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If the return of Godspeed You! Black Emperor last year reminded us anything, it was just how extravagant post-rock can be. Never exactly the most restrained of bands, whether you find their more grandiose tendencies pompous or exhilerating is a matter of taste. What is undeniable is that, compared to your average indie 4-piece, organising rehearsals, song-writing sessions, recording slots and tours must be a bloody nightmare.

That seems to have been the conclusion ERAAS came to. Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz were formerly both members of Apse, a Connecticut post-rock act signed to ATP Recordings, before coming to the conclusion that having six members in a band was more trouble than it was worth. As Toher puts it, “we had put out kind of a shit album that got bad reviews, and it was the kind of album that, I thought, had too many different hands in the pot”.

He started writing music alone, aiming to strip the bombast from Apse’s music and make something more minimal, before getting Stawiarz on board. The results are encouraging. Their eponymous debut album (which you can stream in its entirety above) was released last year, and was full of richly dark music that never spooned more than what was necessary onto your plate. Whether it was chanting over eastern scales like an electronic OM on ‘Skinning’ or mixing clicky rhythms with brooding bass in a Bauhaus style on ‘Briar Path’, they proved that sometimes you can achieve more by doing less.

Admittedly, the occult vibes can sometimes feel a bit tacked on (the hooded drummers and brandished knives on their new video for ‘Ghost’, below, are a case in point), on tracks like ‘A Presence’ they manage to sound like The Soft Moon if they kicked their irritating eighties fixation, or a less featureless Factory Floor. And while the video for ‘Ghost’ may be overkill, the track itself is delicious – seductive, sinister and darkly cinematic, its pitched somewhere between Joy Division and a nodding out Birthday Party, only with a much smoother sheen than that suggests.

When playing live they expand to a four-piece so as to avoid having to play to backing tracks – one of Toher’s pet hates. “I feel like 75% of the bands we play with play to a pro tools backing track that comprises half of their stage sound. It’s a shame,” he states. He may have gone minimal, but he doesn’t want to skimp on the essentials. Judging by their debut, which too many (including us) slept on in 2012, ERAAS’ next album could well be an essential you won’t want to neglect either.

