BEST OF 2012: Indie Rock
This year in indie rock seemed like both a return to professionalism and a retreat to the barebones scuzz of historical garage theatrics. Here are some very good songs in playlist form and an overview of the genre's most notable developments in 2012.
Captured Tracks - This Brooklyn label was my favorite musical body in 2012. With a concrete aesthetic yet no real redundancy, artists like DIIV, Wild Nothing, Mac DeMarco and Chris Cohen made compelling, unique music that was a perfect soundtrack to both Friday night revelry and bummed window-staring during rainstorms. These days, it's rare to find a standalove label that guarantees reliability for a certain type of listener, but Captured Tracks harkens back to the era where that was a legitimate possibility.
Return Of Rock - It seemed like ROCK really came back in 2012. Whether it was The Men shredding your heart out, Ty Segall releasing a million enjoyable albums or Tame Impala rewriting the book of psychedelia with computers for a new era, there was an widespread back-to-basics approach that supported music with intensity, emotion, technical skill and, most importantly, some real teeth to it.
Veterans Make Good - If you're smart, you don't expect good things to last forever, but it was a huge plus to have gold standard indie acts like The Walkmen, Beach House and Cat Power continuing to make great songs. Did they rewrite the book? Not really, but these acts pushed their artistry forward and found new maturity and heights of expression.
Laptops Are Dead - Since 2009 or so, it seemed like so many acts were making half-songs in their bedroom and then racking-up critical acclaim without a full band. Then they played live too soon and everything was horrible in the world. This year, either the best bedroom producers rose to the top or everyone got bored of hearing drums produced with wooden spoons on a card table. The return to studio quality – in both songcraft and production value – was a welcome development.
The Walkmen - Heaven
Beach House - Lazuli
Chris Cohen - Optimist High
The Babies - Moonlight Mile
Cat Power - Manhattan
Lotus Plaza - Dusty Rhodes
Twin Shadow - Run My Heart
Parquet Courts - Borrowed Time
Foxygen - Waitin' 4 U
Here We Go Magic - How Do I Know
DIIV - Wait
Wild Nothing - This Chain Won't Break
Tame Impala - Nothing That Has Happened…
King Tuff - Alone & Stoned
Ty Segall Band - I Bought My Eyes
The Men - Open Your Heart
Mac DeMarco- Cooking Up Something Good
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan