Music Review of 2012

Shall we?

The Most Badass Riffs of 2012

  1. Taree” | Soundgarden
  2. There are two badass riffs in this song. Now, that’s just showing off.

  3. Wish You Well” | Tremonti
  4. Mark Tremonti is easily the most underrated guitarist of his generation.

  5. Black Daze” | Overkill
  6. A classic thrash riff from a classic thrash band. Bludgeoning and groovy (what?!).

  7. Jack Staff” | Greenleaf
  8. One of those riffs that will stay with you for a very, very long time.

  9. The Devil Takes Care of His Own” | Band of Skulls
  10. Jimmy Page called and he wants to congratulate you.

The Most Bitchin’ Guitar Solos of 2012

  1. Blue Jean Blues” | Zodiac
  2. Improving on the ZZ Top classic, these German retro-lovers add a balls-out blues shred that will give your pubes goosebumps.

  3. See It on Your Side” | Dinosaur Jr.
  4. You can pick any song from any Dino Jr. album and it will surely have a maniacally epic guitar solo by J Mascis. This is no exception.

  5. Dislocated Boy” | Joe Bonamassa
  6. The opener of Bonamassa’s latest album has one of his usual jaw-droppers.

  7. Datzun” | Mangoo
  8. Finishing off a bonkers album can only be achieved with a bonkers song and an epic solo. Nodding towards the band at number 2.

  9. Oceania” | The Smashing Pumpkins
  10. This is what you can do with a handful of notes and make them sound like there are a million of them.

The Most Headscratchingly Disappointing Albums of 2012

  1. Tragic Idol | Paradise Lost
  2. Dark even by their standards, Paradise Lost have definitely gone backwards here. Yes, they are bringing the goth back, but what set them apart from My Dying Bride and Anathema were great songwriting skills (all the more apparent when they played Draconian Times in its entirety earlier this year at London’s Kentish Town Forum). There is none of that creative spark here. They are still one of my all-time favourite bands, but this was just awful.

  3. Babel | Mumford & Sons
  4. Well, it was bound to happen. Sigh No More was an assured album full of great songs. The band got huge, expectations skyrocketed and they delivered … the exact same album. So, what’s the problem? Well, we all got a little bored with the previous songs already!

  5. Awoken Broken | Primal Rock Rebellion
  6. On paper this should never have worked … and it didn’! A guitarist from one of the greatest bands of all time and the vocalist of a shitty little band do not make a good album. Were they trying to be KoRn, Rammstein … Fear Factory?! Such a mess.

  7. Helen Burns (EP) | Flea
  8. I have no fucking idea what was going on here. Kudos for trying something different, but I think it misfired massively. The whole thing sounds like something you will hear in a dentist’s office.

  9. Noctourniquet | The Mars Volta
  10. Not really a bad album per se, but the stalling game that The Mars Volta have been playing lately is getting annoying. Remember how De-loused in the Comatorium sounded back then? We need more of that forward thinking. This is just another lateral step in the no-direction.

The Most Awesome Songs of 2012

  1. Sorrows of a Blue Eyed Liar” | Chris Robinson Brotherhood
  2. What happens when the Black Crowes’s vocalist teams up with one of the best songwriters around? Two albums, one of which contains the mother-of-all epic blues track. Tears, goosebumps, shudders … this song brings them all out of you. As soon as the slide guitar kicks in over the understated little riff, you know you’re in the presence of something special.

  3. Elephant in the Dock” | mewithoutYou
  4. This is gorgeous stuff and I was sure that I wouldn’t hear any song as good as this for the rest of the year (I was proven wrong, of course). If it doesn’t make you stop in your tracks and contemplate, then I would ask you to read the real story behind the song.

  5. The Lion’s Roar” | First Aid Kit
  6. I spent a whole Friday evening drinking beer and listening to this song earlier in the year. That’s all.

  7. My Love Is Winter” | The Smashing Pumpkins
  8. Similar in style to something out of Zwan’s one and only album, the Pumpkins turn on the “catchy” and “epic” buttons. This song is precisely why Billy Corgan is a great songwriter.

  9. Blue Wire” | Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
  10. The thing is, I could have picked any song from this album, more of which later. “Blue Wire” is a chill-out chamber jazz psychedelia at its best. Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean. And, you’re welcome.

