Best Music of 2012

2012 has been a very good year for music. It’s the first year in a long time when I have discovered several new albums that really excite me. I mean actual new music by new bands, not reissues of some obscure LP from 1966 or even a new release by some old, established artist. I mean actual new bands who are currently working and recording. Here are my favorites from this year.

ALLAH LAS

These Los Angeles based garage rock revivalists got together at my favorite LA point of interest Amoeba Records. Their mutual love for the Nuggets compilations led them to form one of the best new bands currently on the scene. Their first single, “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind” is like a great lost 13th Floor Elevators classic and yet manages somehow not to sound like a relic from the Sixties but a fresh new song. Their self-titled album contains a dozen amazing and inspired folk rock tunes and spy movie instrumentals.

***

PAPERHEAD

Paperhead is from Nashville, Tennessee if you can believe that. They channel the spirit of the late great Syd Barrett right into the new millennium. I saw them play in Knoxville a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like they were having a bit of an off night and it took them until a few songs into the set the really get cooking. But once they did, it was a fantabulous show. They could use a little dressing up, though. I wish they’d take some fashion hints from Plasticland or add a light show. Their album is a psychedelic trip from start to finish. Not to be missed!

***

SUFIS

Amazingly the Sufis (or perhaps their name is S.U.F.I., it’s hard to be sure) are also from Nashville, Tennessee. Are they spiking the water with mescaline out there or what? Like Paperhead these young Southerners are obviously big fans of Syd Barrett. The Sufis are much more of a period piece than Paperhead, though. They’ve even mixed some songs on their album just like they did back in the day, with all the drums on the left and all the vocals on the right. Very cool. Another incredible album.

***

KOOLAID ELECTRIC COMPANY

As their name suggests, the Koolaid Electric Company are also psychedelic rockers. Yet their sound mixes in elements from the psychedelia of the Eighties, Nineties and 2000′s. They take the stoner rock thing to new levels by adding Byrds-like harmonies and synthesizer atmospherics. Their current album, Random Noises and Organized Sounds, is really hard to find. It seems to have been pressed in Japan. The copy I managed to find at Amoeba Records was an import even though as far as I know the band is American. But I’m not sure of even that much. The songs are written by one “S. Barrett,” though I’m sure it’s not Syd.

***

ZERO DEFEX

I know it’s cheezy to include my own band in this list. And we are not a new group like the others. But I genuinely think our new album, Caught in a Reflection, is one of the best things recorded in 2012. Of course I’m gonna think that! I wouldn’t want to participate in making a record unless I thought it was going to be great. I feel like we’ve finally begun living up to the true potential of the band. Although Zero Defex is known as a hardcore punk band, the musical tastes of everyone in the group are really eclectic. Drummer Mick Hurray plays guitar and dulcimer in an Irish trad rock band. Guitarist Jeff Hardy is a walking encyclopedia of rock and roll. Singer Jimi Imij probably has the most diverse tastes of any of us. He devours all forms of music from punk rock to Native American chants and he can tell you about all of it. This track Devil’s Trip/May 4, 1970, is my main contribution to the record. It started off as a stoner rock sludge fest but the band turned it into something incredible. Along with our usual instruments, I play the sitar and mellotron, while Jeff contributed the sleighbells and Mickey added the slide guitar. Psycho-jello, baby!

***

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37 Responses

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  1. anon1253
    anon1253 December 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | |

    Obligatory links for Brad to speak disparagingly of:

    Optimal Dose

    Roland Griffiths

    (Of course, this style of music could not have existed before “April 16, 1943, [when] Dr. Albert Hofmann made an extraordinary discovery
    by accident.”
    ;)

    BTW, that KOOLAID ELECTRIC COMPANY album sounds great on Spotify…

  2. Fred
    Fred December 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm | |

    Thanks Brad, this my new favorite group.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTtNtLTtFo8

  3. Matt Ryan
    Matt Ryan December 31, 2012 at 3:50 am | |

    Thought Goat would of made the list …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swOjaFXnDeA

  4. Doug
    Doug December 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm | |

    “Devil’s Trip” came out pretty bad-ass, Brad. Opening sitar lick reminded me of the album version of Circle Jerks cover of Soft Boys “I wanna destroy you” – a great song. :)

  5. boubi
    boubi December 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm | |
  6. boubi
    boubi December 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm | |

    youtube.com/watch?v=MYNWlgQh_Mo

  7. boubi
    boubi December 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm | |

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b26BD5KjH0

    Nice beginning, sitar and jingles?

