Waterfront Blues Festival 2016: A colorful palette to feed the soul

Waterfront Blues Festival 2016By Tom Dellinger //

Waterfront Blues Festival //
Tom McCall Waterfront Park – Portland, OR
July 1st-4th, 2016 //

Portland is a remarkable city. It’s a city I’ve found to be one of the most hospitable I’ve ever encountered, and it was once again a great pleasure to cover their annual Waterfront Blues Festival over the Fourth of July weekend.

Now in its 29th year running, the Waterfront Blues Festival remains an anomaly in the world of modern music festivals. With a daily entrance cost of only $10 per day, though other levels are available like patron and benefactor which offer more perks, they continue sell out at all levels and annually raise surprisingly large amounts to donate to the Oregon Food Bank. This year they once again raised a stunning $1 million dollars! Represented in the musical lineup were artists ranging from the Portland area to California, Louisiana, Brazil and Nigeria with several of the higher-profile artists — JJ Grey & Mofro, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Samantha Fish, The California Honeydrops and Femi Kuti — also appearing at High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, Calif., over the weekend.

Over the course of four days, there was a lot to take in. The festival featured two large stages at opposite ends of the main field, and beyond that, there were also a couple of smaller intimate stages — one offering a one-on-one opportunity with festivalgoers and the other with a dance floor. Both Portland and the Northwest in general have a wealth of excellent musicians to pull from, and every year I see a few new faces in addition to some I’ve witnessed a few times over the years. Local guitarists Ty Curtis and Ben Rice have become a couple of my favorites, and the soulful vocals of Andy Stokes and LaRhonda Steele never fail me. They always seem to provide memorable performances.

Waterfront Blues Festival 2016 - Christone Ingram


Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

There were many memorable moments over the holiday weekend, but one in particular came late in the day on July 4th as Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Ty Curtis sat in with Samantha Fish. At just the age of 17, Ingram already has a few years of touring and recording behind him and has always been considered to be one with great potential. During his set on Saturday, it was obvious he was making good on that. He had a stronger stage presence, his voice more matured and the guitar work more expansive. It was a solid set that was well-received.

But on the festival’s final day as he, Curtis and Fish were taking things “out there,” Ingram let loose with some blistering hot runs, which in turn drove Curtis and Fish all that much harder. And the fans were loving it as if they were on a wild ride with no limits. Once the dust settled, everybody knew this was one of the great moments of the weekend with smiles all around.

Another standout performance came from Portland-based vocalist Liv Warield, a member of The New Power Generation who performed alongside Prince for several years. She reached out to members of TNPG as well as other locals to put together a tribute for Prince in a way she said he would want to be remembered. In addition to some Prince songs, there were also some of her own (Prince co-wrote songs with her) as well as from other artists whom Prince liked to play or cover. It was a riveting and powerful performance.

Waterfront Blues Festival 2016 - Igor Prado Band


Igor Prado Band

I always appreciate an international element at music festivals, and we had a few overseas acts again this year. The great Femi Kuti & The Positive Force played a stunning set with a large band that was heavy on horns, percussion and dancers as they worked a passionate performance in the Afrobeat style of his late father, Fela Kuti.

Hailing from Brazil was the Igor Prado Band, whose passion and understanding of this very American music form is undeniable. Prado is riveting on guitar, both for his playing and for his stage presence. The man knows how to work a crowd. They were also joined by keyboard ace Jim Pugh (who was in on many sets over the weekend) and Portland-based Curtis Salgado on harp and vocals.

Another big surprise came from Bay Area artist Aki Kumar. With a strong backing band at the singer’s side that featured Christoffer “Kid” Andersen on guitar, Derrick “D’mar” Martin on drums, Vance Ehlers on bass and Jim Pugh on keyboards, they played a wildly fun set that featured blues mashed up with Bollywood. It worked very well, and the crowd loved them.

Waterfront Blues Festival - Royal Jelly Jive


Royal Jelly Jive

There were artists who stretch what we might expect at a blues festival. Few embody that idea more than Los Straightjackets. Sure. Why not? We all need surf music from time to time, and these guys are fun to watch as well.

Bay Area collective Royal Jelly Jive defy categorization. With strong elements of swing, they nevertheless have a very modern sound with smart, well-crafted songs that both swing and rock a crowd, which is exactly what they did. In addition to being a fun band to watch, their unique sound and style made them a standout.

Ayron Jones and the Way were interesting. Though they are heavily blues-based, at times it felt like head-banging metal. What a kick that was!

Waterfront Blues Festival - Tedeschi Trucks Band


Tedeschi Trucks Band

Few bands seem to be so universally loved and admired more than Tedeschi Trucks Band, and on the festival’s opening night, they gave us one of their sublime sets. It was a perfect night in Portland with the Willamette River in the background and the band running through another one of its flawless, tasty performances, marking an elegant start to the festival.

