Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I only had to put together a few year-end lists this year, and where I didn't just give the same Top Ten to multiple outlets, titles still reappeared. There just weren't that many really great records released in 2012. I heard a lot of fantastic music, but much of it was recorded and originally issued between four and seven decades ago.

Anyway, here's the Top Ten I submitted to both The Wire and to the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll:

1. ZZ Top, La Futura
2. Emmure, Slave to the Game
3. JD Allen Trio, The Matador & The Bull
4. Manowar, The Lord of Steel
5. Cannibal Corpse, Torture
6. Aluk Todolo, Occult Rock
7. Bill McHenry, La Peur du Vide
8. Fushitsusha, Mabushii Itazura na Inori
9. Charles Gayle Trio, Streets
10. Black Music Disaster, Black Music Disaster

Top Ten lists were also published at my job, and here's the list I gave them:

1. ZZ Top, La Futura
2. Baroness, Yellow & Green
3. Gojira, L'Enfant Sauvage
4. Napalm Death, Utilitarian
5. Emmure, Slave to the Game
6. Dwight Yoakam, 3 Pears
7. Rush, Clockwork Angels
8. Kreator, Phantom Antichrist
9. Manowar, The Lord of Steel
10. Aluk Todolo, Occult Rock

The Wire also requested a list of reissues; here's that one:

1. Dr. Feelgood, All Through the City (With Wilko 1974-1977)
2. David Murray Octets, The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note
3. Underworld, Anthology 1992-2012
4. Various Artists, The Original Sound Of Cumbia - The History Of Colombian Cumbia & Porro 1948-79
5. Fania All-Stars, Live in Africa
6. William Parker, Centering: Unreleased Music 1976-1987
7. Various Artists, ¡Saoco!:The Bomba And Plena Explosion In Puerto Rico 1954-1966
8. Henry Threadgill, The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note
9. Ismael Miranda, El NiƱo Bonito
10. Cecil Taylor, Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly!

There were a few other records that impressed me this year, but didn't make it onto any of my lists: The Alabama Shakes' Boys & Girls, Ralph Bowen's Total Eclipse, Ravi Coltrane's Spirit Fiction, Orrin Evans' Flip the Script, Grass Roots' self-titled debut, Conrad Herwig's A Voice Through the Door, Clarence Penn's Dali in Cobble Hill, Dayna Stephens' Today is Tomorrow, Yosvany Terry's Today's Opinion, and a bunch of others, most of which I reviewed for Burning Ambulance.

This was the first year since 1997 that I was viewing music journalism more as an outsider than as a participant. I still write for a few places, but only a few; some of the outlets that used to print/post my work have been rendered unrecognizable due to editorial shake-ups, while others have ceased to employ freelancers. My primary outlet for straight-up music criticism is BA, which may re-emerge as a print journal in 2013.

I've been fortunate enough to transition to a new phase of my career, one that excites me greatly and challenges me in entirely different ways than anything I've done before. My plan is to keep writing about records that—and interviewing musicians who—interest me. For paying outlets when I can; for BA the rest of the time, with no guide but my own taste. I hope you'll read some of it.