If ‘listeria’ were not already a disease claimed by the medical profession, we’d apply it to the spew of year’s-end summaries of all that has been great and good in 2012.
It has a perfect combination of the elements that make a portmanteau word – the suggestion of frenzied box-ticking that goes with the season, as well as the fear that something important may have been missed.
The momentum that gathers with best-of lists is impressive. There is the ineluctable temptation in critics to peep at the charts currently popping up in electronic media with the fecundity of psylocybin mushrooms on a well-watered golfcourse. Music writers live in an odd knife-edge world of arbitrarily-imposed social censure. To have somehow missed the bubbling rise of Savages or Jai Paul this year would, by omission, send uncomfortable signals to readers and employers. Aren’t writers supposed to be ‘on it’?
Well, ‘on it’ we certainly are. If Lana Del Rey, Flying Lotus or Grimes aren’t on any Trebuchet lists this year, it’s certainly not because we haven’t heard them (indeed, how could we miss them?). And we’re not coming over all supercilious to imply we’ve got better taste than the mainstream. But there have been better albums this year, at least by the parameters of ‘I like this’, and ‘I don’t like that’.
So fill your plate with sprouts, apply a rictus grin to your features as your siblings tweak your long-established pyschological pressure points, and leave them to an afternoon of ITV. Meanwhile, rinse the sleighbell vapidity of Slade, Macca, East 17 and Sir Cliff out of your system with a trip through the ether to check out the acts on this list.
Have a peaceful, love-filled Christmas.
Albums of 2012. Some standouts (and what we said about them):
BangOn – [Sic]: ‘And, like many gobby kids with a sharp wit and an audience, he gets carried away at times. ‘Picking fatties with big racks/ to lick their piss flaps/ like Johnny Vegas in drag’ flies past, sexist and puerile, but with enough humour to prompt rolled eyes and a sense of complicity. You laugh, as the truism goes, and you’re implicated.
Trioscapes: Separate Realities: ‘In Separate Realities, Trioscapes manage to do the near-impossible, producing a record that is deeply satisfying, technically challenging, verging on bonkers, but still, somehow, immediate and essential.‘
Sarin Smoke, Vent: ‘Vent feels as if it is some offspring of the two extremes – solidly founded on the heft of chordal guitar rock, yet with fizzing leaps of dark-arts scales, arpeggios, pentatonic jiggerypokery and feedback screech that extend, fractal-like, from the notes that make up those very chords.
It’s stoner rock for the unstoned, and all the better for it.‘
Sean Keenan used to write. Now he edits, and gets very annoyed about the word ‘ethereal’. Likely to bite anyone using the form ‘I’m loving….’. Don’t start him on the misuse of three-dot ellipses.
Divides his time between mid-Spain and South-West France, like one of those bucktoothed, fur-clad minor-aristocracy ogresses you see in Hello magazine, only without the naff chandeliers.