Friday, January 11, 2013

Best of 2012

Another year down the tubes and, in the case of 2012, I say good riddance to bad mojo. Personally speaking, it was a nasty dickish suminabitch to get through (career-wise, anyway) and I'm happy to have it in the rearview mirror. Musically speaking, however, it was pretty damn awesome. A whole fleet of new bands appeared to give hope for the future, and a number of old faves reappeared as well.

The Un-Herd wheelhouse was particularly well-served in 2012. So much so, in fact, that a simple Top 30 can't contain all the albums that deserve end-of-the-year attention, so I've also made a non-ranked list of honorable mentions - and in the weeks ahead I'll try to write up reviews of as many of these great albums as possible. Thanks, as always, to the bands and artists - and if you find something you like, please support 'em! I'll offer purchasing options at the end of each review.

The Un-Herd Music Top 30 of 2012

1. Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll

Exploding with ideas, strafing hooks and demented debauchery in every direction, this album made good on the band's unbelievable live show. Full review

2. My Jerusalem - Preachers

A new kind of cosmic American music, incorporating strains of 80s goth and 90s alt.rock along with the more expected folk and Americana. Full review

3. Ian Hunter & the Rant Band - When I'm President

The one elder statesman who truly delivered. Profound, pissed-off, and still tapped into the rock 'n' roll source. Full review

3. Pilgrims - It's Not Pretty

Desperate in the best way, it sounds like it took as long to record as it took the band to run through a first take, and at the same time it sounds like a buncha guys putting it all on the line, reaching for the moon and stars, and taking a shot at greatness. Full Review

 5. Needles//Pins - 12:34

The brittle concision of Pink Flag meets the pure pop instincts of Singles Going Steady. Garage trash that hits the sweet spot. Full review

6. Nick Waterhouse - Time's All Gone

Nick Waterhouse starts with a foundation of 50s rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm ‘n’ blues, tosses in some soul and a modern eye to cool, and comes up with something that struts more than it rocks. Full review

 7. Devin - Romancing

A collection of fairly straightforward and conventional rock & roll, distinguished by the excellence of the songwriting and Devin's impossible rasp.

8. Salim Nourallah - Hit Parade

Nourallah knows his way around the Beatles-esque hook, no doubt, but he also knows how to play against that hook with surprising arrangement touches. The end result is power pop that transcends its own genre. Full review

 9. Archie Powell & the Exports - Great Ideas in Action

Brainy powerchord pop with hooks that dig a little deeper every play. Archie Powell may not challenge the poppunkrockwhatever paradigm in any meaningful way, but he does manage to inject these songs with his unerring sense of dynamics. Full review

 10. Blackfoot Gypsies - On the Loose

Whenever someone rhymes "baby" with "don't mean maybe" you know they're not trying to challenge tradition, which is just as well here because these guys sound a whole lot like ’65 Dylan fronting ’65 Stones. Some things you can't improve on. Full review

11. Chris Devotion & the Expectations - Amalgamation & Capital
12. Erin Costelo - We Can Get Over Full review
13. Budokan - Spin a Little Gold
14. Nude Beach - II Full review
15. Hacienda - Shakedown
16. Wanderlust - Record Time Full review
17. Oh Mercy - Deep Heat Full review
18. Waves of Fury - Thirst Full review
19. Yukon Blonde - Tiger Talk Full review
20. The White Wires - WWIII

21. Electric Guest Mondo
22. Shovels and Rope O Be Joyful
23. Caroline & the Treats Saturday Night Rock & Roll
24. New Electric Sound New Electric Sound
25. Justin Townes Earle Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
26. Divine Fits A Thing Called Divine Fits
27. The Walkmen Heaven
28. AC Newman Shut Down The Streets
29. Diamond Dogs Set Fire To It All
30. The Connection Connection Collection

 Honorable Mentions:

Spencer P. Jones Spencer P. Jones & the Nothing Butts
The Breakups Running Jumping Falling Shouting
Various Cruelties Various Cruelties
One Like Son Start the Show
Kid Koala 8 Bit Blues
Kurt Baker Brand New Beat
Tim Rogers Rogers Sings Rogerstein
Two Wounded Birds Two Wounded Birds
Alabama Shakes Boys and Girls
Steve Adamyk Band Forever Won't Wait
Crusaders of Love Take It Easy... But Take It
Howler America Give Up
Bare Wires Idle Dreams
Prima Donna Bless This Mess
Chuck Prophet Temple Beautiful
Natural Child For The Love of the Game
Honeymoon Stallions Honeymoon Stallions
Stag Chameleon
Jimmy Cliff Rebirth
Successful Failures Here I Am
The Undecided by Default Totally Undecided
Lissy Trullie Lissy Trullie
The Living Deadbeats Living Deadbeats
Throwback Suburbia Shot Glass Souvenir
Chelle Rose Ghost of Browder Holler


Tsar The Dark Stuff
The Sharks Leave Me Alone/ Pop! Punk!/ Good Ecstasy/ Burn London Down
The Van Buren Boys Hit It Quick
Eli "Paperboy" Reed Meets The Pepperpots Time and Place
The Dahlmanns Dumb Me Down
Dum Dum Girls End of Daze

And, finally, here's a mix of the top 20. I've thrown in a couple extra tracks from #s 21-30 as well.

There Was A Time When I Used To Care 

1. Foxy Shazam Holy Touch
2. My Jerusa1em Preachers
3. 1an Hunter When I'm President
4. Pi1grims Snow Storm
5. Need1es//Pins I Heart Your Drugs
6. Nick Waterhouse I Can Only Give You Everything
7. Devin You're Mine
8. Salim Noura11ah Everybody Knows
9. Archie Powe11 & the Exports I Need Supervision
10. B1ackfoot Gypsies Been Down This Road
11. Chris Devotion & the Expectations The Girl Is Leaving
12. Erin Coste1o Let It Go
13. Budokan You Don't Stop Lovin' The Band
14. Nude Beach The Endless Night
15. Hacienda Don't Keep Me Waiting
16. Wander1ust Lou Reed
17. Oh Mercy Drums
18. Waves of Fury I Don't Know What To Make of Your Fucked-Up Friends
19. Yukon B1onde Oregon Shores
20. The White Wires Down on My Own
21. Shove1s and Rope O' Be Joyful
22. E1ectric Guest This Head I Hold
23. New E1ectric Sound What If I Disappear
24. The Sharks Bye Bye Baby