STAFF 2012 WRAP UPS: ANTHONY
Posted by Anthony Obst
THEMES AND TRENDS OF 2012
The 90s Came Back
Theoretically speaking, 2012 was the second time in my life I could say: Thank God, the 80s are finally over. Then again, the first time the 80s came to a close, I wasn't old enough to speak yet, so this year marked a late revenge for me on the decade of neon shades and Duran Duran.
The recycling industry that is our modern day pop culture entered into a new phase in 2012, stretching out its slimy tentacles to the days of my elementary school days (and if you're reading this, there's a good chance these were yours too). Accordingly those individuals whose early forming period coincided with the 90s incorporated retro elements from that time frame into their own artistic output, just like the previous generation had done with, say, the C-86 jangle guitar sound.
Rap music saw an embrace of the 90s boom bap-spirit, mostly carried out by youngins who had been too young to soak all that good stuff in the first time around, with Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew leading the way. But also the sounds of Memphis' 90s underground and Westcoast G-Funk went through a revival, with SpaceGhostPurrp and his Raider Klan mining them diligently for all their worth.
The dancefloors were not spared from this development, as young producers like Disclosure, Bondax, Bicep, Ejeca and Waze & Odyssey rose to prominence with their 90s house-indebted synth simmers and 4-to-the-floor-knock, throwing down sets that fused the old with the new so well that at times you barely noticed the difference.
Dance Music Saw An Inflation of Vocalists
In a brilliant article for FACT Magazine on Hyperdub's authoritative role in dance music, Angus Finlayson suggests that the label's first quatrain of 2012 LP's (Scratcha DVA, Laurel Halo, Hype Williams, Cooly G) may point to a broader change in the world of club music.
If that change is at least in part simply a shift to a more vocalist-centric approach, then the remainder of 2012 pointed towards an underscoring of that thesis. Not only did Hyperdub's fifth full-length of the year follow in that same vein (LV's Sebenza), but artists like Andy Stott, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Maya Jane Coles also went for a more vocal-based approach. Disclosure's rise to dancefloor-stardom was in large parts aided by their pop-leaning emphasis on big hooks, vocal reworks and collaborations.
Meanwhile, the likes of Azealia Banks, Le1f and Mykki Blanco jumped on productions from the club world, and singers like AlunaGeorge, Jessie Ware and Katy B continued to break down the barriers between the dancefloor and the living room couch.
Nobody Cared About Guitars Anymore
With the risk of setting myself up for some backlash here: guitar-based indie rock was just not cool in 2012. While last year still had its fair share of noteworthy string-plucking releases (Girls, Dirty Beaches, The Antlers, Cults and Smith Westerns) most indie rock seemed pretty irrelevant in 2012. Save for a few exceptions-- like Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear and Beach House-- the once omnipresent "indie" felt like an antiquated concept reserved for smelly dudes in record stores and the hipsters of last year.
Be it Dirty Projectors, DIIV, Best Coast, TOY or Lotus Plaza-- hell, even Japandroids and Cloud Nothings-- that shit was all kind of last semester this year, if not plain bland and lacking in new ideas. It seemed like the Purity Rings and Grimes' of this world had taken the spot of these bands normally reserved for them in the indie realm of things.
The only new band that stood out with an innovative approach this year was Alt-J and that was mainly due to their successful incorporation of electronic elements. "I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables." Let's see if the sequel to that line will follow in 2013.
Lastly, here are some fun little lists I put together that feature my personal favorite things of 2012...
Top 10 Raider Klan Tracks
Dough Dough Da Don- I'm a Raider
Top 10 "Sophisti-Trap" Tracks
Top 10 DJs I Saw In 2012 That You Should See In 2013
DJ Slow & Piu Piu