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Monday Muse: The Year in New Music

January 7, 2013

2012 was a disappointing year in many ways. There was no  Mayan Apocalypse despite the entirely credible warnings of respected crackpots and TV psychics.  The Reds parlayed a 97 win season into a three game losing streak to the eventual World Champion Giants.  The Bengals had a superficially good sequel to last years playoff run, but failed to come up with a new ending, instead simply reusing last years script; “get outmatched by the Texans..exit stage left.

But 2012 was not a bad year in music.  The magic of  Spotify has opened up a wide range of ways for new music to get plugged into my earholes.  From the playlist of WXPN in Philadelphia to the excellent recommendations of NPR’s “All Song’s Considered”   and Keith Law’s top 40 songs of 2012 I added a lot of fun new music to my rotation this year.

This year was also the year that the Schmoo took her first tentative steps away from Laurie Berkner (who is imho our premier songsmith for young ones) into pop music.  I blame her cousins for bringing“Party in the USA” into my life.

In no particular order, my five favorite tracks from 2012.

Arctic Monkeys: RU Mine

This scratches the same itch that OK GO does for me… just a little harder.  I had been unaware of the Arctic Monkeys until this song came up on Klaw’s list. I plan on rectifying that musical deficit ASAP. Also…that’s a great video, I had not seen that until just now looking it up to embed it.

Of Monsters and Men: Mountain Sound

This is the album that should be getting at least half the attention that Fun is getting.  Obligatory dig at Fun brought to you by Naomi Nelson, who would like Fun to please go away now.

First Aid Kit: Emmylou

First Aid Kit is Johanna and Klara Söderberg, two perfectly lovely young Swedish folk singers who I discovered because, being Swedish folk musicians they showed up on the similar list for Swedish folk singers  The Tallest Man on Earth. Its  practically a Swedish Folk Singer Invasion! This album has been added to my “Songs that make the Urge to Kill fade” playlist.

Alt-J: Tessellate

You really have to listen to this whole album to “get” Alt-J.  It’s the most intricate and well fashioned whole album I have listened to since “The Trumpet Child”

Bat for Lashes: Laura

Bat for Lashes channels a lot of 90’s alternative Diva through Natasha Khan’s gorgeous voice without sounding derivative.  Really digging this whole album.

Honorable Mentions.

Tallest Man on Earth and Regina Spektor both released great albums this year that I am still digesting.  The Lumineers, are probably the only band that I have intentionally listened to to be nominated for a Grammy (I liked them better than Mumford and Sons). Dar Williams released “In the Time of the Gods” which I didn’t like as much as 2008’s “The Promised Land”, that can be a hard thing for a fan to admit.  Aimee Mann released an album that I haven’t even listened to yet, I just discovered it whilst writing this article.

What will 2013 bring?  My old standbys took the 2012 off, will the new year bring new work from Over the Rhine or the Indigo Girls?  The New Pornographers? (OH PLZ PLZ PLZ!!!) Or will it be someone new to knock my socks off.

We live in an international golden age of recorded music people.  It has never been easier to make, share, listen to or love music. Take advantage of it just in case the Mayan’s math was off by a year…


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