2012 Favorite Record Labels

Using my record label formula, here were my favorite labels of 2012

Here are some interesting stats on the list and year 2012

  • I bought a full length LP from 76 different labels
  • I bought 2 or more LPs on 16 different labels in 2012.   XL had the most with 4 LPs
  • For labels with at least two LPs, Count Your Lucky Stars had the highest average song rating (4.28).
  • For labels with at least two LPs, Count Your Lucky Stars had the highest average album rating (4.28) – weird coincidence with above
  • I bought EPs from 22 different labels.  Topshelf had the most with 3 EPs
  • I listened to Topshelf records more than any other label in 2012.  I spent 33 hours listening to Topshelf records.
  • I listened to Rumbletowne songs on average the most times.   Each song i had on Rumbletowne i listened to on average 42 times.

Here are my top 10 labels of 2012:

1.  Count Your Lucky Stars – 9.511 (4 artists, 3 LPs, 1 5-Star LP, 1 4-Star LP)

count-lucky

2.  Bandcamp – 7.846 (29 artists, 10 LPs, 4 4-Star LP)

bandcamp

3. Topshelf – 7.675 (8 artists, 3 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

topshelf

4.  Tiny Engines – 7.457 (5 artists, 3 LPs, 1 4-Star LPs)

tinyengines-v2

5.  Asian Man – 7.352 (4 artists, 2 LPs, 2 4-Star LPs)

asian-man

6.  Quote Unquote – 7.313 (3 artists, 2 LPs, 2 4-Star LP)

quote-unquote

7.  Self Released – 7.081 (25 artists, 5 LPs)

DIY-No Label

8.  Epitaph – 6.733 (4 artists, 1 LP, 1 4-Star LP)

epitaph

9.  Thrill Jockey – 6.606 (2 artists, 2 LPs, 1 4-Star LPs)

thrilljockey

10.  Say 10 – 6.572 (6 artists, 1 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

say10

Favorite Songs of 2012

I followed my process from last year for picking favorite songs.   While most frequent listens is a good barometer of my favorite songs, it is clearly not the only measure (particularly with high counts coming to songs my wife or kids love).

So, I adjusted the process.   I had two rules when assembling the list:

  1. Song must have 5 stars (152 songs)
  2. Could not duplicate artist

Then I listed to the songs and picked the ones that stuck with me the most.    I really did my best to pair the list down (I did cut 121 5-star songs), but still have 31 phenomenal songs.    This list of my favorite songs of 2012 is below in alphabetical order by artist.    All great songs, I hope you enjoy.   Let me know your thoughts on any standouts or omissions.

Annabel’s Anti-Decisions from Youth in Youth (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Cheap Girls’ Cored to Empty from Giant Orange (Rise)

Coping’s Love Tigress from Nope (Bandcamp)

Defiance, Ohio’s I’m Against the Government from the Calling (Self Released)

Downtown Struts’ Postcards from Victoria (Pirates Press)

Dowsing’s Terminals’ from It’s Still Pretty Terrible (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)’s Turbo Stasis from Arrow/Empire Split (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Eric Ayotte’s Big Bully from Causality (Bandcamp)

Listen here

Erica Freas’ Demon from Belly (Rumbletowne)

Listen here

Hard Girls’ Hot for the Halo from Isn’t It Worse (Quote Unquote)

Hop Along’s Kids on the Boardwalk from Get Disowned (Bandcamp)

Jeff Rosenstock’s Snow Changes from I Look Like Shit (Quote Unquote)

Joi De Vivre’s At Least I Tried from We Are Better Than This (Count Your Lucky Stars)

Joyce Manor’s See How Tame I Can Be from Of All Things I will Soon Grow Tired (Asian Man)

Luke Roberts’ His Song from The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport (Thrill Jockey)

Marietta’s Yeah Yeah Yeah from Couples Therapy (Bandcamp)

The Men’s Candy from Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)

The Menzingers’ Good Things from On The Impossible Past (Epitaph)

Meridian’s The Catalyst from Aging Truths (Bandcamp)

Modern Baseball’s Its Cold Out Here from Couples Therapy (Bandcamp)

Our Sunday Affairs’ Hate Parade from City of Dogs (Bandcamp)

Paws’ Catherine 1956 from Cokefloat (Fat Cat)

Prawn’s Spring River from Ships (Topshelf)

Red Collar’s American Me from Welcome Home (Tiny Engines)

Spraynard’s Can I Borrow A Feeling from Exton Square (Asian Man)

Sun Kil Moon’s Sunshine in Chicago from Among the Leaves (Caldo Verde)

Swearin’s Hundred and Thousands from Self Titled (Salinas)

Tim Barry’s Fine Foods Market from 40 Miler (Chunksaah)

Tony Clark’s Cat Crawl from As Dark As a Moonless Night (Bandcamp)

Why the Wires’ Another Lung from All These Dead Astronauts (Rorschah)

You Blew It’s Medal of Honor from Grow Up, Dude (Topshelf)

Granite & Tumble Versus Others Top in 2012

Out of curiosity, I compared my top 17 albums of 2012 with some of the other popular lists to see how much overlap there was.   The answer is not much.   For the second year in a row, there was only one overlap and both times it was the number one album from punk news.    So, if nothing else my list could be some new music for you.

