With 2012 coming to a close, some of us at Hexbeat wanted to share what we consider to be the highs and lows of of the pop culture that we experienced this year. For the final week of 2012, we’ll be giving the year the send off it deserves by looking back and picking out some of our favorite books, movies, music and artworks released in the past 12 months, as well as some of our favorite discoveries and biggest disappointments in the pop culture sphere. Feel free to add your picks in the comments!
We’re kicking off our 2012 week in review with The Good, a list of our favorite things that were released this year.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a strange rom-com/sci-fi blend about three magazine reporters doing an undercover investigation of an eccentric man who placed a classified ad looking for a time-traveling partner. I adore everything about Aubrey Plaza‘s portrayal of the sweetly sardonic Darius, and writer/director/mumblecore originator Mark Duplass (better known as Pete on The League) was perfect as the quirky and slightly disturbed Kenneth. The movie is funny, warm, and I never quite knew where it was going, but in a good way.
The debut novel of Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a rich coming of age story set in 1987 that revolves around awkward 14-year-old June Elbus and her relationships with her beloved dying uncle, popular sister, and an unexpected friend that she has to keep hidden from her family. Brunt perfectly brings back the feelings of awkward adolescence and being at the tail end of childhood and brink of adulthood, and all the conflicting emotions that come with it. Highly recommended for everyone, but especially if you were a high school weirdo or have sibling rivalry issues.
Ex-Cult – Self Titled
Maybe I’m brain-washed from getting to see Ex-Cult play in Memphis all the time, but their catchy ass debut album is definitely my favorite release of the year. I had to make myself stop listening to it so often so I wouldn’t get sick of it.
Hopefully the Catholic Boys reissue of Psychic Voodoo Mind Control will make some best of 2012 lists, since its limited run in 2004 failed to circulate very far. I missed out the first time and didn’t come across a single used copy in the 8 years it was out of print. The minute I heard Dusty Medical/HS!BF Records would be reissuing it I jumped at the chance to finally own a copy. The title track is a staple at most of my dj nights, and never fails to bring people over to inquire, “Who the fuck is blowing my mind right now???” A must-have kick in the pants for fans of sleazy 90s garage trash.
Best Movie Scene
Wanderlust Mirror Scene
I’ve never been a big movie person, so my “best of” for 2012 is non-existent. But a best scene from 2012? Courtesy of Paul Rudd’s character in Wanderlust.
Best Band Introduction
Man oh man, in early 2012, LA skate rock quartet “Fuck it Dog, Life’s a Risk” knocked on the door to ask the dormant delinquent in me to come out and play. In this burning-me-out burnout revival, the evolved psuedo-square I lately see in the mirror needed fresh anthems to dance to, yell with, and shake fists at. Addictive melodies and rascally lyrics raced each other on my morning commute soundtrack and I longed to skip work, steal some kid’s skateboard, live on gas station hot dogs, and pay bills late with couch change. Unfortunately we have damn cold winters here and I’m goofy-footed and I have an endearing landlord so I just live vicariously through their catchy-as-hell short and scattered published setlist.
It took little time for FIDLAR to be promoted by the higher-ups. One minute I was cheering on their presence on a Random Old Records Podcast and the next I was reading all sorts of fancy news in popular magazines. If my best friend made the football team/cheerleading squad in high school, I’d be simultaneously excited and impressed to see them there, and partially anxious if things were going to change too much.
A lazy Google search bestows a redundant journalistic recycling of slacker/garage/punk/lo-fi/stoner/party/beer/you-get-the-point band profiling. For the genres they frequent and the lifestyle themes they’re touting, they’re actually comparatively polished, and further interviews indicate a better work ethic than we’re inclined to romanticize. A DIY effort is a DIY effort, even when the major festival circuit adopts you and your dad was in T.S.O.L. Thanks for the party, FIDLAR, we can’t wait for 2013.
Best Social Debate
2012 didn’t invent social and moral complications in artists’ rights and compensation, but I eavesdropped on some compelling conversations this summer. Within the same June week as each other, Topic Simple published a video about spec work for graphic designers, NPR intern Emily White wrote an anecdotal confessional for a digital generation’s consumer philosophy, and the musical community responded loudly from all directions.
These topics are important to me as a graphic designer and web developer trying to serve the arts. As much as technology has benefited creative producers with innovation, there are ways it has depreciated the worth of a creative career.
The Rodney Kings-“Irene” EP
I fell in love with this “tongue to a 9-volt,” punk rock-n-roll trash trio from Athens, GA after hearing their 2 tracks contributed to the “Gypnosis” comp on GypsyFarm. The Rodney Kings Irene EP (GypsyFarm) is a loud, 4 fuzzy swamp-stomp gem of a catchy mess that makes me want to hit the night in search of some teenage kicks.
Starting with the sweaty surfed up title track “Irene,” the Kings keep the record steadily moving forward with their hopped up herky-jerky brand of lo-fi punk and slinky, dirty garage hollering.
There is also a “name your price” download of their first ep available on Bandcamp.
Best Longer EP
Lantern – “Dream Mine” EP
I have been quite inspired by this cassette release on Bathetic. It’s 9 songs of howling, trashed rock and roll, a melted blend of blues-punk drowning in a murky cloud of psychedelic slop. Heavy on the Stooges smash, bash, and broken glass, even a lengthy cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” This album is the soundtrack to my gawky fantasy biker-gang of awkward softies that bark harder than we bite. Long live that jean-vest slacker feeling!
The Charlotte Observer reported that an NBA player suffered a “herniated dick.”
Photoshopped pictures of supposed “Sharks” , swimming in residential neighborhoods after Hurricane Sandy.
Batman-The Dark Knight Rises
The Man With The Iron Fists
Best Music Reunions
Revelation Records- 25th Anniversary show
Texas Is The Reason
Chain Of Strength
Absentia, an effectively suspenseful and slightly terrifying film made with very little money. Have you ever worried you might walk into a tunnel and not come out on the other side of it?
Best Album I Still Got On Repeat:
Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city: A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar” will tell you a story in ways you’ve never felt before. Lamar can make you think or make you wanna take your pants off or make you go cold all over at will.
Miss Dear reads too much. Her personal brand is glitter and her favorite accessories are bruises from shows. She is still quite torn up about David Bowie. You can often find her taking pictures of her precious cats or at a dive bar being mediocre at karaoke. She's a PacNW native that loves the South.
I play records on the radio in Cleveland, and sometimes I host dance parties around town. I like trashy rock'n'roll, kittens, true crime, vintage everything, the Monkees, and starting too many collections. My radio show streams live on wcsbradio.com every Tuesday night.