Them Blue Midnights’ 20 Best Albums of 2013

A lot of good stuff came out this year, so let me add myself to a seemingly interminable amount of best-of 2013 lists appearing on our information superhighway.

What you’ll see, and you’ve seen in many lists, is the amount of great comeback records this year has produced. From Queens Of The Stone Age to Paul McCartney, there was something in the water this year.

Click on the band name/album title for a worthy youtube track. 

The list, in alphabetical order:

ASG – Blood Drive

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This band sounds like Jane’s Addiction meeting Kyuss, and I got hooked. At once atmospheric and driving, heavy and melodic, this is one of the best hard rock releases of the year.

Babyshambles – Sequel To The Prequel

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This was a breath of fresh air.  Pete Doherty wisely gave much space to his bandmates for the songwriting on this album, which carries none of the missteps of 2007’s darker ‘Shotter’s Nation’. So that was my summer album this year.

Bad Rabbits – American Love

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Now these dudes know how to do it. They remind you of Prince & The NPG without ever sounding nostalgic about it. While the album is a bit overproduced for my taste, I’ll take it: At the foundation is a band that plays their instruments like few bands do now and succulent songs lie underneath some of the synth-heavy moments. Also, check out their amazing cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979

Black Sabbath – 13

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Black Sabbath returns with an album worthy of closing its legendary career, but get it on vinyl if you can: the cd/mp3 versions are over-compressed and miss the organic flow of some of the jams.

Bombino – Nomad

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The Niger-born guitarist employs The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach as a producer and the result is a great jam record with nice touches on the instrumentation. Another definite summer record.

Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love

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The dude’s got soul. Released his first album at the age of 63, this, his second is simply the best soul album of the year, and is even produced like a 60s record: the drums are even channeled in 1-ear/mono! From the hurtin’ in ”Cryin’ In The Chapel” to what sounds like what would happen if James Brown were coked out of his mind writing about the state of the world in ”Confusion”, the guy’s got the sound, but most importantly, he’s got the songs.

Clutch – Earth Rocker

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Clutch returns and rocks your face off with rock. You can’t really ask for more out of life, and this album in particular finds the band more focused and heavy than it has been in years.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Everything has already been written about this record and I’m sure you’ve already read everything you need to know about except this: At a certain point, I drank beer and started dancing while tipsy in front of my cat while listening to this. I use the word dancing very, very loosely.

David Bowie – The Next Day

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Best album cover of all time or the worst? Better than Heathen? Will he ever tour again? Dunno, don’t care, this is pure Bowie and a very, very consistent album.

Ghost – Infestissumam

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One of my favourite bands of all time already, I think. Get the vinyl, it’s red and it’s real pretty. Check out the video I linked, it’s my contender for best video of the year, actually. It’s KISS if KISS was Mercyful Fate with an evil pope as a frontman and nameless ghouls as, shall we say, sidekicks. If you like your metal and you like a good pop song too, this band will more than do it for you. Show review can be found here.

Imaginary Cities – Fall Of Romance

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I don’t want to repeat myself and re-write an existing post, but this release is ridiculously under the radar and may actually be my favourite album of the year. If you haven’t heard this, please check it out and tell your friends/start a revolution. Check out my feature on this band here.

In Solitude – Sister

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This band sounds like mid 80s The Cult + Mother-era Danzig but then with some of the atmospherics of Sisters Of Mercy. In my ears at least. So there isn’t anything really not to like. Big drum sound + echo in voice makes you feel like this was actually released in 1985, without ever being tacky, so points for that. Another awesome metal release.

My Bloody Valentine – m b v

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Everything has already been written about this record and I’m sure you’ve already read everything you need to know about except this: At a certain point, I drank beer and started gazing at my shoes very intensely while this album played. Except I wasn’t wearing shoes, just socks.

Paul McCartney – NEW

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I was expecting a really generic album, to be honest, and instead McCartney writes a few songs that may actually be solo-career standouts. I guess I should have known better. He is Paul McCartney after all. A really fun album that finds some nice introspective lyrics at times from him. Not a dull track on there.

Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only

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Phil Anselmo made an album of what can only be described as anti-music. In his mid-40s, the guy is still pushing the envolope for metal, because nothing I know of sounds like this. I think that for the metal genre, this is one of the most important releases of the year. Check out my show review here.

Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

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Like every QOTSA release, I didn’t really like it at first. But then, like every QOTSA release, after a few spins you start to get it, and you becoming gradually more and more obsessed with it. Worth all the praise and attention it got.

Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

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Sky Ferreira‘s album will put you in the mood to have a night out as much as it will be the perfect soundtrack to going back home. It’s dancy, poppy, druggy, hazy and it has a style all of its own. She’s a great singer, a great songwriter, stylistically all over the place and I’m looking forward to hearing her next album because I have no idea what she’ll do next.

The Bronx – The Bronx (IV)

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The Bronx  started out more like a hardcore band, but every subsquent release finds them getting better at what they do without losing the initial edge and hunger they started out with, with an increased focus on songwriting.

The Growlers – Hung At Heart

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I looooove the Growlers. I think I saw them twice this year. An early 2013 release will not be an excuse of forgetfulness on my end, for the mighty Growlers have made their best album so far and deserve mighty mighty praise. They’re being written about in the same vein as bands like the Black Lips/nu-psychedelia, but there is much more than meets the eye with these guys.

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control

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A lot of bands are currently trying to replicate the early-70s feel of Sabbath, but this band isn’t trying to do anything, this is just who they are. I dunno how you label this though: post proto-metal? No clue. You must give this album a listen. You must. MMMkay??

2013 Summer Picks & Updated Suggested Upcoming Shows

 

Slow summer on the website, but with festival season soon out of the way, I’ll be back with some cool stuff starting in September. I’ve updated the list of suggested upcoming shows (to your right), and in the meantime I thought I’d share some stuff that came out this year that’s worth listening to. I’ll work with the presumption that you guys have ALL heard the new Daft Punk record, right? And the new QOTSA? All good.

 

CAMERA OBSCURA – DO IT AGAIN

This is just plain fun and sexy.  Great nonchalant vocals, a fine guitar riff over an uptempo beat and that feeling you get when you hear a well written song: Have I heard this before?

 

IMAGINARY CITIES – THE BELLS OF COLOGNE

I had written a feature on this band and just how much I love this album. Check it out here after you play this song.

 

MIKAL CRONIN – WEIGHT

Ty Segall’s bestest musical friend comes back with the most 90s alt rock sounding record I’ve heard this year, and it’s great.

 

BOMBINO – AMIDININE

Dan Auerbach adds unusual amounts of handclaps as he usually does when he produces an album, luckily it doesn’t interfere too much with the incredible vibe this  guitarist and his band have.

 

PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS

Phil Anselmo’s first solo record sounds like what a Jackson Pollock painting would sound like if it could scream. Do not expect anything close to a Pantera groove, or Down’s melodies. This is just plain uncomfortable, ugly and extreme. But somehow I couldn’t find myself stopping the album.

 

GHOST – SECULAR HAZE

I love Ghost. You should too. Check out the show review written right heeeeeeeeeeeeeere.

 

THE GROWLERS – NAKED KIDS

Ha! This band DITCHED Dan Auerbach’s mix of this album. Not even a producer credit. No damn handclaps here kids. One of my favourite current bands, and they’re coming back to Montreal October 2nd. I’ll be the overly excited fanboy taking notes.

 

MUDHONEY – DOUCHEBAGS ON PARADE

Because this is simply the best song title of all time. Wanna know why Mudhoney still rules? Check it out right here after listening to this song, and come to the show Sept. 1st @ Il Motore!

 

MILES KANE – DON’T FORGET WHO YOU ARE

Britrock is alive and well with this unpretentious little gem. Recals the glory of 90s Britpop, and later bands such as The Coral.

 

Feature: Imaginary Cities

Listen to Imaginary Cities here

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to describe Imaginary Cities. Google them, and you’ll unfortunately get the word “indie” pop up everywhere. “Indie” doesn’t mean anything anymore, in an age where most bands really do “Do It Yourself”. Pop music can be indie nowadays, and so we fall into a bit of a conundrum. Let’s start by what made Imaginary Cities indie: 2 people in the band, multi-instrumentalists, recording and playing everything themselves which warrants a definite do-it-yourself etiquette. But it sounds huge. I am not saying that “indie” sounding music doesn’t sound huge, as a matter of fact I think that from plaid-wearing-banjo-loving-way-too-smiley-folk-rock to retro-sounding-sludge-metal, the term “indie” seems to mean absolutely nothing anymore, as far as attempting to describe music.

