2012 was an amazing year for music for both the local scene here in 990WBOB's hometown of Providence, RI and worldwide as well. Upstart acts like L.A.'s Electric Guest and Sacramento's Death Grips made ground-breaking debuts that swept the entire planet, indie hip-hoppers Das Racist, alt-rock legends Ween and The Famous Winters from Providence broke up, Soundgarden put out their first record in nearly 16 years which got most people over the age of 40 excited about music again and one of the most important events to ever happen in The Creative Capital took place with the reopening of The Columbus Theatre this past November to bring back the west end's haven for live music and the performing arts. With all of this hoopla that made 2012 so great there is only one thing that makes this year that much more important, and that are the albums that came out and blew my and everyone else's mind. With no further delay I present to you the Top 20 Albums of 2012, because 15 wasn't enough:
#20.) Mean Creek - Youth Companion (Old Flame)
Winner of the illustrious "Album of The Year" Award at The 2012 Boston Music Awards on December 2nd, Beantown rockers Mean Creek and their 3rd album Youth Companion that hit record store shelves on October 16th showcases a great fusion of 80's indie rock styles like The Replacements and The Smiths and glam rock like T. Rex and Iggy Pop that will just make you groove right when you press play. The magnificent duo of Chris Keene and Aurore Ounjian fronting the band with their guitars and magnificent voices are very evident on "Do You Know", "Sweet Thing", "Young and Wild", "Come On Before It's Gone", "Evel Knievel" and "The Comedian".
#19.) Langhorne Slim - The Way We Move (Ramseur)
Langhorne Slim has done it again with his 6th studio album that came out on June 5th which is chock full of great music from one of the best folk musicians out there today. With his trademark raspy voice and amazing skills on guitar, Langhorne is a great example of the revival of folk music with his timeless songwriting skills and rhythms that just make you want to stop your feet and go absolutely crazy. Definitely deserving to be on this list, check out "The Way We Move", "Fire", "Bad Luck" and "Two Crooked Hearts".
#18.) Verse - Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace (Bridge Nine)
The first act from Providence to make the list, hardcore punks Verse lead by the angst-filled poetic lyrics of Sean Murphy came out with their 5th album on May 11th and their first since reforming last year. Needless to say, it's simply fantastic one of the best punk records I have ever heard. Driving guitars with bluesy progressions from Zak Drummond and Eric Lepine, ferocious bass skills from Chris Berg and Shawn Costa's seismic drumming to go along with Murphy's fury on the mic are guaranteed to blast your speakers into outer space. "The End Of All Light", "The Relevance of our Disconnect", "Oceanic Tendencies" and "Finding A Way Out When There Is No Way" are my favorite tracks off of this masterpiece.
#17.) Bob Mould - Silver Age (Merge)
Former Hüsker Dü and Sugar guitarist and frontman Bob Mould came out with his 10th solo studio album on September 4th and it was a breath of fresh air. Encompassing the punk influenced alternative rock that made Bob an 80's alternative rock icon, Silver Age is no holds barred and in your face with loud riffs that will make you form a one person mosh pit. I love it when the veterans put out music that isn't a step back and still keeps up the energy that has been a trademark to their career, Bob Mould's Silver Age is a prime example of that.
Give "Star Machine", "Silver Age", "The Descent" and "Keep Believing" a listen to get a taste of what's excellent.
#16.) Fang Island - Major (Sargent House)
I wouldn't have thought that Fang Island would have been able to top the epic indie arena rock of their self-titled debut back in 2010, but they did with their second album Major when it was released on July 24th. Crazier guitar riffs and high pitched solos in every track that's guaranteed rock your socks off, Major will take you to another place filled with joyus rhythms and triumphant songs. "Seek It Out", "Make Me", "Asunder", "Dooney Rock" and "Regalia" highlight a record that will give your ears the buzz they've been waiting for.
#15.) State Radio - Rabbit Inn Rebellion (Ruff Shod/ Nettwerk)
Now I do know that Chad Urmston's other band Dispatch came out with their first album in 12 years in 2012, but let me make the case for State Radio's Rabbit Inn Rebellion being on this list. Released on October 23rd, Rabbit Inn Rebellion provides excellent lyrical commentary on current social and political issues that effect the world every day to go along with reggae-punk songs that are guaranteed to blow your mind. "Big Man", "Adelaide", "Desert Queen" and "State Of Georgia" are the tracks that make this album completely awesome.
