Best Albums of 2012

The Chewers – Chuckle Change and Also (Art Pushers)
There’s weird and then there’s weird. Some bands try so hard to subvert normalcy by throwing a barrage of randomness and/or silliness at the listener in hopes to defy easy classification but in the end they sound like the cheap gimmicks they are. The Chewers couldn’t be normal if they tried, and the 22 tracks on Chuckle Change deliver on the promise of their great debut album from 2011, with a twisted version of swampy art-damaged blues.

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)
You may tire of the Converge aesthetic — it is exhausting and deliberately obnoxious — but you gotta give this band credit for doing what they do at the level they do for  20+ years. Another classic in the making.

Evening Meetings – Evening Meetings (Sweet Rot)
I try not to get caught up in pedigree and press before deeming a record good, but the all the criteria needed to confirm the greatness of this album from is affirmed from the first listen. With members from some of the Pacific Northwest’s most interesting bands (A Frames, Factums, AFCGT, Love Tan, etc) and best labels, this 10-song pounder hits with AmRep gnarl shaped with the sophistication of Television.

Fag Cop – Whimpers from the Pantheon (Rank Toy)
Here’s another record with a lot going for it on paper: a slew of blown-out killer trash singles leading up to this one-sided, 13-track jizzwave fuzzbomb that completely slays. No weak shit here,  no B-side necessary.

Guinea Worms – Smiles (Columbus Discount)
The only problem with Smiles is that it’s only an LP. After the massive (and essential) Sorcerers of Madness (4rd Year in A Row) double LP, which continues to befuddle, entertain and amuse since it’s release in 2010, only getting 8 songs leaves you wanting more.

Kellar – Beloved Dean of Magic (Foolproof Projects)
This Brighton UK improv trio dropped three releases in 2012 and any of them could’ve made this list, but this one was the first and has had the most time to embed its propulsive web of noise tangle into my skull. It reveals new surprises and becomes more interesting with each listen.

Lamps – Under the Water Under the Ground (In The Red)
This long-running LA trio has had a number of noteworthy releases in its history, but none of them have been as compelling document of their genius as this one. If you’ve ever experienced the visceral punch their knuckle-dragging primate punk in a live setting, you’ll know that their recordings have never quite captured the intensity of their sound. This is the closest so far to doing so. And while their other albums have been too one-dimensional to hold up over many listens, Under the Water continues to thrill.

Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven– (Swami)
Looking at this list and and the overall universe where Noise for Zeros dwells, there’s really no explanation how something as poppy and sunny and Mrs. Magician’s debut LP finds a place here. There’s more than enough jangly college/alt pop in the world, but few match the clever bite (check out song titles like “I’m Gonna Hangout with the Lesbians Next Door & Drop Acid” and the lyrics to “Actual Pain”) and magical way these songs lodge themselves in your ear and sound sweeter with every listen.

Pop. 1280 – The Horror (Sacred Bones)
As much as their previous releases set the trajectory for The Horror, it was impossible to expect the severity of the snarling noir stomp that Pop. 1280 was to unleash in 2012. This record’s relentless venom and synthetically-enhanced sonic density thrusts the urban grit of CopShootCop into the 21st century.

Soupcans – Good Feelings (Telephone Explosion)
It’s a rare treat to hear a band breathe life into punk. Like hearing Flipper or the Butthole Surfers for the first time. The wild frontier where crazy dudes spazz out and let the freak flag fly high. If you had the pleasure of hearing the awesome Erotic Nightmares EP from these crazed Canadians, know that every track on this LP is even more amped up with better production and focus.

Leave a Reply