A fool recently said to me “there’s no good music being made these days.”
Technology has fostered an abundance of recorded music, so there is a lot to weed through to find the goodness. But there is a ton of good music being made all the time, resulting in hours of reputable new music every year. Here are my 10 favorites from the many releases of 2012.
10. The Shrine – “Primitive Blast.” This SoCal stoner rock band’s debut is a gritty, heavy soundtrack for skating in drained swimming pools and driving a slick painted ’70s Dodge van; they rightfully carry a torch initially lit by Black Sabbath and California-ized by bands like Fu Manchu.
9. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires – “There is a Bomb in Gilead.” The Alabama Shakes may be getting a well–deserved national nod, but it should be shared with the whole state, including this Bains–led rock band that channels equal parts Drive By Truckers rock and Muscle Shoals soul.
8. Bob Mould – “Silver Age.” Mould’s solo catalog has had some releases that I ignored. This seems to be the record that most resembles what is regarded as his prolific period; his mid-to-late ’80s into early ’90s stuff with Husker Du and Sugar. Not so much a throwback as it is just another great record with Mould behind it.
7. Calexico – “Algiers.” Each Calexico record is a departure from their last, yet the Tucson band manages to hold onto a sound that remains heavy in folk and ambient rock while continuing to throw fans curveballs as to how they should be pegged.
6. The Men – “Open Your Heart.” A woven formula of hard rock, psych garage and long Sonic Youth-like noise that’s as aggressive as it is catchy.
5. Janis Martin – “The Blanco Sessions.” In the 1950s, Martin was a rockabilly gal on her way to being the female Elvis when she decided her career would take a back seat to her family. Rosie Flores coaxed her into the studio one last time and the result is a tribute to early American rock music that was released after her 2007 death.
4. Gentlemen Jesse and His Men – “Leaving Atlanta.” This is an album of garage rock that celebrates the simple three-chord formula found in punk, aided by good songwriting laden with hooks.
3. J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices – “I’ll Keep Calling.” As the forefathers of country music roll in their graves, Harris has made a record that breathes some life into a genre with too many award shows and too much pop.
2. Shovels and Rope – “Oh Be Joyful.” Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent are the acoustic version of the White Stripes. One guy, one girl, great songs and lots of aggression from a D.I.Y. duo making acoustic punk, folk and classic country.
1. Bad Weather California – “Sunkissed.” This was the most played release on my iPod and turntable. A Colorado band whose diverse sound blends effortlessly through rock, psych-rock and cheery pop. It’s a diverse and entertaining showcase.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.