Sights and Sounds
by Mike Evans
The Terrific Ten
Well, the Mayans goofed. We didn’t crash, burn or tilt upside down. So we have another year’s worth of awesome music to embrace. But before doing that, let’s check out the Best 10 of 2012.
10. RIVER CITY EXTENSION — Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Your Anger (June)
Delve into this varied album, with its roots rock, country vibes, folk overtones and indie aesthetics and you may forget you’re listening to a band that hails from a place very close to the Jersey Shore. Sun is pure and engaging from start to finish.
9. GREEN DAY — Uno! (September)
I’ve been writing this column since 1996 and this is the first Green Day record to make the big list. Upon my initial listen, I couldn’t believe how engrossing this album actually was. Sometimes keeping it loud and simple is the way to go. The best of the current trilogy and the band’s finest in years!
8. BAT FOR LASHES — The Haunted Man (October)
Natasha Kahn’s talents keep improving; getting sharper and gaining ground as both composer and performer. Haunted was the Brit’s first great album; a confident cinematic collection of rhythmic highs and dramatic lows. Gloomy nights were made for this stuff.
7. HOT CHIP — In Our Heads (June)
Unlike many electronic outfits that tend to slip into a rut, England’s Hot Chip never make the same album twice. Moods, outlooks and even subject matter seem to shift every couple of years. Heads was the band’s banging “after dark” album, and that suited us just fine.
6. JACK WHITE — Blunderbuss (April)
Through his work with the Dead Weather, Raconteurs and now-defunct White Stripes, Jack White became one of rock’s most prolific sons over the past decade. A solo career seemed the next logical step. Blunderbuss was more of the same yet surprisingly different. Hey, great rock is great rock.
5. CRYSTAL CASTLES – 3 (November)
Canadian electronic duo Crystal Castles managed somehow to become more melodic on their third outing while remaining just as fierce as they always were. Further blurring the lines between dance rhythms and punk’s aggression, 3 also saw the addition of the overtly eerie — a wickedly good brew indeed.
4. TWO GALLANTS — The Bloom and the Blight (September)
California folk rockers Two Gallants proved that singer/songwriter stuff doesn’t always have to sound wimpy or reserved. These guys brought on the fragile emotions and fat slabs of melancholy, but weren’t afraid to turn up their guitars at the same time.
3. BEACH HOUSE — Bloom (May)
This Baltimore-based duo is not just a modern-day Cocteau Twins (although I would hardly consider that an insult). They’re a male-female pairing taking dream pop to new places. Bloom wasn’t a great leap forward for the two, but if the hypnotic formula mesmerizes, why change it?
2. ALLO DARLIN’— Europe (May)
I didn’t review this album initially and for that, I sincerely apologize. To think, I almost missed recommending one of the loveliest twee and pure indie pop records I’ve heard in a long long time. Practically every cut is a lilting wonder. I can’t help but sigh just thinking about it.
1. FIRST AID KIT — The Lion’s Roar (January)
Meet the young and lovely Soderberg sisters — siblings capable of placing the most gorgeous harmonies across the most genuine of folk-tinged tunes. Roar was a classic slice of real country-flavored Americana; heartfelt music with a homespun twang. Not bad considering the girls hail from Sweden!