In Session's Best of 2012

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It”s been a busy 2012 for In Session: a charity compilation released at the start of the year; 18 (eighteen!) tremendous sessions from our favourite artists including Frightened Rabbit, Meursault, and Adam Stafford; plus the occasional update on our beloved Nanu Nanu. In Session has once again achieved far more in the last year than either Lily or I thought was reasonable and it”s with great joy that we look ahead to returning to the Fresh Air studio in the coming year. Heck, we may even revive our plans to take a punt on putting on a gig next year if we decide that this money thing people worry about is overrated. Double heck, we may even start blogging more.

The first step towards this music blogging lark begins with everyone”s favourite blog post to write, read, and criticise because it takes the least amount of effort on all fronts – the mandatory “Best of” list. Although we focus on showcasing Scottish artists in our radio show and our sessions, you may be surprised to find out that we also like to listen to music from beyond the borders from time to time. We”re rather cosmopolitan like that. That being said, the list you”re about to skim does not reflect the opinions of my partner Lily as she said she hasn”t listened to enough new music this year to make an informed list. So, if you”re going to attack the credibility of this list then do address your insults to me.

Without further ado, behold and enjoy my micro reviews and link dumping!

Best Albums:

1. Meursault – Something For The Weakened
A move away from electronica and the addition of a full string section heralds a move towards a richer and fuller sound. This change is most evident on tracks like Lament For A Teenage Millionaire and Flittin” which have been staples of Meursault”s repertoire and have now grown into thunderous tunes. Meanwhile, this shift has made for a more accessible album, which is no bad thing, as tracks like Dull Spark, the first single from the album, are the most poppy the band have sounded to date. What SFTW manages best is to draw greater appreciation for Neil’s dynamic voice which effortlessly manages to convey the ferocity of his frustrations and the poignancy of his fears. That, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

2. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Japandroids latest release sticks two fingers and lobs poutine in the face of people voicing that rock is dead. Celebration Rock is an Best UK Casinos outrageously fun album which builds to anthemic The House That Heaven Built and Contiuous Thunder, a glorious climax drenched in reverb and a fireworks signature that urges you to play through the whole LP again. That”s a rare accomplishment.

3. PAWS – Cokefloat!
Thrashing punk rock aesthetics have made PAWS one of the must-see live bands in Scotland but their huge sound conceals tender lyrics about PAWS” frontman Phillip Taylor”s relationship with his deceased Mother which is more apparent and, at times, harrowing in the toned down sound on Cokefloat!

4. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
An epic coming-of-age album that reflects upon Kendrick”s journey from wannabe gangsta to contrition which is encapsulated in the theatrical double header “Sing About Me, I”m Dying of Thirst”

5. Cloud Nothings – All Or Nothing
One of the most notable things about Cloud Nothings is that they retain a distinct sound despite seemingly trying to reinvent themselves with each release. All Or Nothing sees them move towards a more conventional indie rock sound with Fall In and Stay Useless standing out as an exhilarating pairing in the middle third of a roaring LP.

Honourable mentions:
The Twilight Sad, Grimes, Odesza, Trapped Mice, Happy Particles (though it was technically 2011), The Leg, Miouax Miouax, and Stanley Odd

Best Singles:

1. Chvrches – The Mother We Share
Such a phenomenal tune that Lily had to tell me stop playing it on loop. It looks like the hype machine was right about these lot and we can”t wait to hear their album.

2. Adam Stafford – Vanishing Tanks
Released on Gerry Loves Records on a split tape with Rick Redbeard, Vanishing Tanks is crammed with infectious hooks and melodies by beat-boxing cult member, Adam Stafford. Okay, that”s a half truth but below is a live video of the track which demonstrates some of the theatre Adam brings to his performances. (watch it in HD)

3. Frightened Rabbit – State Hospital
Will Frightened Rabbit”s upcoming album, Pedestrian Verse, manage to match the dizzy heights of The Midnight Organ Fight? Who knows but if State Hospital, which will also appear on the LP, is anything to go by then there”s good reason to keep hoping.

4. Lambchop – Gone Tomorrow
A late entry after hearing it on an end of year mixtape (Thanks, Adam) but it has been an obsession for the last fortnight. There is something completely different and unique about this track as it darts through the melancholia of an ending into a stirring four-minute instrumental which is lifts the song to stellar heights. “The wine tasted like sunshine in the basement” takes my number one spot for lyric of the year too.

5. Honeyblood – Super Rat
Garage Rock duo, Stina and Shona, comprise Honeyblood who, unquestionably, are the band which most excited us this year. Sharp lyrics and brisk instrumental thrashing are what makes us overtly keen to get them in for a session in 2013.

And there you have it! In Session will be back in 2013 with many more sessions, interviews, and the long-awaited second compilation.

Happy New Year!

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