Will Kilby here at Amongst the Soundwaves. This blog was basically created for myself, and my love of music. This year has been tremendous and has surprised me in more ways that I could have imagined. I started this blog in March, and it has been cathartic, helpful and calming. I love talking about the bands and music that I love. I have written over 100 entries since March and have acquired over 15,000 views during that time. It is truly a milestone and I could have not have done it without all of you. In the new year expect more top 20 lists, more music news, more videos, concerts, reviews, and anything music related I feel like posting. There are no rules to this. I post what I want, when I feel like it, it's a liberating feeling. When I look back on all the entries, I see how all the music from my youth have never went away. These bands are still touring, there are still people excited to hear new music from these bands, there is still an audience. This year has seen bands like Dead Can Dance, Smashing Pumpkins, The Swans, Men Without Hats, and the like come back with some of the best albums of their career. It has seen veteran singers like Leonard Cohen and Bob Mould release some of the most critically acclaimed albums of their career. While pop music continues it's downward spiral into nothingness, it is refreshing to see artists still out there, doing what they love, inspiring others, and still have great music. I end this year with some songs I'm listening to now. These are just some songs I have been listening to lately and look forward to hearing more from. It's great to get into an artist and see that they have around 13 albums! Music comes in cycles and music from 2012 has been no exception. I may be set in my ways, it's hard for my to get into newer music, perhaps, because I can see through the bs in modern music. There was a genuine punk spirit flowing through the 70s-90s music, even if the band's weren't punk, they still represented that independent spirit. This is what is lacking today. I hear lots of great albums being prepared for next year. Maybe one day we will get that Smiths and Husker Du reunion. Maybe 2013 will be the year. Only time will tell. Thank you all!!
2013 is looking to be a great year for local shows! Here are some bands touring the Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
December 29 and 30, Peter Murphy at the Observatory in Santa Ana (tickets here and here)
January 5, The Psychedelic Furs and The Fixx at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills (tickets here)
January 11 God Module at the Catch One in Los Angeles (tickets here)
January 18, Pennywise w/Lagwagon, Strung Out and Pulley at Hollywood Palladium (sold out)
January 26, Midge Ure (Ultravox) with Right The Stars, Bow Wow Wow and Gene Loves Jezebel at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles (tickets here)
January 30, The Who at Staples Center, (tickets here)
February 10, Suzanne Vega at Whittier College in Whittier (tickets here)
February 15, 16, and 17, Soundgarden at the Wiltern in Los Angeles (tickets here, here and here)
February 20, The Twilight Garden at Complex in Glendale, (tickets here)
February 21, Marilyn Manson and Butcher Babies at Club Nokia in Los Angeles (tickets here)
March 1, Morrissey w/Patti Smith band and Kristeen Young at Staples Center (tickets here)
March 6, Cradle of Filth w/Decapitated, The Faceless, and The Agonist at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood (tickets here)
March 10, KMFDM at Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, (tickets here)
June 7, Iron N Ink Festival with Iggy Pop and the Stooges, NOFX, The Dwarves, Dead Kennedys and others on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. (tickets here)
September 10, The Mission UK at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, (tickets here)
This year was full of wonderful expansive editions, reissues, remastered versions of classic albums from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. The Smashing Pumpkins dominated this list with their reissued versions of their albums. Many included bonuses such as rare bsides, live dvds, etc... These are mostly for diehard fans who were already fans of the album, but it's a nice intro to new fans as well. Check it out.
10. Smashing Pumpkins - Pisces Iscariot
A bsides collection,
originally released in 1994, this collected the bsides and assorted
tracks from the Siamese Dream era of the band. This includes the
remastered album, a 2nd cd of cover songs, alternate versions of the
songs, demos from various studios. a DVD of a basement jam from 1988!
and even a casette tape of their first demo. Extremely expansive and
prolific! 09. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
Brooklyn-based Interpol get a 10 year anniversary reissue for their debut album Turn on the Bright Lights. This album was one of the most acclaimed of the early 2000s. The band has released ok to downright unlistenable albums since then, but this remains their shining hour. Along with the original remastered album, is a 2nd disc of b-sides, demos and an early EP.
08. Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
One of the most important records of the 90s. This marks the bands 20 year anniversary for this album and it comes in the form of this remastered album. Disc 1 has the remastered album and disc 2 contains bsides from that era, and early demo tracks. It's a nice look into songs like Bombtrack and Killing in the Name. Also included is a DVD with live concert footage and music videos.
