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The best local performances and albums of 2012

<p>Dude City performs at the Cosmopolitan Pool. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES</p>

Dude City performs at the Cosmopolitan Pool. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES

It was a less noisy Vegas music scene in 2012. Bands broke up or gigged too sporadically. Musicians moved. Albums got shorter. Neon Reverb downscaled. But there were some bright spots for sure.


Paige Overton

April 30, Artifice

If there’s one music moment of 2012 that resonates with me most, it’s experiencing Clydesdale singer Paige Overton beautifully interpret Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at an intimate memorial for Tommy Marth. I can still see onlookers in the room fighting back tears. And I can still hear her pained but resilient cadences, every minor fall and major lift. MIKE PREVATT

Kid Meets Cougar

March 24, Winchester Cultural Center

Along with releasing a new EP, Sierra Papa Tango, this performance was the first showing of what was easily the most extensive and technical stage show we’ve seen off the Boulevard. Using XBox Kinect technology, the duo turned Winchester Cultural Center into something that felt weirdly Pee-wee Hermanesque, robots, et al. It was a startling example of what’s possible with good ideas and a four-figure budget. MAX PLENKE

Joe Williams Everyday Foundation Scholarship Jazz Sextet

Sept. 12, Clark County Library

UNLV Jazz Ensembles I and III

Nov. 14, Clark County Library

While the latter unleashed the full force and range of the UNLV Jazz Studies department — nice big-band Radiohead cover! — the smaller former show exposed the strengths of their compositions (especially pianist Jason Corpuz) and musicianship (ditto drummer Austin Pooley). As such, a tie. MIKE PREVATT

Big Friendly Corporation, The Clydesdale

Jan. 28, Artifice

Best Big Friendly Corporation gig, period. Best Clydesdale gig, period. Bonus: BFC’s go at The Beatles’ Abbey Road medley, with a little help from their friends Andrew Karasa, Megan Wingerter and James Montalbano. MIKE PREVATT

Dude City, The Mad Caps

Aug. 30, The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan

We were weirdly proud of Boulder City’s Dude City and Vegas-formed/honorary locals The Mad Caps at this show. They came to the Boulevard Pool equipped with the same amount of gear they’d use for a Bunkhouse gig. Only, the energy they had to bring — enough to hurdle over the massive gap between performers and audience — was the kind they’ve never had to muster before. But they did it. And paved the way for locals after them to do the same. MAX PLENKE


Black Camaro, Black Camaricans


Brian Garth recently bemoaned the dearth of regular albums and the glut of EPs in 2012. We’d like to remind the Black Camaro co-principal that seven years (and two EPs) passed before his band put out a new full-length. Still, the resulting psychedelic pop gem was well worth the wait. And “The Summer of Dirt” was the Vegas summer jam. MIKE PREVATT

Dusty Sunshine, Deer Paw


This felt like a given over here. We were impressed in October and it hasn’t worn off, despite listening to “Devil’s Choir” somewhere around a million times. It conveys grit and femininity, from the pound of the bass drum to the harmonic builds. Deer Paw is all legs and teeth. MAX PLENKE

Last Call, Dog Years

(Broken Arrow Collective)

Last Call is as rock-solid as ever with its first full-length, Dog Years, combining the speed and dexterity (mostly the work of drummer Adam Blasco) with Austin Jeffers’ ferocious, hopeless-but-not-finished attitude when writing lyrics. If you buy one sort-of depressing, really great pop-punk album this year, this should be it. MAX PLENKE

Most Thieves, Unnecessary Maps


Unnecessary Maps should already be on your local music wish list, with driving, inspirational hooks not unlike Arcade Fire presented in a strikingly slick capacity, thanks to engineer (and keyboardist) Eric Rickey. Let’s put it this way: If you’re supposed to dress to impress, Unnecessary Maps is Most Thieves’ best suit. MAX PLENKE

UNLV Jazz Ensemble I,

Smilin’ Eyes (TNC)

Has a college band ever sounded so … professional? Or seasoned? Well, this is no ordinary college (or Vegas) band. Saxophonist Nick Tulli’s interpretation of former UNLV jazz studies coordinator/pianist Stefan Karlsson’s title track stuns. And the whole affair is essentially one big brag for trombone phenom Nate Kimball. MIKE PREVATT