Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gene's 2012 favorites

By Gene Wagendorf III 

Twin Peaks at The Whip (photo by Gene Wagendorf III)
It's the end of the year and we're a music blog, so you know what that means: "best of" list time. That said, "best" is a silly and subjective word that we at Windy City Rock are trying to avoid this year. Instead we're offering you some lists of local favorites from several of our contributors. Over the next few days we'll be posting about our favorite Chicago records, bands, shows and what-have-you from 2012. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

5 Favorite Records

Twin Peaks - 'Sunken'
The soundtrack to my summer came courtesy of a group of delinquent minors who, between burning trees, skateboarding and prepping for college, managed to put together a record filled with anthemic, sunny jams. Expect big things out of Twin Peaks in 2013. Read a full review of Sunken here.

Fave track: Fast Eddie
Get the record: here

Running  - 'Asshole Savant'
Get Bent nailed it when they described Running as "an incendiary blast of rock ‘n’ roll akin to smashing Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music into the Stooges and then smashing that combo into Suicide." Asshole Savant does an admirable job of capturing the mayhem of Running's live sets. 

Fave track: I Can't Believe I'm Alive
Get the record: here

The Smashing Pumpkins - 'Oceania'
Oceania is Corgan and company's best record in the better part of a decade. Doesn't quite reach as high as it aims, but there are some beautiful moments here.

Fave track: Pinwheels
Get the record: here

YAWN - 'Happy Tears'
Whether you're looking to dance, make out or lay around and eat mushrooms, FeelTrip's psychedelic pop outfit delivers the perfect sonic compliment.

Fave track: Take It With Me 
Get the record: here

Rambos - Rock and Roll Monsters
Rambos helped kick off 2012 by dropping Rock and Roll Monsters, a crazed and giddy collection of junk rock tunes that continue to sound fresh after dozens of listens. Read a full review of Rock and Roll Monsters here.

Fave track: Human Monster
Get the record: here

More favorites... 

Paper Mice - 'The Funny Papers' (show review here!)
We Repel Each Other - 'Mechannequin or How I Stopped Learning and Planned for the Short Term / Merenguetang'
ONO - 'Albino' (show review here!)
Gold Motel - 'Gold Motel' (record review here!)
Willis Earl Beal - 'Acousmatic Sorcery' (show review here!)
Pand Riot - 'Serious Radical Girls'
Angel Olsen - 'Half Way Home'
Radar Eyes - 'Radar Eyes'
Maps & Atlases - 'Beware and Be Grateful'
The Bingers - 'Land Lobster' (record review here!)
Slushy - 'All The Rad Dudes' (show review here!)
Chandeliers - 'Founding Fathers'
A Lull - 'Meat Mountain' (record review here!)
Unmanned Ship - 'For Whom The Bowl Tolls' (show review here!)
Ami Saraiya and the Outcome - 'Soundproof Box'

5 Favorite Shows

Chicago Sonic Coalition (photo by John Yingling)

The Chicago Sonic Coalition at Situations
This showcase was the result of a DIY scene fantasy draft orchestrated by Gonzo Chicago. An amazing night of great music and good people. Full review here.

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Gold Motel and Blah Blah Blah at Metro
A solid bill of local bands that sold out Metro and had the crowd boogying from start to finish. Another great night for the local scene in 2012. Full review here.

JC Brooks (photo by Caitlin Stitch)
YAWN at Lincoln Hall
My first taste of YAWN live, a band that now easily ranks among my favorites. They made perfect use of Lincoln Hall's stellar acoustics. So good they cured my cold. Full review here

ONO and The Hecks at Quenchers
You get a chance to see ONO, you take it. They're legends and they just put out a kickass record. You get a chance to see them with The Hecks, on Halloween, you're stupid not to go. By the looks of the capacity crowd at Quencers, at least some of you made it. Full review here
Tutu & The Pirates at Favorite Records
A walking, stomping, burping Chicago history lesson, Tutu & The Pirates are back and making music again. This show at Favorite Records was my first (but definitely not last) time seeing these punks live. Full review here.

Favorite Moment of 2012

The Rock For Kids Charity Jam at The Empty Bottle
This might be a bit selfish, but for me the best musical moment of 2012 was the benefit we put on at The Bottle for Rock For Kids. We had a killer lineup (Rambos, Panda Riot, We Repel Each Other, The Hecks, Massive Ego, Shiloh and Tiny Fireflies) and raised money for a good cause. A lot of friends showed up, a lot of booze was drank and a lot of money was raised to help along the next generation of Chicago bands. Thanks again to everyone who came/played/DJ'd/donated/rocked out with us.

Biggest Bummer of 2012

The disappearance of a several great DIY spaces
Andrew mentioned this in his Go To There 2012 Recap, but this summer Chicago lost some of its best underground venues. For a host of different reasons, some more maddening than others, we said goodbye to Treasure Town, Ball Hall, Mortville and Enemy, among others. Just this last weekend I learned that The Whip, my new favorite space, is shut down as well. Some of it is the nature of the scene, but here's the hoping that 2013 brings with it a whole new host of creative spaces and inspired environments. They're the best place to see live music. Fact. 

I don't want to end on a down note, so I'll take this moment to express how thankful I am to be involved, in even the smallest way, with the incredible music scene here in Chicago. Thanks to Andrew for turning me on to WCR. Thanks for Frank for having me. Thanks to all the local bands who make it impossible to justify not going out seven nights a week. To the clubs that take risks and book these ambitious acts. To the people who open their homes to shows and help keep our DIY scene alive. To the cops who politely ask that you keep it down instead of busting the show. To the music educators giving our kids the tools to start their own bands and keep this whole damn thing going. Thanks to Chicago, for being the greatest place on Earth to live. Oh, and thanks to you guys for reading. Without your loyal readership I wouldn't be getting paid.

Hey, wait a minute...


Happy New Year. Let's rock together in 2013.   

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