Well, the book is just about closed on 2012 and it was a certainly a year that offered us a lot in the way of Boy Band Fodder, and one hit wonders (I’m looking at you Psy). It was also a year that saw Ben Harper, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty grace the stages around the Maritimes. If you’re a concert goer 2012 was a stellar year, and some may argue that this was a lackluster year, but it all depends on what you were looking for. The Hip, Dave Matthews put out albums that were good, but didn’t eclipse any of my year’s best. If you read my top 12 list in The Coast last week, you’ll notice a glaring absence on my list here, JPE’s Scrappy Happiness was a fun enjoyable album, but it just didn’t get any much play as its replacement (and guilty pleasure) The Dirty Heads and their 2012 release Cabin by the Sea, who are sure to join Mishka as really underappreciated reggae acts that will never be heard from again in 2013 and onwards.
I just wanted to give you a little insight before we get to the goods. From the first album I spin on January 1st, it’s in the running to make my list, I don’t let any of the other year ends influence my list, as the albums listed below are albums that hit the spot for me and are albums I would recommend to friends. Some are fairly mainstream, but if they caught my attention and the disc managed to get continued attention over the year, then it’s in the running to make my best of list. I devour a lot of music throughout the year, so for a disc to get stuck in my stereo, that’s a rather rare feat unto itself. Generally a disc gets a couple spins so I can review it, and from there it generally hits the shelf, but if I go back to it again there’s something there. This is also the first year that I cobbled my list together and had a couple of outliers that would have rounded out a top 20, and just to ensure I wasn’t forcing any of the entries into the lineup, I cross-referenced my list against my iTunes play-counter and every disc on my list had over 5 listens (some made it to 10 or higher, but the average play count was between 6 and 7.
You’ll also find my choice cut of each disc in the form of a Youtube Video, so enjoy!
Without further adieu, here’s Trev’s alliterative Top 12 of 2012:
Matt Mays , Coyote, Sonic Records
Mays’ return from exile is a welcome one. Coyote is a 14 track odyssey of gritty sun drenched rock n roll that takes the listener through dusty and desolate back roads. Matt Mays has put together an album that fuses modern rock with classic rock sensibilities.
Jack White, Blunderbuss, Sony Music
Jack White is one of the last Rock N Roll purists who has seemingly been everywhere since the dissolution of The White Stripes (see The Raconteurs, Dead Weather). In 2012 Blunderbuss was unleashed on the masses, and while not unlike The White Stripes, this is the evolution of Jack White.
Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten, Universal Records
Handwritten is an earnestly authentic record which takes the integrity and storytelling of Springsteen and fuses it with the DIY aesthetic of the punk movement. With tracks such as “45” and “National Anthem” you can see this is the album Gaslight Anthem would have recorded with or without the promise of fame.
Father John Misty, Fear Fun, Sub Pop
Fear Fun is an album that you’d easily hear in the background of a Tarantino flick, with its neo-retro folky alt-country sound. Thisalbum is one that would have been missed by many had it not been recommended, and while off of the beaten path, once you’ve found it you’re happy you did.
Skrillex, Bangarang, Warner
The relentless barrage that Skrillex’s Bangarang lays on your speakers is almost unconscionable. While only a scant 8 tracks, this disc contains a roller coaster of electronic hooks and monstrous bone rattling bass drops that will leave you wanting more. Bangarang is also serves as aural caffeine to amp you up.
Quake Matthews, The Book of Matthew, Indie
Fairview’s own Quake Matthews threw open his sophomore release The Book of Matthew early in 2012, and from the moment you hit play, it’s clear that Quake is quickly becoming a force to reckon with. This album is easily one of the best rap albums of 2012, not just the 902.
Mumford and Sons, Babel, Glass Note
After Sigh No More, the fear of Mumford and Sons fatigue weighed heavily, and I fully expected Babel to push my tolerance into the red. Shockingly, Markus Davis and Co. did the exact opposite on this sophomore effort, it drew me in and help me rapt for the entire disc. While far less commercial, this is a more accessible album.
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball, Columbia
“The Boss” has never been one to release flashy gimmicky records, he is a man of the people and Wrecking Ball is a no nonsense album that illustrates the struggles many of us face during the unyielding financial crisis. It’s a matter of fact record that vocalizes what many have been feeling in recent years.
Big Wreck, Albatross, Warner
Regardless of the band name Ian Thornley’s band manages to craft crunchy radio friendly riffs that lodge themselves so far down your ear canal, you find yourself humming the tunes days later. Albatross is a misnomer, as this album showcases a band completely at ease with who they are, this is a success, not an album that will haul the band down.
The Dirty Heads, Cabin By the Sea, Five Seven Music
This album missed my Coast top 10 list, but the fusion of hip hop, reggae, pop and rock managed to make the list here. The way in which the Dirty Heads fuse reggae, hip-hop, pop and rock stylings, makes for an intoxicating musical hybrid. It’s a great summer album that can certainly melt the icy heart of Winter.
The Lumineers, The Lumineers,
The eponymous debut of New York’s The Lumineers contains one of (if not the) best singles of 2012 in “Ho Hey”, but this album is no one hit wonder. This is a complete album of these fantastically simple folk rock tracks that lodge themselves in your heads for days.
John Mayer, Born and Raised, Columbia
A humbled John Mayer returned in 2012 with a folkier more subdued effort on Born and Raised. It was an album that was more in the vein of singer songwriters such as Neil Young, vs being at the apex of the pop music food chain.