Guest List: Best of 2012

A host of year-end lists from some of our favorite artists.
By Various Artists , December 31, 2012


We invited artists to submit lists of their favorite things from 2012– music-related or not– and as usual there were a wide range of responses, from the requisite lists of albums and songs to more creative fare such as Top Five Developments in Music and Top Five Genres of 2012 in John Darnielle’s Kitchen. The following entries are presented in no particular order.

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

My Favourite Things
Watching documentaries about creative married couples: My two favourites so far are: EAMES– “The Architect and The Painter” and L’AMOUR FOU– about Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. Love and creativity combined– heaven.
Best vinyl purchases: An original pressing of Reverend Gary Davis’ “A Little More Faith” that I found in Brussels on tour this autumn and the Drive soundtrack on hot pink vinyl (birthday gift). That Scorpion jacket he wears on the front makes me have disgusting thoughts.
Favourite exhibition: David Hockney “A Bigger Picture” at the Royal Academy. Like Matisse’s church, these new paintings felt like seeing an artist at his peak. It seemed he is following that great tradition of finding liberation through the process of ageing… such a joyous, spiritual, colourful day.
Beth Hoeckel’s collage artwork: My favourite is “Moonrise” (below), which I put above the fireplace, but there’s a whole bunch of good ones.


Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson: This 12-year-old girl has better style than anyone woman I know, and the boy has the coolest Y-fronts… Is that wrong of me to say?
Best theatre experience: Jerusalem. The trees sway, the drums beat and Mark Rylance blows my mind. This play made me think about England in a totally different way. Pagan, wild, violent, brilliant.
Favourite TV show: “Breaking Bad”. This is the best way to get through long nights on the tour bus. Me and my “BB” buddy have deprived ourselves between tours, so we’re are still on season three, which has made everyone else sick with jealousy. When you can hear me screaming “KILL HIM! KILL HIM!” from upstairs on the bus, you know it’s a good one.
Second favourite TV show: “Girls”
Best cocktail: (my best girlfriend’s special) elderflower liquor, rose liquor, one piece of ice and soda. It’s very ladylike.
Best sore throat soother: sage and marshmallow root tea
Best song to get ready to for shows this year: “Goth Star” by Pictureplane
Most beautiful venue played: Manchester Cathedral, England. Even though I was dying from an asthma attack at the time… they had books in my dressing room on exorcisms and celibacy. We got told off for burning candles!… in a church?!!
Favourite dance film: Pina by Wim Wenders
Favourite t-shirt logo: ‘WE HAVE ESP’ (Yes, I stole this from the Rihanna video.)
Favourite live show: Bjork’s Biophilia with spoken word by David Attenborough and kinetic musical sculptures! The choir of 18 year old girls was awesome! And seeing M83 a hundred times during the summer festivals– I was jealous of their light show!
Songs I’ve listened to a lot this year:

  • John Maus – Hey Moon
  • Pale on Pale – Chelsea Wolfe
  • Desire (Drive soundtrack) – Under Your Spell
  • Active Child – You Are All I See
  • Dead Meadow – Shivering King and Others (whole record)
  • Huun Huur Tu – Orphan’s Lament
  • Haim – Go Slow
  • Alt-J – Bloodflood
  • Pandr Eyez – Physical Education (I’ve been trying to slip “I might let you wife me” into conversations with hot boys, but to no avail!)

Best Music Video: Moones’ “Better Energy” (little brother shout out! Best video I’ve seen for AGES!)
Soundtrack to moving house, pottering and nesting: Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place”

Eleanor Friedberger
Most Played Songs

How To Dress Well
Five Best *Bests*
this year was so so so so beautiful and brilliant for me. toured all the time, made such sweet friends. really a year full of love and life in all ways. so dope! here are five *bests* from my 2012.
best opening act for a htdw show/ best new homie: francis lung (in manchester)
most slept-on r&b record: jeremih – late nights / brandy – two eleven (TIE)
top 5 best weirdo records: 1) jason lescalleet – songs about nothing; 2) maggi payne – ahh-ahh; 3) akos rozmann – 12 stationer VI; 4) estasy – wild songs; 5) arca – stretch 2
best art i saw in 2012: paul noble’s turner prize show (tate britain, london) / anthony mccall’s five minutes of pure sculpture (hamburger bahnhof, berlin) (TIE)
best non-2012 music i discovered in 2012: colophon’s love loops (and everything else i hadn’t heard by jefre cantu-ledesma–– thanks aaron!) and everything but the girl’s ‘mirrorball’ (thanks ruth!).

Charlift’s Caroline Polacheck
Top Brain-Melt Moments Had to 2012 Releases in Chronological Order:
November 15 (2011), Brooklyn, NY
Ice Choir – “Everything Is Spoilt By Use”

Learning the lyrics to sing the duet part for “Everything Is Spoilt By Use”, I got goosebumps. What I thought was a skating-rink ballad was actually a Victorian S&M face-off between a man’s will and his supressed imagination. He sings: So put your tension on the strings… Trust, I’d spite to keep you near”. To which I reply: “Still I stand for your abuse on prominent display… But you’ll accept the stillborn spring as long as I am here”. And there’s fretless bass.

