Shawn’s Top 10 Albums of 2012

This is never easy. Despite what naysayers might have you believe about the quality of music and its supposed decline over the past twenty years I maintain (as I always have) that there is so much good, new music out there I could very easily go bankrupt buying it.

The emphasis there is on buying it in a post-pirate world.

Soooooo how hard is it for me to narrow my yearly musical endeavors down to a handful of records? Pretty f”ing hard. Nonetheless, I do it every year and this year is no different. What follows are my ten favorite albums from 2012.

Chicago Music : A Word with songwriter/guitarist Bill MacKay : Joup Interviews

Bill MacKay at his best - creating (billmackay.wordpress.com)

Bill MacKay at his best – creating (billmackay.wordpress.com)

Record Review: Deftones Koi No Yokan

image courtesy of loudwire.com

I’ve had a week to get to know the new Deftones record Koi No Yokan and in that time it has done what almost all other Deftones albums have done – it has opened up to me, blossomed into yet another ethereal beauty that quakes with 2 AM fuzz, aquatic shifts in tempo and a tone that is both haunting and beautiful. Lead singer Chino Moreno’s voice is a major part of that haunted quality, and it’s with that in mind that I’d like to open this discussion, because I would argue that Moreno’s voice is quite unlike anyone else’s in the annals of “heavy” music.

Vegetarian Festival 10-2012 Phuket, Thailand

Acrobat troupe recreate slaying of the dragon (sesame/joup)

Acrobat troupe recreate slaying of the dragon (sesame/joup)

Phuket, Thailand – Firewalkers, facial piercings, fireworks and acrobats. How could one know that being a vegetarian could be so exciting? At least the Chinese-Thais in Phuket make it so during their annual Vegetarian Festival in the ninth month of their calendar year. This year of the dragon provided no disappointments in the festival either. The fest takes place the second to third week in October with the dates in this Roman Calendar year being 10th-23rd. Arriving in Phuket for the last five days and six nights provided insight into the ritual, photo ops to drool over, memories to last a lifetime and the desire to come back for more.

The Cycle is Complete: Blut Aus Nord 777: Cosmosophy is here

image courtesy of metalkingdom.net

Three years ago I would never have believed that I would become as into the fringe elements of Black Metal as I have. I mean, what’s in a genre name or classification – right? Except of course there is always something there. And with Black Metal – the good stuff anyway – the name just sorta fits. No, not an all-African American band that plays metal like one co-worker thought, Black Metal at its best is more about the dark, liquid-obsidian terrors that lurk at the outposts of the human musical experience. And when discussing France’s Blut Aus Nord – quite possibly the most radically inventive band to fall under the banner of the genre (by choice or not) out there – Vindsal and crew have definitely attained something of a mastery of putting every shattered, hopeless and down right frightening atmosphere together into something that transcends any genre or even any inherently musical experience and gives us a sort of transcendental evocation that both grafts onto and extracts lifetimes of human philosophical arcana.

Hydra Head Records Calls it quits

courtesy of bluecollardistro.com

Tom Waits Refuses to Ever Become Irrelevant

I don’t know too many musicians that have been in the game for as long as Tom Waits and are able to remain so consistently relevant and great. What’s more Waits constantly tweaks his boneyard orchestra sound to get something new out of it. This may not always fire on every cylinder for me personally – I can’t say that I love everything the man has put out over the years since Rain Dogs (one of my ten favorite records of all time) – there have been some moments where I felt Mr. Waits might have been repeating himself (specifically on 2006’s Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards) HOWEVER, I’m still kind of convinced this is a shortcoming of perception on MY part, not Mr. Waits and crews’.

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