  • No overlaps with the 50 from Pitchfork.
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Spin
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Paste
  • No overlaps with the 50 from NPR
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Stereogum
  • No overlaps with the 50 from GorillavsBear
  • One overlap with the 20 from Punknews (Menzingers is #1 at Punk and #5 on GT)
  • No overlaps with the 25 from MetaCritic

Favorite Albums of 2012

I bought 109 albums in 2012.

I decided to list every album that had average song rating greater than 4, since they would all be worthy of mentioning and buying.   I have 17 albums that earned that distinction.

Using my album formula, here is the ranking of my favorite 17 albums in 2012:

1.  Erica Freas’ Belly (Rumbletown) – 9.722

freas-belly

2.  You Blew It’s Grow Up Dude (Topshelf) – 9.652

youblewit-growup

3.  Ghost Mice’s All We Got Is Each Other (Plan It X) – 9.591

ghostmice-allwegot

4.  Joie De Vivre’s We’re All Better Than This (Count Your Lukcy Stars) – 9.571

joidevivre-betterthanthis

5.  The Menzingers’ On the Impossible Past (Epitaph) – 9.537

menzingers-impossiblepast

6.  Cheap Girls’ Giant Orange (Rise) – 9.458

cheapgirls-giantorange

7.  Downtown Struts’ Victoria (Pirates Press) – 9.447

downtownstrugs-victoria

8.  Why the Wires’ All These Dead Astronauts (Rorschach) – 9.335

why-the-wires

9.  Meridian’s Aging Truths (Bandcamp) – 9.297

meridian-agingtruths

10.  Hard Girls’ Isn’t It Worse (Quote Unquote) – 9.220

hardgirls-worse

11.  Luke Roberts’ The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport (Thrill Jockey) – 9.214

roberts-gates

12.  Coping’s Nope (Bandcamp) – 9.189

Coping_Nope_Cover_HiRes

13.  Joi De Vivre’s Breaking Up (Bandcamp) – 9.109

breakingup-joidevivre

14.  Dowsing’s It’s Still Pretty Terrible (Count Your Lucky Stars) – 9.089

dowsing-terible

15.  The Smith Street Band’s Sunshine and Technology (Poison City) – 8.931

smithstreet-sunshine

16.  Dads’ American Radass (Broken World Media) – 8.858

dads-american

17.  Pedals on our Pirate Ships’ A Place to Stay (Say 10) – 8.785

poops-placetostay

Favorite EPs of 2012

The EPs of 2012 were a spectacular list.   I bought 46 EPs released in 2012 and narrowing it down to my favorites proved to be an enjoyable challenge.   I decided to set the bar at an average song rating greater than 4.  This left off 8 other notable EPs that had average song rating of 4.   In a shorter format, I felt the higher average necessary otherwise a single great song could catapult an EP into this distinguishable class.

The other interesting thing about this list is the domination of bandcamp records.  I have never seen this level of domination before with 8 of the top 11 coming from a single group.   Bandcamp is not really a label and more of a store for self released albums.   So, i guess it makes sense that bandcamp is more popular for the the shorter format.

The list below is the top 11 (using my album formula for ranking), all worth buying…

1.  Marietta & Modern Baseball’s Couples Therapy (Bandcamp) – 9.773

Couples Therapy

2.  Prawn’s Ships (Topshelf) – 9.761

prawn-ships

3.  Tony Clark’s As Dark As A Moonless Night (Bandcamp) – 9.758

clark-moonless

4.  Big Awesome’s Birdfeeder (Bandcamp) – 9.708

bigawesome-birdfeeder

5.  Our Sunday Affairs’ City of Dogs (Bandcamp) – 9.242

sunaryaffairs-cityofdogs

6.  Eric Ayotte’s Causality (Bandcamp) – 9.241

ayotte-causality

7.  Defiance, Ohio’s The Calling (Bandcamp) – 9.137

defianceohio-calling

8.  Marietta’s Demos (Bandcamp) – 8.767

marietta-demo

9.  Options’ Come Down (Bandcamp) – 8.617

options-comedown

10.  Empire, Empire (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Mountain For Clouds / Two Knights / Driving on City Sidewalks Split (Count Your Lucky Stars) – 8.293

empire-mountains-knights-split

11.  Spraynard’s Exton Square (Asian Man) – 7.990

spraynard-exton

 

2012 in Music

The end of the year is upon us again.   I do love this time of year.   You get a moment to step away from the routine and think.   I like to remember the great times of the year, while setting strategy and objectives for the new year.

