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.

Sleigh Bells

Video: Sleigh Bells’ “Demons”

The high-intensity pop-rock duo Sleigh Bells emerged in 2009 with power-packed guitar riffs that were coupled by sweet female vocals. The video for “Demons,” off of January’s metal-infused Reign of Terror, makes a strong argument for why this is one band you should see live.

Sleigh Bells

Pop Addict: Sleigh Bells’ Reign of Terror

Sleigh Bells: Reign of TerrorSleigh Bells: Reign of Terror (Mom + Pop Music, 2/21/12)

Sleigh Bells: “Born to Lose”

[audio:|titles=Sleigh Bells: “Born to Lose”]

When Sleigh BellsTreats debuted in 2010, the Brooklyn-based duo, composed of Derek Edward Miller and Alexis Krauss, established itself as the new master of noise pop, infusing overblown electro beats and crunchy, gritty guitars into raucous compositions. But the album was much more than an experiment; it was catchy as hell. It was an unapologetic exploration of pushing “pop” music to its threshold and crossing it.

Now Sleigh Bells is back with its sophomore effort, Reign of Terror, and Miller and Krauss have added even more edge to their sound than what Treats had in store. From the opener, “True Shred Guitar,” guitar riffs are front and center — at first pulsating through stadium crowd noise and Krauss’ profanity-laden shouting, screaming to an invisible audience, and then erupting with an ’80s heavy-metal riff. The track explodes and then fizzles into the next: the first single, “Born to Lose,” infused with a swarm of double-bass blasts but with more cultivated vocals.

MoogFest 2010

MoogFest 2010: A look at the electronic festival’s move to Asheville

Despite its history and charm, Asheville, North Carolina isn’t widely known as a destination for music and culture.  Many associate the town with the Blue Ridge Parkway, hippie drumming, and maybe Black Mountain College, a progressive institution that closed in 1957 but once was a center for artists like Merce Cunningham and John Cage.  But look deeper and you’ll also find a contemporary music scene, classy bars, and a population of locals that are culturally aware and proud of their town.

And they’re nice — like deep-South nice.  Maybe that’s why Robert Moog decided to spend the last 25 years of his life there.