So that’s it, 2012 is all but over and it’s clear to all that this year has been a brilliant one for rock music. So, with that in mind, it would seem rude not to take a look back at the ten best albums released over the past twelve months.
10. Rize Of The Fenix – Tenacious D
After the low that was 2006’s The Pick of Destiny, many people had written off Tenacious D, assuming their debut album was as good as it was going to get. Although Rize of the Fenix never quite manages to hit the heights of their self-titled album, it is one of this year’s best hard-rock releases. Balancing comedy skits and rip-roaring riffs perfectly, Jack Black and Kyle Gass have proven to fans and critics alike, that if you write them off, they will come back even stronger. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet then do so, this album is the only one released this year which will have you reaching for your air guitar, and laughing until it hurts.
9. Cinematics – Set It Off
The first of three debut albums to grace this countdown, if Cinematics is anything to go by, we will be hearing a lot more from Set It Off. The band are a five-piece “orchestral rock” outfit similar to Panic! at the Disco, and fans of their now infamous debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out will fall in love with Cinematics right off the bat. Although this album seems to contain no filler, a rarity these days, lead single Swan Song sums the band up perfectly. Cody Carson’s vocals are brilliant throughout and the mix of orchestra and pop-punk riffs will demand multiple listens.
8. Don’t Panic – All Time Low
Most bands strive to join a major record label, seeing it as a sign that the hard work they’ve put in over the years has paid off. However, when All Time Low released their last album through Interscope, all was not well, and it could be heard in what was arguably the band’s weakest effort to date. Fast forward to 2012 and All Time Low are back with Hopeless Records and latest album Don’t Panic sees the band return on fine form, so much so that any of the twelve tracks featured on the album could easily be released as singles. As if that isn’t enough, the album guest stars Hey Monday’s Cassadee Pope and Patrick Stump offered a helping hand with the writing of Outlines. If All Time Low can keep up this form, they may well be the biggest pop-punk band around sooner rather than later.
7. Southern Air – Yellowcard
Yellowcard have been bothering the rock charts for over a decade now, their albums having gained them a huge fan base world-wide and a place on god knows how many teen movie soundtracks over the years. Southern Air is not a surprising album, so anyone hoping Yellowcard would release an experimental concept album this year may have been disappointed because this is exactly what we have come to expect from them. That said, in no way is this run of the mill. From start to finish, Southern Air is a joy to listen to, mixing the best parts of classic album Ocean Avenue with the more mature delivery found on 2011’s When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes. Tracks like Awakening and Always Summer make even the coldest winter day feel like mid-July and Telescope is possibly the most emotive song Yellowcard have penned yet. All in all, Southern Air is Yellowcard at their best and proves that they should no longer be “that band on the American Pie Soundtrack.”
6. A Flash Flood of Colour – Enter Shikari
Definitely the most difficult band on this year’s countdown to pigeon hole, Enter Shikari have been crossing post-hardcore riffs, dub step breakdowns and political commentary better than anyone else out there…although you may argue to be the top dog in an otherwise deserted kennel isn’t difficult. However, A Flash Flood of Colour is an outstanding album from a band who must be one of the most innovative on the circuit today. As has become custom for Enter Shikari albums, no political topic is left unturned, with war (Stalemate), climate change (Arguing With Thermometers) and the economic crisis (Ghandi Mate, Ghandi) are tackled by the Hertfordshire four-piece. To combine all of this, with a tongue-in-cheek delivery is truly special and makes this album a must.
5. Priorities – Don Broco
2012 has been a huge year for Bedford’s own Don Broco, having toured with the likes of The Used and Young Guns. However, the definite crowning achievement was the release of their debut full-length, Priorities this summer, an album jam-packed full of anthems clearly created with a live setting in mind. Each track is direct and to the point, hitting you square in the face with a hook catchier than freshers’ flu. Whether it’s acoustic driven Yeah Man, or the riotous Whole Truth, this album never strays from brilliance, delivering massive chorus after massive chorus which seems to guarantee Don Broco will continue to grow bigger and better over the next few years.
4. Dead Silence – Billy Talent
Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent have been plying their trade for years now, evolving their sound as they go along yet never straying from their punk roots. Despite being the first album Billy Talent have released which isn’t simply number instead of titled, Dead Silence does not stray from that winning formula which has served the band so well over the years. As they say, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. That said, this is the band’s heaviest and possibly darkest effort yet, with the most obvious example of this being in the band’s heaviest track to date, Cure For The Enemy. The track chronicles the faltering relationship between son and father which has been full of hatred and tension, yet reconcile as the father is laying on his death bed. This is the kind of social commentary which fans have come accustomed to over the years and long may it continue, with Ben Kowalewicz’s vocals telling these stories in a way nobody else could. This album is a must for all Billy Talent fans, and a damn good way to fall in love with them if you haven’t already.
3. Black Hearts & Bloody Hands – Cars On Fire
It’s been a while since Bristol’s Cars on Fire’s debut album Dig Your Own Grave was released back in 2009 but the band’s latest release, Black Hearts & Bloody Hands, made the long wait for new material worth while. Definitely the heaviest album on this year’s countdown, the visceral vocal delivery juxtaposed alongside melodic song structures create an album which sounds like the bastard child of Every Time I Die and Biffy Clyro. As if this wasn’t enough to convince you that this is one of the best albums of the year, who better than to stamp his seal of approval on Bristol’s best post-hardcore outfit than Fightstar frontman Charlie Simpson, who appears on Of Grace & Bone. The scary thing is, with Bristol’s scene growing in both stature and heaviness, the only way is up for Cars On Fire.
2. Silver Age – Bob Mould
In a countdown which is seemingly full of youth and debut albums, Bob Mould is the stand out artist, having fronted two of the most iconic rock outfits of this generation while managing to churn out quality solo records, of which this is his tenth. It is hard to believe then that this could be called a return of sorts, but Silver Age brings this rock legend full circle, releasing an album full of tracks which could so easily found themselves on a Sugar album all those years ago. Appearing on last year’s outstanding Foo Fighters album Wasting Light, Mould brought his trademark vocal style to the masses once again, and things have been going from strength to strength since. Lead single The Descent is one of the singles of the year and is the stand-out moment on an exceptional album which proves that the legends of rock need not hide away and let the youngsters take over the helm, especially when the likes of Bob Mould can still be as relevant today as he was when he first stepped onto the scene.
1. Everything Touching – Tall Ships
There was only one winner of this year’s rock album of the year gong, and it goes to Falmouth math-rock outfit Tall Ships for their debut full-length album, Everything Touching. Definitely the most thought provoking album of the year, the band have somehow combined the complex song structures and looping which has become the trademark of math-rock with choruses large enough to build high-rise flats on to create a true masterpiece. This combination means that it is not only intellectuals who can enjoy this album though, which has been a complaint of the genre for some. Opening track T=0 is carried along by one of the catchiest riffs you will ever hear, while Ode To Ancestors contains a chat-up line any scientist would be crazy not to try out (“You are a triumph of natural selection”). From start to finish, this album never strays away from perfection and although Tall Ships may be about as far removed from the mainstream as possible currently, don’t be surprised if they continue to grow to the massive heights which their mind boggling tracks deserve.