All year every year, 90.3 KEXP shines a light on a plethora of bands that we might not have otherwise discovered. This year, with the help of their neat little iPhone app, I decided to document the music that I discovered over their airwaves. Of course, many tracks were missed (*when my phone wasn't handy, for example), but I was able to record a fair sampling.
What I discovered was that most of them were by artists outside my normal comfort zone, or were songs for which I couldn't quite put my finger on the title or artist's name, but didn't want to forget it. Here is an annotated, time-stamped list of 32 tracks I can only thank KEXP for. Check out our music blog at seattleweekly.com/reverb to hear every song on the list. Here's to a great 2012!
Wildlife, "Storm Bringer," Jan. 8, 10:28 p.m. Wildlife piles layers onto this simple, sturdy riff until it's a psychedelic pyramid of radness.
Andrew Bird, "Anonanimal," March 9, 12:35 p.m. Not in love with Bird's mumble for the most part, but his voice otherwise is moving, and he is an incredible musician. All the parts, from the strings on down, flow together seamlessly.
Keith Canisius, "This Time It's Our High," April 15, 4:36 p.m. Drugs.
Gomez, "78 Stone Wobble," April 16, 3:37 p.m. This track is kind of boring. What was I doing on April 16 that this provided the perfect soundtrack to?
Lauryn Hill, "Lost Ones," April 20, 3:15 p.m. Great song, great album, great hair.
Blakroc, "What You Do to Me," April 25, 9:28 a.m. I avoided listening to this album for some time, but this track sounds smoother and more natural than many mashup-style rap/rock experiments.
UNKLE, "In a State," May 11, 1:08 p.m. An eerie house groove with themes of isolation and desperation.
The Wrens, "Boys, You Won't," May 13, 10:24 a.m. Another despondent protagonist. May must have been a depressing month for me. The guitar over the top and the piano down low grabbed me on this one.
Modest Mouse, "The Stars Are Projectors," May 21, 8:25 p.m. I'm a fair-weather MM fan, but I dig the journey this song takes you on.
Gang Gang Dance, "Thru and Thru," June 1, 11:15 a.m. The crashing climax and hypnotic denouement are punctuated by a digitized "Live forever" line that might be the best ending to a song ever.
TV on the Radio, "Will Do,"
July 11, 11:39 a.m.
Sexy and cool. The song has a classy new-wave feel with the catchiness of a '50s love song.
Joro Boro and Brilla, "Imperial Kudurostep," July 26, 8:41 p.m. A silly yet hard-hitting techno-ode to Darth and the Troopers.
M83, "Midnight City," July 27, 1:13 p.m. This smash hit is freeing, nostalgic, and creepy all at the same time. Great song.
Wu Lyf, "Cave Song," July 27, 1:16 p.m. Wild, emotional vocals with great, frantic drumming and guitar/bass interplay to match.
JEFF the brotherhood, "Ripper,"
Aug. 4, 1:09 p.m.
Nashville blues-rock that jumps into a roaring, rebellious punk tantrum. "I don't wanna go!"
Cults, "Go Outside," Aug. 5, 10:04 a.m. Oh, Cults, you're so great. This would have been just as big a hit 60 years ago.
The Stepkids, "Shadows on Behalf," Aug. 10, 2:22 p.m. Another vintage-sounding jam; '70s soul psychedelia.
Peter Bjorn and John, "Second Chance," Aug. 13, 1:43 p.m. Almost as relentlessly infectious as PB&J's "Young Folks," this is a pop song with an indie-rock pedigree.
Iceage, "Collapse," Aug. 15, 1:33 p.m. Copenhagen punk jam with a tight, whiny guitar line and a sassy bass lick.
Fool's Gold, "The Dive," Aug. 15, 3:35 p.m. Tasty summertime groove with south-of-the-border-style guitars and worldly rhythms.
Collections of Colonies of Bees, "Lawn," Aug. 17, 4:59 p.m. Mogwai-style instrumental buildup. Not quite as exciting as I thought at the time.
Leonard Cohen, "Avalanche," Aug. 25, 1:44 p.m. Haunting lyrics over classical-guitar finger-picking and sinister strings.
Radiohead, "Nude," Aug. 25, 1:54 p.m. Radiohead is a band that's never let its artistry give way to marketability. Thom sings beautifully.
Male Bonding, "Seems to Notice Now," Aug. 26, 11:45 a.m. Fun yet slightly outdated noise-pop.
DaVinci, "D.R.E.A.M.," Aug. 28, 7:08 p.m. One of the most brutally honest, and best, cuts I heard all year. Self-effacing bars sprinkled with hope: "Dream first, ask questions last."
Phoenix, "Lisztomania," Sept. 1, 1:13 p.m. Awesome transatlantic pop song. If you don't like this song, you might want to get a soul-screening.
Keep Shelly in Athens, "Our Own Dream," Sept. 9, 9:17 p.m. Down-tempo Mediterranean house that almost sounds like a syrupy Clams Casino endeavor. Sounded great on my birthday.
Real Estate, "It's Real," Sept. 10, 12:53 a.m. As catchy as it is trippy. Looks like it was still my birthday.
Portugal. The Man, "Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)," Sept. 10, 7:03 p.m. Singer John Gourley does great falsetto funk here. The string accompaniment and melody sound Beatles-like in a very good way.
Telekinesis, "Dirty Thing," Sept. 10, 8:14 p.m. Singing drummer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Lerner does a lot of good things with this simple melody. Nice textures in the recording as well.
Deer Tick, "Chevy Express," Nov. 30, 7:10 p.m. Badass cowboy folk. Great canvas for lines like "Drugs and terror, which one's better?/Mother Nature is waging a war."
Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, "Against the Law," Nov. 30, 7:32 p.m. Sorry to play the spoiler, but the segment where the song's provocative amble goes uppercase toward the end is just fantastic.