Over the weekend, many names we’ve come to know and love made an appearance. Maceo Parker, Dr. John, Jimmie Vaughan, ZZ Ward, JJ Grey & Mofro and The California Honeydrops were all exciting sets to see. It was a festival that was rich in many ways. The diversity. The quality. The vibe. Even the weather was about perfect (last year it was in the 90’s).

Portland remains an impressive city that knows how to throw one hell of a party. I continue to be impressed with all they are able to accomplish, and this festival is at the top of the list. Big props to the city, the artists, the staff and the volunteers who make it all possible. I can’t wait for next year.

Showbams’ best shows of 2012

Showbams contributors name their favorite shows of 2012.

Showbam contributors reflect on the best concerts they went to in 2012 & list their favorite shows.

2012 has been a top-notch year for live music, and the Showbams team has witnessed some great acts that have come through California in the last 11 months. Take a look at our contributor’s favorite shows of 2012.

What was your favorite concert in 2012? Let us know in the comments below.

The xx at Treasure Island Music Festival

The xx at Treasure Island Music Festival


Mike Frash San Francisco

1. Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands Music Festival 8.11.12
Leaving Metallica for Sigur Ros to end the second day at Outside Lands was a torturous decision. Metallica was a warzone spectacle, but i stuck to my guns and headed to the Twin Peaks stage. I’m glad I did. Jonsi now conducts a mini orchestra, and the eerie SF fog lowered on command to the slow builds & crescendos. It was a spiritual show that effected me more than any other concert in 2012.

2. Japandroids @ The Independent 6.14.12
Brian King and David Prowse brought ecstatic energy to the sold out Independent in June the week after Celebration Rock was released. Brian King understands how to control the pace of his set, offering fun pre-song statements that prepare you for what’s next. Their songs are vibrant live – it doesn’t sound like only two people are playing instruments. They truly seem to live the life they glorify on their 2012 album – still drinking, still smokin, and full of hyperactive desperation.

3. Phish Night 3 @ Bill Grahm Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
The highly anticipated phish three-show SF run in August started off a bit slowly. Saturday’s show left me a little bummed about Phish due to some sloppy play (“Split open and melt”) and what felt like a lack of enthusiasm. I was questioning why I still see Phish live heading into the last show of the weekend. My lowered expectations combined with a killer show quashed those thoughts. Crosseyed > Light > Sneakin’ Sally > Crosseyed was some of the best Phish I’ve ever heard, “Boogie on” redeemed Stevie Wonder’s omission of the song at Outside Lands the week before, “Meatstick” made me really happy, and the San Francisco-mentioning “Ride Captain Ride” made a surprise encore appearance. The show was pure bliss.

4. The Rapture @ Coachella 4.13.12
5. The xx @ Treasure Island Music Festival 10.14.12
6. The Presets @ The Independent 10.12.12
7. STS9 @ High Sierra Music Festival 7.5.12 & 7.6.12
8. Head and the Heart @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 10.6.12
9. Tame Impala @ The Fillmore 11.15.12
10. My Morning Jacket @ The Greek 9.15.12

Honorable Mention:
Father John Misty at Jansport Bonfire 9.30.12
Of Monsters & Men at The Independent 3.22.12

My Morning Jacket performing at The Wiltern in September

My Morning Jacket performing at The Wiltern in September


Pete Mauch Los Angeles

1. My Morning Jacket @ The Wiltern 9.13.12
MMJ capped off the best 3-night run I saw this year with this stellar closing show complete with a Horn section. This is a big statement for a band I knew I loved but wasn’t fully convinced about until this night. Highlight: “All Night Long” & “Movin On Up” with Horns

2. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
Phish played a terrific 3-night run, and topped off by an amazing Sunday night show that proves that Phish is still top of the Jam Scene. Highlight: Light > Sneakin Sally Through the Alley

3. Ryan Adams @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 2.17.12
Ryan Adams, an acoustic Guitar, and a Piano is all this show contained, and it was truly special. Adams’ classic songs stripped down with his raspy croons is all I needed to make this a top show of the year. Highlight: “Rescue Blues” on Piano “Holy Diver” on Guitar

4. Trey Anastasio and LA Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 3.10.12
5. Neil Young and Crazy Horse @ the Hollywood Bowl 10.17.12
6. Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band @ UCLA Royce Hall 11.29.12
7. Radiohead @ Coachella Music Festival 4.21.12
8.Trombone Shorty @ the Key Club 2.11.12
9. Wilco @ the Palladium 1.24.12
10. New Multitudes (Tribute to Woody Guthrie) @ the Mayan Theatre 3.7.12

Honorable Mention:
Phish at Long Beach Arena 8.15.12
String Cheese Incident at Greek Theatre Berkeley 7.14.12
Roger Waters The Wall at the LA Coliseum 5.21.12
Umphreys Mcgee (True Hollywood Stories Acoustic Show) at the House of Blues 3.16.12

The Faint performing in November at The Regency Ballroom

The Faint performing in November at The Regency Ballroom

Molly Kish San Francisco

1. Radiohead @ HP Pavilion 4.12.12
After merely catching glimpses of them while shoved against thousands of festivalgoers at Outside Lands 2008, I was determined to catch Radiohead the next time they came through the Bay Area. The sound, visuals, performance and energy of the evening were electrifying. Although I was extremely lucky to have been viewing the concert from the sixth row, the entire crowd looked as though they were just as lost in the moment as I was. The band’s enigmatic stage presence, fully developed set composition and career spanning choice of material made for one of the most collectively impressive concert experiences that I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of.

