Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Records of the Year Not Released in 2012

In 2012 not only did I get to hear a bunch of great new music, but I also discovered a bunch of things that I somehow missed in years past.  Here are some of my favorite records that I heard for the first time in 2012 but were not released this year. 

Titles:  Landlocked EP (BandCamp)
Artist:  Mike Williams (Facebook, BandCamp)

Mike Williams plays killer rock ‘n’ roll that mixes elements of punk, alt country, and college rock.  Often known as the bass player in John Moreland’s Dust Bowl Souls, Williams is a tremendous songwriter that released two EPs in late 2011 and a single in early 2012.  All three releases are excellent and a must for fans of artists like the aforementioned John Moreland, The Ducky Boys, The Gaslight Anthem, The Replacements, and Two Cow Garage.  You can read my original review of all three EPs here.

Title:  Everything the Hard Way (BandCampAmazoniTunesCD Baby)
Artist:  John Moreland & The Dust Bowl Souls (Official, BandCamp, [solo], [with The Dust Bowl Souls])

Somehow I missed this record when it was released in 2011.  Here’s what you need to know about Everything the Hard Way – it’s John Moreland so it freaking rules.  Seriously this guy is an amazing songwriting and ridiculously prolific (this was his second full-length album released in 2011).  I always love Moreland with a full band because there is an energy that is undeniable and with the Dust Bowl Souls I think he has found his perfect band.  Check out my original review here.    

Artist:  The Bomb (MySpace, Facebook, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

The Bomb will probably always been know as Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati's other band, which is a shame because records like Indecision show that they are a lot more than just that.  Here’s how Aubin from put it
To be fair, Jeff Pezzati's participation makes it difficult to separate him from his seminal band, and there is certainly a healthy share of his trademark "whoahs" and even some tracks that could have come from the less experimental era of that band.

Conversely, it should be noted that unlike Raygun, which was a melodic hardcore band, the Bomb is a melodic pop-punk band, drawing as much from the Descendents and Morrissey as Raygun did from Minor Threat. Furthermore, on this, their second album, they again take on relationships more than politics.

Fans of Naked Raygun, Pegboy, Noise By Numbers, and The Methadones that haven’t heard The Bomb yet, need to check this band out!

Title:  Esperanto Sessions (AmazonCD
Artist:  Doug McKean (OfficialMySpaceLast.fmCD Baby, Yahoo MusicAllMusic)

Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch since I’ve actually had a copy of it for over a year, but since it wasn’t officially released until very late 2011 it wasn’t included in my year-end list and it is just too good to not include in an end of the year post.  From my review
Doug McKean’s fourth solo record is nothing short of exceptional.  Esperanto Sessions is a record created by someone who obviously loves music (in a variety of styles) and has a passion for playing honestly and without pretense.  From top to bottom this is an album that mixes folk, college rock, and soul (with a pinch of dance) and does so easily and seamlessly. 


There are some records and artists that take no effort by the listener to enjoy or understand.  That’s not the case with the work of Doug McKean or with Esperanto Sessions.  This is a record that challenges the listener; it almost dares you to try to squeeze it into a simple category.  And one thing for certain is that this record cannot be easily squeezed into one category or genre.  McKean’s talents as a songwriter are wide and varied and in may ways defy categorization.  That’s what makes this record so good.  These songs are passionate and heartfelt played with nothing but love and heart and soul.  And besides, not everything in life should be easy.  So if you are someone who needs your music to be easy, then this is not the record for you, but instead if you like music that challenges you to think then I HIGHLY recommend giving Esperanto Sessions a listen.  

Title:  Rockin’ for a Living (BandCampAmazonInterpunk,iTunes)

Kurt Baker is power pop.  Enough said.  Check out my review here.

Title:  Majesty Shredding (Merge Records, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

2010’s Majesty Shredding was Superchunk’s first full-length album in nearly a decade and it is a fabulous return to form for the band (think On the Mouth and/or Foolish).  The record is filled with the kind of classic and catchy indie rock tunes that made Superchunk one of the genres leading acts. 

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