07. REM - Document/Life's Rich Pageant
Both of these albums were released before REM became household names with songs like Losing My Religion and Everybody Hurts. These two albums were a taste of things to come. Included with Lifes Rich Pageant is the Athens demos, some rough drafts of early songs which would later appear on the album, on the Document reissue is a live concert from Holland from 1987.
06. Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground and Nico
Perhaps the most influential band in history, behind the Beatles, The Velvet Underground return this year with a reissue of their acclaimed 1967 album. Yes, it has been reissued before, but this 6 disc version has a little bit of everything from this era. You get the stereo and mono mixes from the album, Nico's Chelsea Girl album, the Scepter Studios Sessions, which includes demos of the songs from the album, and the last two discs includes a live concert from this era, which is a rarity. A very extensive box set from a legendary band.
05. Sugar - Copper Blue
Former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould would return in the 90s as a powerpop and punk icon. This Sugar record is one of the best of that era. If I Can't Change Your Mind would become a radio staple and this record would sell more than any previous Husker Du album. Also included is the Beaster EP, demos and a live concert. Bob Mould also toured this year in support of this album where his band played it in its entirety.
04. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
My Bloody Valentine's 2nd album is full of bliss and distortion. This is the best way to describe this record to newcomers. Feedback is all around this record and one song flows into the next. Leader Kevin Shields has not released anything new since this record. It's been 20 years with constant rumors of new music from this but this record remains their masterpiece. Many of the bands on Projekt Records (Love Spirals Downwards, Mira, Autumn's Grey Solace, Tearwave) owe a huge debt to this album. This 2cd reissue has the original album and a remastered version by Kevin Shields.
03. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
Collie & the Infinite Sadness was a major album when it was
first released. A double CD at a time when many bands were not even
attempting anything close. This new reissued 5 CD version expands on
those original 28 tracks, including many songs which would later appear
on The Aeroplane Flies High box set, instrumental and different vocal
takes on songs that were on the original Mellon Collie album, and
bsides, many of which were not heard until now. Also included is a live
concert from that era. If you are a completest like me, get this album.
02. The Smiths - Complete
Coming from Manchester (the same scene which gave us the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and other great bands), The Smiths quickly became one of the most influential bands in British history, acquiring a cult-like fanbase due mostly to Morrissey's lyrics and Johnny Marr's innovative guitar playing. Though they only lasted for 5 years from 1983-1987, they were very prolific and you can find all their work here. Included are their 4 studio albums, a live album, and 3 compilation albums, which had many fan favorites all on vinyl and CD. If you want the complete picture of The Smiths, get this set.
01. Smashing Pumpkins - Gish/Siamese Dream
The Smashing Pumpkins debut album, and 2nd album, co-produced by Butch Vig, gets an expansive reissue in 2011, but it came late in the year so I'm reviewing it now. Coming from Chicago, Smashing Pumpkins sounded like no other band and still sound fresh today. Ever the perfectionist, it has been rumored that Billy Corgan played all the guitar and bass on both albums. Both are very intense, strong albums, these albums had psychedelic flourishes, My Bloody Valentine-like fuzzy guitars and one of the best drummers on earth in Jimmy Chamberlin. Both include a remastered version of the album, a 2nd CD of demos and alternate tracks, and bsides, a live concert DVD and it comes in a beautiful box with new artwork.
2012 was one of the best years for music by far. This was the year of comebacks and return to forms for many bands. We saw some surprisingly awesome albums from bands I hadn't thought of in years, along with some great ones from some veterans in the music world. Here is my top 20 of the year. Happy new year guys! Can't wait to see what 2013 will bring!
#20 The Cult - Choice of Weapon
A great rock record! On this record, the band has found their true sound after years of mediocrity. Yes, this is the best record since Love many years ago. Ian Astbury still has his trademark range and Billy Duffy continues to be one of the best guitarists today. Listen to this record along with Love and Sonic Temple, it is right on that level of greatness. Notable tracks: For The Animals, Elemental Light, The Wolf
#19 - Green Day - Uno, Dos, Tre
Yes, these are actually 3 albums but to be honest, there is a lot of filler on all these albums. This ended up making my top 20 because between all that, there is a tight, decent album in here. The band returns with 3 new albums, all released within about 2 months of each other. This band has been extremely prolific as of late, also working on the American Idiot broadway play and a documentary. There are many classic Green Day classic songs, with other ones sounding like homages to their heroes The Clash, blues, and even country sounding songs. There are also songs that have a bit of a 60s vibe to them, which recalls their other group Foxboro Hot Tubs (we need a new album someday guys) While not the masterpiece albums like Insomniac, Dookie, or Nimrod are, it is good to see Green Day is a band that is getting harder and harder to pin down.