2. Kishi Bashi/Of Montreal @ Slim’s 3.22.12
As a long time Of Montreal fan, I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to interview their opening act and latest addition to the line up (Kishi Bashi) the night of their performance at Slim’s. It wasn’t only for the sake of getting a personal perspective on the band, but also due to the fact that this would actually be my first time catching them performing live. The entire show and evening that followed was everything I could’ve wanted for my first experience seeing Of Montreal. Accompanied by three screens of psychedelic visuals, various costumed extras, balloon drops, props and whole score of vaudevillian rivalry, the band took the crowd and venue by storm. During the encore to top it off, I was able to reconnect with Kishi Bashi and ended up initiating an after-party with the entire band, crew and record label affiliates at an industrial themed “dark carnival,” taking place across the street at local dive bar Butter. Several jello shots, deep fried twinkies and contortionist carnie-prompted dance battles later, I looked around and felt assured that I had enough material to develop my own personal “Of Montreal” concert story contender.

3. The Presets @ Treasure Island Music Festival 10.13.12
Completely blown away by their performance the night before, I was overwhelmed with excitement and intrigue to see how the Presets could accomplish translating such energy to a festival setting. Anyone who had caught their Treasure Island Music Festival opener at the Independent instantly was taken over by sensory recall as they broke into song almost right where they left us hanging less than 24 hours earlier. Almost in homage to those who witnessed them destroy their previous set, they picked the dance party up right where they left off, only this time kicking it up about ten notches with the accompanied stage show, visual intensity and professional grade sound of seasoned professionals. Completely upstaging their more commercially recognized headliner and showing the younger generation how it should be done, they stole the show and were easily the stand out act of the 2012 TIMF. To this day I still find myself saying that I wish I could continually be going to a Presets show, based off of the concert experience I had at these two performances.

4. Dan Deacon @ The Great American Music Hall 10.23.12
5. Against Me! @ The Catalyst 9.10.12
6. The Faint @ The Regency Ballroom 11.18.12
7. Justice @ The Fox 11.4.2
8. Metallica @ Outside Lands 8.10.12
9. Animal Collective @ The Fox 9.21.12
10.The Shins @ The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 4.22.12

Honorable Mention:
Yeah Yeah Yeah’s @ The Creator’s Project SF 3.17.12
Cold War Kids @ The Bottom of the Hill 3.5.12
Dr. John @ The Independent 8.17.12
Girl Talk @ Sasquatch 5.25.12

David Byrnes & St. Vincent performing in

David Byrnes & St. Vincent performing in October

Kevin Raos San Francisco

1. David Byrne & St. Vincent @ the Orpheum Theater 10.15.12
This is my number one show of 2012 for a couple of reasons. First off, Love this Giant, the recently released collaborative album between Byrne and St. Vincent, was a major disappointment. One of my most anticipated albums of the year ended up being one of the most disappointing. All was redeemed, however, when I saw these songs performed live. The accompanying brass band and the chemistry on stage breathed new life into was I felt was a stale album. Playfully executed and precisely choreographed, these songs shined live.

Secondly, I am a huge David Byrne fan and was able to check a big one off my bucket list of musical artists. Byrne’s career needs no introduction and this evening we were treated to a few Talking Head’s classics such as “Burning Down the House,” “This Must Be the Place,” and “Like Humans Do.”

This show was simply a once in a lifetime experience.

2. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
A three night run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was capped off with a masterful performance by jamband kings, Phish. The final night of the run was easily the best night as the band flexed their improvisational muscles in a blistering 2-set performance, highlighted by covers of the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” and Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.”

3. Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands 8.11.12
Sigur Ros on my birthday to cap off an unbelievable festival day? How could it possibly get any better? It can’t really.

4. Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang @ Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael 10.4.12
5. Keller Williams, Steve Kimock & Kyle Hollingsworth ft. Bernie Worrell, Wally Ingram & Andy Hess @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival 10.7.12
6. Miike Snow / Penguin Prison @ Fox Theater Oakland 4.12.12
7. Washed Out @ Mezzanine 5.4.12
8. Electric Guest @ The Independent 11.2.12
9. The Album Leaf / Blackbird Blackbird @ Bottom of the Hill 9.30.12
10. Citizens! Lescop, Housse de Racket, Tomorrow’s World @ The Rickshaw Stop 10.12.12

Honorable Mentions:
Zee Avi @ New Parish 9.28.12
M83 @ The Fillmore 4.22.12

Japandroids performing in 2012

Japandroids performing in 2012

Eric Shaden San Francisco

1. D’Angelo @ HOB – Los Angeles 7.4.12

2. Passion Pit @ Rock en Seine – Paris 8.26.12

3. Starfucker @ the Independent 1.7.12

4. Stevie Wonder @ Outside Lands 8.12.12
5. Miike Snow + Penguin Prison @ The Fox Oakland 4.12.12
6. A.Skillz + Krafty Kuts Presents Tricka Technology @ Mighty 6.1.12
7. Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) @ the Independent 10.19.12
8. Japandroids @ the Independent 6.14.12
9. Guns n’ Roses @ Bridge School Benefit 10.21.12
10. Kid Koala Vinyl Vaudeville Tour @ Independent 11.4.12

The Lumineers performing at The Chapel in August

The Lumineers performing at The Chapel in August

Marc Fong San Francisco
1. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ Slim’s 3.25.12
It’s not often I gush like a school girl (only about once or twice a week), but seeing ESatMZ at Slim’s was panty dropping. Can I say that? Well, I just did. It was a secret/private show so Slim’s was overcrowded. I stood center stage close enough to see the dirt on Alexander’s suit. The sound was great and the band always puts on a damn fine show.

2. The Lumineers @ The Chapel 10.11.12
LIVE 105 brought the Lumineers to newly opened Chapel in SF and the band didn’t disappoint. The venue was the perfect size for the band and like most of the other bands on this list, the Lumineers had fun playing and it made for a great show.

3. Kronos Quartet @ Greek Theater 10.5.12
Okay, it was really Amon Tobin’s deal, but Kronos opened and performed beautifully. Being a long time fan, it’s not a surprise these openers made my list. Great music from great performers. And The Greek Theater in Berkeley was the best venue to see them. (And most other shows.)

4. Willie Nelson and Family @ The Fox Oakland 3.15.12
5. Of Monsters and Men @ Independent 5.22.12
6. Fun. @ The Independent 5.28.12
7. Sage Francis @ Independent 3.17.12
8. Steve Aoki @ Bill Graham 1.21.12
9. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ The Fox Oakland 5.12.12
10. AVICII @ Bill Graham Civic 6.28.12

Tame Impala at The Fillmore in November

Tame Impala at The Fillmore in November

Kevin Quandt San Francisco

1. The Walkmen @ The Independent January 20th & 21st
These 10th Anniversary shows were a Walkmen fan’s wet dream as they played their first album in full among multiple sets and configurations including a horn section. Over 30 songs of Hamilton Leithauser and company churning out their own brand of rock and roll to devote fans from across the States.

2. Refused with the Hives & the Bronx @ The Warfield 4.18.12
Having seen their Coachella show a week prior, the anticipation was less palpable, yet the reigning post-punk champs delighted a more rowdy and dedicated crowd with a spirited set for the masses who patiently waited a decade to witness.

3. Trey Anastasio and The Los Angeles Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 3.10.12
Dressing up for a show is fun, especially when Trey is at the helm of philharmonic symphony in one of the best rooms to hear, and see, music in. From the playful rendition of “Guyute” to the half hour “Time Turns Elasctic,” this night had the packed concert hall re-charmed by Ernest and his recharged song book.

4. Tame Impala @ The Fillmore 11.15.12
5. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
6. Woods and White Fence @ The Chapel at Preservation Hall West 10.17.12
7. Howlin Rain @ The Independent 2.18.12
8. Radiohead @ The Santa Barbara Bowl 4.12.12
9. Father John Misty & Har Mar Superstar @ Bottom of the hill 5.5.12
10.Mala @ Yoshi’s San Francisco 6.23.12

Festival sets:
Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands 8.11.12
Future Islands @ FYF 9.1.12
Flying Lotus @ Coachella 4.14.12

Justice performing at The Warfield in November

Justice performing at The Warfield in November

Sean Little San Francisco

1. Justice @ The Warfield 11.4.12
What else is there to say about Justice that hasn’t already been said. They came, they saw, and they melted faces with an amazing set the blew fans away and converted first timers alike. At least half my friends decided to go last minute (tickets were still available because it was a Sunday) and all of them became huge fans. Some of these friends are not into electronic music of any kind either, so that really says something. It was one of those rare shows where you leave euphoric and can’t stop saying “wow” to the people you went with.

2. Florence & the Machine @ Coachella 4.15.12
The only other performer I’ve ever seen that commanded an audience like Florence did was Snoop Dogg back in 02 at the Smoke Out (stop-you’re not better than me so put that eyebrow back down). It was one of the rare festival sets where everyone felt really in tune with the performer and each other, singing along and knowing when to interact with each other and the songs. She was absolutely amazing, and the set was a dark horse highlight to my festival as I didn’t expect her to command the audience like she did. She’s truly a presence.

