New records from Amanda Palmer, Converge, Mission of Burma, and Passion Pit gave Boston a steady (inter)national presence in 2012. But as usual, the best music from our city was cultivated within the clubs of Cambridge, Allston DIY spaces, squares of Somerville, and way across the pike in Western Mass. Gone are the days when our music scene hoped those outside the community would pay attention to what's going on here; because if the rest of the county isn't listening, it's no fault of ours. Here are 10 reasons why, presented in no particular order.
AUTOCHROME ::SEPARATION REALMS [self-released] :: The sudden hiatus of this icy post-punk quartet was as abrupt as it was disappointing. But in their two years together, Autochrome left a wonderfully claustrophobic record ripped straight from the smoky UK lounges of 1982. Top track: "100 Series."
CASPIAN ::WAKING SEASON [Triple Crown Records] :: In August the Beverly post-rock veterans invited fans to T.T.'s for a listening party, then rewarded the 100 people vibing in the dark to the recorded version of Waking Season with a surprise gig that took the album's lush, hypnotic aura to another level. Several world tours later, Caspian are continually one of Boston's most overlooked treasures. Top track: "Halls of the Summer."
FAT CREEPS ::FAT CREEPS [self-release] :: The trio's late-2011 debut single "Nancy Drew" was an aural morning of ennui packaged in lo-fi garage-pop, and it was the perfect primer for the North Shore co-eds' August EP, carried by the ocean-strum cautionary tale of "Leave Her Alone," one of the best tracks of 2012. Primed for a huge breakout in 2013. Top Track: "Leave Her Alone."
GRAND RESORT ::VANGUARD DREAMS [self-released] :: Andres Pichardo crafted his C86-inspired jangle-pop sound by himself while studying at New England Institute of Art, but now the Dominican native calls Brooklyn home. What he created here was a washed-out sun-shower of blissful pop. Top track: "Microscopic."
INFINITY GIRL ::STOP BEING ON MY SIDE [self-release] :: Four unassuming dudes living in Central Square come together to create a thunderous, neo-shoegaze record that seduces with noise, reverb, and startling polish. Few bands sling such ferocious noise with such ease. Top track: "Please Forget."
MEAN CREEK ::YOUTH COMPANION[Old Flame Records]:: They twice toured the country with Counting Crows, but still were able to capture the sound of Boston with Youth Companion, a gutsy, rolled-up-sleeve collection of indie anthems. As impassioned a rock band as we'll ever get. Top track: "Do You Know?"
MELLOW BRAVO ::MELLOW BRAVO [Small Stone Recordings] :: Brash, bluesy, Boston. Bravo's sophomore record is another barroom brawl through Somerville back-alleys. There's always room in Boston for an old-fashioned no-bullshit rock-and-roll band. Top track: "Where the Bodies Lay."
POTTY MOUTH ::SUN DAMAGE [Feeble Minds/Ride The Snake/Puzzle Pieces] :: The debut 12-inch EP from this Northampton garage-rock quartet is so good, three record labels released it in July. Girl-gang vocals, '90s guitar-rock harmony vibes, and an abrasively smooth collection of songs impossible to get out of your head. Top track: "Dog Song."