L4LM’s Top 20 Albums of 2012:
20. The Used – Vulnerable
19. Green Day – іDos!
18. Travis Barker and Yelawolf – Psycho White EP
17. NOFX – Self Entitled
16. John Frusciante – PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone
15. The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania
14. Grizzly Bear – Shields
13. The Early November – In Currents
12. The Killers – Battle Born
11. Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
10. Sigur Rós – Valteri
9. Hot Water Music – Exister
8. Jack White – Blunderbuss
7. M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion
6. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
5. David Byrne and St. Vincent – Love This Giant
4. The Shins – Port Of Morrow
3. Mumford & Sons – Babel
2. Trey Anastasio Band – Traveler
1. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill
Marco Benevento – TigerFace
Gary Clark Jr. – Blak and Blue
Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
After looking back through the stellar albums that were released over the last 12 months, this is the best Top 20 list that Live For Live Music could compile, although there were many more great releases. Our top pick is Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Psychedelic Pill, proving to fans that the Rock & Roll veterans have still got it. It was an excellent redemption from their weaker 2012 cover album titled Americana, and shows that Young is still a rocking force to be reckoned with after all these years. In second, we have a Live For Live Music favorite, Trey Anastasio Band with Traveler, an excellent album put together by the Phish frontman. The album is great from front to back, with an awesome music video for the song “Valentine”, and it truly deserves the number two spot, as even Yoda would say that the creative force is strong with this one.
In third we have Mumford & Sons’ Babel which swarmed the country via radio and even became available for purchase in your local Starbucks. The single, titled “I Will Wait,” has a catchy hook that most fans are probably still singing. In fourth we have The Shins’ Port Of Morrow, which is another great album from front to back. It was introduced by a U.S. Tour with some unoriginal band members (a drawback to some fans) following the album release in March.
Taking fifth place is David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Love This Giant, which was a great collaboration between the enigmatic Byrne (who never seems to surprise with his choice of projects), and the indie goddess. In sixth place, we have Spiritualized’s underrated Sweet Heart Sweet Light, which was also introduced to us by a U.S. Tour that blew fans away. The album is smooth, clean and really has no bad qualities.
M. Ward’s A Wasteland Companion is our choice for seventh. A talented artist with a knack for creating fine indie songs, Ward featured Zooey Deschanel (his She & Him partner in crime) on a few tracks as he has done on past albums. In the eighth spot is Jack White’s Blunderbuss, a well crafted album but not quite enough to make it into the top five, in our opinion. The artist continues to make the entertainment spotlight with his crazy on-stage antics, but his music is one of quality, even though it has broken away from the flawless sound of The White Stripes.
This is the part of the list where you will start seeing some unconventional top picks for the year, but only because they are amazing albums. Hot Water Music’s Exister comes in ninth because it is one of the band’s best albums and has big time playback value. In the number ten spot is Sigur Rós’ Valteri, a well publicized album through the Valteri Mystery Film Experiment initiated by the band, which resulted in music videos being crafted for each song on the album.
The eleventh spot is given to Animal Collective’s Centipede Hz which had a lot of clever hooks and only a few minor drawbacks (e.g. not enough Panda Bear influence). It’s an overall great album though. In number twelve we have The Killers’ Battle Born, a highly anticipated album that met fans expectations, even though the singer Brandon Flowers was not up to performing at a few Northeastern tour dates due to throat issues.
Our thirteenth pick goes to The Early November, a newly reunited underdog in the music scene but a major player in the emo scene. Their 2012 album titled In Currents is truly one of their best, if not the best. In fourteenth we have Grizzly Bear’s Shields, an album that has melodies which will never get old. We awarded the fifteenth spot to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania, which is a well produced album with a good sound, and shows that Billy Corgan is still fully capable of writing solid tunes.
John Frusciante’s PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone is awarded a well deserved sixteenth spot. Frusciante has never dared to be different and stray from the norm in any of his solo releases, and it is no different here. He defines the term artist, and doesn’t play within any boundaries; always expanding his own personal musical horizons. The album is great and The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound is missing him for sure. In seventeenth we have NOFX’s Self Entitled which was a great release in the punk rock category. Every song is short and sweet and leaves the listener ready for more.
Number eighteen goes to Travis Barker and Yelawolf with Psycho White EP. The two make a great pair and the EP, which features Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong on one of the songs, is a great listen . Next we have Green Day’s іDos! in nineteenth place. This is in our opinion the best album of the trilogy. With a beautiful tribute to Amy Winehouse in the obvious track titled “Amy” and an overall sound closest to that of the band’s album titled Warning, іDos! takes the lead. Our twentieth album choice of 2012 goes to The Used with Vulnerable, an album that was crafted from the heart. The band has been on tour around the world since the album release, as they should be, for fans all over to hear that they’ve still got it.
And you can’t have a list without an Honorable Mention or two, and the following two albums are both deserving of at least that. First, we have to give love to Marco Benevento’s TigerFace, which is spectacular from beginning to end, and deserves a listen from any lover of music. Benevento is a master of the keys and an experimenter of the musical soul, and his music takes you on a journey. Our second honorable mention goes to an album that that evokes the spirit of Rock n’ Roll….that album being Gary Clark Jr.’s Blak and Blue. Clark came out of the gates this year swinging, and hasn’t looked back. Making a name for himself, and rather quickly at that, Clark showcases his ability to mix rock with R&B, and the blues intertwined with experimental. Watch this guy go through the stratosphere in 2013.
Again, a top 20 best albums of 2012 list was hard to put together since there were just too many great ones. Each year there is so much incredible music being released, which we as fans are very lucky for. Different music fanatics with different tastes in genres and styles across the globe will have differing opinions every year, but that is the beauty of music, and why we are so passionate about it. Not even all of Live For Live Music’s staff agrees on the list, but it is important to give credit to the the albums that deserve recognition and may not receive it elsewhere. We look forward to an even better 2013 in the music world.