  8. boubi
    boubi December 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm | |
  9. boubi
    boubi December 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm | |
  10. boubi
    boubi December 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm | |

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ1bijmrIpI

    a movement like this Hui K’o would have liked :)

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm | |

    According to the Denkoroku, when Huike (Wade-Giles: Hui-ko) and Bodhidharma were climbing up Few Houses Peak, Bodhidharma asked, Where are we going?
    Huike replied, Please go right ahead—thats it.
    Bodhidharma retorted, If you go right ahead, you cannot move a step.
    Upon hearing these words, Huike was enlightened.

    (Wikipedia, “Huike”)

  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm | |

    Ana Tijoux, couldn’t break away!

  13. boubi
    boubi January 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm | |

    Thanks for Goat, interesting images of possession

    Brad, in Japan did you get in touch with the OLD Kami religion? Not the post Meiji restauration national religion.

    Read “Shirataka oracles” beautiful book

  14. boubi
    boubi January 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm | |

    If anybody knows about music (not me) what makes this song “going backwards”?
    It got something that i would define “calling” as in the goatman video

    Lamb – All In Your Hands
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxHleKqf6Gs?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360

  15. anon 108
    anon 108 January 2, 2013 at 5:06 am | |

    boubi – Is it the double bass (and percussion) riff at the beginning of the song that sounds to you like it’s ‘going backwards’? If so, I’m guessing that’s because the rhythm of the riff – the way the subdivisions of the metre are accented – is irregular, making it hard for the tapping foot/nodding head to settle; to find its place. Combined with the ‘circular’ melodic line of the riff, strengthened by its repetition, a feeling of instability/having to re-adjust/turning around/’going backwards’ might well result.

    Try counting 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2 along with the riff (@ musos – I’d notate the riff in 8/8 time: 3+3+2), and, as long as you start in right place, you’ll should be able to stop your head spinning and re-orientate yourself to (ir)regular forward motion.

    I can be of no assistance if it’s something else about the whole song that sounds to you it like it’s going backwards.

    Cool track! Hypnotic. Hypnogogic, even.

    – And the sitar at the beginning of The End sounds to me like a regular electric guitar…playing a very sitar-like line, it’s true.

  16. anon 108
    anon 108 January 2, 2013 at 5:15 am | |

    Brad – Initially cynically dismissive, I gave your selection of tunes a second chance and liked it a lot. I briefly considered saying some stuff about the re-cycling of stuff, but soon realised I had nothing new to say.

  17. boubi
    boubi January 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm | |

    Thanks anon108

    Are you a musician?

    There’s a The Stooges song that makes me the same impression, a “backward” feeling, as if the music is going backwards.

    Even though it’s not my favorite i have to admit that THAT was fresh and raw out of wherever it come from, and just look at him now still raw not like the other clowns. He outlived everybody his generation and outfucked all the new nerds, he’s the only one his age i can watch on a stage, lust for life :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLhN__oEHaw&playnext=1&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CcBNg3uFDMG5gLr-wMB6xP

    Louie louie ….

    He was the first real punk (that i know of)

  18. boubi
    boubi January 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm | |

    Anon 108

    I tried to get that tune and it should be
    FG
    FG
    FE
    FG
    FG
    FD#

  19. boubi
    boubi January 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm | |

    Look at 1:07 of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4QQdQwTguM

    nothing is left to drop

  20. anon 108
    anon 108 January 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm | |

    ‘Are you a musician?’

