TOP 12 ALBUMS OF 2012
A ridiculous lack of activity on this blog over the past year...time is of the essence with a one year old daughter and it's been hard to update this as much as I would like. That said, I am still keeping somewhat up to date with new sounds, so here goes...not as in depth as last year, but here's my 12 of 2012:
1. Alt-J - on first listen to 'An Awesome Wave', I was quite inspired by the funky little melodies and almost lazy vocals. Mellow yet encapsulating. In fact, the day I first listened to them was the day they were awarded the Mercury Music Prize. This kind of music isn't usually "my bag", but it's a constant on my playlist and I look forward to seeing this Leeds foursome when they visit NYC in April.
2. Jake Bugg - is a young man that strikes me as a teen troubadour who has the pipes to match his poetic lyrics. He conveys a maturity and sensitivity way beyond his years with many songs portraying the struggles and challenges in life (many which he is yet to face). It's Dylan, Elvis, Everly Brothers and Oasis rolled in to one with astounding success. I had the pleasure of seeing a performance from Bugg earlier this month at Bowery Ballroom and it was impressive to say the least. Keen to see more from this young Robin Hood.
3. The XX - Co-Exist isn't quite as good as the bands debut album for me, but very solid nonetheless. It's more sultry and yes, even more chilled than before. The opener, 'Angels' defines the mood of the album and tracks like, 'Missing' really hit the spot. It's like old school Massive Attack.
4. Alabama Shakes - delivered the first album that I purchased in 2012, 'Boys & Girls' which was drawing wide acclaim (particularly in the US music press). The four piece from Alabama certainly have that distinct southern sound to their music and lead vocalist, Brittany Howard has a rasping voice that sends chills down your spine. Somewhere in the Tina Turner/Janis Joplin mold (if you can imagine such a mix). Heartbreaker is somewhere in the Adele/Aretha Franklin range...there really is a varied offering.
5. Tame Impala - I am late to the game with the Australian rock psychedelia offering, but glad I finally cottoned on with their latest album, 'Lonerism'. Hard to pin them down...I mean I hear a huge influence of, The Beatles (Sgnt Pepper era), but there is a lot of other stuff in there. Elephant is a bass laden as it gets and more in the glam rock realm. Rolling Stone and NME awarded this their album of 2012, so I'm in decent company.
6. Holy Esque - are an unsigned band from Glasgow, Scotland that few reading this will ever have heard. I encourage you to give it a listen here - https://soundcloud.com/holyesque It's raw, raucous and really puts me in mind of Irish rockers, The Undertones and their lead man, Fergal Sharkey. I really hope to hear more from this band of which their is very little published at the moment.
7. Muse - a firm favourite of mine since I bought, Origin of Symmetry many moons ago (2001 to be precise). They are a class act, a joy to watch live and continue to churn out quality albums time after time. Supremacy kicks off, '2nd Law' in aggressive fashion with an enticing bass riff and a sound that sounds like the beginning of a Sci-Fi blockbuster, while, 'Panic Station' is like a Bowie/Queen amalgamation.
8. Ben Howard - I have clearly mellowed somewhat with the birth of my first child. This singer in the same ilk as Jack Johnson and more so, Damien Rice has some excellent tunes for those down days...that's really the only criticism...it's all a little down. Worth looking up his cover of that head grinding, summer phenomenon that was, 'Call me Maybe'. The pick of the album for me is, 'Black Flies', but if you want something more punchy, 'Keep your head Up' is the go to.
9. Jack White - is unquestionably once of the most talented front men of the 21st Century...everything he touches turns to gold e.g. The White Stripes, Raconteurs, The Dead Weather. His solo venture is no different and harks back to Jack of the past with a raw, rip roaring, guitar crunching 'Sixteen Saltines' that strikes all the right chords and a dirty, bluesy number in, 'I'm Shakin''. Some slower melodies on this album too, but I prefer Jack the rocker.
10. Bloc Party - have grown on me in recent years. It took me a while to 'buy in' to the hype when they burst on to the UK music scene in 2005 with 'Silent Alarm', but I loved, 'Intimacy' and having seen them live a couple of times, Bloc Party and front man, Kele are well worth a watch/listen. 'Four' is coincidentally the bands fourth offering...a couple of band members went off to do their own things in 2009...I am glad they are back with some cracking guitar music...'Octopus' my pick from this album.
11. The Vaccines - hugely popular following their debut in 2011, 'Come of Age' is the bands second album in as many years and continues where the band left on. The English version of The Strokes is a fairly accurate description of these London indie kids. There's nothing new here, but it's a pretty compulsive listen nonetheless with decent lyrics and solid tunes to accompany them.
12. Bob Dylan - what's to say about this man. Scores of albums and decades of songs behind him and he's still doing it and producing great music. It's maybe not quite a 'Highway 61' or 'Blonde on Blonde', but there's a place for this album in any music collection.
Looking forward to a new Daft Punk, Beady Eye, The Black Angels, Eminem, The Courteeners, The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age and more in 2013.