I absolutely love doing year end lists. I get excited even in the early months of the year thinking about it. Here at VocalsOnTop.com this will be my 3rd Top 10 albums of the year list.
Here is my list from 2010, headed up by Jason Collett’s Rat-A-Tat-Tat
Here is my list from 2011, headed up by Tom Waits’ Bad As Me
The 2012 winner is The Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits
Read and enjoy my list. Also watch for my top 5 concerts of 2012 coming soon. Feel free to send me your top 10 albums list and I will post your list for you. I’d love to read them. Thank you – Clint @ VocalsOnTop
1. Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits
The Divine Fits are a supergroup made up of members Spoon and Wolf Parade most notably. Their brand of hook-laden pop for their first album is simply irresistible. Britt Daniel of Spoon steals the show here with some of the best songs he has ever written. This is an album that I can listen to repeatedly and never get tired of. It is one of very few “happy” albums I enjoyed this year as you will read below.
Key Track: “Like Ice Cream”
2. Heartless Bastards – Arrow
The Heartless Bastards absolutely nailed their fourth album Arrow making it the best of their career and a masterpiece by which the band will now always be measured. The heavy guitar and perfectly complimenting rhythm section make for a perfect prog-rock mix so good it almost makes me want to listen to Rush. I said almost.
Key Track: “Got To Have Rock N Roll”
3. Todd Snider – Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables
Todd Snider has made a long career of having a great sense of humor and bringing it into his songs. With Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables he still has a sense of humor but it is black comedy. The album is shockingly dark, portraying little hope for humanity and anything else. It is a whole different kind of record for Snider who has successfully re-invented himself with an album that stands up with his best of his catalog.
Key Track: “In The Beginning”
4. Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes
The Hold Steady’s lead singer quietly released his first solo album in 2012 seemingly to cricket chirps. It never got a lot of publicity that I saw, but should have. You likely won’t see it in many year end lists either but I say it is very deserving of praise. Totally unlike his music with his band The Hold Steady, it highlights all the dark parts of his past, present and future, abandoning his “stay positive” moniker musically, even though he still very much is a positive guy; Clear Heart Full Eyes doesn’t reflect it. Like Todd Snider’s Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables it is a beautifully dark album.
Key Track: “Jackson”
5. Local H – Hallelujah! I’m A Bum
Scott Lucas of Local H made two solo albums with his band Scott Lucas and the Married Men with a much mellower sound since the last Local H record. So Lucas had to prove he still rocked and he did so by putting out possibly Local H’s hardest rocking record yet. Hallelujah! I’m A Bum is split into two halves, a blue half for the Democrats and red half for Republicans. Released before election day it profiles the political turmoil in America but still is filled with very good, hard rocking songs.
Key Track: “Another February”
6. Will Johnson, Yim Yames, Anders Parker and Jay Farrarr - New Multitudes
The alt-country super group recorded a group of Woody Guthrie lyrics that never got put to music and did a fantastic job with them. Each of the four members took on 3 songs to sing each. The result is a beautiful window in Guthrie’s lyrics. Will Johnson puts out a great effort but was overshadowed by the only unknown participant for me; Anders Parker. Parker’s tunes are simply fantastic on this compilation and are worth the price of purchase by themselves and his best contributions are on the bonus disc so be sure to pick that version up.
Key Track: “Fly High”
7. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Newcomers The Alabama Shakes knocked the music world on their ass with their first record Boys & Girls. “Hold On” was easily one of the most infectious songs of the year. The band shows incredible talent for being so new to the music scene and have one of the brightest futures among any band going today.
Key Track: “Hold On”
8. Jason Collett – Reckon
Jason Collett is one of my favorite songwriters in the indie music scene. He even topped my 2010 best albums list. Because of this Reckon may have gotten a little bit of a boost in making my list but it is still a very good album. It is mellow and like all my favorite music from this year, dark.
Key Track: “I Wanna Rob A Bank”
9. Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
The Drive-By Truckers lead singer has now released three solo albums. The first two were solid but he took a noticeable step up with Heat Lightning Rumbled in the Distance. The songs are dark and sad but they are some of the best solo work Hood has done. This album is not even a far departure from a Truckers record, but it could never be one without Mike Cooley contributing. Hood also gets credit for both the best album title of the year and best album cover of the year.
Key Track: “Better Off Without”
10. Jack White – Blunderbuss
I know, I know; it’s on everyone’s list. I’ve made no secret of my admiration for White in the past and all of his projects. This one doesn’t blow me away the way albums like Icky Thump did but it is still a solid collection of tunes. He still comes up with great sounding songs that are somehow unique; someday his music may get old to me but that day was not in 2012.
Key Track: “I’m Shakin’”
Every Year a few albums just barely miss the cut. This year those albums for Vocals On Top were Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy, Toadies – Play.Rock.Music and Lucero – Women & Work. Special mention goes to St. Joe’s own Scruffy & The Janitors who released a record of very good music in Pino which if it weren’t such a lo-fi recording might have had a shot at my list.