#14.) Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker & Yim Yames - New Multitudes (Rounder)
When you have 4 excellent singer-songwriters playing music to lyrics penned by the legendary Woody Guthrie, you simply can not go wrong. Released on February 28th, Son Volt's Jay Farrar, Centro-matic's Will Johnson, Varnaline's Anders Parker and My Morning Jacket's Yim Yames put out New Multitudes to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Guthrie's birth and the folk-rock brilliance that came out of the collaboration is outstanding. "V.D. City", "Old L.A.", "Angel's Blues" and "My Revolutionary Mind" will rock your soul into oblivion.
#13.) Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory (Carpark/ Wichita)
I'll be honest, when this album was released on January 24th it kind of came out of left field. I didn't know much about Cloud Nothings at the time but right when I pressed play I realized how awesome their indie-punk sound is and I've been hooked ever since. Sounding like a mix of Nirvana, Spoon and The Sex Pistols, if Cloud Nothings doesn't serve as a stress release for you while headbanging like a maniac I don't know what will. "Stay Useless", "Wasted Days", "No Sentiment" and "Fall In" will light you up with excitement in no time.
#12.) The 24 Hour Music Project (Self-Released)
There is no question why The 24 Hour Music Project shouldn't be on this list of musical dominance. The brainchild of Kim "Giggles" Madden had some of the most talented individuals in Providence lend their musical talents to take a stand against domestic violence. Released on October 16th at The Spot in Providence, "The Deep" by Able Thought featuring Madden on backing vocals, "Wishing Well" by Torn Shorts' Josh Grabert, "No Tomorrow" by Josh Willis and "Stick Fishing" by Sgt. Baker & The Clones' Mike Baker highlight a compilation that is one of the best feel-good stories in Providence in 2012.
#11.) Jack White - Blunderbuss (Third Man/XL/Columbia)
When Jack's solo debut came out on April 23rd, the thing that impressed me the most about the record was his willingness to explore and make every track uniquely different without being pretentious. Whether its the emphatic garage rock track "Sixteen Saltines", "Freedom At 21" which sounds like a lost track from his recordings with The Dead Weather, the groovy sexiness of "I'm Shakin'" or the country r & b of "Love Interruption", every track on Blunderbuss is guaranteed to put you in a state of pure bliss. Did I mention that it's Jack friggin' White? His name alone should compel you to give it a listen.
For Rob's top 10 albums of 2012, click read more ----->
#10.) Lightning Bolt - Oblivion Hunter (Load)
Legends in the Olneyville section of Providence and the premier noise band in the world today, Lightning Bolt's Oblivion Hunter that was released on September 25th showed a progression of bassist Brian Gibson and drummer Brian Chippendale's immense skills in the avant-garde. Insane rhythms that will leave you awestruck, Oblivion Hunter without a doubt deserves to be on the top ten on this list. "King Candy", "Oblivion Balloon", "Fly Fucker Fly" and "Salamander" will turn your brain into electrified goo, but in a very good way.
#9.) Band Of Skulls - Sweet Sour (Pias/Electric Blues)
I was a huge fan of Band of Skulls' debut Baby Darling Doll Face Honey when it came out back in 2009 and when I heard their follow up Sweet Sour after it was released on February 21st my jaw must have dropped 7 times. Sounding like a modernized version of Cream with a heightened sense of blues, punk and psychedelia, Band Of Skulls and their album Sweet Sour will blow your eardrums to smithereens with their powerful tunes. "Bruises", "Wanderluster", "Sweet Sour", "The Devil Takes Care Of His Own" and "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Going On" are dynamically marvelous.
#8.) Two Gallants - The Bloom and The Blight (ATO)
Released on September 4th, Two Gallants' The Bloom and The Blight brought the rugged blues-infused indie rock the San Francisco duo has come to be known by and upped the ante to infinity. Loud and scorching guitars to go along with Adam Stephens' raspy raging voice, The Bloom and The Blight has become one of those albums I have to listen to at least once a week. "Halcyon Days", "My Love Won't Wait", "Ride Away", "Willie", "Cradle Pyre" and "Song of Songs" absolutely rule. Two Gallants will also be playing at Fete in Providence with Deer Tick and The Silks on December 30th, a great chance to get one of the best albums to come out in 2012.
