Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not a Year-End List

Thoughts After the First Nine Months

It's still early December.  Maybe it's a little early to do this, but things will get crazier and crazier around here as we near the end of the year.  As a family, we've got two gift-laden December holidays to celebrate along with the birthdays of CoolDaughter #2 and CoolMom -- all before the 25th.  New album releases have slowed down to almost nothing, so this seems like a good time to look back at 2012.

I've decided that for the year-end post, I'll stay away from ranking things.  That would end up being pretty arbitrary anyway.  When I attempted a ranking for my mid-year list, I thought of a whole bunch of stuff that I forgot to consider within just minutes of publishing the post.  And there are already enough lists.  One could probably do a pretty cool, Nate Silver-type meta list by feeding all of the "Best of 2012's" through some complex model.  I'm pretty sure that model would spit out Frank Ocean's Channel Orange as the top record in about 99.9% of the simulations.

If you really must have some sort of list, you can always check out my Favorite Songs of 2012 (so far) playlist on Spotify.

Anyway, for better or for worse, here's the CoolDad Music Year-End Post for 2012.

Albums I Really Wanted to Review But Never Did

Chromatics, Kill For Love -- The soundtrack to an imaginary film, Kill For Love contains two of my favorite tracks of the year:  Neil Young cover "Into the Black" and "Kill for Love."  Producer Johnny Jewel takes you to one of those late nights spent alone in front of the TV watching a late 80s thriller on cable.  Ruth Radelet's beautifully deadpan vocals complete the mood.

Exitmusic, Passage -- Husband and wife duo Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church make epic, chilling music that swims around your brain.  I spent a few evenings this year with the lights off, listening to Passage with a glass of whiskey in my hand.

Sleepies, Weird Wild World -- I did a quick take on this record when the band started streaming it over at Noisey, but I never gave it a proper review.  It's one of my favorite records of the year -- smart, quirky punk rock.  "Cool Boy," "Seriously," "Waste Water," the whole thing... These guys know what they're doing.

Albums I Was Waiting for That Didn't Disappoint

I Bet on Sky, Local Business, Wrecking Ball.  Dinosaur Jr, Titus Andronicus, Bruce Springsteen.  Each of these acts released records in 2012 that, from the moment I heard about them, I couldn't wait to hear. Maybe this is my inner fanboy talking, but each of these albums more than delivered on the promise of each band's previous work.

The final record I'd place in this category is Bob Mould's Silver Age.  Its title isn't a reference to the fact that Mould likely has his AARP card by now.  Instead, it's meant to connect Mould's latest to the power-pop Sugar classic, Copper Blue.  Silver Age is a successful return for Mould to the sound of that earlier record.  I was so excited for this album that I pre-ordered it from Merge -- twice.  More on that for those who stick with this post until the end.

Albums That Took Me Back To High School

Endless Flowers by Crocodiles, Nocturne by Wild Nothing, and Oshin by DIIV all contained moments that had me remembering, in the words of MomVee, "an eighties that never happened."  I wasn't a big fan of The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, or The Cocteau Twins in my early teens.  2012 provided plenty of sounds, though, that allowed me to reminisce as if I were.

And if we wanted to go further back, we could throw in Long Slow Dance by The Fresh And Onlys to cover off some of my early seventies childhood and Hair by Ty Segall and White Fence (along with the other two records that Ty Segall released this year) to touch on a time before I was born.


I saw a lot of shows this year.  I'll be seeing a few more before the year is out, but I like to think of my first blog year as having been bookended by seeing New Jersey punks Titus Andronicus at two iconic New Jersey venues, The Stone Pony and Maxwell's.

In between, there were fantastic performances by Nicole Atkins, King Khan and the Shrines, Los Campesinos!, Sebadoh, Built to Spill, and River City Extension that I won't soon forget.

Really, though, it's hard for me to imagine that anything could top the experience I shared with the beautiful CoolDaughter #1 seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from the pit at the Izod Center in East Rutherford.

New Jersey Strong

New Jersey gave the world some great music this year.  Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem, Titus Andronicus, Sharon Van Etten, River City Extension, Screaming Females, La Sera, The Everymen, Honeydrum, Spook Houses, No Wine for Kittens, and Little Silver all have connections to The Garden State.

New Jersey really took it on the chin late in 2012.  With hard work and the help of people from across the country and around the world, and with the good work being done by organizations like The American Red Cross, The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, RebuildRecover.org, Sea Bright Rising, and so many others, I'm confident that we'll work our way back to something that CoolDaughters 1&2 will cherish just as much as I have.