I also love using my downtime to listen to a lot of music.    It truly is a labor of love going through all the music of a particular year – remembering and enjoying the standouts, listening and rating the ones that were forgotten, and discovering some new ones along the way.  For me there is pleasure and comfort in creating a sense of order to the massive quantity of music and memories into a single artifact that i can use as a catalyst to recall the best moments of a particular span of time.

For those not initiated, my lists are always for the period two years ago.    I believe that favorite album compilations should lag by two years for two primary time constraining reasons:  to address the staying power of the album and to acquire a suitable number of fine albums.

2012 was a great year.  I bought 109 albums and 1583 songs from 2012.    While 1583 songs is a lot, 2012 is the only year in the 5 year span of 2009 – 2013 that I did not have 2000 songs.   That said still a lot of music to review and go through and I will spend the next week finishing the rating and selecting my tops from 2012.

Let me know your thoughts on the hits and misses.

Top Artists of 2013

Here were the artists that I listened to the most times in 2013.    Some new, some old – but lists feels right to me on what i enjoyed most often this year.

1.  Eric Ayotte

ericayotte

2.  Radiator Hospital

Radiator+Hospital

3.  The Beatles

the-beatles

4.  The Menzingers

themenzingers

5.  Bob Dylan

bobdylan

6. The Wild

The+Wild+WildColor

7.  Sonny and the Sunsets

sonny&sunsets

8.  Pedals on our Pirate Ships

Pedals+On+Our+Pirate+Ships

9.  Ghost Mice

ghostmice-show

10.  High Dive

highdive-band

2011 Favorite Record Labels

Is the record label importance shrinking?    On one hand you would say yes.  My two favorite groupings for  albums this year were Bandcamp and self released, non curated groupings.     However, on the other hand there are a number of strong labels out there that continue to deliver great releases from new bands (Tiny Engines, Plan-It-X, Asian Man).     So, while I think the power has shifted some, a good record label is still important.  If for nothing else, it is still an excellent way to find new music.

Here are some interesting facts on the year:

  • I bought 2 or more LPs on 21 different labels in 2011.   Merge Records had the largest share (6 LPs), excluding non curated where I bought 12 from Bandcamp
  • For labels with at least two LPs, Plan-It-X had the highest average song rating in 2011 with a 4.09 average.    Highest average for single LP was 6131 Records.
  • For labels with at least two LPs, Frenchkiss and Plan-It-X had the highest listens per song at 12.

Using my record label formula, here were my favorite labels of 2011

1.  Bandcamp – 9.737 (39 artists, 12 LPs, 1 5-Star LP, 1 4-Star LP)

bandcamp

 

2.  Self Released – 9.714 (32 artists, 6 LPs, 1 5-Star LP, 1 4-Star LP)

DIY-No Label

 

3.  Frenchkiss – 8.696 (3 artists, 2 LPs, 1 5-Star LP)

frenchkiss

 

4.  Secretly Canadian – 8.538 (4 artists, 1 LP, 1 5-Star LP)

sctextlogo

 

5.  Tiny Engines – 7.593 (5 artists, 4 LPs, 3 4-Star LPs)

tinyengines

 

6.  Asian Man – 7.494 (5 artists, 4 LPs, 2 4-Star LPs)

asian-man

 

7.  Barsuk – 7.450 (5 artists, 5 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

barsuk

8.  Plan It X – 7.430 (3 artists, 3 LPs, 2 4-Star LPs)

planitx

 

9.  No Idea – 7.302 (4 artists, 3 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

no-idea

 

10.  Polyvinyl – 7.291 (4 artists, 2 LPs, 1 4-Star LP)

polyvinyl

 

5 Great Albums of 2013

As I have stated earlier, I think it is too early to judge the music of 2013; but since I keep getting asked for my favorites of 2013.    I will give you five in no particular order that really stood out to me.   Hard for me to believe these wont be on the list in two years, but time will tell.

1.  Sonny and the Sunsets’ Antenna to the Afterworld (Polyvinyl)

antenna-afterworld

2.  Radiator Hospital’s Something Wild (Salinas)

radiatorhospital-somethingwild

3.  The Wild’s Dreams Are Maps (Asian Man)

wild-dreams-maps

4.  Sundowner’s Neon Fiction (Fat Wreck Chords)

sundowner-neonfiction

5.  Waxahatchee’s Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni)

waxhatchee-cerulean-salt

Granite & Tumble versus Others Top in 2011

Out of curiosity, I compared my top 23 albums of 2011 with some of the other popular lists to see how much overlap there was.   The answer is not much.  So, if nothing else my list could be some new music for you.

  • No overlaps with the 50 from Pitchfork.
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Spin
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Paste
  • No overlaps with the 50 from NPR
  • No overlaps with the 50 from Stereogum
  • No overlaps with the 30 from GorillavsBear
  • One overlap with the 20 from Punknews (Joyce Manor is #1 at Punk and #9 on GT)
  • No overlaps with the 40 from MetaCritic
  • No overlaps with the 100 from eMusic