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Friday, March 6, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 3.0° F  Fair
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Six of the best Madison-made songs of 2012

I'm not about to let you forget that 2012 was a supremely strange-sounding year in local music. There's even more adventure and dissonance beyond my list of 2012's best Madison-made albums, either on albums that didn't quite make the cut or from artists that slipped under my radar for most of the year.

Here's a short playlist to help you close out the year on a compelling and head-scratching note.

A Haircut: "A Native Scalping"

I'm a bit late in checking out A Haircut, as the local punk duo tends to favor somewhat elusive house shows. Their eight-song Bandcamp demo pairs ultra-bare-bones recording with scrappy immediacy. And as harsh as it sounds at first, there's also something amiable about the way Andrea Lutz's panicked vocals hold the tunes together.

Anthony Lamarr: "Elevation"

On the surface, Anthony Lamarr's album Act Two:The Way Of The World is an exploration of spirituality through the medium of R&B. But beyond that, Lamarr's taking some chances and grand gestures, not only a as a singer and songwriter but as an arranger. "Elevation" combines his ambitious songwriting with elaborations on a theme from rappers DLO, Smokes and Clifton Beefy. While hip-hop is just one element of Lamarr's palette, the track also reminds me that we have new hip-hop releases to look forward to in 2013 from Madison-based artists such as Sincere Life and Tefman.

Dharma Dogs: "Laxadaisy"

Dharma Dogs' only proper release this year was a 7-inch entitled Drown, which captures some of the grunge-meets-hardcore chaos the young trio brews up onstage. On the first track, "Laxadaisy," the band keeps a lot of its feedback-dripping low end, but the songwriting tightens up a bit as well.

Lovely Socialite Ms. Thomas W. Phipps: "Foolish Peripatetic"

The piles of exotic instrumentation and name might signal a certain over-the-top whimsy, but Lovely Socialite's ambitious instrumentals combined jazz, avant-garde and, on this track, a hint of hip-hop, with incredible finesse.

Samantha Glass: "When The Sun Slips In"

Madison project Samantha Glass made some real progress with its zonked-out synth meditations this year, on the album Mysteries From The Palomino Skyliner. "When The Sun Slips In" reminds me of a point I've made before: Samantha Glass uses synth and drum machine sounds that could seem a little tinny and fuzzy, but combines them with resourceful dynamics and makes the whole sound a lot bigger than its constituent parts.

Madden: "A Day Off"

In case I haven't driven home the point about the importance of electronic music in Madison this year, here's one project I've been behind on. Under the name Madden, Solomon Brown has posted a couple dozen remixes and originals, whose only constant is a disconnected, groggy feel. Like a lot of electronic artists in 2012, Brown took on the challenge of trying to make Lana Del Rey sound interesting, but also crafted some morose, disorienting songs of his own.

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