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UnderTheRadar's 2012 Music Highlights

UnderTheRadar's 2012 Music Highlights

Friday 21st December, 2012 9:47AM

Yep, 2012 is almost over which means it's time to reflect back on the year in music. It always amazes us just how much happens in a year and how much of what happens is awesome....

Christchurch has been our overall highlight for 2012. A city with an already impressive musical history, the range and quality of music that has emerged from the broken, but far from beaten, city has been impressive - from the uncompromising post-punk of BnP and related bands like Dance Asthmatics and T54, to determined musicians Delaney Davidson and Marlon Williams of the Lyttelton country music scene, to up-and-coming indie-pop songwriters Tom Lark and Sam Perry aka Zen Mantra - the city just keeps turning out some of the best music each year especially if you count its expats like Lawrence Arabia


Locally it has definitely been Home Brew's year with a chart-topping, Tui award-winning album and exciting live shows like their ambitious 48 hour brothel party  - they have managed to commercialize their hype without comprise.

Lana Del Rey, love or hate her, has been impossible to ignore: her style, her videos, her questionable lyrics à la "my pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola" combine to create one of the most intriguing artists of the year. Grimes too has been hard to ignore but, unlike Lana, impossible to hate. She has the makings of a true icon: authentic and talented, she deserves every ounce of hype received this year.


With no across the board stand out albums this year, our selection of noteworthy releases is an eclectic mix of largely challenging records touching on post-rock, sound experimentation, punk, folk, psychedelia and one that was just too charmingly quirky to pass up. In no particular order, here are our album highlights of 2012....

Swans – The Seer
(Young God Records)

Seth Frightening - Don't You Worry (Heat Death)
(Sonorous Circle)

Liars - WIXIW

BnP - Welcome To Medocrity
(Self -released)

Melody's Echo Chamber - Melody's Echo Chamber
(Fat Possum)

Death Grips – The Money Store

Bailterspace– Strobosphere
(Arch Hill Recordings)

Sand Circles – Motor City
(Not Not Fun)

Pumice - Puny
(Soft Abuse)

Dear Time's Waste - Some Kind of Eden

Sunken Seas - Null Hour
(Muzai Records)

Beak> - >>

David Byrne and St Vincent - Love This Giant

Purity Ring – Shrines

Razorwyre – Another Dimension

Honourable mention:

It Came From The Attic (Compilation)
(The Attic/Muzai Records)


Remembering all that you’ve heard over twelve months is tough but ‘Hey Jane’ by Spiritualized is one track none of us will be forgetting anytime soon while Major Lazor’s ‘Get Free’ featuring Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors stands out as an across the board song of 2012. Crystal Castles epic single 'Plague' from their new album III was one of the best 'first singles' we heard as was Tame Impala's 'Apocalypse Dreams' - both expertly created hype for their respective new albums - and Feistodon is hands down the collaboration of the year, uniting vastly different artists Feist and Mastodon, who covered a song each for a Record Store Day release.

Locally we've been treated to so many great tracks this year, via our ever expanding Tracks Section, that selecting our highlights was a torturous task but we got there (in no particular order)...


The music industry's penchant for singles has meant we're treated to increasing amounts of impressive video accompaniments year-on-year. 2013 was no exception and Sigur Ros took top honours for their use of the medium through their 'Valtari Film Experiment'. Directors like Ryan McGinley and Floria Sigsimondi lent their eye to things like, I donno, Shia Labeouf's private parts, but our favourite was Sigsimondi's vision for 'Dauðalogn' and 'Varúð' starring Elle Fanning John Hawkes. Grimes burst into 2012 with her short fringe, quirky dance moves and "post-internet" album Visions, which were all at their best in the clip for stand-out single 'Oblivion'. Our favourite director of the year AG Rojas lent his dystopian vision to Jack White and Gil Scott-Heron but our favourite was his depressing work for beautiful Spiritualized track 'Hey Jane', from their 2012 album Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. Grizzly Bear, Purity Ring, Twin Shadow and Die Antwoord all released slick three minute visual representations of tracks from their latest albums and band who do videos-and-not-much-else Ok Go did another awesome thing.

In local video news Simon Ward had another excellent / hilarious year with his work for Spring Break's single 'No Tengo Dinero', She's So Rad dropped an adorable, nostalgic clip for 'Circles', Special Problems lent a bunch of palm trees, old televisions, eyeballs and other random / space stuff to Opossom's 'Getaway Tonight', and The Eversons were turned into felt representations of themselves for their track 'Could It Ever Get Better'.


Lastly, to the most dependable aspect of the music industry -  live shows - they never fail to provide some our best experiences year-on-year. Things started off strangely though with the eerily quiet final Big Day Out, where a crazy-small crowd came out to say goodbye to this summer institution. Laneway adapated to it's new waterfront digs well, though we'll be hoping for more shade next year. Of the summer shows Real Estate, St Vincent and The Black Lips all impressed and provided good times. Dirty Three is up there as our best gig of the year - Warren Ellis possessing the best stage banter in the business -  along with Radiohead, who blew our minds at Vector Arena last month. The Shocking Pinks' returned to the fold for an amazing show at Cassette Nine in September and Lawrence Arabia graduated to the Town Hall for a stunning celebration of his new album The Sparrow. The extraordinarily talented Grizzly Bear finally graced us with their presence and did not disappoint and finally, the incredible Devo capped off a stellar year of live gigs, stealing the show at A Day On Green in the beautiful surrounds of Villa Maria Estate. 

Locally, Tauranga Music Sux put together one of the most interesting tours of the year, playing in various tunnels around the North Island and Home Brew put on the most badass show,  celebrating the release of their debut album over 48 hours in an Auckland brothel. Die! Die! Die! remain the best live act in the country, Opossom too has impressed this year and DHDFDs, Mean Girls, Badd Energy, Seth Frightening, Paquin, Autumn Splendour, Rackets, Beastwars, Delaney Davidson and Marlon Williams are all great live acts that  we’ve managed to catch this year. 

And that's it from us - if you're hungry for more, there is no shortage of best of lists out there - here's a selection of top album picks from around the net...

Frank Ocean's Channel Orange topped best of lists from The Guardian, Paste and Consequence of Sound.

Tame Impala's Lonerism got NME's coveted top spot.

Grimes' Visions is Gorilla vs Bear's top pick

Swans' album The Seer took out the number one spot in The Quietus' best of list (one of the more interesting around).

Laurel Halo's Quarantine is The Wire's top pick.

Fiona Apple's excessively titled new album is Stereogum's album of the year.

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