Thanks 2012, you did some good music. Here are some of my favourites, in no particular order. Except the first one, I guess. That’s why it’s first.
1. Apologies, I Have None ‘London’ (Household Name Records)
For me, 2012 has been near-defined by this record. As much as about sadness and struggle as it is about triumph (and tragedy – ho ho!) London makes me want to be more, do more.
The songwriting is undeniably stellar; bangers like Clapton Pond sitting confidently next to older classics like Sat in Vicky Park and Joiners and Windmills (personal favourite, always) in what translates live as an endurance test for your vocal cords.
London has resonated with so many people this year, and as such it feels like a record to be fully invested in. This is what UK punk rock sounds like in 2012, and I’m excited to see what happens next.
2. Dikembe ‘Broad Shoulders’ (Tiny Engines)
Emo and basketball references; it was like a combined gift from a higher being when Dikembe ended up inside my ears. Being pretty late to the game on Chicago Bowls meant I didn’t have to wait long for the full-length.
This is the kind of music I eat up in spades, and probably the most predictable entry in this list. Like, if you were to draw up a list of Records That Kristy Would Probably Buzz For, this would so be on it.
From the echoes of “always in motion” throughout opener Nothing. Stuff. to Not Today, Angel, with its quiet introspections reminiscent of Jesse Lacey at his best, Broad Shoulders packs more energy and amazing guitar lines than you know what to do with. An all-round incredible debut.
3. Everyone Everywhere (Self-release/Big Scary Monsters)
The second self-titled Everyone Everywhere is comforting. It’s autumnal, it’s cable knit and hot chocolate, it’s the sound of choosing the couch over the club, of getting older and being comfortable with it. As Death Cab For Cutie would have it, the sound of settling. The youthful, naive anguish traded in for the quiet stresses and frustrations.
“I wanna smash things, I want a coffee.”
I feel that.
4. Apart ‘Gray Light’ (Mayfly Records)
Sold to me by the awesome Tight To The Nail by describing it as ‘Touche Amore meets American Nightmare’, Gray Light got me at a weird point of my year and perhaps because of that grabbed me a little bit harder. It also became my workout record for a good while, and records that contribute to my health get extra points.
Gray Light quite literally picks you up and throws you, and on more than one occasion. Play On, Soft Pipes is an absolute monster; one of those heart-stopping, goosebump-inducing, OH MY GOD I HAVE TO GO BACK AND LISTEN FROM 1:59 TEN TIMES IN A ROW kind of songs.
“I’m so tired of carrying crosses, losing sleep and counting losses.”
5. Title Fight ‘Floral Green’ (Side One Dummy)
Title Fight have emerged as one of my favourite bands of the past few years, and seemingly without the courtesy of informing me. They’ve snuck in through the back doors (steady on) and pulled a complete blinder with Floral Green.
It all could’ve been so different. They could have gone down that murky, trodden road of heavy-ish pop-punk but instead they released their most accomplished record yet.
Floral Green is wonderfully put together, relying much less on the more accessible tracks in the way their previous records arguably have (but Secret Society and Leaf are both massive, alright). Merging emo and hardcore in the most seamless way possible with tinges of 90’s alt, coming out sounding a bit like Jawbreaker, and in turn shouting “Your move” to everything else.
6. Joyce Manor ‘Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired’ (Big Scary Monsters)
Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired is a contradiction of sorts, because it sounds like music made by awkward people for awkward people but actually ended up making Joyce Manor the Cool Band of 2012.
This is a record that makes me feel 15 again, a bookish outsider whose trousers were always too short (which at 5″4′ is pretty impressive). There’s plenty about this record that shouldn’t work – I mean – Video Killed The Radio Star? Who genuinely thought that was a good idea? But it works. The whole damn thing works. This is precisely what it would sound like if Morrissey dropped all the dick-ishness and started writing songs for a punk band (i.e. awesome).
7. Loma Prieta ‘I.V.’ (Deathwish Inc)
This record makes things hard for me. It makes it super-fucking-hard to be nostalgic about screamo bands that aren’t together anymore. It denies me the comfort of living in the past because it is precisely what a hardcore record in 2012 should be; aggressive, passionate and immediate.
Standout track Uniform is an emotional assault, sounding like a massive nod to ‘There are Objects and Objects’ by A Day In Black and White. High praise indeed.
“I will never change, I will never change”