Amazingly enough, 2012 was a stronger year for Chicago area artists than last. HoZac Records were largely responsible as three of their singles occupy spots in the years Top 10 list, including #1.
- Bare Mutants – “Without You” (HoZac): From the ashes of The Ponys, Jered Gummere has risen with Bare Mutants. With their debut release, the band has written maybe my two favorite songs all year in “Without You” and “Inside My Head”. Those are the only two songs but their psychedelic fuzz pop is flat out irresistible. All physical editions of this 7″ are sold out but the glorious songs can be found at iTunes.
- Angel Olsen – Half Way Home (Bathetic): From the moment this Angel’s voice came through my headphones on the Strange Cacti EP, I realized that there is hope for today’s music. It obviously still means something to Olsen, who expanded her repertoire with her debut LP. A beautiful mix of folk, country, and sixties pop.
- Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself (Mom+Pop): Locals are hardly unfamiliar with Bird as he routinely sells out shows whenever he comes home. His latest is much of the same but with some more user friendly tracks that definitely saw some heavy radio airplay.
- Nones – HoZac Hookup Klub 7″ (HoZac): The second HoZac single was a subscription only. I still don’t know if this band is pronounced like “Nuns” or “Knowns” but who cares? They are a rambunctious lot that are tons of punk fun.
- Airiel – Kid Games (Shelflife): This EP was a ling time coming from Airiel, whose local brand of shoegaze has gotten a bit dancier but still excellent.
- Heavy Times – “I’m Single” (HoZac): The three most awesome tracks of garage punk since the death of Jay Reatard. High praise, sure. But with their upcoming LP, they’ll prove me right.
- Disappears – Pre Language (Kranky): Three years, three albums, each one better than the last. The addition of Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley on drums raises the bar and Fosbury flops over it. Excellent drone.
- Ami Saraiya & The Outcome – Soundproof Box (Self-Released): Accordions, torture fantasies, and a lovely voice populate this wholly original album that defies genre classification.
- Archie Powell & The Exports – Great Ideas At Work (Good Land) Soulful, catchy rock complete off-the-wall rhyming schemes, in the vein of Paul Westerberg. I think I like these guys better. Maybe too much “Crazy Pills”.
- Young Jesus – Home (Self-Released) A band I likened to “Nick Cave and the Magnetic Zeroes”. Playfully maudlin folk rock.
Now, it’s up to you, Chicago. Go out and support your hometown artists. Angel Olsen will be performing at the Hideout on Feb 8 for the ridiculous bargain price of $7. Ami Saraiya will be at Double Door the next night. Archie Powell will be opening for Mutts at Goose Island in Wrigleyville on Jan 25. Soonest up will be Young Jesus, who will be at Beat Kitchen on Dec 29. Go on ye hipsters and enjoy.