Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012: 33-30

I've done some calculating, and I've listened to around 150 albums this year. Here's the top 20%, and three EPs I couldn't leave out.

33. JJ Doom: Key to the Kuffs [Lex]

Forget the JJ, although he proves a worthy sidekick here, this is as much a DOOM album as any. With more monikers than most rappers have albums, Daniel Dumile only pretends to flirt with semivisibility. His real metier is the smart and tireless cultivation of a persona, a surprisingly entertaining vaudevillain so overtly uncool as to rise above the chaff of his alt-rap competition. Don't get me wrong, this is weird-- the kind of weird which rhymes "vocaled" with "Eyjafjallaj√∂kull"-- and  I am not one to equate weird with Good. But Doom can pull it off.

32. Japandroids: Celebration Rock [Polyvinyl]

 Critical palaver obsesses over the “youthful spirit” of this band, and I might join in if I weren’t younger than the duo themselves. Besides, from a riveting opener onward, Japandroids fight desperately to recapture a fading or faded youth, something us young people are too busy being young to ponder. What they do invoke and revivify is a a Dionysian set of ideas as old as rock n’ roll itself: that you can grow old without ever growing up, that your pent-up feelings really do deserve to expressed in the hyperbole of Heaven and Hell, and that salvation, even eternity, can be found in a night “downing your drinks in a funnel of friends.”

31. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do [Epic]

In what is probably the summit of a promising but frustrating career, a Tortured Female bangs around on the piano while her producer bangs around on the drums and what results but some avant-garde easy listening with remarkable staying power. Unlike most of her coffeehouse compeers-- too easy to pick on-- Apple embraces the crazy, and unlike say, Tori Amos or Kate Bush, her talent for composition is obvious, and her obscurantism is so toned down as to be nonexistent.

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