by on Dec 13, 2012

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Illustration by Lyndsey Lesh

Lo-Pie’s staff picked their favorite albums of 2012

A Giant Dog – Fight

They’re all over the map in this album and I fucking love it. It’s that kind of album that has you humming the tunes back from the first listen. — A.A. Yuen






Audacity – Mellow Cruisers

Despite featuring some genuinely creeptastic lyrics and not doing much to advance the art form (which I doubt anyone actually cares about), Mellow Cruisers is everything you’d want from a Southern California punk album and is therefore deserving of a spot on the Lo-Pie list. After all, we are dedicated to keeping California rad and there is no band around who embodies that sentiment more than Audacity. In any case, “Punk Confusion” is as good a pop punk love song as I’ve ever heard and the chorus alone is worth the price of the LP. It soundtracked enough summertime stupidity that I still can’t listen to it without blushing. — Mariana Timony


The Babies – Our House On The Hill

The Babies’ artistic intent was clear right from the band’s earliest singles: No frills folk-tinged punk, wrought with emotion and the unshakable notion of infallibility that comes with being young and free.

Our House On The Hill presents that vision here, fully formed and refined — and not just in terms of production value. While it’s true the Babies sound better on this album, nothing trumps the fact that the Babies are writing better, too. Originally written for inclusion on Cassie Ramone’s now-shelved solo album, the repetitiously sweet “Baby” could very well be the best song she’s penned to date. Kevin Morby injects flashes of Leonard Cohen’s meandering lyricism throughout the LP, most apparent on the starkly produced “Mean.”

“Mean” isn’t exactly a direct descendant of the high-energy, ramshackle musings on city living (“Get Lost”) and directionless wandering (“See The Country”) that pepper Our House On The Hill. Yet, the track’s pointed simplicity and unexpected orchestral flourishes — yes, that is a saxophone you hear in the song’s bridge — make for a distinct, welcome departure from the Babies’ usual sonic milieu. — Kat Bee

Bare Wires – Idle Dreams

In this “music scene” or “new garage wave” or wutever-the-fuck-you-wanna-call-it “thing” we’re all a part of, you see a lot of people come and go. It’s a constantly revolving door of new talents and ugly faces, and most people only have enough steam to release an album or two before fizzling out as quickly as they appear. Matthew Melton is not one of those people. He’s here to stay, folks, and he seems to only be getting better as he goes. Idle Dreams was the shit. It was everything I wanted and expected, only more focused, sexier, and weightier than previous efforts. Maybe it was the fact that Bare Wires broke up. Maybe it was that my life was changing so much when it came out. Really, it was the fact that upon instantly hearing “School Days”, I knew that it was a song I was gonna carry with me to the end of my own days.
A rare feat for a song or anything in our generation.
 — Joey Genovese

Charlie Megira and the Modern Dance Club – Love Police

Charlie Megira plays the madman to the Modern Dance Club’s varicose alley enforcers on this crash course in subversive rock history. Love Police is Pollock with a pick, a heterogeneous mosaic that shimmies and pogos from traditional surf instrumentals to aggro noise punk and everything between. It will equally arouse and annoy you but is by far the most interesting record of the year. — Brian Noonan



Cosmonauts – Lazerbeam EP

Cosmonauts released their sophomore LP earlier this year, but it was overshadowed in accomplishment by a smaller release, which only goes to show you should never judge a thing by its size. Lazerbeam, a 4-song EP released on Reverberation Apprecation Society in August showcases a band reaching a new stage of maturity in both songwriting and execution. Their approach to pop is more intellectual than on If You Wanna Die, I Wanna Die, and while they might dispense with some of the more obvious hooks, what they come up with is something better, at least from a sonic perspective. From the “distantly emotional” title track (to steal a phrase from Julian’s review of the EP) to the pounding wind down of the final tune, this is a band that can take a basic beat and a chord or two and shoot it off into a universe of sound that’s enough to set your head spinning, which is exactly what the band does live.

A lot of people give Cosmonauts shit for being “boring,” which probably has more to do with their subdued stage presence than anything else, but this band is, for my money, the most consistently interesting local band and certainly the best of the Burger bands. On Lazerbeam, Cosmonauts show off a confidence and clarity of vision that leaves their peers eating stardust. — Mariana Timony

The Garden - Rainbows and HappinessThe Garden – Rainbows and Happiness

Twins Fletcher and Wyatt Shears play a brand of minimal 80s art punk that is as infectious as it is brief. These 14 songs are over in an astonishing 15 minutes. The Tele-bass/drums combo is at once so abstract and straightforward it’s impossible to get a grasp on just what they are doing. On stage, Wyatt can be seen literally prancing about while Fletcher chews gum and makes cartoonish expressions. The Shears brothers carry on the movement their dad helped start (hardcore punk band Shattered Faith) with a distinctly bizarre blend of stop and go fragments that have to be heard live. — Brian Noonan


Guantanamo Baywatch – Chest Crawl

Maybe the most underrated outfit around. They’re the only band that can cover “Diana” and make it better than the other versions (let alone make it good at all). It’s gotten more plays in my car since it came out than any other album in that time period. — A.A. Yuen





Holograms – Holograms

Swedish synth-happy quartet Holograms send you off on an emotional roller coaster throughout their debut self titled LP. Vocals heavy with attitude paired with steady drum beats may fuel that inner angst but just when you’re ready to boil over a catchy synth line comes along and helps you keep your cool. — Kelly Contessa





