Introducing the 2012 edition of the Musical Bacon Calendar. Every year here at the Bacon Review, I collect my personal top 31 favorites from the year (specifically, November 2011-October 2012) and try to apply some sort of order to the list. Invariably, the list is in flux up until the #1 album is announced on New Year’s Eve, and this year was no different.
2012 was a strange year for music.
The live music scene was on fire: Springsteen, Radiohead, Jeff Mangum (twice!), David Byrne, Sigur Rós, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello… the list goes on and on. That’s more mind-blowing live music than one person should really be allowed to see in a single year.
But only two of those bands have albums that make this year’s calendar. A lot of bands that I’ve loved over the years came out with much fanfare but ultimately unworthy new albums (Beth Orton, Cat Power, Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips, Ben Gibbard…). They did not make the cut. For the first time, I got to travel to Austin for the SXSW Music Festival, and while I had a blast getting to experience a lot of new music there, most of those corresponding albums didn’t have staying power in my musical cue. And once again, like last year and very much unlike 2009 and 2010, I don’t have a clear #1 favorite here at the first of the month. I’ll be forced to land on something by New Year’s Eve, and I definitely have ten solid albums that make up the Top 10 in the calendar, but I find myself looking for (and failing to find) a way to logically categorize and rank them, pointing to an undeniable #1. Only time will tell who wins out in the end.
For now, on to the #31 pick!
#31 on the 2012 Musical Bacon Calendar
Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells
When Derek Edward Miller and Alexis Krauss first appeared on the Musical Bacon Calendar two years ago (at #12), they were there as the result of a very fast word-of-mouth launch of their debut album, Treats. Now, a little more seasoned, and a little more road weary, Sleigh Bells have released a second album that’s, unsurprisingly, not as good as the first. However, this summation is not a slight on the new album, Reign of Terror, which is quite good. It’s merely the result of Treats being so good that no second album would have matched its success.
Gone is the initial shock of “WHAT IS THIS NOISE?!” leaving the listener with a feeling of “Yep, that’s what I expected.” This album doesn’t push any boundaries — they’ve done all that already. Now they’re just settling into what they know. The true test will be the third album, whenever that may be. You can only sit in the same mold for so long.
Pounding guitar, drums and cheerleader vocals: these are Sleigh Bells forte. If this is the first time you’re hearing Sleigh Bells, by all means pick up Reign of Terror. Just like Treats, it will floor you from the very first strum of the guitar. The video above, for “Demons,” the 7th song on the album, is an apt representation of the entire Sleigh Bells catalog. Like it? Buy them all and blow your speakers out.
There you have it, we’re underway! Welcome to the 2012 Musical Bacon Calendar, everybody.