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.

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.

Summerfest 2012

Contest: Win eight general-admission tickets to Summerfest 2012

Now on its 45th go-round, Milwaukee’s massive Summerfest returns from June 27 to July 8, offering 11 days of high-profile and independent musicians performing around the 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park along Lake Michigan. This year, our favorite performers include The Hives, Foo Fighters, Ben Folds Five, Devotchka, The Promise Ring, Galactic, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Atmosphere, The Roots, Common, Thievery Corporation, Mayer Hawthorne, and Lupe Fiasco.

The Hives

Review: The Hives’ Lex Hives

The Hives: Lex Hives

The Hives: Lex Hives (Disques Hives, 6/5/12)

“Go Right Ahead”

[audio:|titles=The Hives: “Go Right Ahead”]

In 2000, The Hives hijacked the garage-rock takeover with a two-tone wardrobe, the huge single/video “Hate to Say I Told You So,” and the very sharp studio album Veni Vidi Vicious. Exemplifying the Swedish indie scene’s knack for reinterpretation of retro genre details, the band also brought the charismatic energy of punk rock to the table. It didn’t hurt that the quintet cornered, shifted, and raced like a well-tuned hotrod. The Hives seemed poised to dominate the genre for the rest of the decade. But the hard-touring group only mustered one new full-length between 2004 and 2012, the glossy 2008 release The Black and White Album. Sue us if we feel a bit deprived.

Little Dragon

Pop Addict: Little Dragon’s Ritual Union

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

Little Dragon: Ritual UnionLittle Dragon: Ritual Union (Peacefrog, 7/26/11)

Little Dragon: “Ritual Union”

[audio:|titles=Little Dragon: “Ritual Union”]

In the early 2000s, music exported from Sweden was notorious for its rock-n-roll demeanor. With acts like The Hives, The Sounds, and The Caesars coming of age in the earlier part of the last decade, the Scandinavian country quickly became associated with fast, raucous, danceable, and sometimes absurd music. But in the last five years or so, a new sensibility has emerged from Sweden. More soft-spoken, musically inclined acts, like Jose Gonzales or The Tallest Man on Earth, have emerged, and with them, a new style has been established. Among this new wave of Swedish exports is the highly acclaimed mellow-wave act, Little Dragon.

With its debut in 2007, the band made a name for itself in its home country as a digital minimalist. Its 2009 effort, Machine Dreams, garnered a bit more attention, but it wasn’t until Little Dragon collaborated with Gorillaz on Plastic Beach that much of the indie scene started paying attention. And now, with Ritual Union, the band has managed to release its best effort yet.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Powersolo’s Bloodskinbones

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

Powersolo: BloodskinbonesPowersolo: Bloodskinbones (Crunchy Frog, 4/13/10)

Powersolo: “Gimme the Drugz”
[audio:|titles=Powersolo: “Gimme the Drugz”]

[Ed. note: The track order of Bloodskinbones is different on Powersolo’s website than it is on the actual CD.  This review reflects the order as streamed from the band’s site.]

Morrow: Denmark’s Powersolo are some strange cats. It’s a pair of brothers — going by “Atomic Child” and “Kim Kix” — who play a peculiar brand of rock and roll and rockabilly.  Bloodskinbones is their third full-length album (fourth if you include the soundtrack to Himmerland OST).

Hajduch: I expected this album to be more rockabilly, but it actually reminded me of The Hives — driving, bar-chord garage with a few guitar leads thrown in to accent. About half-way through, I started thinking that the vocals sounded sort of like “Weird” Al, and it’s been messing with me ever since.

Morrow: Yeah, they definitely have that quality — sort of like Dr. Demento with dick jokes. But if you can get past the sophomoric humor and the oddball delivery, you’ll find some quality rock tunes. “Gimme the Drugz” is a good example of that — lowbrow lyrics but a real winner of a track. And yes, Bloodskinbones scales back the rockabilly and genre-hopping blend of the band’s first full-length for Crunchy Frog.