Here’s part 4 of my list detailing my favorite records of 2012. For the first three parts of the list just click here. Many if not all of these could have probably been in my top ten based on the day. Enjoy.
20. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves – Canyons (No Idea)
Canyons is the second full-length from Hot Water Music co-frontman Chris Wollard and his band The Ship Thieves. It’s a driving record that combines grooving Southern rock and swampy post-punk behind enormous guitars that never seem to stop roaring. Really, though, Canyons is markedly stronger and more cohesive that Wollard’s solo debut in just about every regard.
MP3: Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves – Dream In My Head
19. Best Practices – The EP LP (Tiny Engines)
Is this an EP? Is this an LP? Whatever you call it, The EP LP, from Providence, RI’s Best Practices, charges through 9 songs in about 12 minutes. It’s a furious blast of noisy and angular melodic punk topped with shouted vocals and anchored by non-stop slinky garage-rock hooks. Just imagine something like Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life but speedier. It’s a quick, but intense, listen that begs to be repeated over and over.
MP3: Best Practices – Welcome To Erf
18. Hot Water Music – Exister (Rise)
When compared to most of Hot Water Music’s classic material (1996-2000) Exister falls a little flat but, on its own, for 2012, Exister is still a tremendously good record from one of my favorite bands ever. Read my entire take on the album here.
MP3: Hot Water Music – Drag My Body
17. Ceremony – Zoo (Matador)
Zoo proves that Ceremony is a monster of transformation. On it the band retains a some of the straight-up blitz of early 80’s hardcore punk a la Black Flag but dives headfirst into the to the dark and slinky post-punk sounds of Joy Division and Wire. The record’s production is clear and spacious and when combined with the songwriting, makes this record sound 30 years old and not of today. On the surface Zoo seems too simple to work but, at its core, is really a timeless punk record.
MP3: Ceremony – Repeating The Circle
16. Sundials – When I Couldn’t Breathe (Asian Man)
On When I Couldn’t Breathe, Richmond, Virginia’s Sundials play songs with a fuzzy and almost-sorta 90′s alt-rock sound that recalls the likes of Superchunk and, more recently, Cheap Girls. There’s also more than enough catchy & poppy indie-punk energy to also make me think of bands like Sicko, Mr. T Experience and Lemuria. The record’s 13 songs go by quickly despite what seems like a bit of a lazy pace throughout. It all adds up to a sound that’s comfortable but somehow a bit reckless and unpredictable at the same time.
MP3: Sundials – Completely Broken
15. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past (Epitaph)
If they aren’t already there, The Menzingers are a band that’s on the verge of breaking out. On The Impossible Past is one of the major reasons why. A lot of the grit from their previous album, Chamberlain Waits, has been polished away but the lyrics are just as sharp and the melodies may be even stronger. Sure, this is still a pop-punk record, but while there’s less shouting than before there is no less fervor. This album has grown on me quite a bit during the year and I find that some of the songs I initially disliked might be some of the stronger tracks on this album. I credit my wife because she’s played this a lot. I’m sure this would be her album of the year for 2012. Me, I still like Chamberlain Waits better.
MP3: The Menzingers – The Obituaries
14. Restorations – A/B EP (Tiny Engines)
The A/B EP from Restorations contains 2 songs and about 10 minutes of music. If this was 2 songs longer who knows where it would have landed. That said, I’ve listened to and flipped this record over more times than I can count. It’s a little bit of hardcore punk and a little bit of heartland rock-n-roll wrapped in a blanket of melodic post-rock that takes everything the band did on last year’s full-length and makes it better and more universal. Somehow Restorations manages to make every moment both essential and epic. From the unassumingly quiet guitar that kicks off “A” through the frenetic guitar squalls that close out “B,” this EP is nothing short of perfect. That’s not hyperbole or opinion, that’s the truth.
MP3: Restorations – A
13. Arms Aloft – Sawdust City (Kiss Of Death)
Do you like Dear Landlord, Banner Pilot, Off With Their Heads, The Copyrights, and other such bands that dole out gruff-yet-catchy Midwestern pop-punk? If so, you’re almost guaranteed to love Sawdust City. These songs are heartfelt nods to the decline of youth and the poverty and hopelessness that can accompany it. This is everything that a great record within this genre should be and its best example from 2012.
MP3: Arms Aloft – Irish Coffee
12. White Lung – Sorry (Deranged)
Combining 3/4 hardcore punk fury and 1/4 pop punk hooks, Sorry is the sound of a caged animal trying desperately to escape from a hopeless fate. White Lung holds nothing back and lets Mish Way’s snarling female vocals scratch and claw against incessant tinny guitars in a relentless assault on your ears. Sorry is a truly abrasive record that’s also remarkably listenable.
MP3: White Lung – Bag
11. J Kutchma & The Five Fifths – Pastoral (Last Chance)
You might be familiar with J Kutchma as the frontman for Red Collar. Here, on Pastoral, backed by The Five Fifths, he shows a bit of a softer side without totally straying from the Americana sounds we’ve come to expect. Where Red Collar visceral punk rock into the equation, Pastoral is filled with more acoustic guitars, pedal steel and generally quieter moments. J Kutchma’s weary vocals also provide the perfect delivery for his honest and earnest lyrics. This was a difficult record leave out of my top ten.
MP3: J Kutchma & The Five Fifths – I Used To Believe