Desire - "II"

    This band is Chromatics / Glass Candy with a different singer, so: sultry, morose and a little loungey. Presumably it's all from 19A0 like the rest of the Drive soundtrack (on which their song Under Your Spell appears: a song I find I can listen to on repeat a very large number of times.)

  • Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling - "The New Number 2" & "Questions Are a Burden to Others"

    These two write angry, girl-screamy post-punk about The Prisoner. Yes, the 60s TV series. I barely even remember the show, but I dig these songs. It actually makes me want to go back and watch the show again. I know I'll regret that. I should just stick to these albums instead. They also do a fabulous cover of First We Take Manhattan.

  • The Wonder Villains - "Zola", "Ferrari", & "TV"

    Speaking of TV: The Wonder Villains don't technically have a full-length album out, but they have ten tracks on three EPs, so that's basically the same thing. I saw these guys at SXSW knowing nothing about them except that they seemed to have written a song about Heroes (yes, the TV series) and what I learned at that show was that they were really good, adorable, and write pop-rock songs exclusively about TV shows and crushing on celebrities. If you took my advice last year and listened to Fight Like Apes, you may notice a Casio-drenched similarity here.

  • Dwntwn - "Cowboys" & "The Red Room"

    Another "no album but a pair of EPs" situation. Dreamy synthpop, some of which reminds me of the mellower side of Crystal Castles (musically, not so much vocally). I first heard of these guys when they played at Blow Up at DNA Lounge this year, which was unusual because they're not really the kind of music that that party tended to feature.

  • Dean Garcia - "Das Haus Volume One"

    Dean Garcia was the non-singing half of Curve, and this is his latest solo thing, working with various vocalists who are not Toni Halliday. Musically it's all over (his) map, from shoegazer to industrial, so at least some part of this may help with your Curve withdrawl.

  • iamamiwhoami - "Kin"

    Still completely nutty, still awesome. I wrote a long blog post about these guys a couple years ago.

  • Zambri - "Glossolalia" & "House of Baasa"

    Spooky pop filled with lots of distorted atmosphere. They sound a little bit like Creep or Zola Jesus, so does that make them witch house?

  • Meg Myers - "Daughter in the Choir"

    I picked up this album because of the song Monster, which is a great anthem of self-loathing, but it's the very odd song Tennessee -- enumerating a fantastic set of hipster douchebags -- that turned out to be my favorite.

  • Ladyhawke - "Anxiety"

    It's more of a rock album than her first, but it still sounds like the second coming of Kim Wilde to me.

  • Of Verona - "The White Apple"

    Moody female-fronted rock, in the Metric vein (but not that close).

  • Giana Factory - "Save The Youth"

    I like to imagine that "Giana Factory" is the name of the Scandinavian facility where all of these icy, female-fronted minimal electronic bands are manufactured and assembled.

And with that, I've again run out of steam. Like I say every year, I find the writing of these reviews to be exhausting, but I hate it when I read the "top ten" lists of other people and they're just lists with no explanation, so I make a token effort. Here are a few more bands that you should also check out, and take it as no affront to them that I timed out before writing about them:

And I'll throw these on the list as "honorable mention", despite their having not yet released an album's-worth of tracks:

And finally, here's mixtape 124, which includes one track by (almost) all of the above artists.

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Current Music: as noted

A Pickpocket's Tale

The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins

Street pickpockets generally work in teams, known as whiz mobs or wire mobs. The "steer" chooses the victim, who is referred to generically as the "mark," the "vic," or the "chump," but can also be categorized into various subspecies, among them "Mr. Bates" (businessman) and "pappy" (senior citizen). The "stall," or "stick," maneuvers the mark into position and holds him there, distracting his attention, perhaps by stumbling in his path, asking him for directions, or spilling something on him. The "shade" blocks the mark's view of what's about to happen, either with his body or with an object such as a newspaper. And the "tool" (also known as the "wire," the "dip," or the "mechanic") lifts his wallet and hands it off to the "duke man," who hustles away, leaving the rest of the mob clean. Robbins explained to me that, in practice, the process is more fluid -- team members often play several positions -- and that it unfolds less as a linear sequence of events than as what he calls a "synchronized convergence," like a well-executed offensive play on the gridiron.

