Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kent Rock's Top 25 Albums of 2012

Well another year of record purchasing has come to an end. There were some surprises and some let downs but for the most part it, artists released the product I had anticipated. I'll keep this short as JJ pretty much covered the year. We definitely grew tired of writing the standard review. I like JJ, also purchased some 40 new albums this year. It's interesting to see where we agree, where JJ is wrong haha and how our duplicates appear in their pecking order.

Again I will keep this short and sweet as JJ pretty much nailed the how the year went.

The biggest surprise for me went to Serena Ryder for her work on 'Harmony'. Serena Ryder is an artist I always assumed I wouldn't dig. My bad there. She's great.

My favourite find of the year was Del Barber. Del was an artist I discovered at the Regina Folk Festival with two albums in his back catalogue and a new one 'Headwaters' all of which are impeccable.

My biggest disappointment should have been obvious. I liked their first album in the mid 90's but had written their following albums off as crap. When they came back with a new album after a ten year hiatus I had hoped Matchbox Twenty had grown up and put out an adult record that was going to be fresh. Turns out 'North' was everything I hoped it wasn't going to be. Worst album of the year. I do embarrassingly like the drums in their single 'She's So Mean' but that alone can't save the record let alone the album. I should have known, I admit.

Other albums that should have impressed but I felt just simply missed the mark was The Darkness' 'Hotcakes' and Soundgarden's 'King Animal'. Soundgarden's single 'Been Away Too Long' fires on all cylinders but the rest of it just kind of blends in like wallpaper to me. The Darkness has some ripping tracks musically but vocally it just never seems to match up and doesn't get me off.

Best ep's go to The Biters for 'Last of a Dying Breed' and the self titled Lifetakers record.

Best album that came out last year but just discovered this year is 'Killin' Uncle Buzzy' by Travis Meadows

So without further ado this is how I thought the year went down.

1. Lucero – Women & Work
2. The LustKillers – That Which Does Not Kill Us…
3. Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
4. Del Barber – Headwaters
5. Serena Ryder – Harmony
6. Mumford & Sons – Babel
7. Pink - The Truth About Love
8. Hey! Hello!
9. The Cadillac Black
10. Soul Asylum – Delayed Reaction
11. Justin Townes Earle – Nothing Is Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
12. Billy Talent – Dead Silence
13. The Wooden Sky – Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun
14. Holly McNarland – Run Body Run
15. Redd Kross – Researching The Blues
16. Zac Brown Band – Uncaged
17. Danko Jones – Rock and Roll is Black and Blue
18. JD McPherson – Signs + Signifiers
19. The Lumineers
20. Matt Mays – Coyote
21. JJ Voss – Show Em Who’s Voss
22. Jack White – Blunderbuss
23. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
24. Our Lady Peace – Curve
25. Corb Lund – Cabin Fever

Sunday, December 23, 2012

JJ's Top 25 Albums of 2012

Well, ladies and gents, 2012 is almost a wrap so it's time to look back at the year that was in music.  2012 definitely wasn't the most prolific year for myself and my fellow Spunster Kent.  It's been about half a year since our lost blog post so we sure won't be winning the "Hardest Working Bloggers in Show Biz" award any time soon.  I can't speak for Kent, but I kind of got bored with doing traditional music reviews so I gave up blogging for a bit.  I'm still a huge music geek, but after a while you can only use so many adjectives to describe a punk album or a folk album.  As well, we live in the world of Twitter where people only read tidbits of information in sound-bite form, so brevity is key these days.

That being said, it's always fun to reflect on the past year and compile my year-end list.  It gives me a chance to revisit some albums I forgot about and reaffirm how great albums are that I never got sick of.  As well, I feel I would be doing the world a serious disservice by not sharing my impeccable taste in music.  :-)

I didn't buy as many albums this year as I have in prior years so I'm sure I'm missing out on some incredible music.  I think I "only" bought 40 albums or so this year, which is pretty slack by my standards.  I'm sure if I gave the Japandroids, Fiona Apple, Hannah Georgas and Regina's own Bystanders a full spin or two that they'd be on this prestigious list.

2012 saw Bruce Springsteen release one of his best albums almost 40 years after his debut album.  Wrecking Ball easily stands next to Nebraska, The Rising, Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born to Run in Bruce's canon.  Leonard Cohen released an album that sounds like his last will and testament.  However, if this is indeed his last album, Cohen sounds triumphant and is at the top of his game, as anyone who saw him in Saskatoon will attest.  Metric released their best batch of tunes and their fellow Broken Social Scenesters Stars delivered another fine piece of work.  Green Day released three topnotch albums with tons of hooks and nary any filler.  Not too shabby for 37 songs.  After two rock operas, it's nice to see Green Day get back to basics and focus on short, fun bursts of power-pop-punk.

My biggest disappointment of 2012 was Jack White's Blunderbuss.  I was a huge White Stripes fan and was pretty stoked for this album but I just couldn't get into it.  It's far from horrible, but considering it's Jack White, I was left a little underwhelmed.  Maybe Jack will knock it out of the park with his next project.  As well, The Killers really dropped the ball with Battle Born.  I really wanted to like this album but Brandon Flowers and company forgot to bring actual songs to this huge sounding album.  Maybe next time.

My biggest pleasant surprise of 2012 was Van Halen's A Different Kind of Truth.  It may be partially due to nostalgia, but it was nice to see Diamond Dave and Eddie back together on record.  The fact that they didn't shit the bed with this album is a minor miracle.  At 15 songs, there is indeed a bit of filler, but songs like "She's The Woman" rock hard.  Now, it would've been nice to see Michael Anthony's bass and background vocals on the album to make it a full reunion but I guess you have to take what you can get.  That being said, Van Halen did the unthinkable and released a good album at this stage of the game and that made my inner 10 year old self a happy camper.

Anyhoo, without further ado, here is what tickled my musical fancy this past year.  Enjoy!

Best Reissues

R.E.M. - Document
Sugar - Copper Blue
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

JJ's Top 25 Albums of 2012

1. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
2. Metric - Synthetica
3. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
4. Green Day - ¡Uno!
5. Whitehorse - The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss
6. Serena Ryder - Harmony
7. Garbage - Not Your Kind of People
8. Stars - The North
9. Lindi Ortega - Cigarettes & Truckstops
10. The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten
11. Corb Lund - Cabin Fever
12. Green Day - ¡Dos!
13. Rah Rah - The Poet's Dead
14. Billy Talent - Dead Silence
15. The Lumineers - The Lumineers
16. Our Lady Peace - Curve
17. Of Monsters And Men - My Head Is An Animal
18. Chad Kichula - A Fire
19. Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll
20. Green Day - ¡TrĂ©!
21. Imperial Teen - Feel the Sound
22. JJ Voss - Show 'Em Who's Voss
23. Mumford & Sons - Babel
24. P!nk - The Truth About Love
25. Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth