Okay, straight up – this was one of the least exciting years for new music since the lull of the late 90’s. While we’re waiting for the onslaught of the next wave of Electronica (sure to be 2013’s major imprint), 2012 thought it might be a great time to test our love for music. We hung in there, and we were thrilled that we enjoyed one of our favorite records of ALL TIME (Chromatics – KILL FOR LOVE), and caught a lens flare of the future (Black Marble – A DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENT and Stephanie‘s ONE GLOVE). We’re surely on the ground floor with bands like The End of the Ocean, and Blue Light Curtain who are way too good to be kept a secret and deserve to be, SERIOUSLY, respected on a larger scale. We even threw a party in Seattle with our long time friends, heroes, and an all around great couple in Jaclyn Slimm and Andrew Prinz of Mahogany. While we don’t really want to accent the negative, the news of one of our favorites, Air France, calling it quits was really hard to read; they sounded so defeated and was one of the low points of our year. At The Color Awesome, we might seem like we’ve tasted a bit the Air France Kool-Aid lately. It’s been difficult to keep up in the back half of the year, but we’re not defeated, or calling it quits, just moving in different directions. As our lives become more full of family, work, and other modern madnesses, we might post less frequently, but will do our best to keep you in new music for 2013!
While this year may have been slow in a lot of ways, we found that the full-length album format was very strong. Sometimes you might feel like skipping from song to song, or have to be in a particular mood to enjoy a record, but in 2012, we found a special group of full lengths we couldn’t get off of repeat! But the honor, if you could call it that, of our record of the year belongs to Chromatics’ KILL FOR LOVE. I can’t say that I’ve closely followed all the different versions of Chromatics over the years I’ve lived in Seattle, where the band began. But I remember their contribution to a post-grunge scene which was part cabaret, and part punk rock. Picture the love child of Johnny Rotten and John Waters performing in the diviest of drag bars only to other drag queens and upcoming rock stars, because that’s the way it really went down. The bands were just getting started, and the support of audiences who could barely fit into the smallest, trashiest bars were mad for it. It was a special time for Seattle, but we rarely hear from most of the bands who used to be a part of the legendary “Pho Bang” event usually held at Foxxes drag bar, and hosted by Ursula Android and Jackie Hell.
Fast forward through the first decade of the new millennium, and we now find Chromatics, and some of Johnny Jewel’s other projects, to be THE NEW SHIT. KILL FOR LOVE is a modern masterpiece, simply. Where Pulp left us hanging after THIS IS HARDCORE, Chromatics dare to remind us of our broken after hours binges, bad hook ups, and comedowns. KILL FOR LOVE takes a dark, daring leap into unabashed pop influenced by Kylie Minogue, New Order, and Neil Young; no genre is left untouched. KILL FOR LOVE‘s artful and unique production style blends a spectrum of emotion leaning towards a darker side we all have, and possibly would like to ignore. But what’s so dark about having one too many buttons undone to show what’s under that shirt? What’s wrong with going twice, or even three times? Have you cheated, or felt cheated on? The reactions these questions might feel a little like experiencing KILL FOR LOVE. It’s rare for music to genuinely feel, no – to be – sexy, and that’s what’s happening here. Chromatics are the red eyes behind the mirrored sunglasses. They are the goose bumps and erect body parts you come across while searching for your lovers soft spots. They are the happy sad morning after. Perhaps the shortest review of this album could be a quote from Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, “This isn’t chocolate boxes and roses – it’s dirtier than that.” So to Ruth, Adam, Nat, and Johnny, we really want to thank you for this absolute classic masterpiece.
Our other favorite albums + EPs of the year:
- Black Marble – A Different Arrangement (Hardly Art) – We called it, “A modern benchmark, and a future classic.”
- Blue Light Curtain – Clouds In Our Hair – (Self Released) – Genre hopping at its very best, and ESSENTIAL.
- Stephanie – One Glove (Self Released) – The audio equivalent of pixie dust.
- Light Asylum – S/T (Mexican Summer) – Great friends, amazing debut – we love the achingly beautiful numbers, especially.
- The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know (Fat Cat) – A nod to early Factory and industrial dance records.
- DIIV – Oshin – Easy on the ears, and really great live.
- Beach House – Bloom – Another great beginning to end listen from them, maybe a stylistic change is in order though?
- Dead Mellotron – Glitter – No longer a teenager, this guy will be a contender for years to come. Viva Dream Pop!
- The End of the Ocean – In Excelsis + Pacific.Atlantic – Post rock that made me cry when I saw them live. Very uplifting.
- U.S.F. – Universal – (Self Released) – We’re in love and can’t wait for more!
- Frankie Rose – Interstellar – (Slumberland) – It’s like a Girl Group version of Spiritualized. Audio Xanax.
- Whirr – Distressor – (Self Released) – The most authentic early 90’s-esque shoegazer band I’ve heard in a VERY long time.
Our favorite songs of the year (in no particular order): Souncloud players, links and youtube vids below!
- Chromatics – “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” + “Into the Black”
- Mahogany – “Keystone Sonata”
- Crypts – “Territories”
- Big Boi (featuring Little Dragon) – “Mama Told Me”
- Craft Spells – “Still Left With Me”
- Destroyer – “Leave Me Alone” (New Order cover)
- Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”
- Wild Nothing – “Paradise”
- Fresh and Onlys – “Presence of Mind”
- Goldroom (featuring Chela) – “Fifteen”
- Tamaryn – “I’m Gone”
- Zebra Katz “Ima Read”
- Dead Mellotron – “Stranger”
- Blue Light Curtain – “Back of My Head” + “Elephant in your Heart”
- Light Asylum – “A Certain Person” + “End of Days”
- Beach House – “Lazuli”
- DIIV – “How Long Have You Known?” + “Doused”
- Stephanie – “Cell 44”
- Vox Mod – “Transference”
- Flying Lotus (featuring Thom Yorke) – “Electric Candyman”
- Erik Blood – “Today’s Lover”
- Orbital (featuring Zola Jesus) – “New France”
- Saint Etienne – “Tonight”
- Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – “Tapes & Money”
- Whirr – “Leave”
- Grimes – “Oblivion”
- IO Echo – “When The Lillies Die”
- Lower Dens – “Brains”
- CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”
- Major Lazer/
Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Youtube links!