It has to be said that 2012 was an awe inspiring year for the UK. What with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic Games, national pride and enthusiasm has never been higher (hell… I witnessed a Mexican wave down 2 tube carriages! Unspeakable behaviour !). So it was only fitting that the year also brought with it one of the strongest contests in years to, the bout to be crowned DoesItRock.net’s Album of the Year. A prize to be scoffed at by critics and one loved by fans of honest rock and rollers everywhere.
Let the (slightly delayed) countdown commence!
25) Katatonia- Dead End Kings
Dark and menacing, Dead End Kings is a brooding melodic metal record of the princes of doom. This is a starkly barren soundtrack to a cataclysmic end of the world event, where great waves of guitar noise sweep across the landscape backed by fittingly clean and soulful vocals. It is a superb master class in atmospheric melodies, yet somehow they retain an unexpected accessibility to those less ‘metal’. Often brutal, mostly beautiful.
24) Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
Abrasive ranting vocals spit lashings of gravel baked growls, drums thrashes, bass thumps and dirt bag guitars soaring anthems from the underbelly of the rock monster. A gargantuan effort which veers further into hard rock territory than they have before, bringing with it the punk beast who’s still a kickin’ and screamin’.
23) Hot Water Music – Exister
Chuck Ragan has won me over with his solo material, so it was about time he pushed his raggedy vocaled chords back into the punk rock arena. An album packed with standout tunes which are seriously catchy, showing there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.
22) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
Reigning in the progressive angles, Lost Songs has struck out on the pure rock sound of AYWKUBTTOD’s earlier releases. Full on face planting into their walls of noise is not uncommon throughout this cathartic and unpredictable release of pent up energy. Oddly unrestrained from the loose binds of prog they have taken up the battle axes and brought us their most edgy and surprising release for years.
21) Joe Bonamassa – Driving Towards The Daylight
Joe Bonamassa is the new King of the Blues, his latest album showcases everything which makes the man every bit the undisputed bluesman of his generation. Melodies flow effortlessly from his fretboard, vocals of deep heart and emotive soul, slow burning grooves and funky upbeat shuffles all with a country twist thrown in for good measure. Oh did I mention he can play demon guitar. If ever there was another who went down to the crossroads… JB is that man!
20) Jack White – Blunderbuss
Whatever this man touches turns to gold (ignoring The Dead Weather for augments sake) and his first official solo release is no different. A bluesy, country inflected track list of swaggering tunes which swing from pop groove to rawkus retro rock whilst retaining an enigma only Jack White can conjure. His personality flows free lyrically and stays musically true to his vintage sounding ethos. Dramatic and unmissable.
19) Train – Highway 37
A pop rock record, my! my! Yet somehow with every spin a ray of California sunshine brightens the air and fills your life briefly with the kind of roller-skates by the beach, driving down the pacific coast highway kind of carefree optimism, rarely managed by a record (not by the Beach Boys). For this alone they hit the countdown in 2013. A number of pop classics line the track list which only bolsters it’s credentials further.
18) Tenacious D – Rise Of The Fenix
What a fantastic return to form Rise of The Fenix proved for the hard rocking acoustic-men. Crammed full of tongue in cheek lyrics, big riffing and comedic moments. But a chuckle only gets you so far, these tunes are bigger and better, returning to former glories, instantly banishing any ‘Pick of Destiny’ demons with the euphoric opening title track. This rollicking romp of a record is fun and kick-ass, just as we’d all hoped for.
17) The Smith Street Band – Sunshine & Technology
This band’s sound is almost perfectly aligned for me. If Frank Turner hooked up with the Gaslight Anthem and moved to Australia you’d have something very special, in the meantime though The Smith Street Band are a pretty close approximation. Rasping ranting vocals with potent lyrics documenting life the universe and everything from an everyman’s perspective. The lo-fi punk melodies back the spoken verse perfectly, being understated but never forgotten. yet it’s the passionate delivery and chorus’s which shouldn’t work, but do, what make this record stand out from the crowd.
16) Danko Jones – Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue
One of the most underrated Hard Rock bands on the planet. These Canadian ambassadors of no-nonsense guitar, bass, drum, voices with driving punk attitude and succinct songwriting have again produced the goods. Plenty of rousing anthems for long drives, sing-a-long choruses for the shower and fiery riffs for those air guitar moments when no-ones watching. This album is a whole lotta fun, which by not taking its ‘we’re rock’ credentials too seriously, only boost it further. We all know Danko lives and breathes rock and roll anyway.
15) Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
For the third album in a row since their reformation, Dino Jr. produce a brilliant collection of rough around the edges, fuzzed up indie rock numbers. Plenty of pop melodies maintain focus on the slacked vocals and songwriting rather than the master guitar work of J. Mascis, which as ever is totally mesmerizing!
14) Fighting With Wire – Colonel Blood
FWW aren’t messing about upon their long overdue return. Colonel Blood is packed with big mainstreamed rock numbers brimming with infectious sing-a-long choruses and nifty guitar licks, its hard not to let them embed in your head. Song for song, these guys would give the Foo’s a good run for their money… straight laced fist pumping rock and roll for the masses.
13) Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love
DiR.net favourites are back and still have plenty of energy to burn. PABH clearly do not like to be tamed in the studio, hence this record sounds like the band going bat-shit, crashing every ounce of blazing rawkus energy into each guitar freak-out or throaty howl. Short sharp songs with minimal lyrics aping both punk’s abandon and heavy metal’s epic riffing. Not to be missed live!
12) Killing Joke – MMXII
For all their back catalogue, this release is the first Killing Joke album to set these ears a wagging. Deep booming bass lines, and sedate atmospheric guitars dominate the bleak industrial backed wasteland vision of MMXII. Only the walls which suddenly blast into euphoric waves of noise provides any sense of escapism. Its this thunderous meld of electro-keys, menacing guitars and robotic drone vocals which transports to another world, one dominated by the impending of total annihilation. Dark, emphatic and unmissable.
11) Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint
Exuberance, energy and enthusiasm…everything a fresh hard rock band should be striving for can be found on A Sinner’s Saint. This Northern Irish Sleaze/Punk influenced bunch have the attitude for chaos, the canny knack for pop melodies, the ability to pull off a decent ballad and pen some epic driving rock anthems. A solid sophomore which has really grabbed my attention by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t look like relenting anytime soon.
Stay tuned for the top 10!