That Was 2012: Our Year-End Lists

As I type this, it's still 2012, but by the time we hit "publish," it'll be 2013. So I'll turn to the great poet Kanye West to sum it all up: "I'm livin' in the future so the presence is my past. My presence is the present, kiss my ass."

That was 2012, welcome to 2013 -- here's our end of the year lists all bundled up for your convenience.

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Top 5 Punk Albums of 2012

Happy New Year loyal punk fans.

If you really tied one on and you're nursing your hangover by chugging some Pedialyte, punk music may be the last thing you want to listen to. But 2012 was a great year for punk releases, which made this list difficult to narrow down to a top five.

Teenage Bottlerocket once again struck pop punk gold; Hot Water Music came back with a vengeance with Exister; and Jesse Michaels' Classics of Love is his best work since Operation Ivy. These three albums would be designated somewhere in the top 10 range, as these five other albums blew them out of the water.

Check out our Top 5 Punk Albums of 2012

10 Favorite Local Hip-Hop Tracks of 2012

It's been a mighty big year for hip-hop music in Arizona, most notably with the explosion of the locally-produced platinum hit "Mercy" by Kanye West. Producer and New F-Os member Lifted helped direct ears towards our corner of the map for his work on the massively popular track, but he hasn't been the only one putting in quality work in the Valley. Here's a look at some of our favorite hip-hop beats provided by Arizona's own.

Check out our 10 Favorite Local Hip-Hop Tracks of 2012

The Year in Heavy Metal: 2012

The year 2012 brought an array of exciting moments in heavy metal, from album releases by veteran acts like Napalm Death and younger bands like Goatwhore, to some of the biggest ever heavy metal festivals, to a few of my personal favorite interviews with metal legends.

Enjoy -- and happy metal fucking New Year.

Read The Year in Metal: 2012

13 Phoenix Bands You Need to Know in 2013: The Complete List

As 2012 draws to a close, we couldn't be more optimistic about the state of music in the Valley of the Sun. With new bands emerging from various scenes and subgenres, it can be hard to keep up with the latest in Phoenix music.

What follows are our picks for 13 acts that will make an impact on the Southwest in the coming year.

13 Phoenix Bands You Need to Know in 2013: The Complete List

12 Favorite Local EDM Mixes of 2012

The overwhelming popularity of electronic dance music continued its exponential growth over the last 12 months, both nationwide and here in the Valley of the Sun. Beats were bumping nearly nonstop across the local music landscape in 2012 as new dance clubs (such as the Monarch Theatre and EPIQ) debuted in grand fashion and Phoenix DJs and EDM producers got love via the blogosphere and worked big-time gigs across the globe. We've spent plenty of the past year listening to the efforts of local turntable fiends and producers and have compiled a rundown of a dozen of our favorite tracks and mixes that grabbed our attention.

Check out our 12 Favorite EDM Mixes of 2012

The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012

People like to complain that Phoenix isn't "a music town." Well, you could have fooled us. The Valley of the Sun churned out all kinds of interesting stuff this year, and we've been doing our best to keep up. From the arena-cum-indie rock of IAMWE to the synth club rock of Vial of Sound, Up on the Sun's staff took to the blog to describe the sounds that had us excited all year long.

The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012

Up On The Sun's 12 Most Popular Phoenix Music Stories of 2012

Is this year over yet? Well, close enough. So in honor of 2012 we've dug through the past 12 months of stories looking for the greatest hits. Below you'll find the stories (minus most of the newsy stuff) that people clicked on each month. And if thousands of other people clicked on these stories, you'll want to too. Don't trust us, trust your fellow readers.

Up on the Sun's 12 Most Popular Music Stories of 2012

Jason P. Woodbury's 10 Best Things I Heard This Year

So long, 2012.

You were a weird, uncomfortable, and scary year. You were also wonderful, at times so unbearably wonderful that I thought my brain was going to explode as I struggled to wrap my head around your pure, blindingly bright joy. You had all the things a monumental year should: elections, end-of-humanity fears, a very good adaptation of Marvel Comics' Avengers comic book, McRibs.

Anyway, I went to a lot of shows and listened to a lot of songs this year. Here are the 10 "best" (what an amorphous term) things I heard in 2012. Enjoy.

The 10 Best Things I Heard This Year

Top 10 Reissues and Compilations of 2012

2012 is at its end, and just like I did last year, I thought it would be good fun to try and recap the reissues and compilations I couldn't seem to get off my phonograph this year. So here they are: The 10 reissues and compilations I dug most in 2012.

Read the Top 10 Reissues and Compilations of 2012

The Biggest Music-Related News Stories of 2012

As 2012 winds down, we're all reflecting. There were ups and downs in Phoenix all year. The Valley music community lost valued members, The Sound Strike (sort of) ended. Justin Bieber, not to be outdone, puked on stage in Glendale.

