I'm not about to let you forget that 2012 was a supremely strange-sounding year in local music. There's even more adventure and dissonance beyond my list of 2012's best Madison-made albums, either on albums that didn't quite make the cut or from artists that slipped under my radar for most of the year.
Here's a short playlist to help you close out the year on a compelling and head-scratching note.
A Haircut: "A Native Scalping"
I'm a bit late in checking out A Haircut, as the local punk duo tends to favor somewhat elusive house shows. Their eight-song Bandcamp demo pairs ultra-bare-bones recording with scrappy immediacy. And as harsh as it sounds at first, there's also something amiable about the way Andrea Lutz's panicked vocals hold the tunes together.
On the surface, Anthony Lamarr's album Act Two:The Way Of The World is an exploration of spirituality through the medium of R&B. But beyond that, Lamarr's taking some chances and grand gestures, not only a as a singer and songwriter but as an arranger. "Elevation" combines his ambitious songwriting with elaborations on a theme from rappers DLO, Smokes and Clifton Beefy. While hip-hop is just one element of Lamarr's palette, the track also reminds me that we have new hip-hop releases to look forward to in 2013 from Madison-based artists such as Sincere Life and Tefman.
Dharma Dogs' only proper release this year was a 7-inch entitled Drown, which captures some of the grunge-meets-hardcore chaos the young trio brews up onstage. On the first track, "Laxadaisy," the band keeps a lot of its feedback-dripping low end, but the songwriting tightens up a bit as well.
The piles of exotic instrumentation and name might signal a certain over-the-top whimsy, but Lovely Socialite's ambitious instrumentals combined jazz, avant-garde and, on this track, a hint of hip-hop, with incredible finesse.
Samantha Glass: "When The Sun Slips In"
Madison project Samantha Glass made some real progress with its zonked-out synth meditations this year, on the album Mysteries From The Palomino Skyliner. "When The Sun Slips In" reminds me of a point I've made before: Samantha Glass uses synth and drum machine sounds that could seem a little tinny and fuzzy, but combines them with resourceful dynamics and makes the whole sound a lot bigger than its constituent parts.
In case I haven't driven home the point about the importance of electronic music in Madison this year, here's one project I've been behind on. Under the name Madden, Solomon Brown has posted a couple dozen remixes and originals, whose only constant is a disconnected, groggy feel. Like a lot of electronic artists in 2012, Brown took on the challenge of trying to make Lana Del Rey sound interesting, but also crafted some morose, disorienting songs of his own.