The Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12 – Part One

It’s that time of the year again when music blogs worldwide take a few paragraphs to discuss their favourite albums of the year and make a comprehensive list out of it; who are we to break the trend, so without further ado I present to you the Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12. In no particular order and over the course of three parts, each of us will be taking four of the albums released this year that we are particularly fond of and devoting a few sentences to why you should check it out. If you are already familiar with them let us know what you think, why not take the time to let us know your top 12 albums of 2012?  – Sam

Top 12 of 12 Covers-Part One

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Grails need our help!

I wouldn’t usually post a call to arms (wallets) like this but Grails are in desperate need of the fans help this week, and being one of my favourite bands this is the least we can do. To summarise the situation, a hard-drive containing “1000s of hours of work for all 3 bands we produce, not all Grails, but it immediately impacts Black Tar [prophecies] 5, half of the next Lilacs & Champagne record is on there and probably towards 3 HolySons records…” has died and the band are planning to send it to Drive Savers in order to, hopefully, rescue the contents!

So how can we help I hear you ask? Well Grails need to raise around $2400 by Wednesday to ease the cost of saving this music. They are offering three options in order to help on their mailorder store. click HERE! to go and start saving the future of music. There are three options;

number one – an open donation which can be any amount.

number two, for $15 – five unreleased live tracks. These are culled from the best live moments that we could find in the archives from the early days..

Burden of Hope, Paris 2006
Back To The Monastery, Boston 2006
Word Made Flesh, Amsterdam 2006
The March, Paris 2004
Dargai, Geneva 2006

Grails will reply with a link to download within 24 hrs.

and finally, number three, for $30 – Your choice of the LP’s they have in stock: Burden of Hope, Redlight, Important Records 300th release compilation, or Lilacs & Champagne.

Personally I went with number two, the unreleased live tracks.

It’s worth mentioning the Lilacs & Champagne album that was released earlier this month was outstanding and the follow up is hanging in the balance right now, so if like me you care about Grails future music please consider helping them out!

Lilacs & Champagne [Review]

I think I’ve found my album of the year. Yup, I’m willing to crown it already. Lilacs & Champagne, Alex Hall and Emil Amos of instrumental rockers Grails, have managed to craft one of the most interesting and promising debuts I think I’ve ever heard. It’s a rich tapestry woven from samples and organic pieces strung together perfectly to create a sound that’s incredibly fresh.To put it crudely, if you take the Grails template from their recent efforts and give it a hip hop, sample focused twist, this is what you get.

Throughout it’s surprisingly short run-time there’s a real 70’s B-movie vibe, it’s a cool sound indeed with fuzzy warm production and interesting samples. As Grails fans will attest, the duo obviously aren’t afraid to bring in influences from over seas and this enhances the already broad spectrum to pull from with an eastern feel on many tracks. It’s psychedelic stuff; a broad collage of ideas and moments that never outstay their welcome, perhaps due to the length of the record, but either way one of Lilacs & Champagnes greatest strengths. There are some wonderful melodies here and the addition of vocals on Lilacs (check out the video below) and Battling The City really bring them to life. It’s these short bursts of brilliance that really help this debut shine, it really is a versatile record and for something that on paper sounds like it should never work Hall and Amos have really succeeded in pulling it together.

It’s colourful stuff and you’ll yearn for repeat listens in order to take it all in. It’s going to take something special to remove this from the top of my album of the year pedestal and I’m confident I’m not going to find anything like it for a while – if you can place something in front of me similar or better I challenge you.

Grails have been having some hard-drive issues recently and there was mention of the next Lilacs & Champagne record being on said hard-drive, we can only keep our fingers crossed it survives (along with the next Grails albums) as if it’s anything like this debut, there’s plenty to look forward to.

Tracklisting is as follows:

01 Everywhere, Everyone
02 Lilacs
03 Nice Man
04 Sensations
05 Battling The City
06 Corridors of Power II
07 King Of Kings
08 Laid Fucking Back
09 Moroccan Handjob
10 Midnight Creeper
11 Listener X

The album’s available from mexican summer on LP, CD and mp3.