If a crew of pickpockets is like a football squad, then its star quarterback is the "cannon," an honorific generally reserved for pickpockets skilled enough to ply their trade without the help of a team. This is also known as "working single o." Robbins works single o. He is his own steer, stall, shade, and duke man, though, unlike street criminals, he lets his victims know that he will be picking their pockets.

Previously, previously.

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Phase one: collect underpants.

People would go to the Catacombs and treat him as the patron saint of big cocks.

Finally a newlywed woman came to see him because she was married to a guy who was not well-endowed. She took a cloth and rubbed it on the mummy's dick, and then rubbed it on her husband's dick. The next time she had sex with her husband, his penis seemed larger and fuller and she was about to orgasm except that at that moment she looked up and saw it was actually the ghost on top of her. Everyone thought she was crazy, but then it happened again the next time she had sex. They had to set up an exorcism for this ghost.

How does one expel a penis ghost?

They had a blacksmith make a tight-fitting sheath made of metal, and once the husband got erect the ghost came out and got caught in the codpiece. They threw holy water at him.


I actually have a friend from Sicily and one of these sex ghosts turned out to be her great uncle! That was the ghost who was accused of stealing women's underpants. So it's real. Or at least he's real, whether his ghost stole women's underpants or not.

Wait. He was stealing underpants?

They kept finding women's panties behind a particular mummy. They would get stashed there, like trophies. Finally, a girl called the police and said she'd been having visions of a ghost entering her home. He would proposition her and when she turned him down he'd steal her panties. The monastery accused the girl of planting the underwear there herself, but then they set up a test, and sure enough another pair of undies still appeared behind the mummy.

How does one deal with an underwear-stealing ghost?

Someone went to the mummy and told him they would bury him in the ground unless he stopped stealing underpants. After that no one's underpants disappeared.

Does this kind of thing still happen?

There's a really bizarre story from the 20th century, about a guy who had severe diarrhea and chronic flatulence. He stole a skull and started saying prayers to St. Roch and St. Sebastian, the patron saints of plague and suffering, and also shitting on the skull daily. He had a theory that by crapping on the skull he could switch intestines with the body the skull had been attached to. The ghost kept warning him, quit shitting on my skull. But he kept at it and he succeeded in transferring his intestinal problems to the ghost. The problem was that the ghost had died of testicular cancer, and in return he gave that to the guy. That's how he died. One of the dangers of necromancy is you don't really know who's on the other side or what they're going to give you in return.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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MONSTERS ARE REAL: True Facts About The Angler Fish

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It's leaking again.

On a postcard I just received:

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How to Precisely Dissect and Analyze a Turd

An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit: Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and Hookworm Eggs in Human Stool


DNA Lounge: Wherein I remind you about your New Years Eve plans.

Step right up and get your tickets, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It's our first New Years Eve Bootie here since 2009, and it's going to be huge. For the last few years, Bootie had taken their NYE party elsewhere because we just weren't big enough for it, but now that we have expanded to four rooms, they're back home! Mashups, live performances, acrobats, three balloon drops, champagne, and Death Guild in the lounge!

To get you in the mood, Bootie have just released their Best of Bootie 2012 CD: 20 30 downloadable tracks for free!

You don't have a whole lot of time left to get your $30 tickets for NYE: it will go up to $40 soon, and it's likely to sell out! Even if it doesn't, you don't want to be spending your midnight standing in line, do you? Advance tickets get you inside before people buying at the door. On a night like this, it makes a big difference.

Are you one of those people waiting until the last minute to see if you get a better offer? You know that results in you standing on the sidewalk in the rain, right? Buy.


The Soft Moon

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Aquarium bursts in shopping centre in Shanghai

The tank was installed just two years ago but investigators say a combination of low temperatures and weak materials caused the catastrophic collapse.

Three lemon sharks and dozens of turtles and small fish were killed in the incident.

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I just want to get the word "invisijism" out there:

Because there's currently only one google hit on it, and that's a typo.

@jwz: You think Gollum never put his precious on his precious? Srsly.
@Theremina: If you look closely, you will observe a bead of Gollum's special sauce glistening on the tip of the aforementioned sausage.
@jwz: How could Gollum not have been a chronic masturbator? Look at how dissipated he was!
@jwz: Also, nobody could see. He was painting the walls with his invisijism constantly, mark my words.
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