ARTISTdirect.com Albums of the Year 2012 Including Soundgarden, Down, Stone Sour, The Smashing Pumpkins, Gojira and More
Mon, 10 Dec 2012 17:32:45
2012 has been quite the year for music.
In honor of a really incredible 12 months for tunes of all kinds, ARTISTdirect.com chose its list of the best albums of 2012. In addition, our news editor Amy Sciarretto, contributor Mark Phillips, and warden Elena Castro also contributed lists.
We can't imagine a world without music, and if you're reading this, you probably agree. Please considering giving the gift of music, so that the music can give back!
Without further pomp and circumstance, here are our picks for the best albums of 2012...
The Best Albums of 2012
1. Soundgarden — King Animal
This isn't simply a return to form for the Seattle legends. It's a proud step forward. Soundgarden rip ferociously on "By Crooked Steps" and teeter over the remains of the past on the sludgy seesaw of "Blood on the Valley Floor". Meanwhile, "Bones of Birds" is built on harrowing psychedelic bliss, while "Black Saturday" sees Chris Cornell poetically pleading, "Kill me right away if I start to get slow". ARTISTdirect.com's choice for album of the year is every bit as timeless as Soundgarden's best material, and it's everything a rock record should be.
2. Down — Down IV Part I - The Purple EP
A very close second, Down IV Part I - The Purple EP sees the New Orleans sons dive headfirst into darkness yet again with heavenly heavy results. The riffs spiral like snakes on "Levitation" and "Witchtripper" in the midst of some blissfully unholy dark metallic rapture. Meanwhile, Philip H. Anselmo conjures a haunting and hypnotic bellow on "Open Coffins" that stands alongside his best vocal performances. The title of "This Work Is Timeless" could very well be describing the six songs on this EP. "Misfortune Teller" pulls in and out with a magnetic force on par with that of the Atlantic Ocean. Throw in some truly thought-provoking lyrical ruminations from Anselmo, and you've got a classic on your hands. We can't wait for parts II, III, IV, and so on and so forth.
3. Stone Sour — House of Gold & Bones: Part I
Also split into installments, the first half of Stone Sour's double disc concept album establishes drama that's worthy of the big screen. Corey Taylor penned an intriguing narrative threading together the songs that unfolds brilliantly as the album progresses. The collection boasts the band's best instrumentation yet with James Root, Josh Rand, and Roy Mayorga firing everything they've got. It's melodically masterful and dangerously heavy. It's an epic by all accounts.
4. Smashing Pumpkins — Oceania
Smashing Pumpkins rev up the distortion and erect a bona fide masterpiece along the way. Billy Corgan's guitar playing incinerates infectiously on "Panoptican" and the title track, while his wistful lyrical musings make "Celestials" utterly transcendent. Oceania deserves to be heard from start to finish given the turns by Corgan, Jeff Schroeder, Nicole Fiorentino, and Mike Byrne. In addition to belong in the Pumpkins pantheon next to Gish, Siamese Dream, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Oceania signals the next phase, and we're beyond thrilled.
5. Gojira — L'Enfant Sauvage
Thunderous polyrhythmic riffage pummels, while frontman Joe Duplantier's delivery cascades from guttural growling into ethereal echoes. L'Enfant Sauvage remains the pinnacle for modern heavy metal. It's a high watermark which bands in years to come will attempt to reach for. However, Gojira themselves will have only continued to progress at that point. This is every bit as timeless as Master of Puppets or AEnima.
6. Nas — Life Is Good
Nas hits the streets again and, in the process, churns out another hip hop classic. Life is Good stomps through the hood with bravado on "The Don", "No Introduction", and "Loco-Motive", while he thoughtfully ponders fatherhood during "Daughters". "Bye Baby" remains ultimately heartbreaking in the best way possible. Life is Good in 2012 because we've got this album. It's the year's best hip hop record...
7. The Weeknd — Trilogy
Trilogy is the best way to get to know The Weeknd in all of his hazy glory. The collection brings together all three of his acclaimed mixtapes—House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence—into one tripped out journey worth taking over and over again.
8. Linkin Park — LIVING THINGS
Merging the sputtering rapped out hard rock of Meteora and the expansive experimentalism of A Thousand Suns, LIVING THINGS matches the alchemical brilliance of Hybrid Theory and gives even more.
