The Most Badass Riffs of 2012
- “Taree” | Soundgarden
- “Wish You Well” | Tremonti
- “Black Daze” | Overkill
- “Jack Staff” | Greenleaf
- “The Devil Takes Care of His Own” | Band of Skulls
There are two badass riffs in this song. Now, that’s just showing off.
Mark Tremonti is easily the most underrated guitarist of his generation.
A classic thrash riff from a classic thrash band. Bludgeoning and groovy (what?!).
One of those riffs that will stay with you for a very, very long time.
Jimmy Page called and he wants to congratulate you.
The Most Bitchin’ Guitar Solos of 2012
- “Blue Jean Blues” | Zodiac
- “See It on Your Side” | Dinosaur Jr.
- “Dislocated Boy” | Joe Bonamassa
- “Datzun” | Mangoo
- “Oceania” | The Smashing Pumpkins
Improving on the ZZ Top classic, these German retro-lovers add a balls-out blues shred that will give your pubes goosebumps.
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.
The opener of Bonamassa’s latest album has one of his usual jaw-droppers.
Finishing off a bonkers album can only be achieved with a bonkers song and an epic solo. Nodding towards the band at number 2.
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
- Tragic Idol | Paradise Lost
- Babel | Mumford & Sons
- Awoken Broken | Primal Rock Rebellion
- Helen Burns (EP) | Flea
- Noctourniquet | The Mars Volta
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
- “Sorrows of a Blue Eyed Liar” | Chris Robinson Brotherhood
- “Elephant in the Dock” | mewithoutYou
- “The Lion’s Roar” | First Aid Kit
- “My Love Is Winter” | The Smashing Pumpkins
- “Blue Wire” | Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
- “Without You” | Dark Dark Dark
- “Vibrato” | Paul Gilbert
- “Taree” | Soundgarden
- “Ghosts” | Communist Daughter
- “Make Me” | Fang Island
- “Stick a Toe in” | Dinosaur Jr.
- “Fire” | Delta Rae
- “Jack Staff” | Greenleaf
- “Cocoon” | Astra
- “Mainline” | Hot Water Music
- “It’s Not Because of You” | Witchcraft
- “Playlist” | Red Wanting Blue
- “Ho Hey” | The Lumineers
- “The Opposition | Ancient VVisdom
- “Hell Yeah!!” | St. Prostitute
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.
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.
I spent a whole Friday evening drinking beer and listening to this song earlier in the year. That’s all.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Both LPs and EPs are eligible;
- No compilations (except for merging of demos or two EPs into a full album);
- No covers or live albums (unless partial), which means Ulver’s fantastic covers album Childhood’s End had to be excluded;
- 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?
49- Psalms for the Dead | Candlemass
48- Koloss | Meshuggah
47- Blood Speaks | Smoke Fairies
46- All I Was | Tremonti
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
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
Hailing from: Athens, OH (USA)
You will like if you like: Counting Crows, Spin Doctors, Third Eye Blind
Choice cut: “Playlist”
43- Neverland | Mangoo
42- Resolution | Lamb of God
41- Apocryphon | The Sword
40- Good Morning Harakiri | Dwellers
Hailing from: Salt Lake City, UT (USA)
You will like if you like: Down, Sleep, Orange Goblin
Choice cut: “Black Bird”
39- Kadavar | Kadavar
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
37- The 2 Mousquetaires | The Inspector Cluzo
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
35- Driving Towards the Daylight | Joe Bonamassa
34- Carry the Fire | Delta Rae
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
32- The Graveltones – EP | The Graveltones
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
30- De Vermis Mysteriis | High on Fire
29- The Laughing Stock | Wovenhand
28- Clear Heart, Full Eyes | Craig Finn
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
26- A Eulogy for the Damned | Orange Goblin
25- I Bet on Sky | Dinosaur, Jr.
24- Boys & Girls | Alabama Shakes
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
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
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
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
19- A Joyful Noise | Gossip
18- Head Down | Rival Sons
17- While My Heart Beats | Jeff Ament
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
15- Vibrato | Paul Gilbert
14- Oceania | The Smashing Pumpkins
13- The Forgiven Ghost in Me | Scott Kelly & the Road Home
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
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
10- The Black Chord | Astra
9- Legend | Witchcraft
8- Honor Found in Decay | Neurosis
7- The Magic Door | Chris Robinson Brotherhood
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”
6- King Animal | Soundgarden
5- Who Needs Who | Dark Dark Dark
4- Ten Stories | mewithoutYou
3- Yellow & Green | Baroness
2- Manzanita | Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
1- Storm Corrosion | Storm Corrosion
Hailing from: n/a
You will like if you like: Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Caravan
Choice cut: “Hag”