2012 Round up Part 1 (or 2, depending on the way you look at it)

Some more highlights from a year of music. This year, I decided not to cut things down to size, so there’s a bit more in this round up than usual. So I’ve split them up into four mixes/podcasts. Part 1a was posted the other day, dealing with the first half of the year. The genre headings for the podcasts are a bit arbitrary and loose overall, but some kind of general guide. Or you can listen to tracks separately below. This one I’m calling Ambient/Tropical/RnB, for want of better vaguely misleading tags.

The Underground of Happiness Best of 2012 Part I by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

Elisa Luu – FlussiGirl / Markus Mehr – Barcelona waltz
Two very interesting European electronic artists, both on the Australian Hidden Shoal label. That’s how I found them and I’ve been playing them on the show now for a couple of years, since their last albums. I love what they do. Here’s some blog from the middle of the year.


I went for broke in there describing one of the tracks from Lava - still you might get the gist.

The magnificent 'Flaming youth', for example, is like walking through a room full of machine saws, buzzing and flaring (with no little structure and melody, by the way), before progressing on to a club chillout area where a slow-motion jazz group play a beautiful blissed out loop at funeral pace, under a warm umbrella of static. It's like some twilight netherworld dreamt up by David Lynch, and very much like his creations, even though you may be disorientated, and even a little afraid, you won't want to leave.

These are two artists that are both ploughing their own distinctive furrows and who it is guaranteed you won’t hear on programmed-within-an-inch-of-its-life commercial radio. And providing a platform for same is one of the main reasons for this blog.

Polica – Lay your cards out
The standout track for me from Polica’s debut album Give you the ghost, a great combination of pounding drums and Channy Leanagh’s filtered, floating vocals.

Hooray For Earth – No love
Another Memphis Industries gem this year was the album from Brooklynite Noel Heroux. This song makes a compelling case for booming synth pop with a heart and a brain. The album also had the cracking tune I was on about in this post last April.


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Only in my dreams
A fantastic slice of jangly self-delusion from the pink-haired one.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Call him daylight
Some great country soul from North Carolina and Mike Taylor, from his excellent Poor moon album. Music that knows where it comes from and what it’s for. I had the pleasure to interview Mike in April, read the results here.


Hiss Golden Messenger "Call Him Daylight" from Harlan Campbell on Vimeo.

Slow Place Like Home – Selkie
2012 was the year I got to know Keith Mannion’s Slow Place Like Home instrumental ambient electronica project. He released three EP’s in the year, taking strands of chillout, jazz and even folk, among other things, to create a unique sound. My own favourite track was this one, a lovely buzzing synth sample leading the way.

Last Days of 1984 – River’s edge
Another great Irish release this year was Wake up to the waves, the debut album from Dublin’s Last Days of 1984, who winningly describe themselves as a band who play “tripped out, psychedelic dance music”. If you’re into Animal Collective or El Guincho, you’ll love this.

A colleague of mine at UCC 98.3FM, Stephen Purcell, wrote this glowing review of their gig in Cork in June –


Donnie & Joe Emerson – Baby
Thanks to another colleague in UCC 98.3FM, Jim Comic, for pointing me in the direction of this tune, originally released in 1979 but re-issued as part of the album Dreamin’ Wild on the ever wonderful Light in the Attic label. I think they’re calling it a bedroom pop jam – whatever works for you, white soul music doesn’t come much dreamier and lovelier than this. Also covered by Ariel Pink on his album.

The Altered Hours – Flowers die
A tune originally released on their debut Downstream EP at the end of 2011 but I didn’t come across it until last spring. This is a very exciting Cork band, playing a committed and wide-eyed psych pop with tunes to burn. Like this one.

Peter Broderick – It starts hear
Peter Broderick brought new meaning to the word prolific in the last year, releasing two albums of songs on two different labels. This title track of the Bella Union release flagged a change of direction for him, taking him into previously unchartered RnB or even hip hop territory. That album was also the first to meet the new reality of illegal downloading head on, in an endearing and open handed fashion. Legend.


The British Expeditionary Force – Konstellation Neu
Another beautiful Erased Tapes release, the title track from this English band’s 2012 album. Plangent piano chords meet electronic wizardry, giving a lovely, wry result.

THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE - Konstellation Neu from handheldcineclub on Vimeo.

Ghost Estates – Never forget
Another impressive Irish release last year was this Dublin band’s debut album. This particular tune is winning synth pop with a classic Pro Tools-era piano loop for a hook.

Alexander Tucker – Third mouth
Title track of the Englishman’s 2012 album on Thrill Jockey, folk music taken to new and exotic places, but managing to keep hold of great pop tunes. I got to see him play live in May, here’s my review.


Katie Kim – Dimmer
A great piece of darkly atmospheric pop music from the Waterford woman.

Grand Pocket Orchestra – Andy has the power of a million men
Self-styled art pop messers, the Dublin band’s second album had a plethora of killer tunes on it, in a wide variety of styles. This one took a fuzzy, wonky power pop direction and killed it.

Field Music – (I keep thinking about) A new thing
Field Music finally got a Mercury Prize nomination for Plumb, although Measure was a better album I thought (Plumb is still great, mind you). This tune takes up where Measure left off with some fantastic, driving prog pop.

How To Dress Well – Ocean floor for everything
Another beautifully wonky and moving piece of RnB from Tom Krell, which sits comfortably next to Polica in 2012. Although more in the ballad department.


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