9. KILLBOT — Sound Surgery
After Korn's landmark The Path of Totality, J Devil (aka Jonathan Davis of Korn) leaves an indelible mark on the dance floor with the best album dubstep has seen. Sluggo and Tyler Blue join him on this club burning four-song salvo. Davis's inimitable vocals pulsate through the invigorating "Feel Alive", while "I'll Fuck It" is as propulsive, powerful, and pummeling as early Ministry's best. J Devil, Sluggo, and Tyler Blue cut dance music open and make it bleed in the best way possible.
10. WZRD — WZRD
Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius took flight like never before on WZRD. Elegantly weaving together alternative soundscapes with Cudi's wild and wonderful lyrics and delivery, WZRD effusively casts its own brand of distinct sorcery. It's unlike anything out there and it could only come from the minds of these two trailblazers.
11. Flyleaf — New Horizons
New Horizons might be Flyleaf's last with Lacey, but it's also their best yet. It's another reason why they're one of the most impactful and irresistible hard rock bands of the 21st century. The next phase for Flyleaf starts now, and if this music is any indication, it's going to be one for the books.
12. Game — Jesus Piece
Game gets better every album, and Jesus Piece is nothing short of divine as far as mic skills and, hell, everything else go.
13. Rick Ross — God Forgives, I Don't
God Forgives, I Don't sees Rick Ross at his most unrestrained and undeniable yet. The entire record is like one knockout punch after another, and it shows repeatedly why he's the boss.
14. High on Fire — De Vermis Mysteriis
High on Fire follows Jesus's twin brother on a sludgy, psychedelic monumentally heavy romp through time. Does it get any better? No, not really.
15. Mark Tremonti — All I Was
Mark Tremonti amps up everything beyond eleven and delivers the blisteringly heavy record he's been wanting to drop all along. The results are downright deadly as he shreds his way to the top—again.
16. Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Nicki Minaj technically bitchslaps the competition with how tight her flow is. She also carries a pop hook with the best of them, making for a potent follow-up to her debut.
17. The Amity Affliction — Chasing Ghosts
The Amity Affliction export some of the catchiest heavy music you've heard in a decade since Alive or Just Breathing and they do it with spellbinding down under panache all their own.
18. Death Grips — NO LOVE DEEP WEBB
Skittering paranoid death hop is what Death Grips specialize in on NO LOVE DEEP WEBB and nobody does it better.
19. Gary Clark, Jr. — Blak and Blu
There's a reason he's played every huge festival and major late night TV show—he's goddamn amazing. Gary Clark Jr. has got the gusto to inspire a whole new generation to pick up the guitar.
20. Wiz Khalifa — O.N.I.F.C.
Wiz flies high on O.N.I.F.C. and he takes rap music to a new level with him. He's made it to the front of the class, and he ain't leaving…
Amy Sciarretto's Top 10 Albums of 2012
1. Down — Down IV: Part I, The Purple EP
I love everything Philip Hansen Anselmo does. It's only six songs and better than most band's CATALOGS! I love the Sabbathian sound.
2. One Direction — Take Me Home
Catchier than herpes. Cute boys. I dance like no one is watching when I listen to "Live While We're Young."
3. Gojira — L'Enfant Sauvage
It's everything that is right with heavy fucking metal 2012.
4. Testament — Dark Roots of Earth
5. Converge — All We Love We Leave Behind
OMG, so devastatingly heavy. I want to punch throats when I listen to this.
6. The Amity Affliction — Chasing Ghosts
Can't fuck with the melodies on this one. They linger for days.
7. Justin Bieber — Believe
"Boyfriend" is one of the best pop jams since "Billie Jean."
8. All That Remains — A War You Cannot Win
My fave by them since This Darkened Heart.
9. Earthship — Iron Chest
So metal it craps iron ore. And they are from Germany. I just found out about them recently. Check the Mastodonian hook of "Old Widow's Gloom."
10. The Sword — Apocryphon
It's not as cool to like them now. But I do.
Mark Phillips' Top 10 Albums of 2012
Frank Ocean — Channel Orange
Frank Ocean, simply put, is a complete breath of fresh air. His innovation offers an arresting new take on music by melding seemingly disparate genres so seamlessly. It’s not often you get R&B crooners who dig Kid A or rewrite classic Eagles tunes. The result is one of the best albums in quite some time.
Soundgarden — King Animal
As one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Soundgarden got a lot of hopes up when they reunited to release their first album since the show Friends was really popular. Well, they didn’t disappoint with “King Animal.”
