The Five Best Albums of 2012 You Probably Didn't Hear
2012 will go done in the annals of history as the year of Carly Rae Jepsen, One Direction and the heavily parodied PSY hit 'Gangnam Style.' However, if it was good music you were hoping to hear in the top 40 this year, I'm afraid you would have to have dug a little deeper. Allow me to get you started on your search for music that will actually stand the test of time with the five best albums of 2012 that you probably didn't hear.
The Album You Should Turn Up Really, Really Loud
The Brooklyn based noise pop duo Sleigh Bells released one of the most balls to the wall rock albums I have heard in years with their second album, Reign of Terror. The album opens in the setting of a live venue, as the band rocks through the brief but heavy 'True Shed Guitar.' Infectious hit single 'Comeback Kid' will you have you clamoring for the repeat button (the video is a lot of fun too, see below) while 'Demons' will make you want to crank up the volume knob to max. There are very few slow down moments on this record, but the few that are here are beautiful and singer Alexis Krauss delivers on each one.
Key Tracks: 'True Shred Guitar' 'Crush' 'Comeback Kid' 'Demons' 'You Lost Me'
The Album That's Not For Everyone
If it isn't noisy, distorted guitars you're looking for, then look no further than the latest solo album from Interpol front man Paul Banks, titled simply Banks. Banks previously released a solo album under the pseudo name Julian Plenti, and that album, Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper, was no different than listening to an Interpol album. On Banks, Paul attempts to define himself more, however his songs all seem to be missing something. That something being Sam Fogarino and Daniel Kessler, the other current members of NYC's own Interpol. That criticism aside, Banks is still a brilliant piece, although it might be a bit moody for some. The lead single 'Young Again' will either turn you off or on to the rest of the album, but as I said in the subtitle, this album simply isn't for everyone. If you're like me, you simply love Paul's singing voice, one of the best Ian Curtis inspired vocals out there.
Key Tracks: 'The Base' 'Young Again' 'I'll Sue You' 'Summertime Is Coming'
The Album From Dylan's Second Coming
Jake Bugg toured with Oasis' own Noel Gallagher this year, and aptly so. His eponymous debut album is part Definitely Maybe, while at the same time mixing in influences from Bob Dylan and sounding like it belongs in the 60's and not 2012. 'I drink to remember/I smoke to forget' he chimes on the opening line of 'Two Fingers,' a song that embraces change in one's life, growing up and holding two fingers (two being the British version of one, middle finger) up to yesterday. If Jake Bugg's debut tells us anything, it's that he will be around for many, many years to come, perhaps even as long as his chief influence, one Mr. Robert Zimmerman.
Key Tracks: 'Lightning Bolt' 'Two Fingers' 'Taste It' 'Country Song' 'Ballad of Mr. Jones'
An Album, An EP and a Band on the Rise
Alexandra K Wisner is no stranger to the alternative music scene, having once been in a band with the daughter of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and producing an album with John Fruisciante. AKW has since produced music for films, co-founded the production company At the Hop Productions, and recorded the album For No One, a brilliant masterpiece topped only by an EP also released this year titled Silent War. Alex, along with collaborator Adam Cude, show cases her unique voice and original lyrics on an album I hope someday will stand the test of time as AKW continues to rise.
Key Tracks: 'My Little Drum' 'An Old Time When' 'Lost in the Changing'
From Silent War: 'Hello' 'Sinking Boat'
The Album of the Year
In all fairness, this album is one you might have actually heard this year. Jack White is one of the most prolific song writers, producers and musicians the world has ever seen, being co-founder of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather and producing music for the likes of Loretta Lynn, Tom Jones and (ugh) Insane Clown Posse. Top that off with the fact that Jack is one of the most brilliant guitarists of all time, and there is no doubt that whatever the man puts out for us is going to be amazing.
That being said, how did Blunderbuss, the first album he's ever released that had only his name on it, turn out? You've got part White Stripes, you've got a little Raconteurs, you've got some Dead Weather. Add to that some old school country, blues and rockabilly, and you've got yourself one masterpiece of an album, one that stayed on repeat in my iPod for the majority of 2012. I look forward to Jack's next solo effort, which I'm sure will be released sometime in between his endless side projects.
Key Tracks: 'Missing Pieces' 'Sixteen Saltines' 'Freedom at 21' 'Love Interruption' 'I'm Shakin''