2ManyDJ’s @ Regency Ballroom
I saw them about this time last year but fuck it, it still counts. If you have never seen them live then go. Even if you don’t like electronic, go. Even if you hate music go. If you want to be schooled in what real DJs as performers can do, you have to go. They blend the most amazing remixes, edits, mashups and drops all together with a mindblowing set of animated artwork, based on the song that is being played behind them. I won’t even try to explain because it won’t work.

Best albums of 2012

10-Best-Albums-of-2012Subscribe to our Spotify Playlist “Best Albums of 2012.”

2012 has been a rich year for music, and our consensus top 10 albums show diverse musical selections. Each Showbams contributor selected their top 10 albums from 2012, and we averaged them together to create Showbams’ Best Albums of 2012:

1. Tame ImpalaLonerism
2. Passion PitGossamer
3. Kendrick LamarGood kid, m.A.A.d city
4. Jack WhiteBlunderBuss
5. The xxCoexist
6. Father John MistyFear Fun
7. Frank Ocean channel ORANGE
8. The PresetsPacifica
9. JapandroidsCelebration Rock
10.TanlinesMixed Emotions

Honorable Mention:
Dr. John – Locked Down
Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

Take a look at our contributor’s favorite albums of 2012 below:

Tame ImpalaMike Frash San Francisco
1. Tame ImpalaLonerism
It’s rare to find an album that grabs you from the very beginning and compels you to listen beginning to end, the first time you spin it. Lonerism is timeless; you could convince someone that it’s from the late 1960s if they didn’t know better. “Apocalypse Dream” sets a masterful psychedelic-sad tone, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is the type of song people dreamed Oasis would create 10 years ago, and “Elephant” just flat out rocks.

2. The xxCoexist
Coexist grew on me more than any album in recent memory. It’s about love, regret, angst, pain, and forgiveness. “Angels” begins the album with one of the best love songs ever (no hyperbole), and after 30 minutes of intense back and forth emotion, “Our Song” brings our two characters back together. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are the two main characters in the this story, and they play off each other even better than their first record. Jamie xx brings it all together with his subtle beats and sounds. This album is a love story for the ages.

3. Sun Kil MoonAmong The Leaves
Mark Kozelek’s fifth studio album under the name Sun Kil Moon combines masterful lyricism and captivating cadence to the point where it becomes addictive. The songwriting is creative and pretty out there at times, and is mostly self-reflexive and literal. The instruments are kept to a minimum – most of the album is Kozelek singing over acoustic guitar, but this minimalist approach just works for me.

4. Frank Ocean channel ORANGE
5. JapandroidsCelebration Rock
6. Passion PitGossamer
7. John TalabotFin
8. ChromaticsKill For Love
9. Wild NothingNocturne
10. Delicate StevePositive Force

Honorable Mention:
The Presets – Pacifica
Purity Ring – Shrines
Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Neil-YoungPete Mauch Los Angeles
1. Neil Young and Crazy HorsePsychedelic Pill
When someone as legendary as Neil Young puts out an album with timeless songs like “Ramada Inn,” “Walk Like A Giant,” and “Twisted Road” there is absolutely no other album I can put in front of this list. Psychedelic Pill may be Neil Young’s best effort since the 70’s.”

2.Tame ImpalaLonerism
This sophomore album oozes with psychedelic-laced pop tunes that are very reminiciant of The Beatles, especially after they experimented with mind altering drugs. From the opening track of “Gotta Be Above It,” you know you’re in for quite the mystical journey.

3.Father John MistyFear Fun This Fleet Foxes outcast may have one-upped his former band with this debut album. “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings” is quite possibly my favorite song of the year as well.

4. Kendrick LamarGood kid, m.A.A.d city
5. Dr. JohnLocked Down
6. Jack WhiteBlunderBuss
7. Gary Clark Jr.Blak and Blu
8. Alabama ShakesBoys and Girls
9. Grizzly BearShields
10. LumineersLumineers

Honorable Mention:
Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
Django Django – Django Django

The xxMolly Kish San Francisco
1. The xxCoexist
Coexist was an extremely strong and highly anticipated sophomore effort. I was so excited
about this that I listened to it immediately when it became available. Coexist continues the journey
initially set out on the band’s debut album and brings the music to an even more provocative
soundscape, highlighting Jamie xx’s production skill and minimalistic dance beats.

2. StarsThe North
“The North” is Stars’ 7th studio album and it delivers an infectious and comprehensive survey of
the band’s 12 year discography. The lyrical collaboration of Torquil and Seligman remains
at the forefront of the songs and it exhibits a maturity in both range and content. Stars have set the indie rock standard on everything from synth heavy pop songs to piano rock ballads, and they continue to lead and influence.

3. Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel…
Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…” was an album I have wanted to hear since 1999”s
“When the pawn.” Along with exhibiting her talents as a pianist and blues rock vocal ingénue,
Apple’s inclusion of samples and entrancing drum beats brings her work to a whole new level.
The album is one you could play on repeat for days without realizing it, and you might continue
playing it anyways.

4. YeasayerFragrant World
5. Dr. JohnLocked Down
6. Passion PitGossamer
7. The LumineersThe Lumineers
8. TanlinesMixed Emotions
9. The PresetsPacifica
10. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere

Honorable Mentions
Animal Collective, Centipede Hz
Hot Chip, In Our Heads
Bloc Party, Four

Tame-ImpalaKevin Raos San Francisco
1. Tame ImpalaLonerism
Tame Impala has created the definitive psychedelic rock album of 2012. Taking what they did with their debut album, Innerspeaker, and infusing it with more fuzzy guitar and Beatles-esque vocal style, Lonerism takes the listener on a mind-altering, hallucinatory, psychotropic exploration that is unlike anything in 2012. Flashbacks to this album will be frequent and intense.

2. Passion PitGossamer
Another sophomore success, Passion Pit’s Gossamer is an electro-pop marvel. I think this album will remain one of the more memorable albums beyond 2012 for its pure pop and danceability. Catchy hooks and upbeat melodies make this one of the best indie pop albums of the year.

3. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Everything Jack White touches turns to gold, and this time is no different. It’s hard to think that with as much as we’ve heard from Jack White, that this is his solo album debut. I have the feeling that Jack White is going to be around for a long time, and this is only the beginning of a successful solo career.

4. Grimes Visions
5. Sigur RosValtari
6. John TalabotFin
7. Step DadWildlife Pop
8. Electric GuestMondo
9. The Big PinkFuture This
10. Kishi Bashi151a

Honorable Mention:
Memory Tapes – Grace/Confusion

Passion-PitEric Shaden San Francisco
1. Passion PitGossamer
For me, a great followup to Manners. This avoids the sophomore slump with a good mix of tracks. My favorite of the year.

2. Kendrick Lamargood kid, m.A.A.d city
With so many hip hop albums released annually it takes something special to rise above the fray. Kendrick Lamar does this on good kid, m.A.A.d city. My best hip hop album by far.

3. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Great to hear such a solid rock album, especially in 2012. This reminds me of the White Stripes while still sounding fresh and new. I knew after one listen that this would be one of the top albums of the year.

4. JapandroidsCelebration Rock
5. Miike SnowHappy to You
6. Hot ChipIn Our Heads
7. SantigoldMaster of My Make Believe
8. Frank OceanChannel ORANGE
9. ChairliftSomething
10. Purity RingShrines

Father-John-MistyKevin Quandt San Francisco
1. Father John MistyFear Fun
Josh Tillman left his post as drummer for Fleet Foxes only to create his best solo material to date under the moniker, Father John Misty. This rousing tale of drinking, womanizing and tripping his way down the West Coast is full of catchy hooks and twisted lyrics that are perfect for an easy escape from the norm. Don’t sleep on seeing Tillman and his merry pranksters live as he commands a stage with the best of them.

2. Tame ImpalaLonerism
This sophomore effort from the lads down under takes their already stellar formula, utilized on InnerSpeaker, and polishes it even further. A wider breadth of sound is the result on Lonerism, as Kevin Parker gains more confidence as witnessed in more robust melodies brought up in the mix, larger crescendos and bolder subject matter in his lyrics. A deeper range of sound has also come through as these guys continue to only get better with age.

3. DIIVOshin
Beach Fossil’s Zachary Cole Smith released a whopper of a solo effort this year under the aquatic-name, Diiv(Dive). Heavy on the reverb and not lacking any quality of pop shoe-gaze mentality, this album has a way of grabbing you and holding on for a few months as the infectious guitar hooks play over and over in your skull. Though they may not break the mold for a certain brand of Brooklyn meets hip ocean beachside sound, they certainly put out one of the better records in that style.

4. Frank OceanChannel Orange
5. The WalkmenHeaven
6. Kendrick LamarGood Kid, m.A.A.d City
7. PondBeard, Wives, Denim
8. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
9. White FenceFamily Perfume Vol. 1
10. Dr. JohnLocked Down

EPS
How to Destroy Angels – An Omen
TNGHT – TNGHT
Captain Murphy – Duality

PresetsSean Little San Francisco
1. The PresetsPacifica
I have to admit the first time I heard it I was a bit let down. I was expecting something more akin to Apocalypso and wasn’t sure if I was into the fact it wasn’t a very indie dance forward album. The more I listened though the more it grew on me, and the more I started to appreciate the way they took chances and pushed boundaries. Songs like Ghosts and A.O. are a far departure from their last album, but still have an infectious quality to them that is at home in headphones or on a dance floor. The more I hear this the more I like it making it my number `1 album.

