Ironically enough, I hate doing these lists. I didn’t do one last year because I couldn’t make up my mind in time and this year I seem to be having just as much trouble. You see, as new music discovery is a huge part of Dying Scene I spend a great deal of my time listening to those acts that are still vastly unknown, searching for the next band to spotlight, do a story for or even sign to Dying Scene Records. I love it, but it leaves me very little time to dedicate to the higher profile releases. Sure, I listen to those as well, but I rarely have the time to give the sleeper albums the 3 or 4 required listens often required for an album to work its way into something as prominent as a Top 10 list.
With that disclaimer in mind I think its also important I state that the top 5 releases in my list I am absolutely and passionately sure of. The bottom 5, on the other hand, I had a very hard time deciding on, let alone ordering. So, without further adieu I present to you my Top 10 Albums of 2012.
10. NOFX – “Self/Entitled”
To be honest, I’ve had the most trouble with the #10 slot on my list. There are literally a dozen albums that could all be more or less tied for the position but after some deep soul searching I decided to go with “Self/Entitled.” Since I’m admittedly still stuck a bit in the 90’s I’ve been disappointed with every NOFX album since “Punk In Drublic” and that comparison unfairly taints every one of their subsequent releases. Having said that, if I compare “Self/Entitled” to its modern day contemporaries, and not to an album released nearly 20 years ago, I believe it can stand proud in the year’s top 10.
9. The First Chairs – “Plastic & Prestige”
This EP was the debut release from the Wisconsin 7 piece ska outfit. It was musically quirky and vocally vehement enough to keep my interest for months and I’m very much looking forward to hearing a full-length from them. If you’re intrigued the album is free to download and stream right here.
8. The Roughneck Riot – “This Is Our Day”
We featured these guys on our “Too Punk To Folk” compilation before this album came out and as much as I liked the song we used, if I had access to the entire album there are probably 6 other songs I would have chosen above it – that’s just a testament to how solid the entire release is. I think I liked this one so much because its great straight up punk rock with an added layer of folky instruments to give it more depth and a hint of something different. You can stream the entire album here.
7. The Slaughterhouse Chorus – s/t
This band was actually the inspiration for doing the “Too Punk To Folk” compilation album. I had only heard their demo at the time and when the full-length came out it surpassed all expectations. Great folky, punk ‘n roll with enough variety between songs to keep your attention through the entire release. Hard to compare them to somebody else so do yourself a favor and stream the album here.
6. Propagandhi – “Failed States”
I’m not one of those Propagandhi-can-do-no-wrong fans. They’ve always been a hit or miss band for me. The songs of theirs that I like, I LOVE and there are a good number of their tunes that I deem unlistenable. “Failed States” is not an album I can listen to all the way through without wanting to hit skip a few times but the 5 or so songs that I do like on this release I literally can’t stop listening to. “Note To Self”, “Devil’s Creek”, “Unscripted Moment”, “Lotus Gate” and “Duplicate Keys Icaro” completely carried this album for me.
5. Sister Sin – “Now And Forever”
OK, so this album is more metal than punk but its definitely got a good amount of punk influence and to me it sounds like Tilt if Cinder Block had come up in the Gothenburg metal scene instead of the East Bay punk scene. Almost every song on “Now And Forever” is a fast paced, pissed off, metal/rock/punk (whatever) anthem that I’m now dying to see played live. If you at all like the old school metal sound of yesteryear I highly recommend you give this album a listen – start with the first single “End Of The Line“.
4. Strike Twelve – “Moonshine”
This is one of those anomaly albums where if you pull out any of the songs individually you’ll think they’re good but not necessarily epic (like a Propagandhi song, for example). Having said that, every single tune on “Moonshine” is fun as hell and collectively they make up one of the best releases of 2012. Its a “grower” too so give this album a spin 2 or 3 times to sink in and by then you’ll find every song has something that makes you look forward to hearing it again. Stream the album here.
3. Brendan Kelly And The Wandering Birds – “I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever”
I hate to admit this, lest I lose some punk rock cred, but I don’t LOVE The Lawrence Arms. When Brendan Kelly released this solo album I gave it a listen out of curiosity, dragged in by the catchy, albeit dark, “Suffer The Children, Come Unto Me” (I don’t know how anybody could not like that song). I was shocked to find I absolutely loved nearly every song on this album. For weeks I was obsessed with the release playing it for anybody I could corner for a few minutes. I wouldn’t call it punk because its not but it’s Brendan Kelly so I feel ok about that.
2. Yankee Brutal – “The Everlasting Greed”
This album is not at #2 because its on Dying Scene Records. The fact is, Dying Scene Records exists because this album is at #2. When I first heard “The Everlasting Greed” I was so blown away by how good it was that for the first and only time EVER I actually started emailing the people I knew at my favorite record labels telling them they NEEDED to sign Yankee Brutal. Not surprisingly, nobody paid a crazy blogger any attention when it came to signing new bands to their labels so I did what anybody else would do when faced with such a dilemma, I started my own damn label. If you like melodic hardcore in the vein of Strike Anywhere, No Trigger, or even Strung Out I can guarantee you will love this album. Don’t take me word for it though, listen to it here.
1. Pennywise – “All Or Nothing”
I’ve been a big Pennywise fan since “Unknown Road”, and even though I’ve also always liked Ignite, I had little faith that the band could stay relevant after the departure of Jim Lindberg. Man was I wrong. In spite of myself I absolutely loved this album and had to admit that it might even be my favorite Pennywise album. Yes, ever.