Top Ten List Revisited: 2012

NOTE: Posted the 2011 revision earlier today. Now I’m posting the 2012 one so I can post the 2013 list before Christmas. Hurray!

I made my 2012 list less than a year ago. Published it on January 3, 2013. How much could possibly change in less than a year? This list probably stands exactly as it was at the time, right? WRONG AGAIN, JACKASS! …sorry. I’m sure you’re great.

There are only minor changes. So let’s get to them.

What I listed at the time:

  1. Metric – Synthetica
  2. Bob Mould – Silver Age
  3. Foxy Shazam – The Church of Rock and Roll
  4. Aimee Mann – Charmer
  5. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
  6. Rush – Clockwork Angels
  7. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Lost Songs
  8. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
  9. Jay Gonzalez – Mess of Happiness
  10. Billy Talent – Dead Silence

REVISED Top Ten Records of 2009:


1. Metric – Synthetica

I don’t think I’ve listened to this as much this year as I’d imagined I would…but I still remember exactly how I felt the first time I heard it, and it still kind of blows me away how much I like it. So it stays at the top of the heap.

Favorite Tracks: “Artificial Nocturne,” “Breathing Underwater,” and “The Wanderlust”


2. Bob Mould – Silver Age

Still love this one too. Although in hindsight, I could’ve used a slightly louder vocal track for most of the record…but that’s a minor criticism on a record that delivers so well from track to track.

Favorite Tracks: “Star Machine,” “The Descent,” and “Angels Rearranging”


3. Stone Sour – House of Gold and Bones Part 1

Didn’t hear this one until this year…and holy SHIT was I missing out! Full-on metal with Corey Taylor more than occasionally slipping into full Slipknot-voice, but also containing sparse, introspective, beautifully arranged songs as well. Part one of a part-two concept piece (and if these lists prove nothing else, it’s that I love concept albums), the story is as good as the music. If you’re a metal fan, you kind of owe yourself this record.

Favorite Tracks: “Gone Sovereign,” “Absolute Zero,” and “Last of the Real”


4. Foxy Shazam – The Church of Rock and Roll

I haven’t listened to this very much since devouring it last year…but I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t think about it. This is a brilliant, brilliant, ridiculous, brilliant, balls-out, brilliant record. Think about what might happen if Queen went absolutely fucking insane and recorded it anyway. That’s about right.

Favorite Tracks: “I Like It” and “Holy Touch”


5. Aimee Mann – Charmer

Really gorgeous record from one of my favorite musicians. The songs stand up against anything else from her career and the arrangements are some of the best crafted Aimee’s ever done. Even if it’s not the first one I reach for on the shelf, it HAS remained on my iPhone all year, and I listen to it close to weekly. Not a lot of records I can say that about.

Favorite Tracks: “Labrador,” “Crazy Town,” and “Red Flag Diver”


6. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

This record is such a gift. No one ever would have thought that Leonard Cohen would still be making new records at this stage in his life and career…or if they did, they probably didn’t imagine they’d be any damn good…but this is a beautiful, atmospheric, and elegant recording.

Favorite Tracks: “Going Home” “Show Me the Place,” and “Darkness”


7. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

This record was some of the most fun I had last year and I still find myself coming back to it semi-regularly. Soulful and sublime, I’m glad the Shakes have been getting good attention from all the right people. Proud to have gotten on the bandwagon early.

Favorite Tracks: “Hold On,” “You Ain’t Alone,” and “Heartbreaker”


8. Rush – Clockwork Angels

Still an excellent record (though it did move down my list). The concept is loose at best (hence Neil’s–yikes–novelization of the piece), but the music is strong and the songs are catchy while still maintaining that classic Rush complexity. This one’s a BIG win from a band no critic thought would still be around at this point.

Favorite Tracks: “Caravan,” “BU2B,” and “The Wreckers”


9. Billy Talent – Dead Silence

Really, really fucking good. Punky, but not overly so. The shrieking vocals of their early releases have subsided, but in that transition the vocal melodies have become more refined. The musicianship seemed to take a MAJOR step forward on this one and each song seems to have its own, individual charm. No complaints about this one at all, and I’ve been popping it in my player pretty regularly.

Favorite Tracks: “Stand Up and Run,” “Don’t Count on the Wicked,” and “Show Me the Way”


10. The Shins – Port of Morrow

Somehow missed this one at the time. That’s a shame because it definitely belongs on this list. I think I’ve used the word “infectious” in one or two of these posts (but, fuck you, I’m not re-reading these things), and that’s a perfect word for this record. If you weren’t a Shins fan before, this album will make you one. That’s how it happened to me.

