It’s that time of year again. Time for entertainment journalists, amateur and professional alike, to put on our self-important hats and present you, dear readers, with our thoughts on the year that is coming to a close. I find “Best of the year” lists to be rather insulting due to their very existence being overwhelmingly subjective by nature, so here are my thoughts on my favorite music of 2012.
By all accounts (or at least by my own accounts), 2012 was a solid-not-stellar year for music. 2011 contained a lot of albums that are still in regular rotation in my collection; 2012 has had a small handful that have maintained a spot in my regular rotation since their release (Exister and Handwritten especially), a few more that took a little while to grow on me (which is always a good thing), and a larger handful that, while solid, are almost interchangeable in their spots on this list. Also, as per usual, I’ve kept my list here exclusively to bands that we cover here at Dying Scene. If you’re interested in a wider palate, don’t sleep on Acts by RNDM, Drugs N Hymns by Rocco Deluca, Neck Of The Woods by Silversun Pickups, Mutt by Cory Branan, Silver Age by the immortal Bob Mould, Blunderbuss by the inimitable Jack White and The House That Jack Built by Jesca Hoop.
Alright, enough rambling. Here‘s my list…and by all means, use the comment section to remind me how much it sucks.
I limit my list to only full-length, studio albums. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the crap out of all five Dave Hause 7-inches, the Shell Corporation EP and the split they did with The Mighty Fine, and Big Awesome’s Birdfeeder. Others that were just outside the top ten were Riverboat Gamblers‘ The Wolf You Feed, No Trigger’s Tycoon and Run, Forever’s Settling. Oh, and Dikembe’s Broad Shoulders. And Red Collar’s Welcome Home which I think came out on vinyl this year, so it counts. Look ’em up.
10. Dogjaw – Pilot
Told ya, Tim!
9. Let Me Run – MAD/SAD
Melody driven punk rock from New Jersey, though it owes as much to Samiam and No Motiv as to The Gaslight Anthem and Bouncing Souls.
8. The Bogarts – Nothing To Call Our Own
How these guys aren’t signed and pressing this album for the masses is truly beyond me.
7. Pentimento – self-titled
The best free, self-released album of the year. Panic Records’ loss is your gain.
6. Pennywise – All Or Nothing
Really wasn’t sure what to expect with a new singer, but Zoli really breathed some new life into the band. It’ll be interesting to see what Jim’s return means going forward.
5. Make Do And Mend – Everything You Ever Loved
Apparently I was asleep most of the year and totally forgot this album came out until last month. I’m a moron. It’s really, really effing good. There’s a quote for the ol’ PR page, fellas.
4. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves – Canyons
The HWM co-frontman’s self-titled first solo album was good, not great. The melodies here are tighter, ballsier and grittier than before. Should HWM go on one of those extended hiatuses again, hopefully they’ll hit the road outside Gainesville.
3. Brendan Kelly & The Wandering Birds – I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever
Here’s one of those releases that I liked at first, but gets better and better with every successive listen. It’s funny, creepy, bold, dirty, ballsy, brash…and totally awesome. Oh, Mom, you may wanna skip this one.
2. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool Pearl Jam fan since 1991, and have loved everything in their catalog up until the last record (Backspacer, if you’re interested). Handwritten is everything that Backspacer could have been. A punk album? Probably not. An awesome rock-and-roll record that draws on three decades of inspiration? Damn right.
1. Hot Water Music – Exister
I’m admittedly not a Hot Water Music fan from “back in the day.” Personally, I’m not a particularly big fan of their first couple albums, which will undoubtedly piss off the Jaded Punk Hulks of the world. That said, I loved Exister from the first time that I heard the bombastic opening notes of “Mainline,” the album’s opening track. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that I do not like about the album. The sound is varied enough to withstand thirteen tracks with little repetition. “State of Grace” and “Drag My Body” are not only two of my favorite tracks from the HWM catalog, but arguably two of my favorite songs by anybody, anywhere.