Top 40 albums of 2012: Nos 40-21
Heart: Sound of the year
How many rock albums were released in 2012? We stopped counting around 6000. How many good rock albums were released in 2012? Well, that’s subjective… but we stopped counting around 5900. However, if we had to pick 40 (and the boss made sure we did) here’s numbers 40 to 21, as listed in Classic Rock No179, on sale now. As you might expect, numbers 20 to 1 will appear here tomorrow. Happy new year!
40. Tremonti: All I was
Loosed from the alt-metal shackles of his day jobs, Creed/Alter Bridge guitar hero Mark Tremonti unleashed his inner Dimebag on a bracing metal beatdown on which he sings, shreds and lifts
a middle finger to the haters.
39. Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion
This collaboration between Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt and Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson yielded a trippy panoply of psychedelic folk that bore scant resemblance to their respective prog catalogues. The ethereal soundscapes lost some, but most hailed their commitment to disregarding expectations.
38. Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas
The voice is now a subterranean rumble, the negligible music just a backdrop, but venerable Len’s every utterance has such charisma that few records matched this for sheer presence.
37. Heart: Fanatic
Ann and Nancy Wilson refuse to mellow, and four decades on they’re grinding out timeless trashy riffs with garage-band abandon. They’re too smart not to wink at times, but this is mostly unadulterated rock riffery, any way you slice it.
36. Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Big Moon Ritual
An immersive mix of stoned soul and chooglin’ country rock, marked by a wild adventurism that recalled the freeform jams of The Grateful Dead.
35. Crippled Black Phoenix: (Mankind) The Crafty Ape
Ever more atmospheric, the brainchild of Iron Monkey man Justin Greaves went homo simian as it shook down the failings of austerity Britain in a three-part concept work. Floyd blues, crime jazz, Tangs electronica and post-rock stealth collided in a flurry of agit-prog rage.
34. Flying Colours: Flying Colours
This prog-pop supergroup delivered one of the catchiest and most confounding rock records of 2012, ostensibly just for shits and giggles.
33. The Heavy: The Glorious Dead
The band that crawled from the south (of England) continued their seamless mash-up of Stax horns, Waits raucousness, gospel choirs and monster riffs with their third album.
32. Brad: United We Stand
Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard delivered one of the year’s under-the-radar gems with this, the quietly majestic fifth album from his long-running side act. The grooves were fluid, the vibes were light, and if there’s a better singer than velvet-voiced Prince fan Shawn Smith, then they’re keeping quiet.
31. The Jim Jones Revue: The Savage Heart
If one band remain capable of bottling the pure white lightning of rock’n’roll, it’s these Hackney boys. JJR meted out furious vocals, loud guitars and yammering piano, making this one of the year’s most intense experiences.
30. Marillion: Sounds That Can’t Be Made
It takes balls to begin an album with a 17-minute song: even more so when that song addresses the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But with this 17th studio album, Marillion continued to push the boundaries, both musically and lyrically.
29. Shooter Jennings: Family Man
The son of country legend Waylon Jennings both amuses and confounds. This slice of white-trash life is comedic and instructive. The mix of slick licks and hard guitars are a given but it’s the verbals that stand out.
28. Band of Skulls: Sweet Sour
The Southampton trio offset their awesome blues-rock bludgeon with sparser creations, highlighting guitarist Russell Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson’s exquisite vocal harmonising.
27. The Cult: Choice of Weapon
Choice Of Weapon is the band’s best work since 1989’s Sonic Temple, with Ian Astbury’s shamanistic shtick bolstered by guitarist Billy Duffy’s more earthbound rock’n’roll sensibilities.
26. Squackett: Life Within A Day
Steve Hackett and Chris Squire drew on Genesis past and Yes present but came up with a third way, which had a fresh, contemporary twinkle in its eye. Pristine, pulsating prog.
25. Aerosmith: Music From Another Dimension
It was too long, it was over- stuffed with ballads, and it wasn’t quite the return to their classic 70s sound as they promised. But The ’Smith’s 15th album was fleet-footed and lippy enough to banish memories of ‘Brand Tyler’ hell.
24. Black Country Communion: Afterglow
If this is BCC’s parting shot, the band depart with heads held high. Darker and more demanding, repeated spins yield rewards.
23. UFO: Seven Deadly
The band’s 20th studio album plays to their strengths, Phil Mogg narrating the latest adventures of a bunch of 60-somethings that really should know better.
22. Tame Impala: Lonerism
The Aussies remapped the outer limits of psychedelia, fusing fat melodies and FX with the hallucinatory rush of Flaming Lips, and vocals summoning the trippy lassitude of 60s Lennon.
21. Phantom Limb: The Pines
The Bristol sextet served up the glorious sound of Americana, country rock and spiritual blues. Helmed by ex-Black Crowe Marc Ford and with Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons on backing vocals, the album was a soul- stirring tonic.
This article is featured in the latest edition of Classic Rock, dated January 2013 and on sale now. The issue is dedicated to The Best Of 2012: the ultimate review of the past 12 months. The new edition also includes a free 2013 calendar, Best of 2012 CD and features on the Rolling Stones, Duff McKagan and Nikki Sixx, Rush, Queensryche, Alice Cooper and much more.
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