Favorite Tracks: “Simple Song” and “For a Fool”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jay Gonzalez – Mess of Happiness (It’s still great, but I was too over-excited about it last year. It’s an honorable mention, not a top ten.)
  • …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Lost Songs (Again, great record that I was just a little too excited about at the time, and actually belongs here.)
  • Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus really fucked up that title for him, didn’t she?)
  • Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game (Really good, but just not in the top 10.)
  • Mumford & Sons – Babel (Still really like it. But still really like the ones I listed better.)
  • OFF! – OFF! (Excellent, but so fast and in-your-face that it’s draining. Which maybe should’ve gotten it ON the list instead of keeping it OFF, now that I’m thinking of it…)
  • Corrosion of Conformity – Self-titled (GREAT sludgy release from a great metal band. Very old school and very, very good.)
  • Patterson Hood – Heat Lightening Rumbles in the Distance (Way better than the last DBT record.)
  • Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral (I still play this one regularly)
  • Heartless Bastards – Arrow (It’s good, but it’s sleepy. Could’ve used a few more rockers on there.)
  • Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio (Great, but Mike Love’s such a bastard I refuse to list it.)
  • Shooter Jennings – Family Man (A little too white-trash for my taste, but what works on it works REALLY well. Shooter’s a great voice, but I just don’t see eye-to-eye with some of what he said on this one.)
  • Circa Survive – Violent Waves (Really great release. Almost put it at #10, which would put it appropriately right next to Billy Talent…but just barely didn’t make the cut.)
  • Coheed & Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension (Excellent, but I like the follow-up from this year better so that kept this one in the honorable mentions.)
  • The Henry Clay People – Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives (Really great. They blaze through a bunch of songs as fast as they can and leave you wanting more.)

Get ready folks… 2013 was a BIG one.

Top Ten List Revisited: 2011

NOTE: I’m posting two lists today because I have stuff I want to post going into Christmas, so we’re getting these things DONE. Read ’em both. Or only one. Or read a damn book. It doesn’t really matter what you do. I’m still writing them.

2011 was a really, really good year and I’m really happy with the list I wrote at the time. It’s only changing because I’ve since bumped into a couple of records that were list-worthy that I missed…but I have no major regrets about the list as it stood then.

What I listed at the time:

(I unofficially listed 15, so I’ll list them all here.)

  1.  Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
  2. Flogging Molly – Speed of Darkness
  3. The Black Keys – El Camino
  4. Tom Waits – Bad As Me
  5. Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu
  6. Cake – Showroom of Compassion
  7. Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding
  8. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO
  9. Imelda May – Mayhem
  10. Deer Tick – Divine Providence
  11. Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz
  12. Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
  13. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Tao of the Dead
  14. Wilco – The Whole Love
  15. Old 97s – The Grand Theatre Vol. 2

REVISED Top Ten Records of 2009:


1. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

I absolutely stand by this being the best album of that year. It was so good I also wanted to list it as the best record of LAST year, and it’s still regularly hitting my player today. The accompanying documentary Grohl and the boys put out showing the history of the band leading into this record is definitely worth watching, as it provides a solid backing to support that this record was apparently as fun to make as it is to listen to. It’s solid from start to end without ever feeling like “just another Foos record.” This is the BEST Foos record. If you’ve always meant to get into the band but just never knew where to start–START HERE. It’s great.

Favorite Tracks: “Bridge Burning,” “Rope,” “Dear Rosemary,” “These Days,” And “Walk” (“Walk” is one of the best rock songs that has been written in decades. You NEED a copy of that song.)


2. Flogging Molly – Speed of Darkness

Really excellent record. Shows that Flogging Molly is more than just “one of those Irish punk bands…no not Dropkick Murphys…the OTHER one.” A true rock record, and you’d miss the Irishness of it if you weren’t specifically listening for it. (Well…except in the vocal track. You just can’t hide that accent!) A truly great listen that actually grows on you WHILE you’re listening to it the first time, and on multiple listens was a true contender for the record of the year. It ended up being second on my list…but just know that it’s a VERY CLOSE second.

Favorite Tracks: “Speed of Darkness,” “Don’t Shut ‘Em Down,” “The Power’s Out,” and “Rise Up”


3. Tom Waits – Bad As Me

“Whiskey over razor blades.” That’s the best way of describing Tom’s voice. And that’s part of why we love him. His words are more important than the delivery, but he found a delivery that’s wholly unique and he’s been honing it for decades…it was finally honed to the perfection, so he finally delivered a perfect album. A record that sounds like a New Orleans funeral march and a New York deli all at once. A growl worthy of death metal meets music that might’ve fallen right out of your favorite (Chicago) blues-bar, if a band that didn’t quite belong there was playing that night. It is, plainly, brilliant.

Favorite Tracks: “Chicago,” “Bad As Me,” and “Hell Broke Luce”


4. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

Frank Turner is kind of the British answer to Flogging Molly. Acoustic folk-punk. Sweary, atheistic, charming, angry, loud, and witty. And these songs will be stuck in your head for the rest of your life. Discovered this one in 2012 after Turner performed on Conan one night and immediately kicked myself for not finding it earlier. Knew by the end of his performance on the show that this one belonged on my 2011 list.