  11. Without You” | Dark Dark Dark
  12. Before you say Amy Winehouse, slap yourself silly and listen to this with your eyes closed. You will hear the multiple layers and the subtle melodies. And that coda … Gypsy American jazz folk, anyone?

  13. Vibrato” | Paul Gilbert
  14. You gotta love Paul Gilbert for not writing guitar masturbations. “Vibrato” has funk written all over it – you know it’s great guitar-playing and songwriting at the same time. Cool-as-fuck and very, very memorable.

  15. Taree” | Soundgarden
  16. As mentioned above, the riffs do make this song what it is. When you factor in Chris Cornell’s vocals and a loose bluesy tempo, “Taree” easily becomes a vintage Soundgarden song. Welcome back, boys. We really missed you.

  17. Ghosts” | Communist Daughter
  18. This is how you open an album – have a song whose verses, bridges and choruses are interchangeable. Add some vivid imagery and a great hook, you’ve got a winner. Alt-country at its best.

  19. Make Me” | Fang Island
  20. Fang Island’s Weezer-meets-Cheap-Trick sound may get old after repeat listens, but there’s no denying the unadulterated simplicity of this song. Now, start high-fiving the person next to you as the band recommends and never wipe that smirk off your face.

  21. Stick a Toe in” | Dinosaur Jr.
  22. In pure Dino Jr. style they mash sweet, melodic bits with gloriously chaotic guitar parts and create a song that can easily be your reading music, a song that plays in your favourite pub, or while driving on a deserted road all by yourself.

  23. Fire” | Delta Rae
  24. I have a considerable contribution to this song’s play count on YouTube. And for good reason for a rousing performance and a goose bump-inducing song. And there’s a bass solo to boot!

  25. Jack Staff” | Greenleaf
  26. I’ve talked about the riff above. Now it’s time to talk about that chorus. You know, at some point in your life, you have hummed that melody in the shower. Or maybe when you were waiting for the train. Out jogging? Washing dishes? You must have. No? Oh well, you will.

  27. Cocoon” | Astra
  28. The opening track from Astra’s second album picks up where the first one left off. Epic just about sums up this song – a slow-building space rock instrumental that reaches a beautiful crescendo of some nifty guitar work.

  29. Mainline” | Hot Water Music
  30. Now this is what I call pop punk. Yes, it sounds like something Bad Religion wouldn’t even consider putting in one of their earlier albums, Hot Water Music open their new album with a balls-out rocker that will surely make you bob your head a little.

  31. It’s Not Because of You” | Witchcraft
  32. If you excuse the nonsensical lyrics, this is a reminder why you like music in the first place. Mixing pop rock the like of which Roxette used to make a living out of 20 years ago, a riff that would make Tony Iommi jealous and a chorus so infectious it needs to be quarantined, this should really make these guys HUGE.

  33. Playlist” | Red Wanting Blue
  34. A type of song that Counting Crows used to write in their sleep, “Playlist” belongs to the 1990s and I must admit it brings a slight hint of nostalgia hearing it now. This is from the first album I bought this year and it has in a way become the soundtrack to my year.

  35. Ho Hey” | The Lumineers
  36. Yes, I hear you – this is so fucking annoying. But as a pure pop song, it’s genius. The opening strum and the “ho”‘s and “hey”‘s will grab you by the neck and won’t leave you alone until you deliriously start singing it to the detriment of your vocal chords.

  37. The Opposition | Ancient VVisdom
  38. While it’s hard to take black metal seriously (I think it’s ridiculous), sometimes there are little gems that slip through the cracks. This acoustic ‘evil’ song is annoyingly catchy.

  39. Hell Yeah!!” | St. Prostitute
  40. Stupidly named these Danes may be and I am not convinced that they will dethrone Hardcore Superstar as Scandinavia’s premier glam metal band, but if they keep putting out tunes like this, they just might achieve that.

Top 50 Albums of 2012

These are the top 50 albums that I own that were released for the first time in either the UK or the USA, which means there will be an odd album that was released prior to 2011 in another part of the world. Quickly, the rules are:

  1. Both LPs and EPs are eligible;
  2. No compilations (except for merging of demos or two EPs into a full album);
  3. No covers or live albums (unless partial), which means Ulver’s fantastic covers album Childhood’s End had to be excluded;
  4. No re-releases, re-masters, or re-hashes … we are only dealing with original music from 2012.

So, without further ado, here they are:

50- A Brief Crack of Light | Therapy?

