ETB’s Favorite Music of 2012

Allo Darlin'

A lot has happened this year! I rang in 2012 in a Brooklyn apartment with some of my closest friends and a lot of chocolate and wine. I’d been dumped just a few days before, and while I was in surprisingly OK spirits considering the circumstances, I certainly didn’t expect that by the end of January I’d meet the person who I now cannot imagine my life without. Moving on and moving up, indeed. I also moved to my third New York apartment, explored new parts of my favorite borough, watched a close friend get married, more or less gained a whole new family, I visited dozens of new restaurants, and I traveled to San Francisco, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and, of course, home to Michigan.

Of course there was also a whole lot of music that soundtracked all of this, and never in one year have so many songs Made Me Feel Things. I might have cried a couple times while listening to “Give Out” from Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp, “Tallulah” from Allo Darlin’s Europe, and “Lonely Universe” from Angel Olsen’s Half Way Home. But I’ve also hit serious highs, like standing next to the love of my life while Kathleen Edwards played “Sidecar” from her album Voyageur, and I’ll never forget staying out until 1:30 a.m. on a weeknight as Glen Hansard paraded friends from all ends of the music world onto the small stage at Le Poisson Rouge to play a series of Levon Helm covers.

I’ve said it a million times, but it bears repeating: I don’t like making best-of-the-year music lists, at least not when I have to rank them. The order I want to put the albums in changes every day, and certain songs might have been more important to me in March than in September. Of course there are also the thousands of records that never touched my ears, and the dozens I’ve given a few spins but still need to spend more time with — and I have no doubt that I’m forgetting something. But there are certainly a sizeable number of records that I loved and had some impact on me in 2012, and below (alphabetically) are a few of them (SURPRISE! They are almost all ladies). Also, you can download a mix of my favorite 2012 songs here.

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My Favorite Record of 2012 is Out Today!

Allo Darlin' Europe

When we got an advance copy of Allo Darlin‘s album Europe at work a few months ago, more than half of our five-person editorial team were almost brought to tears at first listen. (The UK indiepop band’s debut almost topped our best of 2010 list, so to say it was highly anticipated would be an understatement.) There are records that have grabbed me instantly, but there has not been another that’s turned my world upside-down as quickly as this one did, and still does with every repeated listen. Elizabeth Morris is a genius songwriter who knows how to write about love in a way that makes sense to me, and it’s scary how closely I can relate to so many of her songs on both the band’s records.

Anyway, I wrote a super-long review of it over at eMusic if you’d like a more eloquent explanation of why it’s the best, but here are a couple of videos to get you started:

And if you like what you hear, they are playing in New York next week (April 24) at Mercury Lounge, and you can check out the rest of their tourdates here.

Teatime Scones with Rosewater Icing (Inspired by Betty & the Werewolves)

http://listen.grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

THE DISH
Buttery scones with rosewater icing (Recipe + photos here)

THE INSPIRATION/ABOUT THE ARTIST
The British group Betty and the Werewolves are a band my coworker Jayson discovered last summer while browsing the Freshly Ripped page on eMusic, and they are awesome! They make bouncy, fuzzy indie pop with lines like “I don’t want dinner and a movie/ I just someone that’ll move me” and “My bedroom’s covered in photos of David/ I have 5,000 if I’m estimating” (in reference to David Cassidy). For fans of Allo Darlin’, Ida Maria, The Raincoats and The Breeders.

Their LP is called Teatime Favourites, so I made scones — a perfect treat for a cup of tea — with rosewater icing, which I thought would be a pretty and dainty complement to the scones, but it actually tasted more like a mix of bubblegum and soap (the scones were great, though!). Turns out I am not a fan of rosewater!
Betty & the Werewolves on MySpace
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Heartbeat Chili (Inspired by Allo Darlin’)

“I was in the kitchen on my own making chili/
You came in with an onion and got dicin’/
It seems silly that this chili has two heartbeats in the recipe/
So come over, give your heart to me.”
— “Heartbeat Chilli” by Allo Darlin’ (from last year’s Allo Darlin’
)

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THE DISH
Heart-healthy veggie chili with heart-shaped tortilla crisps (recipe at bottom of post)

THE INSPIRATION
Allo Darlin”s self-titled debut was one of my favorite records of 2010 — it’s indie-pop that’s sweet and earnest enough to make me all warm and fuzzy every time I listen. Elizabeth Morris’s lyrics are unbelievably witty, and she occasionally mixes her own lines with snippits of songs like Weezer’s “El Scorcho” (“Kiss Your Lips”) and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” (“Heartbeat Chilli”). This ukulele-based song is pretty perfect for Valentine’s Day, and this chili is a perfect dish to warm up with in the hell that is mid-February. I made sure the chili had plenty of heart-healthy ingredients like beans and spinach — beans are great for their omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fiber; spinach for its potassium and fiber, among other things. The heart-shaped tortilla crisps are kinda self-explanatory.
Allo Darlin’ on MySpace

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Rockin’ Valentine’s Day Cookies, with help from a super-cute music-biz couple

THE DISH
Sugar cookies with buttercream and royal icing (Recipe below)

THE INSPIRATION
No CALL ME’s or HUGS & KISSES here! Each cookie has a different love-themed song title. I know they’re not all mushy love songs, but it’s more based on the titles than the lyrics…To make these even more precious, I had help from the cutest music-biz couple I know: Heidi Greenwood and Bryan Vaughan, who run Brooklyn’s Paper Garden Records. Paper Garden is home to one of my favorite discoveries of the past year, Peasant, as well as Danish up-and-comers Alcoholic Faith Mission, and several other acts. Heidi and Bryan were gracious enough to spend more than four hours with me on these … they are amazing and I can’t thank them enough! Enjoy some super-cute photos of them below.

THE PLAYLIST
Tracklisting is at bottom of the post.

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