#7.) Diamond Rugs (Partisan)
On April 24th, a supergroup consisting of Deer Tick's John McCauley and Robbie Crowell, Black Lips' Ian Saint Pe', Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, Dead Confederate's Hardy Morris and Six Finger Satellite's Bryan Dufresne put out an majestic rock & roll record filled with resonating horns, twangy guitar riffs and anthems for the party animal in all of us. Another one of those albums that I haven't been able to stop listening to, the infectious rhythms will invade your mind and make your eyes bulge with enthusiasm. "Gimme A Beer", "Big God", "Call Girl Blues", "I Took Note", "Tell Me Why" and "Hungover & Horny" will sooth your soul with rock & roll.
#6.) Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge)
Another indie rock supergroup on the list, Divine Fits consists of Spoon's Britt Daniel, New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown and former Wolf Parade lead singer & guitarist Dan Boeckner and they put out a record on August 27th and it'll take your breath away with Daniel and Boeckner alternating on vocals along with fantastic music as a whole rocking your inner being. The new wave styles of "My Love Is Real", "The Salton Sea" and "Baby Get Worse" along with the stripped down rock & roll of "Flaggin' A Ride", "What Gets You Alone", "Would That Not Be Nice" and "Like Ice Cream" make the new album from Divine Fits a godly treasure.
#5.) Math The Band - Get Real (Anchorbrain)
The 4th local album on this list, Math The Band's Get Real exemplifies a duo that will shock your brain with their electrifying synth-punk anthems while making you feel as if your riding on top of a rocket ship heading straight to the moon. Released on November 20th, Get Real features Kevin Steinhauser on guitar and vocals and Justine Mainville on keyboards, a floor tom and backing vocals along with a sound that will infect you with joyous pandemonium that will make you do cartwheels in no time. "Four To Six", "Positive Stress", "Mission Statement", "Bad Jokes" and "Brand New Physics" will tingle the senses and send chills up your spine.
#4.) Electric Guest - Mondo (Downtown/Across The Universe)
When Danger Mouse agrees to produce your debut album, you must be doing something right. That could be any truer for Electric Guest and their record Mondo that was released April 24th featuring the silky smooth r & b voice of Asa Toccone and funky instrumentation that will have you dancing in no time. Every track is unreal and endlessly catchy, I suggest you give "Waves", "Under The Gun", "Awake", "This Head I Hold" and "The Bait" a listen and then proceed to blast them through your speakers to make your presence felt at the next party for the ages.
#3.) Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
This dynamic duo from Vancouver consisting of Brian King on guitar and vocals along with David Prowse on drums and backing vocals never ceases to amaze me with Brian's blistering guitar solos and David's earth-shaking skills on drums. Released on May 29th, Celebration Rock has more volume, shredding and reckless abandon then the band's debut Post-Nothing that came out back in 2009. A record that gives a new definition to rock & roll, check out "Evil's Sway", "Younger Us", "The Nights of Wine and Roses", "Adrenaline Nightshift" and a rendition of The Gun Club's "For The Love Of Ivy" to get your fill of one of the best rock duos out there today.
#2.) Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet on Sky (Jagjaguwar)
When Alt-Rock legends Dinosaur Jr. put out their 10th studio album and their third since reforming in 2007 on September 13th I honestly felt like a kid in a candy store with an awestruck gleam in my eyes while listening to I Bet on Sky. J Mascis' twangy voice along with his Sabbath-esque guitar riffs, Murph's impeccable drumming and Lou Barlow's ability to play bass like its merely a toy to go along with his songwriting that comes straight from the heart makes their new album a must listen and worthy of being in the top 2. "Recognition", "Rude", "Pierce The Morning Rain", "See It On Your Side" and "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" are tracks that will render you speechless.
#1.) Vudu Sister - Bastard Children (Self-Released)
Now if your reading this and you haven't gotten to experience the awesomeness Vudu Sister is, I completely understand if your confused as to why this is my pick for the best album of 2012. Keith McCurdy's musical endeavor unveiled an unbelievable folk-rock album on May 4th featuring tracks by himself on acoustic guitar like "Wicked King", "Galliard" and "Dead Man's Pockets" and also the songs "Underground" featuring former Famous Winters members Alex Garzone and Sean Kennedy and "One Of A Kind" with Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons. Timeless music with every song telling a story, Keith's songwriting is purely captivating and that's why Bastard Children is the best album of 2012.