Lessons Learned

It looks like I really can stick with something.  Over the course of the year, I didn't always post with the frequency I would have liked; but I never had thoughts of simply stopping.  What started out as just a way for me to organize my thoughts about stuff that I found interesting has turned into something that I feel like I need to do.  That feels good.

And all that corny stuff that you always hear about "do something you love, and good things will happen?"  It's true.  It's not true in the sense that you'll be able to get rich or even to earn a living from doing what you love, but doing something that you find meaningful makes everything else that much better.

Thanks for the Feedback

My readership is still minute, but it's nice to hear from people when they've enjoyed a post.  The folks in the forum over at backstreets.com have been really gracious.  Real life friends and bloggers, MomVee and J. Scott Grand, paid attention all year.  I received some great comments about helping someone relive a great show or turning someone on to some new music.  Thomas from Sleepies has been great, and I even received a nice note from Bob Stickles, Patrick's dad.

Chris and the team over at Speak Into My Good Eye are doing great work documenting the current Asbury music scene, and their site has provided me with plenty of new, local bands to explore.

More than all of that, though, thanks to everyone who's been reading and following even if you've never commented, at-replied, or anything else.  I hope I've provided something you find useful and entertaining.

As I mentioned above, in my excitement over the album, I accidentally pre-ordered two copies of Bob Mould's fantastic Silver Age earlier this year.  As a way of saying thanks to everyone, I'll send my extra, unopened copy to a randomly-selected individual who leaves a comment on this post between now and, say, Sunday, December 9th.

Such a ramble, and I didn't even mention Hospitality, The Men, Grizzly Bear, or Japandroids.  All great records.

Thanks again, and have a great holiday.


  1. I actually just discovered Silver Age a few weeks ago when I heard "The Descent" on SiriusXM. I didn't even know he had released a new album but it's pretty fantastic. Easily on my top ten list, if I ever get around to making one. Anywho love your blog. You are indeed a cool dad with an excellent taste in music.

    1. Thanks, Katie. I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

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  3. Swing Lo Magellan is definitely a top 3 record of the year for me. Haven't heard Silver Age yet, gotta check it out.

    1. Never was that into Dirty Projectors, but I was converted when I watched the livestream of one of their shows. Grabbed Swing Lo Magellan, along with their other stuff, the next day and have been loving it ever since.

  4. Swing Lo Magellan is definitely a top 3 record of the year for me. Haven't heard Silver Age yet, gotta check it out.

  5. Whoops, seems my post was deleted by accident!

    I came upon your blog when I punched Bob Mould into my tumblr search. First off, I saw a couple of albums in your list that I want to check out before the end of the year, so thanks for that!

    Second, Silver Age is my first foray into Bob Mould's discography and I have to say it was a very good choice. Perhaps there are better albums he has made, but I REALLY loved this album. It currently is a contender for my favorite album of the year, along with Moonface's With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery and Murder By Death's Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon. The album made me want to explore more of Mould's history as a musician.

    And lastly, I was also at the Titus Andronicus show at Maxwell's and they knocked it out of the park!

    1. Thanks so much for reading. Like I said, it's nice to hear that I've given somebody some new stuff to check out. And thanks for your recommendations. I will look for those.

      Bob Mould has done a lot of different stuff in his career, ranging from the hardcore style of early Hüsker Dü to acoustic pop on his first solo record to electronica in the early 2000's. For stuff that most closely resembles Silver Age, check out his work with Sugar and some of the later stuff with Hüsker Dü.

  6. I don't remember how we found one another. I just knew I would stay because like you I'm a dad who spends too much cash on music.

    My favorite things this year were things that happened live. I was able to revisit my musical past in 2012. Afghan Whigs, Quicksand, Refused, Texas is the Reason, and Dinosaur Jr. Jack White, Gaslight Anthem and Radiohead took me through some of my musical present. These are just a few of the shows I can rattle off as I type this through the haze of a holiday hangover. The one thing I didn't get to see was Bob Mould performing Copper Blue. I can't place the why, I just know I'm bummed I missed it.

    2012 didn't give me a huge look forward but time to reflect on where I've been. For that I'm grateful.

    I'm going to go put on that 4lp Joe Strummer set that came out for RSD/BF and look back just a little bit more.

    So thank you for the writing, I look forward to it. Maybe I'll see you 'round Asbury. Be well.


    1. Thanks, Scott. I missed that Bob Mould show, too. Probably had to drive swim carpool or something.

      Thanks for reading.