The annual selection of music, albums and artists that proved favourite with the staff and customers at Rough Trade Shops in 2012.
Rough Trade Shops Top 10 of 2012 is represented by Grimes’ (4AD) peachy synthetic pop, Django Django’s (Because) psychedelic art rock and John Talabot’s (Permanent Vacation) superior pop-house alongside a confessional from Alabama Shakes (Rough Trade) and some idiosyncratic rain-folk from Damien Jurado (Secretly Canadian). Allo Darlin’s (Fortuna POP!) giddy indiepop, Toy’s (Heavenly) contemporary motorik, Goat’s (Rocket) kaleidoscopic rhythms and alt-J’s (Infectious) innovative alt-rockism further enhance that list.
The beginning of this double-disc collection follows the Counter Culture tradition of starting slow and low with the beautiful, intense ‘10am Gare Du Nord’ by Keaton Henson (Oak Ten) which precedes the afore-mentioned Alabama Shakes and Damien Jurado tracks. Not for the first time, Phil Spector casts a shadow over pop this year, and this notion is demonstrated by the inclusion of a trio of artists new to Rough Trade this year – Crybaby (Helium), Jagwar Ma (The Blue Rider) and Opossom (FIRE).
Before CD1 flames out with the incendiary riff-age of METZ (Sub Pop), supported ably by Goat and storming debut singles from the post-punk-influenced Savages (Pop Noire) and Palma Violets (Rough Trade), the track list takes a detour through new formulas for the dancefloor created by Stubborn Heart (One Little Indian), Kindness (Female Energy) and Daphni aka Dan Snaith from Caribou (Jiaolong), then segues into an alt-rock sequence beginning with alt-J and Liars (Mute) before further mutation into a duo of crackin’, Kraut-rockin’ work-outs from Public Service Broadcasting (Test Card) and BEAK>(Invada).
CD2 is where extreme creativity is exhibited by adventurous musicians. Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras collaborate with the legendary Congos and their ‘ICON GIVE THANK’ album (FRKWYS) is a ground-breaking fusion of improvised composition and Jamaican dub. Daughn Gibson (White Denim) layers loops from old rockabilly records and combines them with his original vocals while Chromatics (Italians Do It Better) cover a Neil Young classic in their dry and minimal style. Post-industrial legends NON /Boyd Rice (Mute) and Throbbing Gristle / X-TG (Industrial) have important records released this year, the former returning to noise terrorism like he’s never been away, while Carter / Tutti / Christopherson (R.I.P) have produced a stunning re-imagination of Nico’s ‘Desert Shore’ with vocals from Antony, Marc Almond and Blixa Bargeld amongst others.
Zebra Katz’s (Mad Decent) ‘Ima Read’ is a slice of capricious high-school horror-core, blending rap, minimal techno and the world of Vogue-ing in equal measure and is truly unique. Debut EPs from Diamond Version (Mute/ Raster-Noton), TNGHT (Warp) and Acidliner (Gangsigns) have been massively popular on the shopfloor. All three of whom subtly mess with electronics in brand new ways and they, along with the Kindness, Daphni and Talabot remind us that 2012 was also a good year on the dancefloor
The big hitters from Grimes and Talabot follow, before we introduce the closing section of this year’s comp, a quintet of truly innovative electronic and avant-pop compositions from Julia Holter (RVNG), Halls and Vinyl Williams (both on No Pain In Pop), Group Rhoda (Night School) and the maverick Dan Deacon (Domino). These artists provide a fitting conclusion to the compilation as they, alongside us, attempt to shine a light on where we go next.
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