A Brief Crack of Light by Therapy? album cover

Hailing from: Belfast, Northern Ireland
You will like if you like: Black Flag, Soundgarden, Bad Religion
Choice cut:Get Your Dead Hand off My Shoulder
Blast from the past:Misery

49- Psalms for the Dead | Candlemass

Psalms for the Dead by Candlemass album cover

Hailing from: Stockholm, Sweden
You will like if you like: Cathedral, Solitude Aeternus, Trouble
Choice cut:Prophet
Blast from the past:Demons Gate

48- Koloss | Meshuggah

Koloss by Meshuggah album cover

Hailing from: Umeå, Sweden
You will like if you like: Between the Buried and Me, Strapping Young Lad, Atheist
Choice cut:Marrow
Blast from the past:Bleed

47- Blood Speaks | Smoke Fairies

Blood Speaks by Smoke Fairies album cover

Hailing from: Chichester, England
You will like if you like: Noah & the Whale, First Aid Kit, The Be Good Tanyas
Choice cut:The Three of Us
Blast from the past:Hotel Room

46- All I Was | Tremonti

All I Was by Tremonti album cover

Hailing from: Detroit, MI (USA)
You will like if you like: Alter Bridge, Black Spiders, Mustasch
Choice cut:Wishing Well

45- A Bit of Devil | Zodiac

A BIt of Devil by Zodiac album cover

Hailing from: Münster, Germany
You will like if you like: Graveyard, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin
Choice cut:Blue Jean Blues

44- From the Vanishing Point | Red Wanting Blue

From the Vanishing Point by Red Wanting Blue album cover

Hailing from: Athens, OH (USA)
You will like if you like: Counting Crows, Spin Doctors, Third Eye Blind
Choice cut:Playlist

43- Neverland | Mangoo

Neverland by Mangoo album cover

Hailing from: Turku, Finland
You will like if you like: Hawkwind, Spiritual Beggars, Ironweed
Choice cut:Datzun
Blast from the past:Blinders

42- Resolution | Lamb of God

Resolution by Lamb of God album cover

Hailing from: Richmond, VA (USA)
You will like if you like: Pantera, ShadowsFall, Killswitch Engage
Choice cut:Insurrection
Blast from the past:Redneck

41- Apocryphon | The Sword

Apocryphon by The Sword album cover

Hailing from: Austin, TX (USA)
You will like if you like: Sleep, High On Fire, Witchcraft
Choice cut:Arcane Montane
Blast from the past:The White Sea

40- Good Morning Harakiri | Dwellers

Good Morning Harakiri by Dwellers album cover

Hailing from: Salt Lake City, UT (USA)
You will like if you like: Down, Sleep, Orange Goblin
Choice cut:Black Bird

39- Kadavar | Kadavar

Kadavar by Kadavar album cover

Hailing from: Berlin, Germany
You will like if you like: Black Sabbath, Graveyard, Zodiac
Choice cut:Goddess of Dawn

38- Dark Roots of Earth | Testament

Dark Roots of Earth by Testament album cover

Hailing from: Oakland, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: Death Angel, Exodus, Slayer
Choice cut:True American Hate
Blast from the past:Souls of Black

37- The 2 Mousquetaires | The Inspector Cluzo

The 2 Mousquetaires by The Inspector Cluzo album cover

Hailing from: Mont-de-Marsan, France
You will like if you like: Naive New Beaters, Shaka Ponk, Dead Rock Machine
Choice cut: “Why a Vulgar French Band Cannot Play Shitty English Pop Music”

36- Lights out | Graveyard

Lights Out by Graveyard album cover

Hailing from: Gothenburg, Sweden
You will like if you like: The Sword, Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony
Choice cut:Goliath
Blast from the past:Hissingen Blues

35- Driving Towards the Daylight | Joe Bonamassa

Driving Towards the Daylight by Joe Bonamassa album cover

Hailing from: New Hartford, NY (USA)
You will like if you like: Papa Chubby, Jonny Lang, Stephen Dale Petit
Choice cut:Dislocated Boy
Blast from the past:The Ballad of John Henry

34- Carry the Fire | Delta Rae

Carry the Fire by Delta Rae album cover

Hailing from: Durham, NC (USA)
You will like if you like: The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Samantha Crain
Choice cut:Fire

