I’ve been stewing over this list for quite a while now, because the possibilities are a seemingly endless array of material with no end in sight.
Did I hear enough joyful noise this year to make the list worthwhile? Is my selection pool deep enough to make the list my definitive opinion? Will someone immediately respond that I didn’t include one of their favorites?
Questions such as these haunt me year after year, but, alas, I soldier on in an attempt to get people talking again about what musical statements resonated the most during the past 12 months.
Judging from the lists other publications have shoveled out so far, I’m under the impression that anything released under the guise of rock is treated like the proverbial red-headed step-child.
Not here, though. I refuse to be a pawn in the mainstream’s master plan to erase heavy music from existence.
I also refuse to bestow accolades upon the supposed “hip” albums of the year, because, in my view, the majority of them are the product of deflated standards and blind over-praising on the part of corporate publications.
Because of this, Taylor Swift, Fun., Frank Ocean, and Jack White will not be making an appearance.
On the subject of White, I liked “Blunderbuss,” but it didn’t blow me away like it did some other critics on the scene.
On that note, I present to you my picks for the Top 10 albums of 2012:
- “Clockwork Angels” from Rush – Everything finally came together in 2012 for the masterful Canadian power trio. They received an overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they played another sublime show in Buffalo, and they released what is arguably the greatest musical achievement of their career. My detailed thoughts are laid out in the preview article I wrote back in October, so I won’t delve into that here.
- “Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp” and “The Evil Empire of Everything” from Public Enemy – My choice for the greatest rap group in existence served up a double shot of hip-hop brilliance this year that didn’t garner much attention, but Chuck D’s writing and caustic delivery are a recipe for perfection.
- “Wrecking Ball” from Bruce Springsteen – The Boss is in his absolute angriest state of mind since “Nebraska” on this album, and I love it more with every listen. It’s an emphatic declaration of socio-economic discontent that takes aim at the parties responsible for America’s ongoing economic calamity.
- “Psychedelic Pill” from Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Having Young backed once again by the Horse is pure poetry, and the grooves they conjure up here are to die for.
- “King Animal” from Soundgarden – I wasn’t sure what to expect from their first studio recording since 1996’s “Down on the Upside,” but it’s a killer collection from the opening riff. Cornell’s voice reaches for the sky with little exertion and Thayil delivers one Sabbath-esque hook after another to prove that they haven’t lost anything.
- “CVI” from Royal Thunder – The Atlanta-based hard rock outfit bathes this one in robust arrangements that incorporate a little bit of blues, gospel, and psychedelic sludge rock to make a powerful statement. Vocalist MIny Parsonz is one to keep an eye in the future.
- “Now for Plan A” from The Tragically Hip – The Hip’s latest was difficult to get into at first, but Downie’s lyrics are so beautifully rendered that each track latches onto you and seldom lets up.
- “Bring it on Home” from Joan Osborne – Most people associate her with the success of “One of Us” back in the mid-90s, but her smoky take on assorted blues classics illustrates exactly the type of music she should be making.
- “Choice of Weapon” from The Cult – Ian Astbury echoes many of the same sour sentiments that Springsteen exuded on “Wrecking Ball,” which results in the band’s finest release since 1989’s “Sonic Temple.”
- “A Different Kind of Truth” from Van Halen – I know it’s received mixed feelings across the board, but Eddie’s playing on this album is more invigorated than anything we’ve heard from him in years. It kicks hard, so hopefully its stature improves through the years and people begin to fully appreciate the musicianship on display.