Houston Calling

Houston Calling’s favorite albums of 2012

January 2nd, 2013 · 3 Comments

Let’s kick off 2013–Houston Calling‘s 10th year (!)–with my list of favorite albums from last year. In keeping with short attention spans in today’s era of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, I’ve kept my comments about each album to a minimum (as much as possible). Listen for yourself and let the music do the talking.

Also, I’ll be posting my favorite Houston releases soon, so be sure to check back.

Here’s to another great year of music.

Houston Calling‘s favorite albums of 2012


1. Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral (4AD)
“Grey Goes Black” alone is worth the price of admission, but the entire album is proof that former Screaming Tree Lanegan–and his trademark husky voice–is one of the most interesting songwriters making music today.

VIDEO: “Grey Goes Black” (live)

VIDEO: 4AD Sessions (live)


2. The Answer Page, Featureless Beast
(Self-released)
For the second year in a row, a relatively unknown musician from Houston appears on my year-end favorites list. Nate McKee–aka The Answer Page–hasn’t yet performed live (that I know of, anyway), yet continually makes thoughtful and exciting records. Songs of heartbreak, distance, and dealing with the past are recurrent themes, and something to which nearly all listeners can relate. If you missed this album, I cannot recommend it enough. Seriously, go buy it now.

LISTEN: “Timebomb Lullaby”

Tame Impala, Lonerism
3. Tame Impala, Lonerism
(Modular)
Australian throw-back psych-rockers mix a Beach Boys and Beatles fixation with some solid stoner rock into an addictive batch of songs. There’s a reason it’s on a lot of 2012 best-of lists…

VIDEO: “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards:


4. Maserati, VII
(Temporary Residence)
Instrumental rockers Maserati again continue to push the boundaries of their music.

VIDEO: “The Eliminator” (live)

Infantree, Hero's Dose
5. Infantree, Hero’s Dose
(Vapor)
This California group blends classic rock influences and modern flourishes of indie folk. They toured with Neil Young & Crazy Horse, so they must be doing something right.

VIDEO: “Fibber”

Frankie Rose, Interstellar
6. Frankie Rose, Interstellar
(Slumberland)
Dreamy electro-pop with vocals that continually drew me in with each listen.

VIDEO: “Night Swim”


7. Kevin Tihista’s Red Terror,
On This Dark Street (Broken Horse)
Former triplefastaction bassist-turned-singer/songwriter returns with another solid set of minimalist tunes.

LISTEN: “Bats”


8. Daniel Hart, The Orientalist
(Self-released)
You wouldn’t think that a violinist would rock like this (or at all, really), but there you go. This one’s definitely unique.

VIDEO: “Black Licorice” (live)

Scott Lucas & The Married Men, Blood Half Moon
9. Scott Lucas & The Married Men, Blood Half Moon
(The End)
Local H front man Scott Lucas gives his alt-country project with The Married Men another try, with predictable–and excellent–results. The band’s debut made my 2010 favorites list, and the latest Local H album appears later in this year’s list.

VIDEO: “Blood Half Moons”

Paul Banks, Banks
10. Paul Banks, Banks
(Matador)
Sounds like Interpol, and Joy Division. Oh, wait…

VIDEO: “Young Again”

Earlimart, System Preferences
11. Earlimart, System Preferences
(The Ship)
It’s what you would expect from an Earlimart album: dark, slow, and melodic music with mellow and sedate vocals. Wonderful.

VIDEO: “U&Me”

Lower Dens, Nootropics
12. Lower Dens, Nootropics
(Ribbon)
Former Houstonians return with interesting modern Siouxsie & The Banshees rip homage.

VIDEO: “Brains”


13. Buxton, Nothing Here Seems Strange
(New West)
One of a few New West signings from Houston over the past couple of years, Buxton’s music is a little bit country, and a little bit rock’n’roll. Thankfully, more rock than country.

VIDEO: “Down In The Valley” (live)


14. maybeshewill, I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone
(Redeye)
Bombastic British instrumental rock that brings to mind Muse’s over-the-top musical tendencies, but thankfully without the terrible lyrics.

VIDEO: “To The Skies, From A Hillside”

Mind Spiders, Meltdown
15. Mind Spiders, Meltdown
(Dirtnap)
I don’t recall where I first heard about this Denton band, but the sheer catchiness of Meltdown‘s songs make me glad I did.

VIDEO: “Wait For Us”


16. Local H, Hallelujah! I’m A Bum
(Slimstyle)
In 2008, I wrote:

Scott Lucas could have gone the way of many mid-90s alt-rockers and faded from memory. Instead, with drummer Brian St. Clair, he continues to combine his love of classic and indie rock into a powerful formula…This is Lucas’ best album since As Good As Dead.

On the band’s latest release, Lucas manages to give his take on the USA’s political climate–thankfully without coming off as preachy. While perhaps not as personal a record as 12 Angry Months, he is still able to make a thinking man’s rock record that the masses can enjoy. And “Night Flight To Paris” ranks among his finest songs.

VIDEO: “Night Flight To Paris”

Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light
17. Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light
(Fat Possum)
Drone-y, orchestral, and dark. Everything a Spiritualized album should be. Eerily beautiful.

VIDEO: “Hey Jane”


18. Arcadia Gardens, Memory Machines
(Self-released)
From the man himself, musician Daniel Rutstrom: this album is full of “dreamy music that takes you to another world.” Indeed.

VIDEO: Album promo

The Eastern Sea, Plague
19. The Eastern Sea,
Plague (WhitelabBlacklab)
Try getting these expertly crafted indie pop songs–that blend together just like a good album should–out of your head. I dare you.

VIDEO: “Santa Rosa” (live)

Christiaan Webb, A Man Possessed
20. Christiaan Webb,
A Man Possessed (Musicbox)
Webb Brother (and son to Jimmy) plays it low-key and spiritual sans overwrought sentimentality. The album wasn’t what I expected–or originally hoped for, given The Webb Brothers‘ spacier tendencies–but it is interesting to hear the maturity in Webb’s songwriting, and it makes me excited for what might come next.

LISTEN: http://christiaan-webb.zimbalam.com

Be sure to support these artists by purchasing their music.

Check back soon for Houston Calling‘s favorite Houston releases of 2012.

Tags: Music · Reviews

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Friday random ten: Music from last year – Off the Kuff // Jan 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    [...] you might want to check out. For an alternate view about what was worth listening to in 2012, see Houston Calling’s list of favorite albums from the year. What’s new in your [...]

  • 2 SXSW preview: The Eastern Sea // Mar 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    [...] a successful Christmas album last year and a well-received second release, Plague–which was one of my favorite records of 2012–the group is constantly on the go. So far, 2013 doesn’t show the band slowing down. The [...]

  • 3 Maserati at Fitzgerald’s tonight // Mar 12, 2013 at 8:34 am

    [...] rock band Maserati–a band that continually releases great albums–returns to Houston tonight to play Fitzgerald’s before heading to SXSW in Austin. The [...]

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