The Mallard – Yes On Blood

Yes On Blood is discordant voodoo surf rock, Sonic Youth acid-dropping into a killer swell. Fearless leader Greer McGettrick slams the tambourine and shreds her guitar with virtuoso flair. Hints of fellow Bay Area rockers Thee Oh Sees are abound, but McGettrick’s celestial howls are enough to create a sound all their own. — Brian Noonan





Meat Market – Meat Market

Oakland based Meat Market’s first LP on Under the Gun shreds. It effortlessly joins sun-washed surf punk songs about not surfing and barns with bratty weirdo pop songs about drugs and barbecues and avoiding shitty people. It’s one of those albums that rules from front to back but hardly gives you a second to think about it between songs. — Alexander Uhrich




The Memories – The Memories

Seeing The Memories perform at Timewarp Music had me in tears — the funny kind. Incorporating their sometimes brutal honesty (see the track, “I Know What To Do”) with a traditional love ballad, the band creates hysterical yet sincere tunes. Initially, I believed the humor in the songs would be lost without the live personality — but it’s all there and it doesn’t get stale. — Kelly Contessa




natural child, lo-pie, lopie, lo pie, los angeles, los angeles underground, music, Natural Child – For the Love of the Game & Hard in Heaven

I’m pretty sure one day in the somewhat distant future, when all the dudes in Natural Child are hanging out at their super secluded country estate shooting the shit with Ted Nugent and Jack White over whiskey and moose meat, they will look back at this year in their lives and say, “Yeeeup. 2012 was our year.”

2 transcendental, amazingly well done albums in one year. I now wear snakeboots in the comfort of my bedroom and was a cowboy for Halloween. I looked pretty lame, but still regardless, thank you very much Natty Chile. — Joey Genovese


Pangea – Killer Dreams EP

Killer Dreams marks a departure for Pangea. Their first album, Living Dummy, while full of weird and surprising moments, was relatively straight forward in its style and content. Killer Dreams shows Pangea’s wide stylistic range as well as the band’s wide range of influences. It kind of feels like a really crazy acid trip, from the dark, strange psychedelic riffs to the sweeter, almost country-pop lyrics about girls and booze. — Alexander Uhrich




Part Time – Saturday Night

Saturday Night was the album that everyone wanted and needed to hear. Sadly, this Burger tape sold out instantly and not enough people got the chance to dig it, making it the most underrated album of the year. The only upside to it being so hard to find, is that if there were more of these puppies out on the streets, we’d have a life-threatening overpopulation problem on our hands because THIS IS SOME BABY MAKING MUSIC!! Ever since I got this tape I haven’t been able to wash that damn smell off my hands. From start to stop you get pure bliss. It’s lobster and caviar in bed. It’s jacuzzis filled with Cristal. It’s Burt Reynolds showing up to your b-day party uninvited. It’s THAT GOOD.


If you don’t believe me, steal the tape, get a boombox and blast it in public. Watch the town prudes turn into porn-stars and revel in the sopping wet glory that is Saturday Night. — Joey Genovese

Spider Bags – Shake My Head

Not their best release by a stretch, but simply its existence reassures me that the best living songwriter, Dan McGee, isn’t done with music. This band is constantly changing in sound and structure. It’s ALL worth a listen. — A.A. Yuen






Tame Impala – Lonerism

Tame Impala takes psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll from the 60′s and 70′s and ushers it into modern times. Combining the traditional elements of psych rock — fuzzy guitars, phasing synth, and distant vocals with modern day electronic beats and effects — the band creates a new scope for the genre. Does anyone else think a laser light show is in order immediately? Griffith? — Kelly Contessa




Terry Malts – Killing Time

This album hit me earlier in the year than the rest of my picks, so unfortunately I’d played it out by the end of spring. Fortunately, I put this album BACK on after shelving it for half a year, and I’m very glad to say it’s still as good as I remembered it being. Yes, this is 100% a pop-punk album, but it’s one of the only pop-punk albums of 2012 that isn’t saturated with references to boners and barfing. There’s just A LITTLE more substance to this record than the other quick punk blasters this year. That little bit just happens to go a long way. Kudos, dudes. — Joey Genovese



Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair

Hailing heros of garage rock, Hair brings together California’s finest, Ty Segall and Tim Presley. The individual influence of each is easily distinguishable, from the more folky Presley to the less controlled/distortion heavy stylings of Segall. While both released other albums this year, I believe their combined effort to be the most satisfying. This album takes you on a journey with no destination man, and that’s cool with me. — Kelly Contessa





Wild Nothing – Nocturne

All right, I’ll admit it: I think synthpop is cool. I immediately picture fog machines with flashing pink and purple lights, behind the haze a guitarist moving in pixilation with a really bad hair cut. What the hell went on in the 80′s, anyway — and why can’t patterned sweatpants be cool again? Wild Nothing’s sophomore album Nocturne, does synthpop with a twist, mixing in a dreamy texture and faded vocals. My only beef: the re-release of the track Paradise featuring actress Michelle Williams reading an excerpt from the novel A Word Child, it’s fucking annoying, that is all. — Kelly Contessa





Lo-Pie Best of 2012 from lo-pie on 8tracks Radio.

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