On a national level, the albums of 2012 took elements of non-narrative electronic music and bridged the gap between analog and digital. The result was an amazing array of releases that pushed songwriting structure to new levels, while using analog instrumentation. And many of my favorite albums were thematic in a subtle way.
While I didn’t notice much in the way of Utah music pushing new songwriting forms, local albums shared the thematic approach of those on a national level.
Joshua James’ record dealt with the mystical and spiritual search at the bard’s core; Eagle Twin dug into mythological symbols; Book on Tape Worm put out a collection of sad, literature-inspired songs (and the CD packaging was a pop-up book); Gaza got on a soapbox of sonic bricks to yell about anti-religion and anti-establishmentism; Chinese hybrid-folk band Matteo released a five-song EP recorded during their artists-in-residency at Sichuan University in China; and Open Orchard Revival was a collaborative effort to record a memorial gospel album for a grandmother who had passed away.
Then, there were less heavy releases, which leaned more towards fun, quirky storytelling, like Secret Abilities’ spooky record was all about monsters, and there was Folk Hogan’s jangly odes to drinking culture.
We also saw the ever-rising theme of crowd-funded projects. Book on Tape Worm, Matteo, Open Orchard Revival, The Awful Truth and The Mighty Sequoyah, among others, used Kickstarter -- or the equivalent -- to get their projects off the ground. This ties in to a larger theme of more artist/fan interaction than ever before. I will touch on this in the forthcoming Utah Music Year in Review.
Now, on to the music. Overall, it was an excellent year for local albums. Here are 14 of my favorites, plus a rundown of other enjoyable ones that crossed the City Weekly music desk this year:
Joshua James, From the Top of Willamette Mountain
“Queen of the City”
Eagle Twin, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale
“Ballad of Job Cain Part II”
Book on Tape Worm, All The World's A Stage
Secret Abilities, Rise Up From Our Graves
Gaza, No Absolutes in Human Suffering
Joshua Payne Orchestra, Ra Ra Ra
Matteo, The Sichuan Project
Open Orchard Revival, What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?
The Awful Truth, Birthright
The New Electric Sound, The New Electric Sound
Jay William Henderson, The Sun Will Burn Our Eyes
“Let the Sail Be Your Guide”
The Mighty Sequoyah, Sunken Houses
Spirit Master, Demo Album EP
Folk Hogan, Band of Mighty Souls
Neon Trees, Picture Show
Timmy the Teeth, White Horse
Michael Gross and the Statuettes, Sunset Beach
Natural Roots, Words of Jah
The North Valley, The Bad Habits EP
Marinade, Soak Your Meat in This...
Luna Lune, Luna Lune
The Arcadians, No More Nightmares
Triggers & Slips, Triggers & Slips
Juana Ghani, Shall We Live Forever
The Lower Lights, Hymn Revival, Volume II
Linus Stubbs, Incandescent
The Weekenders, Don’t Plan On
The Pleasure Thieves, The Empire Never Ended
Eidola, The Great Glass Elephant
Lady & Gent, To Death in Delta
Ferocious Oaks, It’s Better This Way