Where Imaginary Cities standout, for me, out of the whole indie scene, is that when you hear the music, you can’t help but visualize it. Like this is music that should be played in an arena with a huge budget and massive stage set designed by someone like Robert Lepage. Just look at the front cover of their sophomore album, The Fall Of Romance (out now via Hidden Pony / Votiv), which looks like something out of German filmmaker Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Skip to track 3 and be re-transported to Germany through the beautiful, sweeping song “The Bells Of Cologne”. “Sooner or Later” only reinforces this imagery by heavily recalling the Berlin-period Bowie classic “Sound And Vision”. PS: I checked to find any German connections that Imaginary Cities’ Marti Sarbit and Rusty Matyas may have, but fell flat. Which makes sense, being a tourist is always more romantic than being a native, isn’t it? They’re from Winnipeg, Canada.

To be fair, there is an undeniable Canadian Pop sound to this band. This band could easily tour with acts such as Metric, Arcade Fire, etc… and not be out of place. But Imaginary Cities is just better than the competition. They do not hide behind style for substance to come out. This is true great pop songwriting; often recalling what would happen if the Bee Gees, Bowie and, say Nicolette Larson made an album together.

As with any good art, it brings you into its world, letting you breathe into it comfortably instead of just waiting to know how it will end or which song will standout. To listen to The Fall Of Romance is as much of an experience as watching a great movie, or reading a great novel: something that is completely engrossing and rich and makes you want more. It paints its own doomed-romantic landscape knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – this is what keeps you grinning throughout. The lyrics have an attitude that recalls Blondie and Canada’s own Blue Rodeo all at once. Everything about Imaginary Cities is smart. I can see why this band limits itself to two members: no 3rd party ego, just a duo sharing an uncompromising single vision and putting life into it. Live, the band gives you the full experience by being a 5-piece group.

Imaginary Cities will be in Montreal June 13, performing at Club Lambi (4465 Boulevard Saint-Laurent). Tickets are 13$ (hear me lol, folks), and can be purchased at https://greenlandevenko.ticketabc.com/events/imaginary130613/

Your mission, dear reader, should you choose to accept it, is to be there.

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Fringe: Complete Madness! Them Blue Midnights Official Schedule

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Without further ado, Them Blue Midnights‘ official ”WILL BE ATTENDING AND REVIEWING THIS ‘CAUSE IT LOOKS AWESOME” list: (keep in mind, a lot of these shows have multiple representations; the times put are the ones I’ll be going to, but they also allow you to not have to scratch your head and make a calendar! So click on the links to get to the official website where you can view the full schedule and purchase your tix!)

ACME BURLESQUE:  Acme Burlesque will tantalize and tease you with striptease, circus performance, and more, all accompanied by an exciting live band.

June 6, 8h30pm @ Mainline Theatre (3997 St-Laurent)

SWEET MOTHER LOGIC: Blending toe-tapping pop with the composition complexity of classical music, Sweet Mother Logic have received universal acclaim, both live and in-studio, via genre-bending instrumental rock.

June 7, 8h30pm @ Divan Orange (4234 St-Laurent)

THE LITTLE BEAU PEEP SHOW: Little Beau Peep lost her sheep only to find them performing with a naughty cast of fictional characters at Café Cleo! Watch adult bedtime stories come to life on stage accompanied by a live sex-shop quartet, where this time around the only thing Beau Peep risks losing are her skivvies!

June 8, 10pm @ Cafe Cleopatre (1230 St-Laurent)

GRINDHOUSE CREW PRESENTS: DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)The Grindhouse Crew returns with another Zombie fest at Terrace St-Ambroise. Featuring “Day of the Dead” (1985), Montreal Improv All-stars, Bloodshot Bill, and zombie artists on-site! A fundraiser for Head & Hands.

June 9, 6pm @ Terrasse St-Ambroise (5080 St-Ambroise)

SMUT SLAM: A fast-paced open mic for first-person sex stories. Prizes and games, too! The theme? BUCKET LIST. Because we all have one…

June 11, 8pm @ Le Cagibi (5490 St-Laurent)

CHERRY ON TOP!:  Est. in 2011 by 3 lovely ladies; Élise Corbeil, Camille Bourdeau et Nathalie Niesing, Les Cherries will enchant you with songs of yesterday and today…Jazz-flavoured a capella!

June 16, 7pm @ Espace 4001 (4001 Berri)

BUILD A STORM: Gifted musician-singer-songwriter Gabriella Hook brightfully merges styles and transcends boundaries. Her first album Build a storm traces the bohemian journey of the singer with a sparkling voice brushed through with brass, piano and accordeon pop arrangements. Everyone who hears agree about one thing : here is a must-follow.

