2012 has been a triumph of a year for music, and not only because of PSY’s Gangnam Style. So plug in your headphones, put the volume up to 11 and warn the neighbours because here it is, the long-awaited Top Ten Albums of 2012. And it is a dandy, even if we say so ourselves.
A three part album, it had to be on there, even though it is yet another musical gimmick from this San Francisco outfit. Some of us argued that Green Day lost their way after Nimrod and had become an entirely different affair by the advent of American Idiot (and they had, namely self-serving political commentators shrouded in a cloud of smug). Now, they are entering the world of rock and roll symphonies by releasing an album in three parts. The first album was the strongest, and got progressively worse from there. Not the best thing we’ve heard all year, but the concept is admirable, if smug, and deserves the bottom place in our top ten.
At the outset, this is a very strong album characterised by excellent writing skills and interesting, creative songs. The only issue is that it is not readily accessible to all audiences. But for fans of metal, this might just be the band’s most dynamic album yet. Speed, thrash and doom metal fused into a stoner rock groove? Sounds just the ticket! In reality, few bands display such artistic growth in only four albums, and if The Sword continue on this trajectory, their fifth album, whatever and whenever that may be, will be a beezer.
Thank God for Northern Ireland. It gave us Tayto crisps, George Best and now… Beacon by Door Cinema Club. This album is an energetic and successful follow-up to Tourist History, and if their progress it to continue as it has from one to two, then I daresay we’ll be in for a treat come album three.
7. La Futura by ZZ Top
Somebody once called this album a, ‘cartoon characterisation and unpretentious realisation of what it means to be ZZ Top’, and they couldn’t be far wrong. After six decades of Texan beardy rock, these venerable figures of musical royalty have released yet another stomping album populated with uncompromising guitar-based headbangers. Keep your ears out got Gotsta Get Paid, just one of many crackers. Long may it continue!
Their debut album left little to be desired, and the prospect of a second had all the hallmarks of a forgettable flop. But surprise is one of life’s greatest treats, and where before we had lazy lyrics, aimless guitar work and frankly irritating themes, we now have riffs (yes! riffs in indie music!), pounding rhythms and intelligent wordplay. A fitting name, Come of Age is a step in the right direction.
5. No Regrets by Albert Cummings
Without a doubt, No Regrets is the best guitar blues album since the era of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. And I will stand by that until the day I die. Confident, competent and thrilling, this upbeat offering from one of the senior figures of Massachusetts blues is an essential collection for any fan of classic American blues.
Apparently this album was decades in the making and almost killed the lads in the process. Just as well then that this excellently produced album is not only a strange and fun racket from the boys from Boston, but also showcases each of their talents to the maximum. The only error was allowing Joe Perry to sing, but otherwise we’ll let them off. This time…
The curse of the second album has been the undoing of many a great band, and we need look no further than the flop follow-up to Permission to Land by The Darkness to prove this rule. But in Babel, not only has the Mumford wagon kept on rolling, but it has discovered a V8 engine in the process. Mature, considered and catchy, Babel might even be better than its predecessor Sigh No More.
Just pipped into second place following a lot of debate here at GU headquarters, Nightmare is another follow-up album that smashed all expectations to outdo Lizard’s debut, Viva La Decadence. The album is pure gold dust, packed full of catchy singalongs, snappy lead guitar riffs and pounding hard rock rhythms. Comparable to Appetite for Destruction (only, dare I say it, better) by Guns and Roses, Nightmare has the potential to become an all time great. All we have to hope for is that the Lizard lads quit their day jobs (literally) and make this a full-time, globe conquering conquest.
Muse have never been the ones to limit themselves in music. Released in October 2012 ‘The 2nd Law’ is their most innovative and unusual album to-date, a clear evidence of the band’s non-trivial approach to writing. Having the traditional Muse-style backbone based around intricate guitar patterns and thick bass lines, the entourage of this familiar backbone is very new: electronics, classical music, brass section and even dubstep! ‘The 2nd Law’ is the brainchild of one of the best rock bands of our times, the key that opens the gates to the new stage in Muse’s career. This kind of courage to voice the shift that’s occurred within the band and try out something completely new deserves total respect as making such a drastic switch does take a lot of guts. But Muse are not among the faint-hearted, which, together with the band’s creativity, has helped them to create one of the most striking records of the year.Entries 10 to 2 by Amadeus Finlay and entry 1 by Olga Polomoshnova