2. Kendrick LamarGood Kid, M.A.A.D. City
An all-around amazing album. Most rap now is so over produced and homogenized it’s great to see someone make an album that reminds you of the old days, where beats were thoughtful and albums had an overall story arc, not just one single after another. Kendrick is going to be doing big things and holds the torch as the only real west coast rapper pumping out thoughtful tracks that make you pay attention to the lyrics as much as move. Probably the only rap album I listen to regularly these days.

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperer – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!:
Trippy, heady stoner metal that you can listen to pretty much anywhere and vibe to. It isn’t for everyone, but the way the craft songs that stretch and grow creating a real atmosphere is unique and not seen as often in a world where few have the attention span for a 25 minute song. Few others know how to build on just one note and continue to grow a vibe until it crashes like a wave, taking the listener with it. A great album to listen to no matter what your mood, just hit play and let it take you wherever you want it to.

4. TanlinesMixed Emotions
5. LindstromSmall Hans
6. Cat PowerSun
7. Frank OceanChannel Orange
8. Hot ChipIn Our Heads
9. ScubaPersonality
10. Scissor SistersMagic Hour

Best tracks of 2012

Some of our favorite tracks in 2012 are from The Lumineers, Tame Impala, Japandroids, Father John Misty, & Electric Guest.

The Lumineers, Tame Impala, Japandroids, Father John Misty, & Electric Guest created classic songs in 2012.

Showbams contributors have listed their favorite tracks of the year.
What were your favorite songs in 2012? Leave a comment below.

View our Best Shows of 2012
View our Best Albums of 2012


Mike Frash San Francisco @MikeFrash
Subscribe to Mike’s “Best Tracks of 2012” Playlist on Spotify.

1. Sun Kil Moon “Among the Leaves”

When a song get’s it’s 50th play and just gets better, you know you’ve found something special. This song showcases Mark Kozelek’s voice and songwriting perfectly, and is so good he named the album after it. With every spin the descriptive lyrics evolve in the mind of listener. Kozelek tells the tale of a girl he sees around town and wants to help. And when the wind instruments kick in, the song takes off and flies.

2. Tame Impala“Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”

This track might me the most simple song from Lonerism, but it is also the most memorable. It’s plenty trippy like the rest of the album, and it’s also the most catchy song – the one that’s still bouncing around your head a day later. “It feels like we only go backwards, but every part of me says go ahead.” This refrain so basic yet effective, and Kevin Parker’s familiar vocals blend seamlessly into Tame Impala’s psychedelic fuzz rock.

3. Passion Pit“It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy”

Once Michael Angelakos’s bi-polar disorder disorder and attempted suicides were made public, this album and track worked on a higher level. It may be the most biographical song on Gossamer (that says a lot), and the penultimate track steps into anthem territory with confessional optimism. It’s like Michael is telling himself, repeating over and over, that he’s going to make it. Knowing the context of the song makes it more effective, but the biographical background is not needed to know this song is great.

4. Japandroids“Fire’s Highway”
5. Frank Ocean“Pyramids”
6. The xx“Angels”
7. John Talabot“Destiny” feat. Pional
8. Fiona Apple“Every Single Night”
9. Tanlines“Brothers”
10.House“Kindness”

Honorable Mention:
Killer Mike – “Reagan”
The Presets – “Fall”
Wild Nothing – “Paradise”


Pete Mauch Los Angeles @PeteMauch

1. Father John Misty“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”

2. Neil Young“Walk Like a Giant”

3. Trey Anastasio“Scabbard”

4. Tame Impala “Apocalypse Dreams”
5. Neil Young“Ramada Inn”
6. Kendrick Lamar“Swimming Pools”
7. Alabama Shakes“Hold on”
8. Lumineers“Ho Hey”
9. Gary Clark Jr.“Numb”
10.Jack White“Freedom at 21”


Molly Kish San Francisco @MollyKish

1. Lumineers “Ho Hey”

Due to the incredible commercial success of the Lumineers self-titled debut, you couldn’t escape this song in 2012. Infectiously simple both in lyrics and structure, this song’s basic pop composition grabs it’s audience’s attention immediately and has you singing along from the first listen. An instant crowd pleaser and multi-format radio hit, I still have yet to change the dial.

2. Azealia Banks“212”

A Hard hitting hip hop club hit, this song’s dirty beat and even filthier flow is an immediate dance party call to arms. Bursting onto the scene with this track produced by Lazy J, Azaelia Banks jumped into the female rap game spitting fire. Incorporating the repetitive use of the word cunt into a chorus and making it contagiously catchy and not crude: genius.

3. The Presets“Youth in Trouble”

The Presets came back to the EDM scene after a four year hiatus and did so with authority. Starting off one of this year’s best dance albums, this standout track is a club banger. With its extreme builds, relentless bass line and scream along party lyrics, the Presets win my “drop of the year” award in this bar setting track.

