music / Columns

The 411 Music Top Five 11.20.12: The Top 5 Musical Things To Be Thankful For in 2012

November 20, 2012 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas



5. Spotify

Make no mistake, I still have some issues with the Facebook-centric app for streaming and sharing so very much great music both under the sun and under the radar. I don’t necessarily like that it costs a premium to enjoy the app on my Android phone. Initially, its instant sharing of my musical proclivities with my fellow Facebook users rubbed me the wrong way. Some of us just want to enjoy our guilty pleasures in peace, thanks.

But in the end, I believe only Pandora, Soma.FM and a certain higher-ranking social platform to be mentioned have helped me dig deeper into more music that I love. I’ve had a rough year financially, so I cherish the moments that I can enjoy the Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Lupe Fiasco, Placebo and other acts conspicuously missing from my iTunes for lack of funds.

4. Garfunkel & Oates

This belongs here on a few fronts. First of all, the folksy comedy duo of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are absolutely hilarious. Their rise has coincided with Lindhome snagging more acting work and the excellent “Making It with Riki Lindhome” podcast via Nerdist, while Micucci continues to be her persistently adorable self on Raising Hope. Second, they’re further proof of the phenomenal power of that same aforementioned social platform to launch artists that traditional avenues won’t give the time of day for Heaven-knows-what reason.

Third reason? They’re supposedly playing in Scottsdale on New Year’s Eve, and come Hell or high water, I will ride a tricycle from Wichita back to Phoenix if it means making that show.

3. YouTube

Psy. Pomplamoose. Julia Nunes. Lauren O’Connell. Devinsupertramp. Garfunkel & Oates. The AV Byte Brothers.

Whatever your thoughts on that first one, there’s no denying that the world’s most prolific and omnipresent video host has easily been the kind of backdoor for fresh artists that the likes of MySpace and Napster once drew up many moons ago. Video killed the radio star, but since radio has become a homogenized altar to mediocrity and the lowest-common denominator and MTV has forsaken its very roots, YouTube is letting experimental musicians blaze their own trails into consciousness.

2. Radio Dead Air

Nash Bozard has been hosting his five-hour weekly internet radio show at every Monday night for nearly 13 years. Incredibly, that wasn’t what hooked me on it. If you’ve read nearly any edition I’ve penned of “Music’s 3 Rs,” you know that I’m a devout booster of Channel Awesome and, and it was there that I first checked out his hilarious weekly RDA segment “What The F#$% Is Wrong With You?!” in both its scripted-web-show and live on-air formats. Eventually, I caved to curiosity and checked out the live show. Now, it’s usurped watching WWE Raw among my priorities.

It started as an audio-only podcast. Today, it’s a combination talk, music videos by request, WTFIWWY, and even a segment called “The Invisibles” during which Nash spotlights great music that never got the luxury of a music video. It’s broadened my horizons and made me laugh at times it was hard for me to do either. Plus, nearly every Monday at 7 p.m. MT, I drop all else that I’m doing and meet two of my friends for a Facebook chat to coincide with watching the show in peace.

If you’ve a geeky bone in your body, check it out. Hell, it’s on tonight. What are you waiting for? Tune in. Turn on. Drop dead.

1. Lindsey Stirling

Anybody who’s talked to me for five minutes about music over the last 10-11 months or so has had at least one ear talked off about her.

Seriously, the video below might be the most compelling single argument that the death of the music video on television has been a tragedy. Once told by the likes of Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne on America’s Got Talent that she’d never be a top draw as a solo act and that she should be strictly part of a group, the dynamic dubstep/hip-hop violinist (yes, you read that correctly) embarked on a 2011 U.S. tour marked by numerous stops that forced her to swap out her venues on fairly short notice …. because ticket demand kept eclipsing the scheduled venues’ capacities. I could point to any single video of hers to make the same point: that it’s a travesty that Taylor Swift notches sales in the millions, whereas far fewer could pick Stirling out of a crowd. It’s always this one, though, that leaves me spellbound.

Honorable Mention:

Underground scene in metal is still strong: My top two picks for underground metal albums of the year are, ‘White Hoarhound’ by Alunah, and ‘Composition of Flesh’ by Corrosive Carcass. I am thankful that metal is still alive and the underground and hope that it stays strong there, as well.

5. Spotify Having Most of the Larger Metal Albums for the Year

I know Spotify isn’t exactly the newest game in town anymore. But I still really love the service. I had been planning on doing a Top 50 metal albums of 2012, so I look on Spotify and they have almost everything that I look up. It’s free and has a killer selection, what more do I have to be thankful for with this one?

4. Iron Maiden Running a Full US Tour

It’s been what feels like forever since Iron Maiden have decided to do a country wide tour of the good ol’ U.S. of A. This year they started it in Charlotte, North Carolina. While I did not get to see it, I have on good authority that it was tits. I think that this is the concert of the year, especially if you caught them with Alice Cooper, because those are two amazing shows right there, and nobody knows how much longer either band have left tour wise.

3. Dave Mustaine

How can I not be thankful for Dave Mustaine? The dude practically writes my column for me. For those who don’t read my column (and shame on you if you don’t….that’s how I’ll get viewers, shaming), Dave Mustaine has a very honest political opinion, and I can respect him for it. But just like other musicians who say things about politics and come to hear about it later (Hi, Kanye and George Bush doesn’t care about black people). Dave says many political things, and some of the things he says can be a bit extreme, and it makes for fun writings. So here, here, MegaDave. I am thankful for your music, but I love the fact that you talk to the press even more!