Favorite Tracks: “Peggy Sang the Blues,” “I Still Believe,” “I Am Disappeared,” and “Redemption”


5. Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu

I was championing this then and I’m championing it now. This SHOULD be regarded as the boldest move either of its creators has ever made. It is instead dismissed almost en-mass. When Lou Reed died this year, Lars Ulrich defended the project saying that he thought it would find its audience over time and that in 20 years everyone would be lying saying they loved it all along. Well, Lars…I actually HAVE.

Favorite Tracks: “The View,” “Iced Honey,” Frustration,” and “Junior Dad” (“Junior Dad” is one of the best songs Lou ever wrote, by the way.)


6. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare

It took me a while to come around and appreciate this one. It took a long time for me to get past the “Really, Alice? Back to the well?” factor. And that’s legitimate…but structurally, I maintain this record is probably actually BETTER than the original “Nightmare.” Blasphemy, I know. I guess I cam to appreciate it fully in the week leading up to seeing Alice and Iron Maiden in Chicago in 2012. Listened to it on the way there. And then a few more times. And then a few MORE times. And I don’t know why I didn’t have it on this list all along. Fun, funny, and with a story that actually makes some goddamn SENSE this time, this record is a must for all Alice fans.

Favorite Tracks: “Caffeine,” “Last Man on Earth,” “The Congregation,” “When Hell Comes Home,” and “I Gotta Get Outta Here”


7. CAKE – Showroom of Compassion

I wasn’t the biggest CAKE fan when they first roamed the earth, but I’m glad I fully got on board with this one. (Again, largely thanks to a Conan episode!) This one’s easily as good as what they were doing in the early part of their career. Immediately catchy and infectious. If you don’t have this record, I actually kind of feel bad for you. It might not be my number one record of that year, but it’s a damn fine listen. “Sick of You” belongs on everybody’s Springtime playlist forever.

Favorite Tracks: “Long Time,” “Mustache Man,” and “Sick of You”


8. Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding

Really great Brit-rock release. From the ashes of Oasis rose Beady Eye, and who knew I’d like it, since I kind of hate Oasis? Knocked my socks off. It’s not necessarily breaking new ground in the field of rock and roll, but it is breaking new ground for Liam. It’s a rock record that actually rocks. Good for him! (And, by the way, I’m extremely irritated that I haven’t been able to FIND the record they put out this year. If anybody sees it, pick it up for me and I’ll reimburse you.)

Favorite Tracks: “Four Letter Word,” “Beatles and Stones,” and “Three Ring Circus”


9. Black Keys – El Camino

Sunk significantly on my list, but it’s still a really good record…it’s just that when I think of it, I often can’t remember if it’s this record or their previous one. I like it, but it doesn’t stand out as unique for their band…it sounds like they made “Brothers” again. And that’s okay. “Brothers” is a damn fine record, and if I had the kind of success they had with that one, I’d try to recreate it too. They did a good job doing that…but maybe TOO good a job since I now can’t separate them in my mind anymore. Nevertheless, still Top Ten worthy.

Favorite Tracks: “Lonely Boy,” “Gold on the Ceiling,” and “Little Black Submarines”


10. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO

Hayes is a GREAT voice in country music. Trace Adkins, take note…THIS is how you don’t suck. (You suck, Trace. That’s what I’m saying.) Hayes provides a smart sense of humor with a gritty realism that produces some really outstanding lyrics against a backdrop of fun and at times soulful and even heart-rending country music. A real gem, just waiting to be discovered by mainstream country music. Unfortunately, country music has a lot of people pissing in the mainstream, so Hayes isn’t likely to be a household name…but he goddamn SHOULD be.

Favorite Tracks: “Stomp and Holler,” “Hard Out Here,” “KMAG YOYO,” and “Bottle in My Hand”

 Honorable Mentions:

  • Imelda May – Mayhem (Still love it. Just have to be in the mood for it.)
  • Deer Tick – Divine Providence (Kind of broke my heart to move this one off the list.)
  • Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz (Listened to it recently, and it’s still fantastic)
  • Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose (Grows on me more every time I hear it.)
  • …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Tao of the Dead (Still good, but not the one I reach for when I want to hear the band.)
  • Wilco – The Whole Love (Good…but to be honest, I don’t really need to hear it again.)
  • Old 97s – The Grand Theatre Vol. 2
  • Drive-By Truckers – Go Go Boots (Worst album they’ve ever made, but still better than most of the shit out there. A couple great songs, but a lot of misses.)
  • Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events (Fine. Not great.)
  • Steve Martin – Rare Bird Alert (GREAT bluegrass record)
  • Anthrax – Worship Music (GREAT return to form)
  • Chickenfoot III (Perfectly good, silly-assed rock and roll.)
  • Dropkick Murphys – Going Out in Style (Good, but repetitive)

2012 coming later tonight.  Or like a year ago.  Or something.  Shut up.