Earlier last week I asked my good buddy Big Money if I could contribute a list of my Top Albums of 2012. Being the good guy that he is, he said sure, I’m sure they figured if nothing else my list would be good for a laugh around the Popblerd offices! Well the joke is on me. When going through my list of albums I found that I only purchased 10 new CD’s this year! That’s right, just 10. While researching these albums I realized something else as well. In previous years when I was doing this kind of list, either for Popblerd or Facebook or the publication of the music distributor I worked for in another lifetime my list was populated by names that were (in my humble opinion) shaking the very foundation of music, the type of bands that maybe weren’t well known but were pushing the boundaries of music and art themselves—names like Boards of Canada, Cevin Key, Carbon Based Lifeform, Ozric Tentacles, I could go on but you get the point. Now though, my lists are mainly blues rock based acts who are either continuing a course they began long ago or pushing a style no longer considered hip by much of the music buying public. Oh well, I’ve accepted who I am and am quite comfortable with these choices. Here then is both the list and a few words about why you too should have purchased these albums in 2012:
1.) Led Zeppelin-Celebration Day. OK, this is the big one on my list for 2012. The return of the rock gods and where it all began. This concert was flawless in my opinion. Stripped of the indulgences of their glory days the concert was raw and vibrant. They may all be in their 60’s now but the members of Zeppelin showed all the kids in rock why they are still the kings.
2.)Black Country Communion-Afterglow. Still paying homage to the 70’s style rock they played on their first two albums BCC show why their heirs to the throne left empty by Led Zep, Deep Purple and the rest of the 70’s trailblazers. If the rumors are true and this ends up being their last album it’s a fitting bookend to an unlikely super group that revitalized the type of blues rock that came before all those two piece roots/rock/blues projects were so popular!
3.) Gary Clark Jr.-Black and Blu. In all honesty I liked the EP that came out before the full album just a little more than this the full CD. Clark is great when he stays close to his Austin, blues based roots or when he plays closer to the rock funk of Lenny Kravitz. When the drum machines come out and Clark puts away the guitars he starts to lose steam. Luckily, the tracks surrounding the drum machines make up for these missteps.
4.) Joe Bonamassa-Driving Towards The Daylight. The second appearance of Bonamassa (he’s the guitarist for BCC) so you can tell where my head is this year. This a great album that recalls, Clapton and the Blues Breakers. It’s an American playing the British version of blues that was sold back to us in the 60’s and damn, it smokes!
5.) Mount Carmel-Real Women. Mix equal parts Humble Pie, Free, Cream and maybe Little Feat, sprinkle some extra pentatonic riffs and you have Mount Carmel. Bell bottoms, British blues and a slight southern soul influence blend into the type of music power trio rock acts used to be known for.
6.) Chris Robinson-Silver Arrow. The Black Crowes just announced they’ll be getting back together this year and I hope they use this album as a template for their new sound. It’s a laid back album mixing the Southern Rock the Crowes with 70’s era vintage synths and keyboards. Robinson stretches out on these tracks and it takes a little while for each song to pick up steam but when they do the songs are truly great.
7.) Rich Robinson-Through a Crooked Sun. Not to be outdone, the other Robinson brother of Black Crowes fame released his own solo disc this year. Showing that he knows alt country, Robinson releases a different kind of album from his brother. Listen through and you’ll get the feeling that maybe he’s been listening to more Wilco and less Allman Brothers than his brother Chris.
8.) The Mars Volta-Noctourniquet. No year end list would be complete from me without a visit from the Mars Volta. Truth be told, I hated this album when it came out. It’s only when I revisited it lately that it began to be redeemed. In the end I think this album did what good progressive rock makes you do, push your own comfort level while exploring the intent and musicality of the musicians involved. It’s not my favorite of their catalog but I’ll be listening to it a lot more this year than I did last year.
9.) Coheed and Cambria-The Afterman: Ascension. Yeah, it’s more of the same from the progressive, melodic, sci-fi kids in Coheed and Cambria. But, a good Coheed and Cambria album following their tried and tested formula beats anything currently being played on pop radio.
10.) Jack White-Blunderbuss. Vintage Jack White. A little more country than the White Stripes, a little more rootsy than the Black Keys. Throwing away any alt tag, Jack White does what he does best, creates great music that transcends era’s and styles. Yeah it sounds like Jack White, the same way Dylan sounds like Dylan, Clapton sounds like Clapton or Miles Davis sounds like Miles Davis.