Looking at the album cover for The Haunted man gives you an image of the music within. Naked, bare, with someone to carry you. Yes, Natasha Khan does sound more like herself on this record. she has said this record was about her family history, she herself a mix of Pakistani and British. This does carry echoes of her 80s contemporaries Kate Bush and the Cure, both being artists which pushed the envelope and were extremely hard to pin down. Bat For Lashes is another. The song laura is a standout track, Natasha brings out the piano on this ballad, which was cowritten by justin parker, who has written songs for Lana Del Ray. A step forward for Bat For lashes, I expect more great works from them in the future. Notable tracks: Marilyn, All Your Gold, Lillies
#17 My Dying Bride - A Map Of All Our Failures
My Dying Bride is one of the most consistent doom metal bands out there. While their contemporaries have gone a more progressive metal or alternative rock path, My Dying Bride have never really deviated from their doom/death metal path, albeit 34.788 was a bit of a change. This record has the same familiar themes of romanticism, melodic leads and dramatic lyrics. I especially love the use of violin on this record, it's there in the background, yet never seems overwhelming. Notable tracks: Kneel Till Doomsday, Hail Odysseus, Like A Perpetual Funeral
#16 Garbage - Not Your Kind of People
Produced right here in Atwater Village and Glendale, this album is rocking and angry in all the right ways. The band, especially producer and drummer Butch Vig create such noisy atmospheres and hallucinagenic sounds which bring you to an otherwordly place. This is a return to their 1998 album, Version 2.0, after the more pop driven Beautiful Garbage and their previous tepid album, Bleed Like Me. Both albums were missing that energy and angst of their selftitled and Version 2.0. This is good to see a band sticking to it's guns and creating one of the best albums of their career. Notable tracks: I Hate Love,Felt,Blood For Poppies #15 Silversun Pickups - Neck of The Woods
Excellent follow up to their previous album. This sees the band going in different directions, including synthpop and rock. This is a nice companion to Smashing Pumpkins recent album Oceania. A very underrated album. This album begs to be played loud!I love their use of synths on this record, which is a change for them. The band have compared this album to a horror movie, which is fitting because it's full of twists, turns, quiet moments and in-your-face suspense. Notable tracks:Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings), The Pit, Here We Are (Chancer)
#14 Blaqk Audio - Bright Black Heaven
The electronic side project of AfI's Davey Havok and Jade Puget, this follow up to 2009's Cexcells, sees the band continuing their foray into 80s inspired synthpop and industrial darkwave. This album was actually recorded years ago when the band was recording cexcells, so many songs continue on the same theme of that record. Love, longing, Jade Puget's electronics and Davey's vocals are always spectacular. Notable tracks:Faith Healer,Bon Voyeurs,Fade To White
#13 Soundgarden - King Animal
Soundgarden are back! After a string of disappointing solo albums, and a few Audioslave releases, chris cornell and the boys from Seattle release one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. Chris Cornell has never sounded better, Kim Thayil proves to be one of the best guitarists in rock ever. wailing choruses, rocking guitars, it feels like the 90s never left us. Notable tracks:Been Away Too Long,Blood on the Valley Floor,Halfway There
#12 Assemblage 23 - Bruise
Tom Shear's Assemblage 23 is a staple in the electronic music genre. All the familiar themes are here, layered synths, introspective lyrics and intense beats. The album is called bruise and there is definitely a theme of damage and overcoming scars. One of their most emotional albums to date. One of the criticisms of previous releases was a lack of confidence as far as vocals go. It's good to see Tom finally become more confident in his delivery, and this album is catchy, mature and never cheesy. A step up from 2009's Compass. Notable tracks:Crosstalk,God is A Strangely Absent Father,The Last Mistake
#11 Bob Mould - Silver Age
Earlier this year, Merge Records reissued all of the albums from Sugar, Bob Mould's post-Husker Du band. That band was the perfect mixture of punk energy and poppish hooks. This new record, Silver age could be the missing Sugar album. Even at 52, Bob Mould still has the energy and wit of people half his age. This record taps into a certain nostalgia for me, especially because I believe that Sugar is one of the 90s most underrated bands, who were extremely catchy and had amazing lyrics. This album recalls all that was great about Sugar but with a wiser edge. Bob Mould is back and in a brilliant way Notable tracks: The Descent,Silver Age,Star Machine
#10 Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania
Billy Corgan and his current crew returns with one of their best records in over a decade. After stumbling with Zwan, and his solo record, along with a lackluster "comeback" album with Zeitgeist in 2007, it's good to have Billy back, albeit with hired help. This album is one of the most ambitious things Corgan has done in a long time, full of sweeping melodies, soaring choruses and a voice like no one else, Corgan is a man who doesn't care what you think. The main themes on this album are enlightenment, love, and knowledge. Corgan has been to hell and back, this record sees Billy corgan as someone you have never seen before, optimistic. Great record and a comforting return. Notable tracks: One Diamond One Heart,My Love Is Winter,The Celestials
#09 Matt Skiba and the Sekrets - Babylon
Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio returns with this album, a sort-of follow up to 2011's This Addiction. This record is a true rock record, though Matt has said he was influenced by postpunk bands on this record and it shows. The album is full of nice synth harmonies and lyrically it touches on familiar grounds:demons, bloody hands, etc.. If you were a fan of Matt Skiba's side project Heavens, this is the record for you. This is somewhere between an 80s goth rock album and pop punk. Good mixture of songs. Notable tracks: Olivia,Voices,Falling Like Rain
#08 Propagandhi - Failed States
Canadian punk band Propagandhi have sure come a long way. From their debut as a NOFX-style pop punk beginnings to their current punk meets metal sound, this band have always maintained an aura of realness which is lacking in many punk circles. This is the band's first album on punk label Epitaph, and from the opening track to the last, the energy never lets up. This is an evolution for the band that I expect to hear more from. For many bands, getting older means becoming more mellow, but for Propagandhi it's the exact opposite, they just keep getting better. Notable tracks:Note To Self,Unscripted Moment,Cognitive Suicide
#07 - Rush - Clockwork Angels
Rush's best album since Moving Pictures. This also marks Rush's first concept album in over 30 years. The concept is "an individual trying to follow his dreams in a dystopian future" Rush are true survivors. While many of their contemporaries either broke up, or became irrelivant, Rush soared on, and this album is no different. Their lyrics have never been better thanks to Neil Peart. This album is full of references to prayers, miracles, angels. There is a novel to coincide with this album to be released next year. I cannot wait! This album rocks from beginning to end. A very heavy record, there is something here for everyone, to the Rush fanatic to the casual fan. This is a record that doesn't really stand out when you hear individual tracks. It works better as a whole. Listen to the whole record to get more of a grasp on the story. Highly recommended. Notable tracks:Clockwork Angels,The Anarchist,Headlong Flight
#06 - Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
Cohen's strongest work since the 80s. This sees Leonard at his most confessional. The 77 year old has lived a long life and here are his tales. Many songs are about despair, loneliness and realization. Before Leonard talked about his personal life, the Suzannes and Mariannes in his life, now he speaks in a more universal language. Cohen is an old soul, and a true legend, a poet, a singer, a slave for love and as he puts it "a lazy bastard". This album reminds me of the late Johnny Cash's last few albums. Very quiet, with a voice full of age and yearning. Notable tracks:Show Me The Place, Darkness,Going Home
#05 Marilyn Manson - Born Villain
A return to form for Marilyn Manson after the hit-and-miss of their previous records. Having been dropped from their label, Interscope, to join the independent label Cooking Vinyl, this record feels like a rebirth for the band. This album sees the band at its most diverse, incorporating elements of glam rock, punk rock, post punk and even blues at times. One element of this record, which really hasn't appeared on previous ones are the incredible basslines and choruses. The band was written off a while back, but this record brings a new energy and spirit and rebirth. Not only a great record, one of the best for the band and of the year. Notable tracks:No Reflection,Flowers of Evil,The Gardener
#04 - Dead When I Found Her - Rag Doll Blues
Excellent follow up to 2010's Harm's Way. Michael Halloway continues to push the envelope of industrial music. This album sees Dead When I found her advancing to a more original sound.This is a throwback to the industrial music I grew up listening to, yet still maintaining an original synth sound. Michael is one of the most creative forces in goth/industrial music today. Their first album was more similar to Skinny Puppy, this sees them exploring new territory. This record, I would say is more similar to Tear Garden, more experimental, creating a dark atmosphere with haunting lyrics. I look forward to more from Michael Halloway. Notable tracks:Rain Machine,No More Nightmares,Mirrors
#03 - Swans - The Seer
This is not an album to play in the background while engaged in other activities. This 2 hour, 2 cd album begs to be listened to intently without distraction. The title track is nearly a half hour long. this was unlike any other album released this year. This is the first album from Swans which features special guests, including Low, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and yes, even the one and only Jarboe, making this a reunion of sorts for her and Michael gira. After hearing this album, I was exhausted. I assume this was the goal for this record. This record is heavy and cathartic and one i would only recommend to fans of the band. Very personal, a very loud record. Notable tracks:Mother of The World,The Seer,Song For A Warrior
#02 - Men Without Hats - Love in the Age of War
Who would have thought that this band known mostly as a one-hit wonder here in the US, would have their greatest album released in 2012!? But yes, Canada's own Men Without Hats have reached their creative peak with this, their latest album, Love in The Age of War. This album has a bit of a darker, more cynical vibe than previous releases. Produced by Marilyn Manson/Skinny Puppy producer, Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, this album is darker than previous ones, but will still have you singing it's catchy choruses. Synths, drums, emotional vocals throughout. This is one of the best albums of this year, no doubt about it. Notable tracks:Love In The Age of War,Head Above Water,The Girl With the Silicon Eyes
and #1 album of the year, this should come as no surprise. This was, for me at least, the most highly anticipated album this year.....