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Best Tracks of 2012

Best Tracks of 2012
It's been one of those years where things could've been a lot better, but also could've been a lot worse. The Arab Spring didn't end up bringing wholesale peace or democracy to the region, but then it didn't bring mass genocide or nuclear war either. The Olympics cost Great Britain a ridiculous sum of money at a time when public services were being cut like a slowly melting Vienetta, but then at least we won a few medals and nobody got blown up. Barack Obama managed to keep Mental Romney out of the White House, but then isn't likely to be able to do much good himself after the Republicans retained the House. Silvio Berlusconi finally got booted out, vowing to leave "this shitty country of which I'm sickened", but has since decided he actually quite enjoyed running said shitty country and is trying to worm his way back into power. The world has kept on turning, from good to bad and back again, like a football that's rolled through a turd. The same has, as always, been the case for music - but it seems on reflection like we've had more good than bad this year. Granted, Justin Bieber still sells ten thousand records every time he grabs his crotch, but there was still plenty to get excited about in 2012. Hip-hop, the general quality of which had been akin to a jaffa cake left in an airing cupboard over the last few years, suddenly became exciting again thanks to the emergence of artists like Kendrick Lamar, Angel Haze, A$AP Rocky and Mykki Blanco, while old hands like Killer Mike, DOOM and Aesop Rock produced their best work in an aeon too. Elsewhere, a handful of indie bands managed to buck the trend and make music that was actually quite interesting, with Alt-J, Django Django and TOY knocking out very decent debuts, while Grimes managed to stay crossover flavour of the month for, well, about twelve months. Electronic music was in rude health as well, with long-overdue returns from Nathan Fake and Michael Mayer, and excellent first albums from the likes of Anstam, LHF and Christian Löffler. Even the pop world wasn't too dispiriting: Adele produced the best Bond theme in living memory, and whatever you think about Psy, 'Gangnam Style' was a heap more interesting than the usual chart-topping bollocks. Best of all, artists like AlunaGeorge, Joey Bada$$ and Dog Bite are already indicating that 2013 might be even better. But that's enough fawning and blethering. The easiest way to work out whether you've missed anything decent this year is to simply cast your eye over our top 100 tracks of the year below. Even better, you can listen to them on Spotify using the player below. Gonjasufi's 'The Blame' clinched the top spot; a slightly odd choice maybe seeing as it came out in January to relatively little fuss, but that's not the point. Fact is, if the Mayans are proved right and the world is about to blow up, this is the track we'd want playing over the end credits. Fade out...
    Top Tracks of 2012
1. Gonjasufi - The Blame 2. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid 3. Beak> - Mono 4. Alt-J - Breezeblocks 5. Chapelier Fou - Protest 6. AlunaGeorge - You Know You Like It 7. Woodpecker Wooliams - Sparrow 8. Grimes - Circumambient 9. Mykki Blanco - Wavvy (produced by Brenmar) 10. Mark Lanegan - The Gravedigger's Song 11. Flying Lotus - The Hunger (featuring Niki Randa) 12. The Leg - Bake Yourself Silly 13. Django Django - Default 14. Moonface with Siinai - Headed For The Door 15. Dan Sartain - Indian Massacre 16. Young Magic - Sparkly 17. Funkineven & Fatima - Phone Line 18. The Gaslamp Killer - In The Dark... 19. A Place To Bury Strangers - Onwards To The Wall 20. Michael Mayer - Sully 21. TOY - Strange 22. G R E A T W A V E S - Feel The Love 23. A$AP Rocky - Goldie 24. Tame Impala - Apocalypse Dreams 25. Ryan Teague - Shadow Play 26. Anstam - Hope's Soliloquy 27. WhoMadeWho - Below The Cherry Moon 28. Nathan Fake - Paean 29. Cameras - Kreuzberg 30. LHF - Indian Street Slang 31. VCMG - Lowly 32. Porcelain Raft - Unless You Speak From The Heart 33. Clinic - Misty 34. THEESatisfaction - Needs 35. Melody's Echo Chamber - Some Time Alone, Alone 36. Ed Schrader's Music Beat - My Mind Is Broken By The Sound 37. Brother Ali - Gather Round (featuring Amir Sulaiman) 38. Holy Other - Tense Past 39. Tindersticks - Chocolate 40. Angel Haze - Jungle Fever (featuring Kool AD) 41. The British Expeditionary Force - Crack In The Clouds 42. Dark Horses - Alone 43. Cody ChesnuTT - Don't Follow Me 44. Cos Ber Zam - Ne Noya (Daphni Mix) 45. Liars - No. 1 Against The Rush 46. Here We Go Magic - Hard To Be Close 47. Thavius Beck - ABV 48. Exitmusic - The Modern Age 49. Daniel Rossen - Silent Song 50. The Flaming Lips - Is David Bowie Dying? (featuring Neon Indian) 51. Jack White - Freedom At 21 52. Gary War - Good Clues 53. Killer Mike - Reagan 54. Gold Panda - Mountain 55. Steel Trees - Attack of the Stoner Zombie Killer Kids! 56. iamamiwhoami - Drops 57. Mi-Gu - Oshiro 58. Werkha - Cube & Puzzle 59. Swans - The Seer Returns 60. Tamaryn - Violet's In A Pool 61. Aesop Rock - Leisureforce 62. Clark - Open 63. Apostille - Wrong 64. JJ DOOM - Guv'nor 65. Pond - Sorry I Was Under The Sky 66. Omega Male - Wax & Glue 67. Cold Pumas - A Versatile Gift 68. Neneh Cherry & The Thing - Cashback 69. Dog Bite - Prettiest Pills 70. John Tejada - Stabilizer 71. Blood Red Shoes - In Time To Voices 72. Zambri - From An Angle 73. Willis Earl Beal - Bright Copper 'Noon 74. Menomena - Tantalus 75. Sharon Van Etten - Give Out 76. The Invisible - Generational 77. Christian Löffler - A Forest 78. Carmen Ghia & The Hotrods - Blackjack 79. Seams - The Glow 80. Fairhorns - Ragnarok 81. Andre Williams - Stuck In The Middle 82. Loops Of Your Heart - Cries 83. Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka - Battleships (featuring Abigail Wyles) 84. Scott Walker - The Day The "Conducator" Died (An Xmas Song) 85. Frank Ocean - Crack Rock 86. Die Antwoord - Fatty Boom Boom 87. Chilly Gonzales - Othello 88. Group Rhoda - Virtual Dancer 89. Gentleman Jesse - I'm A Mess 90. Joey Bada$$ - Survival Tactics (featuring Capital STEEZ) 91. Unmade Bed - You Never Really Broke My Heart (Anyway) 92. Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs - Goddamn Holy Roll 93. Micachu & The Shapes - OK 94. Babe, Terror - Lifantastic I 95. Soap & Skin - Voyage Voyage 96. Public Image Ltd - Human 97. Isaac Delusion - Midnight Sun 98. Seaming - Sodaslow (Sipped) 99. Echo Lake - Further Down 100. Alabama Shakes - Hold On *Three tracks from our top 100 aren't on Spotify, so click the following links if you want to listen to G R E A T W A V E S, Apostille and Unmade Bed. And why wouldn't you?
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