June 16, 8h30pm @ Espace 4001 (4001 Berri)

ELVIS IS WATER: Elvis is Water is a vibrant musical exploration of the Sun Sessions.  Thirty five years after his death, Elvis is now more alive then ever: so much a part of our world it’s as if we are fish – and Elvis is Water. Why are people still fascinated? Why is Elvis Elvis?

June 17, 6h45pm @ Cabaret Du Mile End (5240 av. du Parc)

ANGEL’S SHARE: One bottle of Scotch can do a lot of damage in just an hour. Angel’s Share distills single-malt whisky, grief and memory in this distorted love story.

June 18: 8pm @ Freestanding Room (4324 St-Laurent)

MADE OF MEAT: O! The Desires of the Flesh! So persistent, so immediate, so gnawing! No one need resist all the time.

June 20, 8pm @ Studio Jean-Valcourt (4750 av. Henri-Julien)

LA CRAVATE BLEUE: (IN FRENCH) La cravate bleue, c’est le dilemme du 21e siècle: rêver sa vie ou vivre son rêve. Découvrez les revers de la vie d’artiste lorsque l’amour se mêle aux ambitions d’un jeune professionnel qui démissionne de son emploi ennuyeux pour vivre son rêve d’artiste.

June 21, 7h30pm @ Petit Campus (57 Prince-Arthur E.)

JOE’S CAFE: A music revue of songs based on true stories, recreating the welcoming atmosphere of an all night café.

June 22, 7pm @ Petit Campus (57 Prince-Arthur E.)

TERMINAL C: Are we really in control of our lives? What happens when complete strangers are forced together…indefinitely? Do they lose control or try to hold up their masques and maintain their personas even when the layers slowly start unpeeling? You don’t know how you would react until it happens to you.

June 23, 2h15pm @ Spanish Club (4288 St-Laurent)

TBM @ Montreal Fringe Festival

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Montreal Fringe Fest in MTL is now in its 23rd year and when I was offered a pass to the entire 20-day Fest obviously I graciously accepted and went earlier tonight to Cafe Campus to pick up my pass. From Off-Broadway, to Burlesque, to Music, to Comedy, to Improv, Fringe Fest hosts shows throughout these 20 days allowing artists of all kinds to present themselves with absolutely no restriction on the content they wish to present. To the point that all artists participating are chosen by lottery – no favoritism.

After I picked up my pass, I went upstairs to the Cafe Campus where I witnessed the FRINGE-for-All, where the artists each have 2 minutes to convince you that their show is the one to see. In front of a packed audience, 80 different artists each presented, for 2 short minutes, their material to give you an idea of what’s in store. I unfortunately could not stay for the entire thing, but I sampled a good 40+ acts.

Here are the ones I think are really worth seeing. I hope you find something you like, and for the rest Them Blue Midnights will be covering and reviewing as much material as possible. (Including, mostly, the portion of Fringe that collaborates with Pop Montreal to bring local bands into the spotlight. I can’t wait.)

Listen, I’m doing this quickly because of my personal time restrictions, and I wish I could expand more on these, but given I’ve just sampled 40 different artists, I figured I’d present to you what looked cool, and present you with a brief description followed by Fringe’s official link so you can get more info yourself if you’re interested. Them Blue Midnights welcomes you to the interactive portion of the post.

The Voice Of Wisdom (Theatre, Drama) : http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/voice-wisdom

Smut Slam (Where Storytelling And Erotica Collide. Real people talking about their real one night stands in real detail)http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/smut-slam-where-storytelling-and-erotica-collide

Racial Roulette (Theatre, Comedy) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/racial-roulette

Le Mur Du Son (Danse, Theatre – Looks very experimental and very original, this one looks fantastic) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/racial-roulette

The Little Beau Peep Show (Burlesque. I was sold, this looks not only sexy as a good Burlesque show should, but kept me grinning) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/little-beau-peep-show

Have Fun! (Theatre, drama about the mass murders in America, such as Columbine. Heavy subject that looks expertly acted and written, and very original) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/little-beau-peep-show

Terminal C (Theatre, What happens when strangers are forced together indefinitely – how long until the mask comes off? This was the one that really struck with me.) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/terminal-c

La Cravate Bleue (Theatre, Musical Comedy. How to try to live your life as an artist and balnce it with your regular life. In the 2 min presentation, the main character was singing while distributing condoms. What is not to love?) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/la-cravate-bleue

