2012 Round up Part 3

Part 3 of the 2012 round up. You’ll notice some overlap (unless I decide to take them out, aha) between some of these mixes and the show I broadcast in July, my best of the year to that point. Never mind. Plough on. I’m calling this one Folk/Cabaret/Gospel, which is more flagrant misuse of the English language.

The Underground of Happiness Best of 2012 Part 3 by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

Little Annie & Baby Dee – Angels gone before
Brilliantly louche but still touching tribute to lost friends from the two living legends. My few words about the album from last November.


A thrilling, invigorating record bringing Baby Dee’s brilliantly fluid piano work together with Little Annie’s thoroughly lived-in (the definition of authentic) voice of experience. Touches of Weimar cabaret, via Tom Waits perhaps, opera, folk and jazz. Standout tracks are the pining ‘Angels gone before’, ‘Never dreamed you’d leave’ and the title track, rendered in two versions, each as outstanding as each other, first sung by Bonnie Prince Billy, then by Baby Dee. If this is lounge, it’s lounge music with a distinct edge. Superb.

Mumblin’ Deaf Ro - Cheer up Charlie Brown
One of the many songs that I became slightly obsessed with over the last year. From an album (Dictionary crimes) that perfectly matches structure, form and content and puts the “writer” back in singer-songwriter, via a series of moving, brilliantly delivered vignettes of family life. It’s up there in the all-time Irish canon, at least. The fact that this song ingeniously references one of my favourite pieces of film music (‘Cheer up Charlie’ from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) is just a bonus.

*If I had to pick just one more from the album, check also the indecently beautiful ‘Little mite’, jaunty and cheerful in the face of tragedy, and capable of stopping you cold in your tracks.

Pollens – Helping hand
Pollens are a Seattle 6-piece. This thrilling number from their debut album, Brighten and break, sounds like a companion to Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca, heavy with syncopated female vocals and pounding, clicking, offbeat percussion. Shake your tail feather.

Peter Broderick – I’ve tried + Proposed solution to the mystery of the soul
Two tracks from Peter Broderick’s second album of the year, These walls of mine, released on Erased Tapes in October. Many of these songs first appeared on his flickr page a few years ago as demos. I've tried has a similar rhythmic textures to It starts hear, giving it a memorable RnB bounce. ‘Proposed solution…’ is different, a kind of gospel a capella meets meditation mantra which is nothing short of captivating and a strong contender for best musical idea EVER.

First Aid Kit – Blue
The Swedish Soderberg sisters went big in 2012 with The lion’s roar, particularly with the ear worm ‘Emmylou’. However, while remaining agnostic about them in general, I couldn’t get over this album highlight, an absolutely glorious slice of Americana - fresh-faced, naive and laden with strings.

Daniel Martin Moore & Joan Shelley – Hollow heart
The Cork-based Word of Mouth agency brought this Kentucky pair over for an Irish tour in 2012, which is how the album found its way to me. This song contains faultless, soul-deep harmony singing and the best country music Middle 8 since Lucinda Williams gave us Car wheels on a gravel road.

Dirty Projectors – Impregnable question
Speaking of soul, the current Dirty Projectors album does something akin to finding the source of soul music and re-directing it. This stunning love song comes on a bit like a Stax outtake, with the trademark female vocal harmonies, simple piano structure and and a move-you bassline.

Best Boy Grip – Monster and me
Best Boy Grip is Eoin O’Callaghan from Derry who plays mean piano and writes knock out pop songs. His Barbara EP had a great title track - a romantic put down of Beautiful South proportions – but this perfect underdog ballad really got me. It’s like Ben Folds, older, wiser and more lovelorn – “You’re in love with him, he’s got money, I ain’t got none, but I’m funny, I won’t make you cry in the rain.” Just brilliant.

Our Krypton Son – Catalonian love song (missing from the podcast)
Also from Derry, Chris McConaghy produced a couple of smouldering singles (‘Plutonium’ is worth a mention too) and a fine debut album in 2012. This song takes me to places only Richard Hawley can usually reach. It’s beautiful, cinematic songwriting with a social realist edge.

Christian Bookshop – Singin’ Freebird
Shit cool attitude from Galway-based Mayo duo. And a memorable folk-pop kiss-off punchline.

Melody’s Echo Chamber – I follow you
Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala were also big news in 2012 and the Perthman’s production fingerprints were all over this dream pop masterpiece. If I had to take just one music memory from 2012, it would have to be this. It’s just perfect.

Owensie – Distance of her love
Breezy bossa nova isn’t exactly what you expect from an Irish autumn but that’s just one of the surprises this Spanish guitar, sax and violin beauty has in store, from the Dubliner’s second album.

Sfumato – Fly to me
Another singular Irish recording in 2012, Daithí Ó hÉignigh produced a folk gospel album full of ambition and atmosphere. This tune has a characteristic, hard to pin down quality, drifting and cajoling.

Richard Hawley – Seek it
Standing at the sky’s edge got plenty of recognition in 2012 and rightly so. I must admit I preferred his previous album, Truelove’s gutter, but it still contained some great tunes, this being my highlight. 2012 will also stand out for me as the year I finally got to see the man play live for the first time. That was special, up there on my all-time list, as recorded here.



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