4. Electric Guest“This Head I Hold”
5. Fiona Apple“Hot Knife”
6. The xx“Reunion”
7. Kishi Bashi“Bright Whites”
8. Dr. John“Locked Down”
9. Yeasayer“Reagan’s Skeleton”
10.Bloc Party“Octopus”

Honorable Mentions
Passion Pit“I’ll be Alright”


Kevin Raos San Francisco @kevinraos

1. Tame Impala“Apocalypse Dreams”

Best track on the best album of the year. The more I listen to this album the more my opinion of it morphs and shifts. That’s one of the best things about an album like this – you hear something new every time you listen.

2. Electric Guest“This Head I Hold”

This song sounds like it could have been written 50 years ago. Classic sound, classic song. One of my favorites of the year.

3. Lana Del Rey“Born to Die”

I put this in my top 3 simply because I want to comment about my love/hate fascination with Lana Del Rey. Lana Del Rey’s fragile demeanor and futile resistance towards fame make her one of the most interesting artist of 2012. I’m not a giant fan of her music as a whole, but I LOVE this song.

4. alt-J “Fitzpleasure”
5. Stepdad“My Leather, My Fur, My Nails”
6. Django Django“Default”
7. Passion Pit“Carried Away”
8. Memory Tapes“Thru the Field”
9. Trey Anastasio“Scabbard”
10.Matthew Dear“Her Fantasy”


Eric Shaden San Francisco @3ricShaden

1. Major Lazer feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors“Get Free”

2. Kendrick Lamar“Swimming Pools (Drank)”

3. Passion Pit “Constant Conversations”

4. MIA“Bad Girls”
5. Santigold“Disparate Youth”
6. Hot Chip“Motion Sickness”
7. Purity Ring“Lofticries”
8. Frank Ocean“Thinkin Bout You”
9. Chairlift“Sidewalk Safari”
10.RAC feat. Penguin Prison“Hollywood”


Kevin Quandt San Francisco @KJQuandt

1. TNGHT“Higher Ground”

The duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice brought their unique brands of production into one insanely big release this year. This highlight track, among others, features chopped vocals, a plethora of hand-clapping and a massive bass tuba beat that has been destroying dance floors the better part of 2012. Higher Ground begs to be properly rhymed over, but in the meantime the production is the shining light of the year.

2. Pond“Eye Pattern Blindness”

What an epic rock track these Aussies churned out this year. Taking notes from Floyd and Zeppelin equally have helped these lads write and perform a rock masterpiece full of twist and turns, not to mention it clocks in at a rare 6 minutes. Syd Barrett is smiling down from above.

3. Japandroids“House That Heaven Built”

From the distorted wall of guitar to the infectious chorus, epitomizing the sound of Brian King and David Prowse, this track has angst and energy slathered all over it. These guys don’t write typical rock and roll songs, and it is refreshing to see their hard work paying off in dividends. A true rock gem for the ages.

4. Father John Misty“Hollywood Cemetery Forever Sings”
5. The Allah-Las“Tell Me What’s on Your Mind”
6. How to Destroy Angels “Keep it Together”
7. Cloud Nothings“Wasted Days”
8. Jack White“Love Interruption”
9. Clark“Secret”
10.Woods“Size Meets Sound”

Honorable Mentions:
Liars – “No. 1 Against the Rush”
Thee Oh Sees – “Lupine Dominus”
Chromatics – “Kill For Love”


Sean Little San Francisco @splittle

1. Nikki & The Dove“Mother Protect” (Goldroom Remix)

Nikki & The Dove are great as is, but what Goldroom does with this track is reinvent it in a way that’s thoughtful and massive all at once. It’s one of those rare remixes that you hear after the original, and never listen to the original again. It’s that good. Goldroom has really blown up over the last year, touring the globe and this is the track that arguably started it all as it was supported by Aeroplane and The Magician among others giving it, and him, serious credibility. Keep him on your radar and expect more of this for a long time to come.

2. Bicep“Vision of Love”

This is stripped down, essential house. This track could be thrown into any 90’s house set and not skip a beat, which is a testament to Bicep and how they hone their craft. Two dudes from Ireland that just seem to constantly pump out hits and push the party and boundaries. This is the song that shows less can be more, and stripped down production can have a big impact especially when compared with many of today’s overproduced tracks. When the pianos come back in at 3:39 it’s all over.

3. Moonlight Matters“Come For Me” (Might Mouse Remix)

This is huge. It’s just euphoria in a song. I’ve ended more than a few sets with this and hands are in the air, drinks are being tossed around and people are just losing their shit. Don’t sleep on this stellar remix as many people have and it’s a shame. Words don’t do it just so just listen and wait for it to kick in.

4. Waze & Odyssey“Love that (Burns Hot Enough)”
5. ColeCo“Rickey Smiley”
6. Moon Boots“Off My Mind”
7. Presets“Ghosts”
8. Van She“Jamaica”
9. Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers” (The Magician Remix)
10.Chris Malinchak“The Fourth”