The time has come again when every music blogger will unleash what they think were the best releases of the year. In my opinion 2012 was a fantastic year for music and I had trouble narrowing my choices down to just fourteen. Here they are in no particular order
The Vaccines – Come of Age (Columbia Records) – Hands down my favorite album of the year. Guitar hooks and pure pop for now people that would make Nick Lowe very proud. This album could hold up to be my favorite album of the decade.
Converge (Epitaph Records) – All That We Love We Leave Behind – Converge never seems to fail me. Pun intended of course. Sixteen years since their landmark Petitioning the Empty Sky and they can still put out fresh sounding albums in their math/metal style while most their contemporaries either became bland, changed styles or gave up.
Diiv – Oshin (Captured Tracks) – On about a third of the tracks on the late 80’s/early 90’s band Chapterhouse’s Whirlpool album they played music notes and riffs that were as close to sonic perfection as any shoegazer has gotten The Brooklyn band Diiv manages to hit perfect notes and riffs on all thirteen tracks of the Oshin album.
Billy Raygun – s/t (LP People of the Woods, CD John Wilkes Booth Records) – Chunky sounding pop/punk band out of New Hampshire. Dual vocals, which they just added on this album, add very much to this young band’s already fast maturing sound. Great stuff if you like early Jawbreaker, Crimpshrine (if they had better vocals) or Dillinger Four.
The Men – Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones) – The Men sound just like they were yanked out of the early 90’s New York Scene (think Unsane, Surgery, Loudspeaker etc) where bands straddled different underground genres like punk, metal and good old rock and roll. On “Open Your Heart”, The Men combined all of them with a dose of the Ramones rearing it’s head from underneath. Check out the Stiff Little Fingers “Suspect Device” “Influenced” riff on the albums opener.
Roomrunner – Super Vague (Fan Death Records) – Baltimore area’s Roomrunner plays 90’s influenced grunge better than many of those 90’s bands who played grunge. I wish I still had a car because I bet these guys are great to listen to while driving.
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory (Carpark Records) – A young band that knows when to get poppy and knows when to get noisy. The Steve Albini production totally enhances whichever way they choose to go.
Ceremony – Zoo (Matador) – For the past 5 years Ceremony has been my favorite hardcore band. On Zoo they change their sound to more of a Wire/Joy Division influenced sound and become my favorite post-punk band. But don’t worry, they still play the hardcore ragers live.
Nada Surf – “The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy” (Barsuk) – It’s hard to believe that when many people think about Nada Surf they still think about their minor hit “Popular”. It’s unfortunate because those people missing out on sixteen years of some great hook filled power pop. “The Stars…” is fantastic addition to their five album (and one covers record) post “Popular” discography.
Pig Destroyer – Book Burner (Relapse) – These guys remain the only grind/thrash/etc band that can hold my attention over an entire album. Make sure to pick the two disc version with awesome covers of Black Flag, Void, Misfits, Angry Samoans and more. No animals were harmed in the making of this record.
Wild Moth – “Mourning Glow” Ep(Asian Man Records ) and S/T Ep (The Ghost is Cleat – digital, Suitors Club – 10”) – San Francisco hardcore/punk band that is not afraid to add an effects peddle and some feedback. Sometimes they verge into Iceage territory but pull off that sound better than the Danish band has been able to. (Both Eps also available on Bandcamp)
Jack White – Blunderbuss (Thirdman) – I disliked everything the White Stripes ever released almost as much as I disliked everything Led Zeppelin, the band the White Stripes tried to sound like, released. Let’s face it, if the Racanteurs and Dead Weather did not have the names in the band that they did, no one would really care about them. I was totally surprised to find out I liked this album and end up listening to it regularly over the rest of the year. But then again I loved the Robert Plant solo album (with Alison Krause) from a few years back too.
Pop 1280 – The Horror (Sacred Bones) – Many a band has attempted to raise the furious sound of The Birthday party but have all fallen flat on their face in the process. This Brooklyn band succeeds were almost everyone has failed. I’m sure even Nick Cave himself would be impressed.