ALARM's 50 Favorite Songs of 2012

ALARM’s 50 (+5) Favorite Songs of 2012

Last month ALARM presented its 50 favorite albums of 2012, an eclectic, rock-heavy selection of discs that were in steady rotation in our downtown-Chicago premises. Now, to give some love to tunes that were left out, we have our 50 (+5) favorite songs of last year — singles, B-sides, EP standouts, soundtrack cuts, and more.

Family Band

Review: Family Band’s Grace & Lies

Family Band: Grace & LiesFamily Band: Grace & Lies (No Quarter, 7/24/12)

“Night Song”

Family Band: “Night Song”

Grace & Lies, the second album from husband-and-wife team Family Band, paints a picture of small-scale yearning and despair that shuttles between being hypnotic and unexpectedly hard-edged. Described as a study in light and shadow by the artists, the album mixes aural beauty with a sense of mystery and menace.

50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

In just one more trip around the sun, another swarm of immensely talented but under-recognized musicians has harnessed its collective talents and discharged its creations into the void. This list is but one fraction of those dedicated individuals who caught our ears with some serious jams.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: The Psychic Paramount’s II

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

The Psychic Paramount: IIThe Psychic Paramount: II (No Quarter, 2/22/11)

The Psychic Paramount: “RW”

[audio:|titles=The Psychic Paramount: “RW”]

Morrow: Though relatively silent for the past six years, New York noise-rock trio The Psychic Paramount recently released a new full-length album, its first since Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural in 2005.  The wait was well worth it.

Effected guitar loops, devastating low-end grooves, and bashing rhythms again form the core of the band’s sound, but II is more compact than its predecessor.  Both pack a mighty wallop, but Gamelan…, which was based on live jamming, was more sprawling and improvised.  This one is a direct but dynamic rock explosion.

Hajduch: If you like tremolo picking, but don’t want to listen to black metal or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, then this may be the album for you.  The guitar is a constant, blurry howl.  Between the guitar, the cymbals, and the effects, the mid-range gets a constant workout.  You don’t even notice how ferocious the drums are until the guitar drops out.  But the drums are pretty ferocious!