I like to do things in lists of 25. Keeps it simple. Keeps it regular. It's in my contract. Do I remember all 25 of these albums? Absolutely not. But that's because my memory is not what it once was. It's why I write things down. I should also admit there are technically two releases here that came from my list of potentials in the first half of the year. They made more of an impression on me between July 12 and the third week of October.
For the record, I don't think anyone would like more than a few of these. I'd worry if we agree on too much. Just look at all the awful things people say about me.
24) Soundtrack of Our Lives -- Throw It To The Universe: At this point they've made too many albums for anyone but the totally obsessed to keep it straight. The sound is so dense and informed that it takes headphones to make sense of it. Though you're probably not supposed to make sense of it.
22) Black Wine -- Hollow Earth: Maybe it's the old dude in me, but this NJ punk group remind me of stuff I really liked when I was younger! Just the other day I sat in a diner and watched as young people walked in dressed exactly as me and my friends dressed back in 1992, which is essentially the same as 2012. Time is standing still. Back in the 1970s, only old people dressed like it was the 1940s or 1950s. Now we all dress alike. Is if ok if I borrow your hoodie?
20) Johnny Hickman -- Tilting: I didn't start liking this because Johnny was in Cracker, though I probably stuck around longer because I was familiar with his past work. I liked this because there were some decent guitar tones. It never sounds like he's trying too hard but that he's grown up listening to the right records so it just comes out of him.
18) Echo Lake -- Wild Peace: Critics who don't use the word 'shimmering' and reference a shoegaze band and still describe this 'South London quintet' (says iTunes) should be paid big bucks because, heck, that's exactly what it sounds like.
16) Ty Segall -- Twins: Segall is the new Will Johnson, apparently. He's got a bunch of projects going on. All of which might be completely wonderful, but I highly doubt it. If Black Sabbath only managed six songs (and two short instrumentals) on an album in their prime and Led Zeppelin settled on eight for Zoso and the Rolling Stones had to wring out every bead of sweat for the 18 songs that made up Exile (in retrospect, aren't those 'bonus' cuts from the 'Deluxe Version' now a big letdown?) then how it is possible for all these new geniuses to have so much music in them? Segall made at least three albums this year. Don't do it again, son.
14) Dwight Yoakam -- 3 Pears: I didn't see this one coming. I haven't much paid attention to this Gone-Hollywood cowboy since I first acknowledged his love for Bakersfield Country with his major label reissue of his debut in 1986 where I found it among Lords of the New Church and Joy Division albums at the college radio station. Why am I paying attention now? No idea. But on September 18 at 4:46 in the afternoon it sounded pretty good.
12) School of Seven Bells -- Put Your Sad Down (EP) and Devilhaus -- Devilhaus (EP): Since an EP is half an album, I can take two if I like. I decided to pick two totally opposite ensembles. School of Seven Bells are a romantic couple who play on their computers with synthesizers and create mechanical music that I imagine would sound fantastic as you drive your car off a bridge. Or maybe I'm an optimist. Devilhaus are a N.J. trio ('Hey, WTF are you lookin' at?') that I'd like to see kick their asses, just to prove loud, pounding rock and roll is still alive and capable of doing the most damage.
10) Julian Cope -- Psychedelic Revolution: He praises the likes of Che Guevara and Leila Khaled. He sang about Khaled once before and it turned out he liked her picture, thought she was sexy. Che's like Jim Morrison. More people have the T-shirt than know anything about him. I don't listen to words anyhow, so I nestled in with the warm Mellotron and forgot where I was.
8) Mark Eitzel -- Don't Be A Stranger: Eitzel's always been the smartest, funniest and most poignant lyric writer when he decides to make you cry. Live, he's enjoying himself as "fake Tony Bennett" (his words, not mine), but on record he's more disciplined than that. He knows we all fell in love with him when he did "fake Nick Drake" (my words, not his) and for once he wants to please us or to trick us into thinking he wants to please us. Art is complicated. Just listen.
6) Bob Mould -- Silver Age: The press is making a big deal about how old rockers are doing quite well these days. Yet, let's not overshoot here. The Stones and the Who are doing fine for people their age, but it's all about 'not ruining' their classics like they did for decades. Fact is, Bob Mould wrote a decent album here that if you like aggressive electric guitar you'll enjoy quite a bit. On the truly bright side, this album is easily better than Under the Red Sky, so this Bob's got a chance to blow us away at 70!
4) Clinic -- Free Reign: I knew if we just gave it time a great band would come out of Liverpool again! It wasn't going to always only be about the Teardrop Explodes. There are songs underneath the crazy here and they don't do anything too annoying to ruin it.
2) Mike Doughty -- The Flip Is Another Honey: Fact is, Doughty's got a voice that draws me in and that means I can let him do plenty of things I might not let others try. His cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" could put him in Uncle Kracker territory (DANGER! DANGER!) but the Red House Painters' "Mistress" isn't the sound of a guy putting us on. Or maybe he is. Maybe he's that freakin' slick!
And here is the tally of the COMPLETE year:
Final Top 10 of 2012
Unfair advantage: Can -- The Lost Tapes
10) Clinic -- Free Reign
9) Chrome Cranks -- Ain't No Lies In Blood
8) Steve Forbert -- Over With You
7) Sun Kil Moon -- Among The Leaves
6) Mike Doughty -- The Flip Is Another Honey
5) Jens Lekman -- I Know What Love Isn't
4) Matt Boroff -- Filling In the Cracks
3) Lori Carson -- Another Year
2) Leonard Cohen -- Old Ideas
1) Richard Hawley -- Standing At The Sky's Edge
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