Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BEST OF 2012 - TIE FOR #11

There were a lot of great albums that came out this year, and I'm not going to write an entry about each one that barely missed the top 10, but here's a roundup of what other records I liked in 2012. 

Bettye LaVette - Thankful N' Thoughtful: I've enjoyed everything she's done since her amazing 2005 comeback I've Got My Own Hell To Raise, which I thought was one of the most underrated albums of the '00s. Her label, Anti- Records, gives her room to make great records, and she's done it again.  There's lots of great songs here, including Dylan's "Everything Is Broken," The Black Keys' "I'm Not The One" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again: I talked and wrote about him early in 2012, and I was really looking forward to this record.  It doesn't disappoint, although I would say that it could use a few more upbeat songs.  Like Gary Clark Jr, the Grammys totally slept on Michael Kiwanuka.

Jamey Johnson - Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran: Jamey's last album, The Guitar Song, was my third favorite album of 2010.  This one didn't hit me quite as hard, but it's a bummer that it didn't get much attention in the press. Maybe because it's a tribute, and because it's all duets (Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson are all on the album).  But it's a really cool album, and has made me want to pick up a Hank Cochran collection.

ZZ Top - La Futura: Why didn't they work with Rick Rubin before this? It's a really really great album, easily their best since Eliminator.  The first single, "I Gotsta Get Paid" is a sort of cover of a obscure '90s hip-hop tune by DJ DMD (I'd never heard of him).  It doesn't come off gimmicky at all.  And it sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album.  It's such a shame that this didn't get too much lip service this year.

Green Day - Uno, Dos y Tre: Essentially a triple album released in three parts.  There's a little bit of fat, but not much.  This kind of has everything they do from punk rock raveups to over the top Broadway-like productions to ballads.

Soundgarden - King Animal: A really great comeback/reunion album... but not quite as good as their pre-breakup material.  Still, there are some amazing songs here, like "Non-State Actor" and "Taree."  But the best might be the weirdest:  "Rowing," which sounds like something that may have been born, oddly enough, in Chris Cornell's ill-fated collaboration with Timbaland on Scream: the song is built around a loop of Chris singing, and a very funky bassline by Ben Shepherd. It's actually become one of my favorite Soundgarden songs ever.

Alabama Shakes - Boys And Girls: They got a lot of buzz this year (and, I'm glad to say, a nomination for Best New Artist at the Grammys)... it's good to see a rock band getting that kind of hype, and these guys deserve it.  I like their album, I don't love it, but wow they have lots of potential.  And they were rockin' when they opened for Jack White earlier this year.

The xx - Coexist: a cool album to chill out to. I was turned on to it by a colleague from work.
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...: A lot of people put this high up in their year-end countdowns.  I liked it, but didn't love it.  Her last album, Extraordinary Machine, was probably my favorite album of 2005, and I thought it was one of the most underrated albums of the '00s.

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