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.


Review: Birthmark’s Antibødies

Birthmark: Antibødies

Birthmark: Antibødies (Polyvinyl, 5/15/12)


[audio:|titles=Birthmark: “Stuck”]

The multi-talented Nate Kinsella (cousin of Tim and Mike Kinsella) has made a name for himself performing in or alongside a slew of out-there indie outfits, including December’s Architects, Joan of Arc, Make Believe, and Owen. As Birthmark, his densely layered solo project, he creates a sound all his own by experimenting with a variety of instruments to an effect that is whimsical and unusual.


Concert Photos: Braid @ Metro (Chicago, IL)

Formed in the early ’90s in Champaign, Illinois, emo-rock band Braid has been mostly out of commission for the past decade. Save a brief reunion tour in the summer of 2004, the band has been split up, with each member doing his own thing. Last year, Bob Nanna and Chris Broach were performing DJ sets together at Bar Deville in Chicago and decided to once again reunite the band. A new EP, Closer to Closed, was released on August 16 via Polyvinyl. Contributing photographer Elizabeth Gilmore was on hand for Braid’s first show in roughly seven years.



Record Review: Deerhoof’s Deerhoof vs. Evil

Deerhoof: Deerhoof vs. EvilDeerhoof: Deerhoof vs. Evil (Polyvinyl, 1/25/11)

Deerhoof: “Merry Barracks”

[audio:|titles=Deerhoof: “The Merry Barracks”]

It’s so easy to get caught up in Deerhoof’s little eccentricities that it’s worth reminding people that the quartet is also a solid rock outfit — albeit with a supremely jagged sense of rhythm. Deerhoof tends to play these sides against each other expertly: Satomi Matsuzaki’s vocals are usually the first thing to throw people off, but they also often center the songs with hooky energy. Greg Saunier’s scurrying, splattered drums give the songs a feeling of constant ambush, but also let you know that all this madness is definitely going somewhere.

Deerhoof’s work often shows how much craft, instinct, and care goes into sounding bonkers. Deerhoof Vs. Evil bets that those qualities can remain when the racket is turned down. That’s not to say the record lacks the band’s usual joyous frivolity, or even that there’s less of it going on at once; it just offers chances to slow down and appreciate how pretty Deerhoof’s music can be.

That’s a refreshing direction to hear after the band’s last full-length in 2008, Offend Maggie. For as strong as that album is, the blocky, straining chords of “The Tears And Music Of Love” and “My Purple Past” sound like a band trying to wear itself out on blunt-force rocking for good. Evil looks for resources outside the drum-driven rock format and exerts unabashed, spit-shined control over what it finds.

100 Unheralded Albums from 2010

Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.

The Octopus Project

The Octopus Project preps tour finale, releases video

The Octopus Project: “Fuguefat” (Hexadecagon, Polyvinyl, 10/26/10)

The Octopus Project: “Fuguefat” (Hexadecagon, Polyvinyl, 10/26/10)

The Octopus Project: HexadecagonAustin-based four-piece The Octopus Project has spent the fall co-headlining a US tour with Polyvinyl’s newest signing, STRFKR.

The band recently performed in Mexico City as part of the Sonorama Festival, and is now set to play two homecoming shows in Texas with the Hexadecagon set-up first debuted at SXSW.

Watch a trailer for the eight-speaker, eight-video-projection, surround-sound monster below.

31 Knots: Worried Well

So tight that merely listening to it raises shoulders to ears, Portland trio 31 Knots mixes the dissonance of Sonic Youth, the time signatures and stop-start changes of Fugazi, and the deconstructed funk of Talking Heads to create a nervous, hysterical din that reads like Michel Foucault having a nervous breakdown.