ALARM's 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

ALARM’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.

Beachwood Sparks

Review: Beachwood Sparks’ The Tarnished Gold

Beachwood Sparks: The Tarnished GoldBeachwood Sparks: The Tarnished Gold (Sub Pop, 6/26/12)

“Forget the Song”

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Beachwood Sparks was at once a throwback and, from a 2012 perspective, ahead of the wave. In the early aughties, the band of former college-radio chums single-handedly revived a laidback, country-rocking West Coast sound famously pioneered in the late ’60s by Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The band’s spacier second album, Once We Were Trees, flirted with psychedelia. And by 2003, it had said its peace—and it was left to the likes of Fleet Foxes to win over the indie masses with CSNY harmonies and flower-power earnestness in folk-rock 2.0, all territory the Sparks had well under control.

Father John Misty

Review: Father John Misty’s Fear Fun

Father John Misty: Fear FunFather John Misty: Fear Fun (Sub Pop, 5/1/12)

“Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings”

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Everyone who wants to see a man rip his arm off and beat himself with it, line up here. It’s opening day for Joshua Tillman’s new act, and he promises some violence as part of the transformation from J. Tillman as Sad-Bastard Acoustic Folk Singer to J. Tillman as Father John Misty, a new moniker for a new style and new album, Fear Fun.

Paul Cary

Pop Addict: Paul Cary’s Ghost of a Man

Every Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.

Paul Cary: Ghost of a ManPaul Cary: “The Curse of China Bull” (Ghost of a Man, available for free at Candy Dinner)
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Music, like any form of art, is at its best when it is evolving, transforming, and shifting the way that we think about a certain style or genre, altering our perception of what constitutes good music. Only by looking forward can we free ourselves from resuscitating the same old thing.

However, an album like Ghost of a Man, the latest effort from Chicago-based rocker Paul Cary, is enough to turn that notion on its head. Ghost finds Cary looking back, evoking bluesy backwoods foot-stompers with rough edges and sharp teeth. He’s not simply regurgitating. Cary’s howling voice and raw guitar playing puts a modern twist on the genres he’s exploring, giving them a fresh start.

J.Tillman on tour with Phosphorescent

The tour between Seattle folk artist J. Tillman — a recent-ish addition to Fleet Foxes — and alt-country/folk group Phosphorescent started earlier this week, with their first stop in LA on Tuesday.

Tillman’s 7th full-length record, Singing Ax, was recorded in three days in February of this year. On the album, simplistic and contemplative, third-person narratives float over acoustic guitar mainly without accompaniment, with the exception of a few tracks including mellotron and drum machine.

J.Tillman: “Three Sisters”

J. Tillman: \”Three Sisters\”

Lollapalooza 2009: Friday & Saturday

Two days. Nine bands. Rain and mud the first day, which made for lighter crowds and Woodstock-era vibe. The next day held thick, steamy heat and crowds that got thicker by the minute. Walking until my feet ached. Crappy red cowboy boots are perfect for the rain, but not the heat. Things always get the most interesting as they’re about to end.

Lollapalooza 2009 Lineup Announced

Running from August 7-9 in Chicago’s Grant Park, one of the world’s biggest summer festivals is back, including headlining performances by Tool, Beastie Boys, Depeche Mode, Jane’s Addiction, The Killers, and Kings of Leon.  Check out the rest of the massive lineup below.