I realize that 2012 isn’t over yet and there will be more albums coming out by the end of the year. It isn’t that they don’t count, but let’s face it, it’ll take more than 2 weeks of listening to it to know if it qualifies as one of my favourites of the year. So I’ll do what I can in 2013 to make up for ’em, cool? Cool.
So without further ado, I present you my 20 favourite albums of 2012 (in alphabetical order, cause there’s no way I can do a countdown).
1776 – 1776
I went to see The Dandy Warhols earlier this year, and instead of having the Dandies blow me away, their support band, 1776 did (no wonder Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor produced this album). Just straight up rock that has a late 70’s groove, and live reminded me of early grunge bands like The Melvins and Mudhoney. See this band live if you can.
Brian Jonestown Massacre – Aufheben
This album is so addictive, and trance-inducing, I can’t speak highly enough of it. Frontman Anton Newcombe really did something different here: a psychedelic, krautrock album with eastern European instrumentation at times reminding us of Brooklyn Funk Essentials. Me likes.
Deftones -Koi No Yokan
To keep things simple, for me, this is their best album since White Pony. Breathtaking.
Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
On this album, the boys become men. The songwriting is tighter, the arrangements more complex and the lyrics a lot more introspective. The great thing: it remains as fun as it used to. Foo Fighters meet Tom Petty.
Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage
Another amazing album from this French metal band. The focus here is not as technical as it used to be – though for Gojira, that still means you’ll need a compass and a ruler to follow along at times. Instead, they have streamlined their sound: songs are more accessible and range around the 5 minute mark as opposed to the band’s typical 10 minute tracks. It takes a few listens to get into, but ultimately a very rewarding if brutal album.
It Bites – Map Of The Past
This progressive rock band is practically unknown in America, which is a shame. They have been around for 30 years and keep on putting out fantastic albums that easily remind us of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis while retaining a pop sensibility not unlike Mr. Mister.
Killing Joke – MMXII
Jaz Coleman once again proves what a demented genius he is. Killing Joke have been all over the map, musically. At times sounding like the heaviest thing on earth, and others, such as 1986’s Night Time album, making straight up danceable pop material with the classic song ”Love Like Blood”. This newest album of theirs proves to effortlessly blend all of the band’s sounds into one. Impressive.
Lamb Of God – Resolution
So heavy, so good. May be Lamb Of God‘s best album yet.
Neneh Cherry And The Thing – The Cherry Thing
Neneh Cherry hooked up with New York based jazz trio The Thing, and the result is a dark, sexy, at times confusing piece of work. I was obsessed with this album for about a month straight. Most of this album consists of covers (Suicide‘s ‘Dream Baby Dream‘ is a standout), but the album opener, Cashback is an original that sucks you in right away.
Paul Weller – Sonik Kicks
Ex-Jam frontman Paul Weller still proves to be one of the most innovative songwriters around with an album that blends rock, punk, electro and dub and sounds like nothing else out there.
Peaking Lights – Lucifer
Electro duo Peaking Lights very tastefully accentuates its dub grooves on this latest album on the always reliable Mexican Summer label.
Rival Sons – Head Down
NO ONE MAKES MUSIC LIKE THIS ANYMORE! Hard rockin’ with a gut-wrenching guitar sound that remind you of Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, early Aerosmith. IT’S SO GOOD.
Soko – I Thought I Was An Alien
I’m quite sure this is the cutest album I’ve ever heard. Such as on her first EP, France’s Soko speaks of love, loss and regret without losing a sense of humor about it. And that accent! This is an adorable and heartbreaking album. Let’s hope she comes to Montreal soon.
Soulfly – Enslaved
By adding virtuoso David Kinkade on drums, ex-Sepultura and Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera made the heaviest album of his career, which may also be the best thing he’s done since Sepultura released Roots. This is also the first time an album of his revolves around a single concept: slavery.
Soundgarden – King Animal
I was so hesitant about this album even before it came out. With a bunch of reunion shows that just seemed like easy cash grab, I really didn’t think much would come out of a new album. How wrong was I. This is, uh, Soundgarden, still sounding as fresh as ever and like it never stopped being 1992.
Spain – The Soul Of Spain
This is my official selection for sexiest album of 2012. It is also a fantastic aphrodisiac.
Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos
As the album name states, American musicians Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras traveled to Jamaica to meet legendary reggae-dub band The Congos and made an album that does add up to much more than the sum of its parts. Listen to this on a cold winter day, you’ll probably still feel the sunshine. This was my album-on-repeat this summer. I got this on vinyl, and I suggest you do the same: it also comes with a full length documentary on the making of the album.
The Big Pink – Future This
The Big Pink shed a few of its darker and guitar-based elements to focus on a cleaner sound, and somehow managed to sound even more like it is still 1985. The great thing is that it isn’t tacky. It’s just great songs that wouldn’t work as well if produced any differently.
The Hives – Lex Hives
Another one that caught me out of left-field. I had given up on The Hives back in 2003, and with this album, after a 5 year absence, the band proves they still have it in them to write infectious garage rock that’s just so much fun to listen to. This was also one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.
Whitechapel – Whitechapel
This may be the heaviest album I’ve ever heard. I hated it when I listened to it at first, then more and more, I guess I started to ”get it”? Probably one of the albums that I ended up playing the most this year as a result. Be warned, though: not for all tastes!!
And that concludes 2012, folks! Though I’d like to give an honorable mention to my new addiction: Unapologetic by Rihanna. It definitely was a contender for the top 20, I’m not even kidding. Oh well. Till next year!