2. Van Halen

They are back! Their new album was pretty great (we’ll get to that in a second) and plus, Diamond Dave is BACK! I personally have never been much for Sammy Hagar (or Chickefoot, poor Satch), and thought that he did a decent job with Van Halen, but I think that a lot of people will agree with me that David Lee Roth is the best man for the job when it comes to fronting the band. EVH still sounds as good as ever on the new album, just totally great. I think the coolest part out of all of this is that the people of America actually went and bought this album and got it up to #2 on the Billboard 200. Here’s to another great album, and I think we can at least be thankful for the one that we got.

1. The Fact That Old Bands Are Still Coming Out With Quality Material

I think that this is the thing that we can all be thankful for in 2012. Too many times do we see a great band try to come back with a new album, and too many times have we seen that band just fall on their face with an embarrassment of an album. This year, we didn’t see much of that at all. My Top 5 albums of the year list at the moment. My Top 3 albums come from bands that were formed before I was born. Rush, Testament, and Candlemass are those bands, of course. We also had very solid releases from Van Halen, Saint Vitus, Kiss, Grave, Cannibal Corpse, , Angel Witch, Creator, and we’ll be getting one from Destruction very soon. I know that this isn’t only a 2012 thing, but it is something that I think really will help build a lot of people’s metal repertoire, finding new music by old bands, and then going to find the old music. This year was killer for all metal and hard rock, but I think that for the older bands, this year was that much sweeter.

Honorable Mention: Rush & Deep Purple Getting Nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Sean Having Thought of Garfunkle & Oates After I Forgot

5. Spotify

We all love Spotify. Why do we do so? Because without it, we’d all be a lot poorer. More to the point, Spotify has been a huge boom to the music industry. Many music fans have found their tastes expanding because these days it is easy to try something out. You just listen via streaming and if you like it, your horizons have been expanded. I’ve listened to a ton of albums I wouldn’t have done if Spotify hadn’t let me do so. I know that the service launched in the US in 2011, but 2012 is really when it became alive and taken seriously as a music service, with many major artists who were holding out signing on. I hope that Spotify is around for a long time because it’s been a serious bonus to me as a music fan.

4. Classic Bands Reuniting

Black Sabbath. Aerosmith. The Rolling Stones. Van Halen. Garbage. The Beach Boys. All of these great bands came back together in 2012. I’m not going to say they were all entirely successful (Robert and I are of two very different minds about Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth), but they all came back and didn’t flop commercially. Earlier in the year we did a top five worst reunions, and let’s be honest; any of these reunions, or the many others I didn’t mention, easily could have made the list. But none of them did. Statistically, at least one of them should have flopped but it didn’t happen. That’s far more impressive than we would like to admit, and kudos to all of them.

3. Rock Music Becomes More Prevalent

Let’s be honest, peeps…it’s been a bad few years for rock music. While rap and pop have dominated the charts and even country is unstoppable within its demographic, rock has been largely left by the wayside for quite a long while. 2012 has been the year that rock started to make a comeback. In addition to the previously-mentioned classic bands re-upping, you had the return of groups who hadn’t broken up like Rush, who had the highest-charting album of theirs in almost twenty years. You had Slash’s solo album rocking the charts and big-time releases by the likes of Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson and more which were all comeback albums for each of their respective artists. You had a bit of diversification of indie rock once again so it became less of a homogenized morass of artists, the rise of groups like Mumford and Sons into rock superstars and more. It was actually a very good year for rock music and one can hope that we see the trend continue in 2013.

2. The Rise of More Sophisticated Pop Music

While I am more of a rock music fan than I am a pop music fan, I am more thankful for the growth of pop music for one simple reason: it is more prevalent than rock and as a result its growth makes more of an overall improvement on the music landscape than the further integration of rock. Sadly, we cannot yet report that overproduced and underwritten pop tripe is a thing of the past. The fact that Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is one of the biggest songs of the year is proof of that. But 2012 accomplished something that I truly didn’t think possible; it saw pop music continue to branch out beyond the dance-pop obsession that has taken hold of the genre for the past couple years and even more surprisingly, it did so while its greatest force for change, Adele, was pretty much on the sidelines with her vocal surgery and then pregnancy. While Adele was having a private life (and more power to her for doing so), indie pop saw a rise with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Ray, Amanda Palmer and others putting out albums that were quite successful in each their own way; Palmer’s Theatre is Evil hit the top 10 without any kind of studio involvement whatsoever. Now, you can dislike these artists, but you have to admit that they’re putting out better stuff than the cardboard cutout songs we hear from the likes of The Wanted, Jepsen, Justin Bieber and so on throw out there. Pop music isn’t going away so I’m thankful that it’s evolving, even if only by small steps.

1. The 411 Music Readers

D’awwwww. Yeah, I know, call me a sappy old bastard or a pandering little jackass but this is true. Listen, if we didn’t want to do this stuff, we wouldn’t have to. I promise you, we can find other ways to occupy our time. But we love music. Sure, we don’t all agree on our favorite genres or bands and there are times it is probably best that we’re discussing such topics through the internet and not face to face where bashing implements may be within reach, but what unites us all is that we truly, epically love music. And we love to write about it. And without you guys, we may as well be writing on a private LiveJournal that no one will ever have access too. You guys are (mostly) a great group of people who are as equally passionate about music as we are. You keep us honest, you provide feedback (sometimes even constructive feedback!) and you can always find that one option we forgot to include in whatever list we’re putting together on a particular day. In the end, without you, there would be no us and that’s why I’m most thankful for you than for anything else. Say it again with me…..D’awwwwwwwwwwww.

The Final Word
As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We’re merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here’s what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week’s topic on the comment section using the following format:

5. Artist – “Song”: Why you chose it
4. Artist – “Song”: Why you chose it
3. Artist – “Song”: Why you chose it
2. Artist – “Song”: Why you chose it
1. Artist – “Song”: Why you chose it


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Jeremy Thomas
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