Monday, December 17, 2012

Top 30 Albums of 2012: 30-21

2012 was a great year for music.  Artists ranging from pop to punk to Americana and everything in-between put out stellar albums in 2012.  Sadly only a small portion of these artists broke through to achieve mainstream success, but that is pretty much par for the course.

In 2012 the focus of this blog turned almost exclusively to music and because of that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to review a lot of great releases (both full-length records and EPs).  As a result, when I began to compile all of my favorite releases of the year I realized that the list was going to be very long and that in order to these excellent releases justice I would need to do separate lists for full-length albums and EPs.  Subsequently I realized that unless I wanted these posts to be ginormous, I would need to split them up (at least for the full-lengths). 


30.  Women & Work by Lucero
Lucero’s seventh proper full-length studio album Women & Work cause quite a stir upon its release.  Many longtime fans of the band were upset for a variety of different reason by the record, and while the record is tamer than its predecessors it’s still a great listen.  The songs are deep and heartfelt drowned in sorrow and beer and played through the lens of the musical history of the band’s hometown Memphis, TN. 
My Review   




29.  1! 2! 3! 4! by The Cherry Icees
The Cherry Icees is a ridiculous entertaining, lo-fi bubblegum pop punk band from Greenville, SC.  Their album 1! 2! 3! 4! is a shining example of how great simplicity can be.  This record is no frills and all fun and a must for fans of pop punk, bubblegum pop, and lo-fi rock. 




28.  Chasing the Ghost by The Ducky Boys
Chasing the Ghost was the first Ducky Boys’ album in six years and is a shining example of how great and underappreciated this band really is.  Like the Hudson Falcons’, The Ducky Boys first made a man for themselves in the street punk scene of the late 1990s and like the Falcons, they have grown as a band and long ago shed the oi-ish exterior but still can’t seem to shake the label itself.  This is the kind of record that fans of The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady, and The Replacements should be buying in droves because it is truly a pure and fantastic rock ‘n’ roll record. 





27.  forgetters by forgetters
Forgetters’ self-titled full-length debut is a dark collection that mixes punk, post punk, emo, and goth.  Even though this band will probably always been known as Blake Schwarzenbach’s (Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil) latest project and will most likely be followed by fans of his previous work, this record is the first thing that I have heard in years, if not ever, that truly takes what bands like Joy Division and The Smiths were doing in the early 1980s and gives it a modern voice. 



26.  Gold Motel by Gold Motel
Gold Motel’s self-titled full-length debut is a gorgeous record that mixes the best of ‘60s pop with 00’s indie rock.  The band’s greatest strength is the tremendous voice of lead singer Greta Morgan Salpeter and it on top of the beautifully lush music of the rest of the band, the result is the perfect mixture of Rilo Kiley and Ronnie Spector.




25.  Welcome Home by Red Collar
Red Collar’s sophomore full-length album Welcome Home is an honest and earnest collection of “10 exceptionally well crafted while at the same time raw and rough-around-the-edges tunes that should make this band huge.”  Fans of Two Cow Garage, The Replacements, Hot Water Music, and The Gaslight Anthem need to check Welcome Home out.




24. Passengers by The Racer
Passengers is a dark and record full of layered songs and sounds that display a deep love of acts ranging from Joy Division to U2 to Radiohead.  With this record, The Racer has displayed the kind of depth and talent that can take the listener from the highest highs to the lowest lows. 



23. Champions at Heart by Down By Law
Down By Law returned with their first new material in nearly a decade, so not only was it great to hear from this band again, they put out one of their best records to date in Champions at Heart.  Complete with melodic hooks, big choruses, and social commentary, this record is filled from top to bottom with classic punk rock anthems.



22.  Sirens by Sons of Bill
Sons of Bill is another fantastic band that blends elements of alt country, college rock, and classic rock resulting in a sound that is born out of a love of the true spirit of rock and roll.  As I stated in my original review, Sirens is filled with songs that are “personal and passionate and touch on the journeys of life and love, while touching a chord sonically that has a far reaching appeal for fans of truly great rock ‘n’ roll music.”  This is a must for fans of Uncle Tupelo, The Gaslight Anthem, Drag the River, Two Cow Garage, Cracker, and The Replacements.




21.  Some Nights by Fun.
This has been one heck of a year for the band fun.  Having two of 2012’s biggest hits in “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” this band has been propelled into the spotlight.  Amazingly, this band is actually really good.  There is a theatricality to their music that is reminiscent of Queen and Meat Loaf .  As I stated in my review of the record “What makes Some Nights work so well is that it feels epic while sounding bombastic and theatrical.  Fun. has mixed indie pop sensibilities with hip hop flare and classic rock theatrics to create an album that lives up to the band’s name.”


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