Grindhouse (Watch George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead” (1985), with  Montreal Improv All-stars, Montreal’s own Bloodshot Bill (featured  and previously interviewed by Them Blue Midnights as the signficant other of King Khan’s Tandoori Knights project), and zombie artists on-site! http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/grindhouse-crew-presents-george-romeros-1985-day-dead

Holy Tranity – A Dirty Love Song To The Gay 80s (Need I say more) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/holy-tranity-dirty-love-song-gay-80s

Now That I Have Your Attention (Dan Bingham, comedian extraordinaire) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/now-i-have-your-attention

ALL MUSIC RELATED SHOWS, AND YES THIS IS VAGUE, BUT BANDS WERE NO PART OF THE SAMPLING SO IT’S NOT MY FAULT, OK, I’M NOT FORCING YOU TO CLICK OR ANYTHING. I LOVE YOU. http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/spectacles-par-genre?genre%5B%5D=6

Cherry On Top! (a capella music, I fell in love with 3 women tonight apparently) http://www.montrealfringe.ca/en/show/cherry-top

So here you have my own picks! I’ll be there, and present at many others. I’m aware this means Them Blue Midnights is stepping out of its music-related comfort zones, but hey, this is a website about shows in Montreal right? SEE YA AT THE SHOWS.

Sound City Review/Winter 2013 Playlist

I’ll start this off by saying that anyone who has not seen it should stop reading this and check out Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary. It’s rare to see a film that is so passionate. And I might not be a multi-million selling rock star, but for anyone who has an interest in music but does not play an instrument, I can tell you that the parts where the musicians are playing together in the studio are so genuine that I felt like yelling: DUDE, THAT’S REALLY HOW IT IS!

If anything, it was gratifying to see that the feeling of 4-5 people just playing music together pretty much seems to remain the same if the passion is there, regardless of status.

Though I wouldn’t mind some free time in Grohl’s 606 studio. Just putting it out there.

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Me with Dave Grohl, 2009. I gained a little bit of weight since then, looking back. Hmmm.

The reviews I have read about the Sound City soundtrack were extremely underwhelming and unrealistic. I’ll offer my own brief take.

First off, let’s set up decent expectations. You listen to the soundtrack after watching the movie, you see that these songs seemed to be 1 day individual sessions. So to anyone expecting the Grohl+Stevie Nicks combination to be as good as anything on Rumours, that is not happening. How could it? No tension between band members, no cocaine binges. I mean, not to go off on a tangent here, but imagine a typical scenario for that recording session:

Stevie Nicks: Hey Lindsey Buckingham, I wrote this song called Dreams. Let me sing it for you, it has a great melody and it’s all about you! Find the prettiest guitar chords, please. Especially during the line ”Players only love you when they’re playing”

Lindsey Buckingham: No problem, Stevie Nicks. By the way, I need you to add back vocals to this new song I wrote called GO YOUR OWN WAY.

I would pay good money to see this happen.

But what was I saying? Ahhhh yes.

Ok, so the idea behind the Sound City Soundtrack is not to make the greatest album with the greatest songs of all time. To begin with, it is about celebrating the art of making music, about musicians playing together and all the while paying tribute to a studio that helped shape them.

So if the songs sound more like sketches, well, that’s normal. Just like a real live performance, it’s not meant to be perfect and these songs can be interpreted differently in that respect.

I think it’s a great album. I think it might be worth doing the opposite of what I did though: If you haven’t seen the movie or heard the soundtrack, see the movie first. I think you might hear the soundtrack a bit differently and a bit more accurately that way. My two cents.

END OF REVIEW. PLAYLIST TIME.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to during this never ending winter.

http://grooveshark.com/playlist/Them+Blew+Midnites+Winter+13/84465094

Just press play!

Tracklist:

The Growlers – Naked Kids

California X – Sucker

Autre Ne Veut – Counting

Night Beats – A Night With Nefertiti

The Bronx – Style Over Everything

Ufesas – Goin’ To The Mountain

Mikal Cronin – Apathy

Psychic Ills – Take Me With You

New Model Army – The Hunt

Jorge Drexler – Rio Abajo

Fun Lovin’ Criminals – The Fun Lovin’ Criminal

Fugees – No Woman,No Cry

Fitz And The Tantrums – Moneygrabber

Clutch – Electric Worry

The Virginmarys – Dead Man’s Shoes

Bad Religion – Robin Hood In Reverse

20 Best Albums Of 2012

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!