Ones That Didn't Make The List But Still Kick Major Musical Ass:
Andrew Spatz - ~^~KUH~^~THEE~^~DRUHL~^~ (Self-Released), Annie & The Beekeepers - My Bonneville (Self-Released), Anti-Flag - The General Strike (SideOneDummy), The Babies - Our House On The Hill (Woodsist), Bad Books - II (Triple Crown), Baroness - Yellow & Green (Relapse), Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind (ImaVeePee), Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy (Rad Cult), Boo City - Midnight Folklore (Self-Released), The Bouncing Souls - Comet (Rise/Chunksaah), The Cast Of Cheers - Family (Schoolboy Error), Celadour (Self-Released), Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph), The Coup - Sorry To Bother You (Anti-), The Darkness - Hot Cakes (Wind-Up), Death Grips - The Money Store (Epic), Deftones - Koi No Yokan (Reprise), The Denver Boot - 6 to 9, 7...12 (Self-Released), Dethklok - Dethalbum III (Williams Street), Dispatch - Circles Around The Sun (Bomber/Foundations/Universal), Downtown Boys (Self-Released), Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Here (Vagrant/Rough Trade), Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society (Heads Up International), Fall & Bounce - Knicknack Avalanche (None Of Your Business), The Folkadelics - Not a Folk Album (Self-Released), Flobots - The Circle In The Square (Universal Republic/Island Def Jam), Fun. - Some Nights (Fueled By Ramen), Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten (Mercury), Gojira - L'Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner), Grandfather Child (New West), Grizzly Bear - Shields (Warp), Guided By Voices - Lets Go Eat The Factory (Fire), He's My Brother, She's My Sister - Nobody Dances In This Town (Park The Van), High On Fire - Der Vermis Mysteriis (E1 Music), The Hives - Lex Hives (Disque Hives), Hot Water Music - Exister (Rise), John River Shannon - Time Was A Lie (Creek Valley), John Singer Sergeant (Kirtland), Liars -WIXIW (Mute), Lolita Black - Flesh, Blood & Bone (Self-Released), Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 (1st & 15th/Atlantic), Maps & Atlases - Beware and Be Grateful (Barsuk), Mark Cutler - Sweet Pain (75orLess), The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet (Warner Bros./Sargent House), Matt & Kim - Lightning (FADER), The Menzingers - On The Impossible Past (Epitaph), Milkbread (Self-Released), MOGA - Reservoir (Self-Released), Mumford & Sons - Babel (Island/Glassnote), Nada Surf - The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy (Barsuk), Passion Pit - Gossamer (Frenchkiss/Columbia), PAWS - Cokefloat! (FatCat), Pomegranates - Heaven (Modern Outsider), Propagandhi - Failed States (Epitaph), Rhett Miller - The Dreamer (Maximum Sunshine), Route .44 - Poisoned The Well (Self-Released), Rustic Overtones - Let's Start A Cult (Self-Released), Silversun Pickups - Neck Of The Woods (Dangerbird), Soundgarden - King Animal (Republic), The Sword - Apocryphon (Razor & Tie), Tame Impala - Lonerism (Modular), Tenacious D - Rize of The Fenix (Columbia), Torche - Harmonicraft (Volcom), Trapper Schoepp & The Shades - Run, Engine, Run (SideOneDummy), TV Snow - Red (Self-Released), The Vaccines - Come Of Age (Columbia), Viking Jesus (Self-Released), Volcano Kings - 11 Ways To Avoid Death In Trash Can City (Self-Released), Walk The Moon (RCA), The Walkmen - Heaven (Fat Possum/Bella Union), Yeasayer - Fragrant World (Secretly Canadian), You Won't - Skeptic Goodbye (Old Flame)
As you can tell, I went through a lot of albums to render it down to my top 20. Either you absolutely love it, endlessly hate it or you're undecided. Regardless, 2012 was one hell of a year for music and by my calculations 2013 is shaping up to be even better. Let the debating begin.
- Rob Duguay