Andy’s Top 10 Albums of 2012
As with last year, this was a slightly tricky exercise to undertake. My initial list consisted of 20 albums but after a lot of agonising over what to axe and what to keep, I managed to get it down to ten. So here you go, these are my choices of musical highlights for 2012.
10. Richard Hawley – “Standing At The Sky’s Edge”
For once, the Mercury Music Prize picked a deserving winner. Hawley’s album took the classic rock template and twisted it into all kinds of new and innovative shapes. Dark, distorted and a huge departure from his previous work, this was a triumph and got its just recognition from the country at large. Job well done.
9. The Roughneck Riot – “This Is Our Day”
One part Pogues, one part Clash, the Roughneck Riot were responsible for one of the best punk albums your correspondant has heard in a good few years. Proper smalltown punk anger with something to say and a righteous fury behind the message, in a year when honest working class “us against the system” firebrands were difficult to come by, this was a much-needed tonic.
8. The Great Malarkey – “Badly Stuffed Animals”
A debut album much anticipated since the Malarkey first barrelled onto the scene a couple of years ago, “Badly Stuffed Animals” was a confident first shot across the bows which suggests this band will be around for some time to come. From raucous folk-punk rave-ups like “Money Bags” and “Merry Profits” to the slower more sinister likes of “Whiskey Too Far” and “Ha Ha Freak”, “Badly Stuffed Animals” is confident, original and above all a collection of crackingly catchy tunes.
7. Van Halen – “A Different Kind Of Truth”
The T-shirts said it all – “It ain’t Van Halen without Dave Lee Roth”. And the return of the original Clown Prince of Glam to the fold saw the VH clan come up with their best album since…well, since DLR left the first time around if you’re asking. Veering from full-on rock assaults like “Bullethead” (with Eddie and Alex back to their riff-spewing tub-thumping best) to the more considered likes of “Stay Frosty” and “Big River”, “A Different Kind Of Truth” was everything old-school VH fans had been waiting for through the disappointment of the Hagar and Cherone years. Welcome back lads, we’ve missed you.
6. Turbonegro – “Sexual Harrassment”
Confession time, this lot had slipped off my radar a few years previously but on the evidence of “Sexual Harrassment”, yours truly was a bit of a mug for allowing that to happen. Hank von Helvete may be gone but new singer Tony Sylvester did a fine job of picking up the baton on songs like “Hello Darkness” and “Shake Your Shit Machine” (yes, the song titles are just as awesome as ever in case you’re asking). Full on party rock ‘n’ roll the way it should be.
5. Ginger – “555%”
Or “100%” if you got the post-Pledge version. This was the sound of Ginger being let loose in the studio to do exactly what he does best – touching as many musical bases as possible and doing it in his own inimitable style. From the crazy funk-rock of “Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow” to the pure pop-punk heaven of “Internal Radio”, this album veered from one musical format to the next without any fear of losing itself. Ginger deserves credit not just for getting up and making this happen in a truly ground-breaking way but also for coming up with yet another damn fine album to add to his cannon.
4. The 69 Eyes – “X”
After the out-and-out goth-glam effort that was 2010’s “Back In Blood”, the 69 Eyes’ tenth album saw them veering back into more familiar Sisters-influenced goth waters while keeping the catchy hooks of the last couple of records intact to make something pretty damn good. From anthemic opener “Love Runs Away” to the sweeping “Black” and the almost country-influenced “Borderline”, it saw them sounding varied, dark and with enough hooks to keep the average slaughterhouse in business for a full 12 months. Good stuff.
3. Danko Jones – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Black And Blue”
Danko Jones has had issues with moving his sound forward in times past (notably on 2007’s “Never Too Loud” which was a slightly misjudged leap lacking the fire of his other albums) but his seventh effort sees him not necessarily growing old gracefully but adding a few new tricks to his repertoire and keeping up the quality of his previous releases admirably. Tight and energetic with awesome riffs and catchy choruses, songs like “Legs” and “I Believed In God” are proof that Mr Jones can still match up to the best of ’em in 2012.
2. The Jim Jones Revue – “The Savage Heart”
Speaking of bands who continue to get better with every release, this third effort from Jim Jones and his sonic firebrands pushed all the right buttons. From the lurching “It’s Gotta Be About Me” through the almost gospel sounding “Seven Times Around The Sun” to the political fury of “Where Da Money Go?”, the JJR continue to get better with every release. Lord only knows how they’ll top this for album number four but we’re looking forward to finding out.
1. The Bermondsey Joyriders – “Noise And Revolution”
Much anticipated since they started playing the tracks from it back in 2011, the Joyriders’ sophomore effort was a much needed dose of political fury and anger into a scene that badly needed it. From the fury of “Society Is Rapidly Changing”, “True Punk” and the title track through the slow-building “London Bridge” to the Kinks-style rave-up of “Proper English”, “Noise and Revolution” was a triumph from start to end and, in the face of some pretty serious competition, just about shaded it as my album of 2012. If you’ve not got this already then you really ought to put that to rights as soon as you can.