The xx — Coexist
Taking a page from early Interpol, The xx have created a beautiful, delicate, and entirely otherworldly sound. Their new album, “Coexist,” expounds upon the groundwork they’ve laid so far in magnificent fashion.
Sleigh Bells — Reign of Terror
Sleigh Bells have a sound all their own- at once arresting and utterly intriguing. The first time you hear them, it takes you a second. Wow, are they out of tune? Are they really that bad? Turns out, their impressive combination of lo-fi guitar buzz fuzz, beats, and cheer-leader vocals is all meant to redefine music. The revolution will not be televised, but it will be played through multiple distortion pedals.
Flyleaf — New Horizons
It’s hard to believe that New Horizons is only the third album from Temple, TX’s premier rockers. Third time is indeed a charm- this album has all the fire and intensity you could ask for- rollicking riffs and soaring vocals abound.
Baroness — Yellow & Green
These Southern gentlemen (in the loosest sense of the word, that is!) offer another heaping helping of clench-fisted progressive metal. Combining stoner rock, beautiful melodies, and anthemic vocals, Baroness brings us to our knees.
Silversun Pickups — Neck of the Woods
SSPU’s latest installment doesn’t stray from the path. It offers Brian Aubert’s signature ethereal, fuzzy vocals coupled with… ethereal, fuzzy guitars and keyboards. Don’t worry, my write-up doesn’t do it justice. It’s an incredible album from one of the best bands in rock today.
Of Monsters and Men — My Head Is an Animal
These Icelandic indie rockers are the best thing to come from the mother land since Bjork, as far as I can tell. Although truth be told, I’m not as up to date on my international affairs as I should be (and how could I, when the third season of Downton Abbey isn’t available in the US yet?? [coming January 6- ed.]). OMAM beautifully blends the classic and the contemporary with a folksy and quirky charm.
The Weeknd — Trilogy
This groundbreaking artist gets points for style as well as substance. In addition to creating an entirely different sound that blends his fragile yet powerful vocals with incredibly progressive indie/ R&B production, the tracks were all originally released for free as mix tapes. Now, “Trilogy” features re-mastered versions of his 2011 series of three separate mix tapes.
Propagandhi — Failed States
These Canadian punks are an interesting story. Starting as an extreme leftist political pop punk outfit in the nineties, they have evolved into an entirely progressive and aggressive rock outfit. Who saw that one coming? By flying under the radar but over our heads, Propagandhi has made one of the most interesting albums of the year.
Elena Castro's Top 10 Albums of 2012
Peg Leg Love — United By Death
Coming in at the top is Peg Leg Love. There's no better death surf rock music quite like this. Big ups to the production on this one! The album plugs you in the driver's seat of an 1968 Chevy El Camino cruising down the open road. Check out the track "Belief."
Savage Republic — Varvakios
Joy Division-like sans vocals with a dash of central eastern European and African sound. This could be a really great soundtrack to a really great movie.
Backseat Bingo — Backseat Bingo EP
This reminds me of Klaus Nomi without the makeup. Controlled dance punk. Think "Human Fly" from The Cramps.
The Manx — Storms Thrashing Our Vessel
Folk punkers who smell good. Fast, upbeat punk played acoustically on banjo, upright bass, mandolin, and your mom.
Venetian Snares — Affectionate
Breakcore. Great background music while you work.
Aftergloam — Anatomy of an Elegy
Astral drift rock. Rides on every emotion worth feeling. Great music to make love to.
Bachsung — ////
Evil synth attack! Gary Newman's bastard cousin. Take a listen at the new genre you never knew you wanted to know about: post-streamcore (thank the L.A. based band Colony for the term).
Leeches of Lore — Frenzy, Ecstasy
The lion's gaining on you, get out of the way! Fast charging and inspiring hard prog rock. This New Mexico band and album is not to be looked over.
Images— Thought Patterns
Great marriage of pop and punk have come together in this holy matrimony. The Buzzcocks' little brother.
Ingenue — Super Swell
Listen to samples here from their new album to be released December 22nd. A "fuck you" pop album from a Female fronted 90’s-like Alternative Rock band.
Well, there you have it. A 'super list' for a super year. Hard to believe that 2012 is quicky headed to the rear-view mirror... Here's to a healthy and prosperous 2013!
What's your favorite album of 2012? Please share with us!