33- The Lion’s Roar | First Aid Kit

The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit album cover

Hailing from: Stockholm, Sweden
You will like if you like: Emmylou Harris, Blackmore’s Night, Fairport Convention
Choice cut:The Lion’s Roar
Blast from the past:Hard Believer

32- The Graveltones – EP | The Graveltones

The Graveltones - EP by The Graveltones album cover

Hailing from: London, England
You will like if you like: The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Nazareth
Choice cut:Blamin’ It on You

31- Circles Around the Sun | Dispatch

Circles Around the Sun by Dispatch album cover

Hailing from: Middlebury, VT (USA)
You will like if you like: R.E.M. O.A.R., State Radio
Choice cut:Flag
Blast from the past:Two Coins

30- De Vermis Mysteriis | High on Fire

De Vermis Mysteriis by High on Fire album cover

Hailing from: Oakland, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: Sleep, Mastodon, The Sword
Choice cut:Madness of an Architect
Blast from the past:Snakes for the Divine

29- The Laughing Stock | Wovenhand

The Laughing Stalk by Wovenhand album cover

Hailing from: Denver, CO (USA)
You will like if you like: 16 Horsepower, O’Death, Jay Munly
Choice cut:Maize
Blast from the past:Dirty Blue

28- Clear Heart, Full Eyes | Craig Finn

Clear Heart Full Eyes by Craig Finn album cover

Hailing from: Boston, MA (USA)
You will like if you like: The Hold Steady, Heartless Bastards, Neal Casal
Choice cut:Apollo Bay

27- Arrow | Heartless Bastards

Arrow by Heartless Bastards album cover

Hailing from: Cincinnati, OH (USA)
You will like if you like: The Hold Steady, The Black Keys, Soledad Brothers
Choice cut:Parted Ways
Blast from the past:Brazen

26- A Eulogy for the Damned | Orange Goblin

A Eulogy for the Damned by Orange Goblin album cover

Hailing from: London, England
You will like if you like: Spiritual Beggars, Monster Magnet, The Sword
Choice cut:The Fog
Blast from the past:Some You Win, Some You Lose

25- I Bet on Sky | Dinosaur, Jr.

I Bet On Sky by Dinosaur Jr. album cover

Hailing from: Amherst, MA (USA)
You will like if you like: Pixies, The Lemonheads, The Melvins
Choice cut:Stick a Toe in
Blast from the past:Pick Me up

24- Boys & Girls | Alabama Shakes

Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes album cover

Hailing from: Birmingham, AL (USA)
You will like if you like: Heartless Bastards, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin
Choice cut:Hang Loose

23- Lions & Lambs – EP | Communist Daughter

Lions & Lambs - EP by Communist Daughter album cover

Hailing from: Minneapolis, MN (USA)
You will like if you like: Halloween, Alaska, The Hopefuls, Kid Dakota
Choice cut:Ghosts

22- Sorrow and Extinction | Pallbearer

Sorrow and Extinction by Pallbearer album cover

Hailing from: Little Rock, AR (USA)
You will like if you like: Electric Wizard, Sleep, King Diamond
Choice cut:Devoid of Redemption

21- Sweet Sour | Band of Skulls

Sweet Sour by Band of Skulls album cover

Hailing from: Southampton, England
You will like if you like: The White Stripes, The Kills, Dead Weather
Choice cut:Wanderluster

20- (Mankind) the Crafty Ape | Crippled Black Phoenix

(Mankind) The Crafty Ape by Crippled Black Phoenix album cover

Hailing from: Bristol, England
You will like if you like: Pink Floyd, This Will Destroy You, Long Distance Calling
Choice cut:A Letter Concerning Dogheads
Blast from the past:444

19- A Joyful Noise | Gossip

A Joyful Noise by Gossip

Hailing from: Olympia, WA (USA)
You will like if you like: Noisettes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric
Choice cut:Melody Emergency
Blast from the past:Standing in the Way of Control

18- Head Down | Rival Sons

Head Down by Rival Sons album cover

Hailing from: Los Angeles, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: Free, Led Zeppelin, Rose Hill Drive
Choice cut:Keep on Swinging
Blast from the past:Young Love

17- While My Heart Beats | Jeff Ament

While My Heart Beats by Jeff Ament album cover

Hailing from: Havre, MT (USA)
You will like if you like: Tres Mts., Pearl Jam, Mark Lanegan Band
Choice cut: “When the Fire Comes”