Here's our look back at the biggest Up on the Sun news stories in 2012.

Read The Biggest Music-Related News Stories of 2012

The Music Venue Openings and Closings of 2012

The atmosphere inside The Nash during its grand opening concert on a warm night back in early October was positively electric. A fast-paced flurry of a finger-snapping bebop filled the air as a quintet of jazz musicians led by legendary drummer Lewis Nash, the namesake of the new downtown Phoenix music venue, laid down their rhythms at a breakneck pace.

As members of the audience let loose with catcalls and hollered their approval, Nash relentlessly thumped the skins during a frenetic drumming solo before joining with rest of the performers -- including bassist Christian McBribe, pianist Cedar Walton, and guitarist Russell Malone -- and building the crescendo into an explosion of jazz that marked the climax of their set. Then, there was nothing but applause.

It was a thrilling ending that served as the official beginning of The Nash, a combination concert hall and music education center run by Jazz in Arizona. Its arrival was one of the higher profile venue debuts that took place in the Valley during 2012, a year that saw the opening of several other unique joints around town, as well as the departure of several iconic and long-running establishments.

Read the Music Venue Openings and Closings of 2012

Top 20 Phoenix Concerts of 2012

We saw a lot of great shows this year -- traveling far and wide to festivals, small club gigs, and gigantic arena shows.

Narrowing down our favorite shows to the most mind-blowing 20 wasn't easy, but it was a lot of fun. Check out our list, and be sure to browse through some of the stunning images caught by the New Times photo staff in 2012.

Check out our Top 20 Phoenix Concerts of 2012

Top Five 2012 Heavy Releases In Phoenix

2012 wasn't really a bad year for local hardcore and metal music, but there seemed to be more noteworthy demos circulating around than official releases.

Now, I understand that the distinction between a demo and an official release is really just a matter of using the word "demo" to describe the release, and that some people do limited runs of demos with most of the common packaging of an official release, but reviewing a demo is problematic because it is an implied work in progress, a musical rough draft. All the releases in this list are, at least in terms of their branding, final products. I can praise and criticize them without anyone giving me the excuse that they are just demos.

You can also find some of them at local record stores like Revolver and Eastside, and buy the ones you can't find there directly from the labels who put them out.

With that, I give to you my picks for the top 5 best local (non-demo) heavy music releases of 2012.

Check out the Top Five 2012 Heavy Releases in Phoenix

Top 12 Biggest Musical Letdowns of 2012

This time of year is fun-slash-maddening for us goofy music critic types. It's a time for poring over notes, for obsessively analyzing what made the records we loved so great. Of course, they can't all be winners, can they? As we dug into our Best of Lists, we turned up a few disappointments, too. What follows is our individual reflections on albums, trends, and -- in at least one case, the geopolitical antics -- that musically bummed us out this year.

What records or songs let you down? Let us know in the comments.

Top 12 Biggest Musical Letdowns of 2012

Top 5 Genre-Bending Electronic Albums of 2012

I initially conceived this list as a starting point to further explore of one of the biggest albums of the year: "Ayo, if you liked that Grimes record, this shit is pretty good, too." The Korean and Japanese pop influence on Visions made it easy to like, but it was the gauzy textures, unconventional song structures, and understated vocal subtleties that made it addictive.

Last year's weird electronic pop champ was synth theorist John Maus, and now Claire Boucher is an even more prominent figure in the legion of programmers, producers and reformed noiseniks stretching familiar forms. While they might not sit comfortably with every Grimes obsessive, these five albums pulled from various experimental electronic sources to each make a memorably skewed engagement with pop in 2012.

Read our Top 5 Genre-Bending Electronic Albums of 2012

Five 2012 Albums for Enjoying The Apocalypse

Let's face it, the Mayan Calendar thing is kind of silly, but I'm still obsessed with it because I often ruminate on The End. It's an important scenario to consider, no matter how unlikely, because it makes us ask the Big Questions and wonder how meaningful/meaningless our lives truly are.

One of my favorite films is Melancholia, which features Kirsten Dunst nakedly staring at a large blue planet that is going to collide with Earth and destroy all life. It's stunningly begs the question, if you had 24 hours left before the world was smushed into nothing, what would you do? Cower in fear or commit suicide? Have sex or shoot up heroin? Just watch?

Dunst pretty much says anything you do is "a piece of shit." And she's half-right, but whatever your choice, it reflects deeply on you, no matter if it's meaningless. For me, I'd put on a vinyl record or two and just wait. And I'd smile and I'd smile and I'd smile. Here are five albums from this year that make the perfect soundtrack for your apocalypse, coming this year or next.

Our Five 2012 Albums for Enjoying The Apocalypse

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