November 12 (2011), Sleepy Hollow, NY
Violens – “Der Microarc”

Violens rented a car to have a group listen to their final track sequencing before mastering. We drove up the Hudson river valley to Sleepy Hollow on fall afternoon, rental car crammed full. When the roads got twisty, “Der Microarc” felt like plummeting down a pinwheel-lined rabbit’s hole into an amber-tinted fever dream, and I fully “got” that song for the first time.

February 29th, Utrecht, Holland
Off Love – “Be Around U” live at Tivoli

When he climbed off stage mid-song with his face still cloaked in the ying-yang bandana, and slowly handed out roses to the audience. Projections of the Backstreet Boys dancing in slo-mo still looping on the empty stage.

March 7, London, Young Turks kitchen
John Talabot – “So Will Be Now”

The Young Turks crew was working on their laptops in the kitchen, I was milling around out making tea and being a pest. They played the track for me to show me the new records they were into, and even though I don’t really listen to much house music, it immediately sounded like a classic. Magnetic and meditative, like the fairground swings you don’t want to get off.

March 27, Montreal
Iron Galaxy – “Attention Seeker”

After a show at Il Motore, we made friends with a crew who invited us over for a small but epic afterparty. I heard this song at 3am while spinning around in a hanging hammock-chair, coming off DMT. Felt like we’d stepped into some utopian parallel universe. I think we listened to it twice back to back, people were dancing on the fluffy carpet in the living room. But it didn’t feel repetitive: three movements take you through slowly changing washes of melancholy and victory.

April 4, Salt Lake City
Frankie Rose- “Pair of Wings”

In the hotel pre-show with Olga Bell (who was playing in Chairlift at the time), I put the Interstellar album on while we laced up our sneakers on to go for a run around the eerily fake-looking city, but never made it out of the room. We just played the whole album out on the laptop speakers and silently stretched on the paisley carpet instead.

April 18th, New Orleans
Nite Jewel- “Memory, Man” live at One Eyed Jack’s

By far the emptiest show of the tour we did together in the spring, only about 20 people there. At the humid New Orleans venue they were at their most dark and exotic though, like they were speaking their own language. Music for grownups.

April 25, London
Carter Tutti Void – “V1″

Sitting up front with the driver, on route from our hotel in Clapham to soundcheck at Scala. It was raining, and we listened to the whole album with the windshild wipers going in and out of time with the drum machines. By the time we arrived I wanted to quit music.

June 29, Medici Villa, Rome
Frank Ocean- “Pyramids”

Right before Channel Orange came out, I found “Pyramids” on YouTube and played it off my iPhone in the bathroom while brushing my teeth. When that synth kicked in at 1:11, I put down my toothbrush and listened to all ten rambling, indulgent minutes with a mouth full of blue foam.

August 1, Brooklyn
Ariel Pink – “Symphony of the Nymph”

Eating cereal listening to this song while moving out of my apartment. Stopped the scong to scroll back and see if he really was saying “I can’t get enough of those bitches” or if i’d misheard… milk came out my nose.

September 10, San Francisco
TRUST – “Chrissy E” live at The Mezzanine

Robert Alfons has the most underrated voice. Live, he morphs into every sort of vampire – from low, rich snarls, up the octaves to eerily elfin and high- all while wearing a white wifebeater and chain. Holy hell.

October 2nd, Sydney, Australia
Jeremih Ft. Natasha Mosley – “Fuck U All The Time”

First heard this song on the drive back from a juvenile detention center, after making a track with the girls there via the Heaps Decent program. I’d barely slept that week, so while staring braindead out the window watching the dusty Sydney suburbs and roadside litter, this track was unexpectedly divine; just screwed vocal over four bars of Rhodes and all that empty space.

October 13th Aokigahara forest (“aka Suicide Forest”), at Mount Fuji, Japan
Julia Holter – “Four Gardens”

Hearing Ekstasis on generator-powered speakers in the middle of the forest, with my eyes closed while being painted in traditional Japanese makeup for a shoot. It felt like I’d found the ultimate place for that album to be played, with ravens and creaking branches. (Aokigahara is where hundreds of Japanese people go every year to hang themselves. It’s legendary for being haunted, and even the most unsuperstitious of the photo crew threw special salts over their shoulders to keep spirits from following them home.) At the 4-minute mark when Julia’s trills start swarming in delay with atonal sax, adrenaline flashed up my spine.

Panda Bear
Top Albums (no order)


  • hiatus kaiyote “nakamarra”
  • actress “rip”
  • ariel pink’s haunted graffiti “mature themes”
  • jam city “classical curves”
  • todd terje “its the arps”
  • micachu and the shapes “never” and live in america
  • black dice “mr impossible”
  • burial “kindred”
  • Traxman “da mind of traxman”
  • Dean blunt and inga Copeland “black is beautiful”




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