#1 Dead Can Dance - Anastasis
What more can I say about this record? My top album of the year. Hearing these songs live made me love them more. The band took a break after 1996, Lisa did a ton of soundtrack work, Brendan Perry worked with other artists such as Piano Magic and Zoar, along with releasing a few solo records of their own. Anastasis is a return to form from the band, the word meaning rebirth in Greek. Lisa sings in her trademark glossolalia style, where Brendan sings in a more traditional English style. The highlight of the album is Return of the She-King, a rare duet featuring both of them. Dead Can Dance has always been a band that defied conventions and trends. This album is reflective of that. This album was my highlight of the year. Seeing the energy these two perform live is so magical. It really is hard to put into words how intense this band is, which is something I think Dead can Dance has always achieved. Without a doubt, the album of the year.
Notable tracks: Return of the She King,Amnesia,Kiko,Children of The Sun
Here are a few albums that didn't quite make it, mostly because they fell slightly short or I haven't had the chance to completely hear every track, nevertheless, here it goes!
Joey Ramone - Ya Know
Last solo album recorded by the late Ramones frontman.
Cradle of Filth - Manticore and Other Horrors
The British extreme metal band's 10th studio album. This album brings some punk inspired riffs and is hailed as one of their best.
Autumn's Grey Solace - Divinian
The etheral/shoegaze/dreampop band's seventh studio album. This band has been extremely prolific and remains one of the best band's on Projekt Records, which remains at the forefront of wonderful ambient/darkwave/shoegaze music. This album continues the band's knack for dreamy soundscapes and otherworldly sounds. Excellent.
OFF! - OFF!
Former Black Flag and Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris returns with perhaps the shortest album of the year, clocking in at about 15 minutes long. Fans of Black Flag and Circle Jerks rejoice. This brings back some oldschool hardcore and it feels like the 80s never left.
Unto Ashes - Burials Foretold
The apocalyptic folk band's 8th album, this album features many diverse instruments such as cello, bagpipes, French horn, dulcimer, hurdy gurdy. A nice mixture of Renaissance and medieval themes, and instrumentation. I also love the vocals of Michael Laird, Natalia Lincoln, and Ericah Hagle all meshed together. Projekt Records strikes again! Check out their covers of Apoptygma Berzerk and Van Halen.
Dan Adriano in the Emergency Room - Hurricane Season
Solo album from Alkaline trio covocalist and bassist Dan Adriano. Good acoustic album, mostly about feeling lonely while on tour. Decent effort. I'm still more of a fan of Matt Skiba personally.
The Birthday Massacre - Hide and Seek
The fifth album from Canadian gothrock/synthrock band The Birthday Massacre. A bit of a darker album for the band, inspired by unsolved mysteries. Lead singer Chibi developed polyps during the recording, which altered some of the vocals on some tracks. Good album, though it could have been longer.
The Offspring - Days Go By
Good album, killer tracks. The woah woahs have come back, which is always nice. The band rerecorded Dirty Magic, originally on their Ignition album for this one, but California Crusin might be the worst song the band has ever recorded. Still a good album, just skip that song.
Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
I really like her vocals and her throwback to 60s music. As much flack as she has gotten, I think she's immensely talented and this is a good album.
Killing Joke - MMXII
Jaz Coleman at his most crazy, doomladen prophecies, it's a new Killing Joke album, what more do you expect? Decent release, still seeing what's next for these guys.