If you’ve stuck around this long you might as well pay attention until it’s over, right? This is the third part of my five-part list detailing my favorite albums of 2012. If you missed the first two parts of the list, you can check them out right here. Also, I saw three of these bands live at Fest 11 and they were all pretty great. Enough about that, check out the list. Enjoy.
30. Julie Doiron – So Many Days (Aporia)
On So Many Days, Julie Doiron sings plainly and honestly in an almost stream-of-consciousness style about the ups and downs of everyday life. She balances simple uplifting sing-song acoustic folk with louder and noisier bursts reminiscent of her time in the indie rock band Eric’s Trip. I’ve always found Julie Doiron’s music to be captivating. Her melodies just sounds effortless and her straightforward lyrics have zero pretense. Just imagine if Hop Along was older, Canadian and had three kids. Something like that.
MP3: Julie Doiron – Can’t Take It No More
29. Chemical Ache – Chemical Lake EP (Meth Mouth)
Chemical Ache is a new-ish band from Orlando, Florida, USA that is fronted by Alex Goldfarb (Gatorface/No Friends/NMDS) and also features Elliot Meyer (How Dare You), Eric Pittman (VRGNS), and Brian Etherington (NMDS). The seven-song EP is full of great snotty and edgy in-your-face pop-punk that, unsurprisingly, sounds a little/lot like Gatorface. Listening to Chemical Ache is a good alternative to punching someone in the face.
MP3: Chemical Ache – Scumbag Generation
28. Hostage Calm – Please Remain Calm (Run For Cover)
Please Remain Calm continues the transition away from anything resembling hardcore to pop that was already in-progress on Hostage Calm’s self-titled album of a few years ago. Sure, there are uptempo songs but the guitars are lower in the mix and the vocals are much more prominent. This is a difficult multi-faceted record that’s difficult to pin down but, honestly, every time I listen to it I’m somehow more impressed. If pushed, I’d say these songs fit perfectly somewhere between Bayside, The Smiths and Pet Sounds.
MP3: Hostage Calm – Woke Up Next To A Body
27. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten (Mercury)
On Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem has finally dropped most of the manufactured nostalgia and slap-echo that was holding them back. Maybe it was just the production of The ’59 Sound and American Slang, but this sounds like Brian Fallon and company just being a rock band and writing great songs rather than being some stylistic musical affectation. I’ll admit, I didn’t really like this album at first, but it has grown on me tremendously. Handwritten has become my favorite of The Gaslight Anthem’s four full-length records.
MP3: Major Label Release = No MP3
26. Old Flings – Spite (Self Aware/Bitter Melody)
I’m not sure if it was Dane or Jeff that recommended Spite, but I’m glad they did. It’s what Cheap Girls might sounds like if they were into hardcore and not power-pop. Still, for the life of me I can’t figure out what 90’s band Old Flings reminds me of, but that might be the point. Spite just sorta sounds like 90’s alternative rock. Something that’s musically between Dear You and Grade with understated vocals that are almost crooning in nature. It’s gonna drive me crazy if I can’t figure it out.
MP3: Old Flings – T.B.C.
25. Arliss Nancy – Simple Machines (Suburban Home)
Did you know that Tim Browne from Elway used to play in Arliss Nancy? I should have known that, right? Anyhow, these guys from Colorado have been on my radar for a few years now and Simple Machines represents their best effort yet by a wide margin. For my money, these guys might be the best that the gruff alt-country Southern cow-punk genre has to offer right now. Think the hard-charging gut-wrenching whiskey-soaked sounds of DTR or early-Lucero and you’ll be on the right track.
MP3: Arliss Nancy – Pages
24. Spirit Family Reunion – No Separation (Self-Released)
Spirit Family Reunion is a band from Brooklyn that plays some really spirited and spiritually-influenced folksy newgrass-ish sorta music. You know, music that’s supposed to sound old but really isn’t? It’s a great combination of fiddles, banjos, guitars, percussion and mountain-song vocal harmonies. This album, No Separation, kinda reminds me of the Felice Brothers or Old Crow Medicine Show and makes me wanna stomp my feet. Ya dig?
MP3: Spirit Family Reunion – I Am Following The Sound
23. The Sidekicks – Awkward Breeds (Red Scare)
Awkward Breeds shows yet another stylistic shift from The Sidekicks. These Ohio guys have further eschewed their auspicious pop-punk roots. There’s still plenty of up-tempo melodic punk energy within these songs, but the band has added a healthy dose of fuzzed-out power-pop alongside the almost rootsy Americana they added to 2009’s Weight Of Air. This time around, the band displays a raw and ragged sound that’s somewhere between Uncle Tupelo, Pinkerton and the road they’ve already traveled.
MP3: The Sidekicks – Grace
22. The Henry Clay People – Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives (TBD)
While all the big publications and tastemakers are championing Celebration Rock, the real fans of rock-n-roll know that Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives is a much better record. It’s a reckless rock-n-roll record that combines Pavement-esque L.A. slacker-indie with an earnest and self-aware Replacements vibe. These guys aren’t young but they’re young enough. They’re the scrappy underdogs trying to stay in game. RIYL: Japandroids & Titus Andronicus but better than both.
MP3: The Henry Clay People – Everybandweeverloved
21. Juniper Tar – Since Before (Self-Released)
Milwaukee’s Juniper Tar is back with another great release, Since Before. It’s a grand and stately record filled with quiet moments of urban folk music as well as Americana-tinged indie rock that spirals into gorgeous swells of twinkling post-rock guitars. It features the band’s amazing vocals harmonies that will appeal to fans of Fleet Foxes, etc… I loved the density of the EP that preceded Since Before, but when their sound is deconstructed and further developed, as it is on Since Before, it’s equally as enthralling. Since Before is available digitally until the end of 2012 for free right here.
MP3: Juniper Tar – Canting