16- The Electric Age | Overkill

The Electric Age by Overkill album cover

Hailing from: Old Bridge, NJ (USA)
You will like if you like: Anthrax, Flotsam & Jetsam, Exodus
Choice cut:Come and Get It
Blast from the past:Fuck You

15- Vibrato | Paul Gilbert

Vibrato by Paul Gilbert

Hailing from: Carbondale, IL (USA)
You will like it if you like: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson
Choice cut:Vibrato
Blast from the past:Spaceship One

14- Oceania | The Smashing Pumpkins

Oceania by The Smashing Pumpkins album cover

Hailing from: Chicago, IL (USA)
You will like if you like: Zwan, Marcy Playground, Blind Melon
Choice cut:My Love Is Winter
Blast from the past:Bullet with Butterfly Wings

13- The Forgiven Ghost in Me | Scott Kelly & the Road Home

The Forgiven Ghost In Me by Scott Kelly & the Road Home album cover

Hailing from: Oakland, CA
You will like if you like: Steve Von Till, Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Cash
Choice cut:The Sun Is Dreaming in the Soul

12- The Thousandfold Epicentre | The Devil’s Blood

The Thousandfold Epicentre by The Devil's Blood album cover

Hailing from: Eindhoven, Netherlands
You will like if you like: Blood Ceremony, Ghost, Jefferson Airplane
Choice cut:On the Wings of Gloria

11- Cabin by the Sea | The Dirty Heads

Cabin By the Sea by The Dirty Heads album cover

Hailing from: Huntington Beach, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Choice cut:Disguise
Blast from the past:Lay Me Down

10- The Black Chord | Astra

The Black Chord by Astra album cover

Hailing from: San Diego, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: Pink Floyd, Ozric Tentacles, King Crimson
Choice cut:Cocoon
Blast from the past:The Weirding
Astra band photo

9- Legend | Witchcraft

Legend by Witchcraft album cover

Hailing from: Örebro, Sweden
You will like if you like: The Sword, Spirit Caravan, Grand Magus
Choice cut:It’s Not Because of You
Blast from the past:Lady Winter
Witchcraft band photo

8- Honor Found in Decay | Neurosis

Honor Found in Decay by Neurosis album cover

Hailing from: Oakland, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: ISIS, Shrinebuilder, Tool
Choice cut:At the Well
Blast from the past:Through Silver in Blood
Neurosis band photo

7- The Magic Door | Chris Robinson Brotherhood

The Magic Door by Chris Robinson Band album cover

Hailing from: Los Angeles, CA
You will like if you like: Hazy Malaze, The Black Crowes, The Derek Trucks Band
Choice cut:Sorrows of a Blue-Eyed Liar
Chris Robinson Brotherhood band photo

6- King Animal | Soundgarden

King Animal by Soundgarden album cover

Hailing from: Seattle, WA (USA)
You will like if you like: Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath, Audioslave
Choice cut:Taree
Blast from the past:Outshined
Soundgarden band photo

5- Who Needs Who | Dark Dark Dark

Who Needs Who by Dark Dark Dark album cover

Hailing from: Minneapolis, MN (USA)
You will like if you like: Beirut, Smoke Fairies, Breathe Owl Breathe
Choice cut:Without You
Blast from the past:Something for Myself
Dark Dark Dark band photo

4- Ten Stories | mewithoutYou

Ten Stories by mewithoutYou album cover

Hailing from: Philadelphia, PA (USA)
You will like if you like: Neil Young, O’Death, Talking Heads
Choice cut:Elephant in the Dock
Blast from the past:I’m a Sweater Poorly Knit
mewithoutYou band photo

3- Yellow & Green | Baroness

Yellow & Green by Baroness album cover

Hailing from: Atlanta, GA (USA)
You will like if you like: Mastodon, A Storm of Light, Kylesa
Choice cut:Cocainium
Blast from the past:A Horse Called Golgotha
Baroness band photo

2- Manzanita | Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

Manzanita by Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound album cover

Hailing from: Los Angeles, CA (USA)
You will like if you like: Dead Meadow, Sleepy Sun, White Owl
Choice cut:Blue Wire
Blast from the past:Two Birds
Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound band photo

1- Storm Corrosion | Storm Corrosion

Storm Corrosion by Storm Corrosion

Hailing from: n/a
You will like if you like: Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Caravan
Choice cut:Hag
Storm Corrosion band photo

By The Bru

Beholder of films, headbanger of music, devourer of books, wanderer of the world.

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