Best Albums of 2012

As has been the case in recent years, there was a lot of fine music being made in 2012.  New technologies have not only changed the accessibility of music, they also seem to have inspired a venerable geyser of creativity and experimentation.  Some big names forged exciting new directions for themselves, while others far less heralded blazed trails in uncharted territory.  I hardly consider this list to be absolute, but based on what I heard this year, these are the 15 albums that stood out to me: 15) Cloud Nothings, Attack On Memory – In one of the most schizophrenic albums of the year, Cloud Nothings segue from the sprawling gothic instrumental coda of “Wasted Days” to the tight radio-friendly punk jam “Fall In”.  And that’s just the end of the third track.  They pull it off, though, largely because they cultivate the same pleasant angst in their sound in every song. Essential Listening: “Fall In”, “Wasted Days” 14) Beach House, Bloom – In some ways, the name “Beach House” is very fitting for this Baltimore duo.  The guitars often use tinny, chasmy surf-rock timbres, and Victoria Legrand’s haunting vocals sound as if they’re processed through a seashell.  Bloom nestles more »

Is Opera for Everyone?

“[Elektra] will blow [teenagers’] minds!  Think of the anger expressed in this piece.  It’s about rage, matricide, disempowerment between generations.  It’s also about revolution and not accepting the status quo.  Very, very few people in the audience will find nothing to relate to in experiencing this opera.”  – Sir David McVicar, director of Lyric Opera’s recent production of Elektra, on the accessibility of the opera “I thought opera was for old farts, bourgeoisie and people in dinner jackets.  Opera’s for anyone who’s willing to submit.  Stick your nose in and find out what’s going on.” – Terry Gilliam   The answer to the titular question is, of course, no.  There are some people – possibly even a large faction of people – who will either never be able to experience an opera or abhor the experience regardless.  What this is really asking, though, is whether opera has a wider (and, more importantly, younger) audience than it currently has.  To this end, I think the response is resoundingly affirmative, and as these given quotes portend, I’m hardly alone on that. Two recent events have led me to ponder this dilemma.  My wife and I recently attended Lyric’s production of Strauss’ Elektra.  more »