    That’s what it says on my passport, boubi. My passport expired a long time ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otbtDNT6FA8

  21. anon 108
    anon 108 January 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm | |

    Boubi, these are the notes of the bass riff at the beginning of All in Your Hands:

    d flat — d flat~c
    e flat — e flat~d flat
    e flat — e flat~|(~d flat: repeat)

    - a 16th-note count
    ~ a pull-off/slur

    …over an e flat drone.

    Are you talking about another tune?
    Whatever, if what you’ve worked out works – smashing :)

  22. A-Bob
    A-Bob January 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm | |

    Hi 108.. Glad to see you still around here. I’ve missed your comments.

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote January 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm | |

    Never saw him dance before (never saw him live):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQNBii8Kogw

  24. boubi
    boubi January 3, 2013 at 1:33 am | |

    hi anon 108

    I’m NOT a musician, those notes should be from the Stooges song, i tried to find out the beginning with a virtual keyboard on the net, but i believe that it’s not really right

    Thanks but i don’t understand the notation you send, could be sanskrit for me, i don’t read music, just listen to it.

    Is it you in the video? You look like Joe Frazier man :)

  25. anon 108
    anon 108 January 3, 2013 at 1:37 am | |

    Hi A-Bob! Likewise.

  26. anon 108
    anon 108 January 3, 2013 at 2:17 am | |

    boubi – Regretfully, I cannot claim to be Toots, nor one of his Maytals. With apologies to HCZ blog veterans who may have seen this before, here are moving images of a very skinny, slightly stoned me playing minimal but useful English folk-rock bass some years ago. There are other clips of me playing on the net, in other bands, in other styles, but this is the only one with pictures. I DO look like Joe Frazier don’t I? Just a bit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZjYYVYGdzU

    And these are the chords for (all of) Mr Pop’s “The Passenger”:

    A minor / F / | C / G / ||

  27. anon 108
    anon 108 January 3, 2013 at 2:49 am | |

    Looking at that film again, I wonder why I look so miserable. No need. But in those days I thought miserable – and bored, and stoned – was cool. Not that I’ve ever moved much onstage, but really…

    Silly sod. What are you afraid of (I still ask myself)?

  28. boubi
    boubi January 3, 2013 at 3:22 am | |

    tried again with that Stooges tune

    it could sound more like this

    FG
    FG
    FGEF#
    F#EF
    FEF#

    again i don’t read/write music i just tried to find the tune back fiddling with the keys from this page http://www.bgfl.org/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks2/music/piano/index.htm

  29. boubi
    boubi January 3, 2013 at 3:36 am | |

    Another rythm that got me was this lilting song with the vintage fights

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_Qw_-b767o&playnext=1&list=PLED35C54174C761B5&feature=results_video

  30. boubi
    boubi January 3, 2013 at 3:39 am | |

    Looking at it better it could be

    it could sound more like this

    FG
    GF
    FG
    FG
    FGEF#
    F#EF
    FEF#

  31. Ugrok
    Ugrok January 4, 2013 at 6:56 am | |

    This year i discovered “Nasa Space Universe”, and since Brad, if i understood correctly, is an old school DIY hardcore punk, i thought i’d just leave this track here :

    http://nasaspaceuniverse.bandcamp.com/track/pap-tig

  32. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon January 5, 2013 at 3:38 am | |

    Compressorhead playing Ace of Spades.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RBSkq-_St8

    Rise of the machines?

  33. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon January 5, 2013 at 3:44 am | |
  34. boubi
    boubi January 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm | |

    This is the “going backwards” song from Iggy Pop

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ajUJNm2oFM

    In case someone still looks this post

  35. CHRIQ
    CHRIQ January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm | |

    Hey Brad, first post. I’m very serious about this band, if you havent heard about them. JEFF the Brotherhood. The first tune is in vain of your song. the second is some of their usual sound.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hual07wO_dA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvN0X4CaqJs

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