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2012: The Year In Music

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

2011 produced a lot of releases that are still in heavy rotation at the Stone household (and, more appropriately, in the Stone automobiles). 2012 was more top-heavy, producing a small handful of albums that I find truly amazing and a bunch of others that are good-not-great. I’ve tried to include as much audio (or at least links to where you can find as much audio) as possible to give you a taste of 2012.

Not much rambling this year; let’s get to it.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

As a general rule, I don’t include EPs, live albums or 7-inches (45s, as the older generations might call them still) in my final countdown. That’s mostly in the interest of self-reservation, as doing so would mean I’d have to absorb a whole lot more material than I’m accustomed to, and my brain could well explode. That being said, here are a couple of the more noteworthy releases of the year.

-The Shell Corporation – Time & Pressure EP

I missed the boat on The Shell Corporation’s full-length, Force Majeure, last year. Time & Pressure continues the band’s political punk middle finger to the establishment in ways that would make Dead Kennedy’s proud. Stream their EP here.

-Dave Hause – 7-inch collection

Dave Hause is one of my favorite vocalists, and has been for some time. I really, really liked his solo album, Resolutions, for a long time. That is, until he reworked a lot of the songs for a unique collection of five 7-inch vinyl releases put out on five different record labels this year. Each release also features Hause covering two song’s from the respective record label’s back catalog. Cool idea. Here’s the review I wrote for Dying Scene. Also, here’s “Melanin,” which is one of my favorite songs of the year.

Big Awesome – Birdfeeder EP

Great indie band from South Carolina. These dudes were supposed to record with Trever from Face To Face. Not sure why they didn’t. Anyway, they put out a pretty rad EP this year. Stream it here, or download it for free (or you can pay if you’re so inclined).

THE LIST

21. Riverboat Gamblers – The Wolf You Feed

Punk-infused indie rock’n’roll from the Austin, TX area. Check out “Comedians” below.

20. No Trigger – Tycoon

Melodic hardcore (I guess is what we’re calling it) band from Worcester, MA. They’ve been around for quite a while, though I only learned of them somewhat recently. Here’s album-opener “Maple Boy.”

19. Dogjaw – Pilot

Melody-driven punk from West Virginia. There is such a thing! Stream their album here.

18. Run, Forever – Settling

Three-piece punk band from Pittsburgh. Review will follow for Dying Scene – I only came across the album late in the year. Stream it here.

17. The Bogarts – Nothing To Call Our Own

How these boys aren’t signed to a label that is willing to press their stuff on vinyl or put it out in physical format is beyond me. Good dudes from Thousand Oaks, CA. Stream the album here, or download it for free (again, you can opt to pay as much as you want).

16. Jenny Owen Youngs – An Unwavering Band Of Light

It isn’t coincidence that Jenny Owen Youngs’ initials are “JOY.” That’s exactly what she brings people. That was lame of me, but whatever. Here’s “Already Gone.”

15. Murder By Death – Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon

Murder By Death continues to get a little darker and stranger with each release, and I love it. Adam Turla is really finding his ever-evolving voice. Here’s “Hard World.”

14. Pentimento – Pentimento

Something happened, and Pentimento got dropped by their label prior to putting this album out, so they put it out on their own for free. Their label was nuts. Stream it here.

13. Pennywise – All Or Nothing

Much has been made of the fact that Pennywise’s old lead singer, Jim Lindberg, left the band, and that they decided to record with a new singer, Zoli Teglas. Lindberg has since rejoined the band, but in the interim, the short-lived new lineup put out an album and added some life to their sound. Check out the whole album below. Vintage street punk.

12. Let Me Run – MAD/SAD

This album is pretty awesome from start to finish (except for the track “Doctors”). Reminds me of No Motiv or Samiam fed through a Ten Foot Pole filter (if that makes sense to you, pat yourself on the back). Here’s the opening track “If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It.”

11. Jesca Hoop – The House That Jack Built

Like Bjork, but more “real,” and without the fake swan dress. Here’s “Born To Lose.”

10. Make Do And Mend – Everything You Ever Loved

I totally missed this album most of the year. Awesome band from West Hartford, Connecticut…who knew there was such a thing?!? Sort of Hot Water Music-inspired post-punk. Here’s their video for “Lucky.”

9. Jack White – Blunderbuss

Quite honestly, Jack White can do no wrong in my book. He could lay down a dirty-blues-inspired riff over himself reading a Chinese restaurant menu and I’d think it was effing brilliant. Here’s “I’m Shakin’.” Tell me it doesn’t make you start dancing in your kitchen.

8. Bob Mould – Silver Age

Former Husker Du/Sugar frontman ditches the sort of techno vibe he’s been on for a while and made a kick-ass Foo Fighter-ish rock record. Here’s the video for “The Descent.”

7. Chris Wollard + The Ship Thieves – Canyons

The non-werewolf half of the Hot Water Music put out his second solo album this year. It’s much better than the first; sounds vary from traditional HWM-fare to acoustic, highwayman blues stompers like “Lonely Days,” which you can see below.

6. Brendan Kelly & The Wandering Birds – I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever

The Lawrence Arms frontman has got a new side gig. It’s a very dark, disturbing blues inspired folk-punk album, and it’s pretty damn awesome. Just don’t listen with the kids in the room. Here’s “Suffer The Children, Come Unto Me.”

5. Silversun Pickups – Neck Of The Woods

Silversun Pickups have a way of making albums that sound very similar, and yet new and progressive at the same time. Here’s the bass-driven “Mean Spirits.”

4. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

The Gaslight Anthem made a better Pearl Jam record than Pearl Jam has been able to do in about a decade. Here’s “45,” which sounds like Pearl Jam’s “The Fixer,” only with better lyrics and less obnoxious Brendan O’Brien keyboard.

3. Rocco Deluca – Drugs ‘N’ Hymns

Rocco Deluca dropped the Burden, grew a beard and ponytails and apparently lives the life of a hermit now. All of that lead to an amazingly beautiful, sparse-yet-powerful album. My only complaint is that it’s too short. Here’s the video for “Lucky.”

2. RNDM – Acts

Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament has never been one to rest on his laurels when the band is on a bit of a break. He and frequent collaborator Richard Stuverud teamed up with singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur for a stellar, groove-heavy rhythm-and-blues-inspired rock album. It’s also a bit of a concept album. Check out “Modern Times.”

1. Hot Water Music – Exister

I’m not a HWM fan from way back. However, from the beginning notes of album opener “Mainline,” I was overwhelmed with a sense that this was going to be my favorite album of the year. Here’s a live version of “Mainline,” followed by “Drag My Body” and “State of Grace.” The latter two songs are among my favorite songs by anybody ever.