Five underrated records of 2012
|Photo By Erik Hess|
|METZ at 400 Bar|
New music came at us from all angles in 2012, to the point where we give something a cursory listen, hastily tweet out our opinion about it, then quickly move on to the next hot song/band of the moment. Within that constant deluge of music and the instant social media dissection of its merits (or lack thereof), invariably songs and artists that truly deserve closer attention get lost in the mix. Here are just a few bands who have released some truly remarkable albums this year that warrant additional focus and certainly another listen as 2012 draws to a close.
5. Sigur Rós - Valtari
Just a few short years ago, Sigur Rós were critics' darlings, with each of their ethereal albums subsequently praised and acclaimed. But with the release of their sixth studio album, Valtari, the Icelandic band was met with initial accolades but mostly forgotten, and in many circles the record was criminally ignored.
The songs have a subtle beauty to them that grows more affecting with each listen, while the last third of the album is mostly instrumental, with frontman Jónsi content to just join in the lush orchestration instead of adding his fragile vocals to the mix. With the band set to make their first Twin Cities appearance in five years at Roy Wilkins in April, Valtari will surely get more attention leading up to the show, but why not enjoy the splendor of this highly underrated album now as winter settles in over us all.
4. Chromatics - Kill For Love
Portland's Chromatics returned with their first album in five years, the moody and brilliant, Kill For Love, a dynamic record which certainly pleased their older fans, but didn't seem to draw in as many new listeners as it deserved. The mercurial electropop featured on these sprawling, tension-filled numbers reflect the bleak, icy cool of the times we are living in, while also serving as a rousing wake-up call to those who have been lured into lethargy by their commercialized and homogenized surroundings.
3. METZ - METZ
For all of the shine that their Canadian compatriots in Japandroids receive, the blistering Toronto trio METZ doesn't get nearly enough attention. They did sign to Sub Pop in the past year, which clearly is helping raise their profile in the States, and delivered a scorching self-titled debut that brazenly delivered on the promise of their early singles. The band is a rousing response to all of those music fans who wonder where all the guitars went in their modern rock music -- they all went to METZ. Their frenetic live show only adds to their appeal, as the group rips through one untamed two-minute number after the next, leaving everyone breathless and spent after a mere 30 minutes, wanting more but not sure they can even handle it. 2013 should hopefully be a big year for these guys.
2. Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend
Porcelain Raft is the brainchild of Mauro Remiddi, who crafted the stunning songs that make up this record in various bedrooms and basements throughout the world. The haunting, diaphanous synthpop of Strange Weekend is both alluring and deeply affecting, with Remiddi's subtle but soothing vocals rising plaintively above the hypnotic beats and melodies. The record is a gorgeous masterstroke by a talented musician who hopefully is only getting started in charming the world with his music.
1. Exitmusic - Passage
The music featured on Passage, the debut LP from Brooklyn two-piece Exitmusic, frequently starts small, but swells to a massive musical wave that gracefully washes over the listener, as Aleksa Palladino's impassioned vocals take the songs ever higher. The highly emotional numbers all have a slow-burning quality to them that draws you in before the tracks fully reveal themselves, and by that point your blissfully hooked and effortlessly under their spell. After a few high-profile opening sets for both the Joy Formidable and School Of Seven Bells over the past year, the beguiling charm of Exitmusic won over plenty of local fans of their own, an audience that should only grow in 2013.