We’ve been just terrible the last few years about getting out a favorites list to you (2011’s is still sitting half-finished in our drafts, sad but true). There’s been a ton of good music this year, and we here at M|H hope to eventually crank out a complete list, but for now we give you what we know in our hearts: our top three albums of the year.
Father John Misty – Fear Fun
Sub Pop – 05.01.12
Usually we don’t rank our favorites, but Fear Fun is hands-down our favorite album of the year and near the top of the list for our all-time best. It’s musically compelling, the lyrics are funny and smart, and the entire Misty persona drips with charisma. We can’t say enough good things about this record or Josh Tillman so just trust us and listen to the record if you haven’t become irrevocably obsessed with it already.
Our review: I’ve Got Smoke in My Lungs and a Past Life in My Trunk
Zulu Pearls – No Heroes No Honeymoons
Cantora Records – 09.18.12
We rarely get to spend the amount of time with an album as we’d like, but No Heroes No Honeymoons is one that found itself on repeat. There’s a cool confidence and ease that comes to Zulu Pearls and listening to the record is the easiest way to get close to that. There’s something very real about what Zulu Pearls is doing; these songs would be playing in the car, on the jukebox, soundtracking your life.
Our review: I Like the Feel of Silver, But Now I Want the Gold
Reptar – Body Faucet
Vagrant Records – 05.01.12
If you’ve ever wondered what unadulterated happiness feels like, go see Reptar live. It’s impossible for us to divorce the live show from the album and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Reptar is a weird, weird band but the joy they exude while making music endows them with relatability. Body Faucet‘s quirky tunes will dance their way into your heart and mind and you’ll never stop wanting to move.
Our review: Edge of Low Verses, They Blew My Mind
If you read but one sentence of this review, let it be this: I feel sorry for you if you’ve passed up seeing Reptar on tour.
Currently on the road with Phantogram, Reptar played the High Noon Saloon in Madison, Wisconsin on October 24, 2011. Hitting the stage to a pre-recorded song that sounded like a filmstrip soundtrack from the 70s, Reptar quickly established their sense of humor and joy in what they do. The intra-band rapport genuinely added to their performance – happiness is contagious and when the people on stage are having fun the crowd can’t help but do so as well.
Reptar played a few new songs in addition to material off their excellent EP Oblangle Fizz, Ya’ll (say it aloud, you’ll like it). While I could easily sum up Reptar’s sound with the phrase “fun and awesome” I’ll get a little more specific: the songs sound like “Useful Chamber” from Bitte Orca, if it’d been written by the Talking Heads and run through a rainbow. For the live version, jack it up on testosterone and and imagine Reptar is fending off the B-52s in the quirk & charm category in the Athens, Georgia battle of the bands. Fun and surprises around every corner.
I took a couple videos at the show to capture the magic of their live set, but the problem with standing on top of speakers and monitors is that the sound blows out the mic on your cheap-o point and shoot. Give the videos a whirl anyway – “Blast Off” and “Stuck in My Id” were outstanding. If they haven’t hit your town yet, don’t miss them.
Reptar – Blast Off
Reptar – Stuck in My Id
Listen to Oblangle Fizz, Ya’ll at Reptar’s Facebook page.
Active Child – You Are All I See – 08.23.11
Cavernous choir-like touches and Pat Grossi’s clear, pure vocals make for a somewhat otherworldly feeling on Active Child’s first full-length, You Are All I See. A perfect album for quiet introspection, Active Child breaks free a bit when pairing up with Tom Krell of How To Dress Well for the excellent “Playing House”. Click here to download the track.
Washed Out – Within and Without – 07.12.11
The first full-length album from Washed Out (aka Atlanta’s Ernest Greene) is a mix of ultra-chill tracks, love letters to disco and 90s dance music, and a smattering of truly beautiful tracks – “Eyes Be Closed”, “Far Away”, and single “Amor Fati”. While gaining pop-culture clout by having his song “Feel It All Around” featured in the Portlandia opening credits, Greene shows he’s more than just a blip on the radar with Within and Without. Click to download “Amor Fati” and “Eyes Be Closed“.
Mogwai – Earth Division EP – 09.13.11
On the Earth Division EP, the normally expansive Mogwai does an excellent job hemming themselves in to create a lovely and restrained album that reflects the nature of the medium. Reminiscent of their work with Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet for The Fountain, the band has employed strings and piano to soften their sound a bit, culminating with the stunning “Hound of Winter”. Mogwai doesn’t completely depart from their signature sound, though – “Drunk and Crazy” starts cold and mechanical, loud and razor-edged. In a moment of calm reflection strings and piano enter, connecting it to the rest of the EP, then reincorporates the electronic elements as uncertainty takes hold again.