Year End Wrap Up: The Best & Worst Music Albums of 2012
2012 was loaded with letdowns, some from my favorite bands, and plenty of surprises. See if you can guess what made the cut in my list of the years 10 best and 5 worst albums.
The following list is about as eclectic as it can get. Not only is my number one choice easily 'Album of the Year' but it's going to be really difficult to top for several years to come. It's an absolute modern day classic from a legend. Although they didn't make the top 10, I should acknowledge the following 4.5 Star efforts that nearly made the list but didn't quite make it this year: Madonna's new album 'MDNA', Twiztid's latest 'Abominationz' and Lana Del Rey's 'Born to Die'.
Top 10 Albums of 2012
10. Demon Hunter – True Defiance
"Demon Hunter have risen far beyond the stigma of being just one of 'those Christian metal bands' ever since their blistering debut in 2002. Every couple years fans can count on some amazing album art with a powerhouse collection of tracks to back those sweet sleeves up. 'True Defiance' is the bands best since 'Summer of Darkness'."
"The band has managed to recapture that angst of their early catalog and sprinkled that new style amidst the heaviness. The end result shows Demon Hunter at their absolute best. Album closer 'Dead Flowers' is one of the record's mellowest tracks but it's also the best song Demon Hunter has recorded since 'Not Ready to Die'. 'True Defiance' had a lot of pressure living up to that amazing album cover and thank metal Jesus it did just that. - Read my full review HERE.
9. Jimmy Fallon – Blow Your Pants Off
"Late Night host Jimmy Fallon has just unleashed what is not only a hilarious music album but a statement that proves in my opinion that he is without a doubt the best talk show host on television. 'Blow Your Pants Off' is essential listening."
"I also have to award Fallon with the best song title of 2012 so far on the track 'My Upstairs Neighbors are Having Sex (and listening to The Black Eyed Peas)'. He is currently the best Late Night TV show host and this release is a major statement that adds a staggering slice of credibility to that bold statement. The music is funny, current, clever and above all else catchy and memorable. - Read my full review HERE.
8. ZZ Top – La Futura
"ZZ Top's 15th studio album 'La Futura' is a sleazy piece of Texan fueled rock that is ripe for stripper anthems, journeys through space and driving cars really fast. I did not expect ZZ Top to kick this much ass and I should be ashamed for underestimating them."
"Much like ACDC, the bearded Texans have evolved without losing their rock essence. If it ain't broke – don't fix it. It may have taken nine years, but ZZ Top have crafted one of their most memorable albums yet. It's a bluesy, alcohol soaked piece of greasy rock and roll that sounds so genuine it's hard to listen to any type of pop music after playing through 'La Futura'. Everything else sounds so insincere after cranking this album." - Read my full review HERE.
7. Deftones – Koi No Yukan
"If you've been dying for the follow-up to the seminal Deftones album 'White Pony', this is it. Their seventh studio album is heavy, beautiful and one of the biggest surprises of the year. 'Koi No Yukan' is a complete album that takes it's listeners on a euphoric ride. Just don't be afraid to headbang your face off in the name of love.
'"Koi No Yukan' is Japanese for 'Love's Premonition'. There couldn't be a more fitting title for the latest Deftones but don't let the name fool you. Romantic? Yes. Loaded with serene lyrics and harmonies about beauty? Yes. Heavy as f***? Yes. It's this kind of dynamic that has the Deftones shining their brightest." - Read my full review HERE.
6. Tenacious D – Rize of The Fenix
"'Rize of The Fenix' is short, to the point hard rock simmering in a fine comedic juice. What has become very apparent with Tenacious D is that they've had to significantly up their game now that the comedic music scene is far more competitive than it used to be over a decade ago."
"The musicianship has increased significantly here and The D has always been rock solid in the skills department but in order to throw down with the youngins, they've really amped up their game in 2012. Tenacious D will always be the kings of rock comedy and 'Rize of The Fenix' is proof that The D truly are the best on that playing field. " - Read my full review HERE.
5. The All-American Rejects – Kids in The Street
"The fourth studio album from The All-American Rejects sounds like a musical version of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory if they substituted candy for sex. 'Kids in The Street' is the band's best effort to date and a rock and roll opus that is best played loud as hell and all the way through."
"The All-American Rejects have always been discredited with every release and compared to every other artist in the game and yet they've outlasted every single one of their peers. 'Kids in The Street' is their most powerful and well rounded release yet because of the bold creative moves and freedom in the studio. They've crafted a beautifully uplifting slice of rock and roll." - Read my full review HERE.
4. Serj Tankian - Harakiri
"The third studio album from one of rock's most talented vocalists, ever, is not only Serj Tankian's finest solo offering yet but one of 2012's best outings overall. If you're like me and still miss System of A Down to the point of tears, then Serj Tankian's 'Harakiri' is the closest effort you'll get to a new SOAD album."
"It's hard to find anything to fault on 'Harakiri' and it's a record that I've revisited several times with no intention of stopping. Tankian is truly a masterful vocalist and deserves to be recognized on the same level of Freddie Mercury. Aside from Mike Patton I can't see anyone else who has such range. Do yourself a favor and get 'Harakiri' because it's amazing from start to finish." - Read my full review HERE.
3. Skrillex – Bangarang
"This is groundbreaking music and it's time to acknowledge that the landscape of electronic music is rapidly changing so embrace your digital overlords before the bass kills you. Not only is Skrillex the best new electronic artist, in my humble opinion he's also the very best on the planet."
"'The Devil's Den' is one of the best electronic tracks ever produced. Make sure your bass is turned up and if you don't get literally moved by this s*** then there's something wrong with you. Tracks like 'Breakin' a Sweat', 'Kyoto' and 'Bangarang' are so monstrous and original it's frightening." - Read my full review HERE.
2. Insane Clown Posse – The Mighty Death Pop!
"The clowns that everybody love to hate are back with their most ambitious release yet. The second in a new series of 'Joker's Cards' is not only one of the finest offerings from Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope ever but 'The Mighty Death Pop!' is quickly becoming a hip hop horror classic."
"If you didn't like ICP before, you won't like them now. If you liked ICP before, you'll love them after listening to 'The Mighty Death Pop!'. The new effort is proof that a band can still show tremendous progress and evolve two decades into a career. ICP are at the top of their game in 2012 and whether or not you're down with the clowns, 'The Mighty Death Pop!' is relevant, terrifying, hilarious and a must-own for Juggalos everywhere. - Read my full review HERE.
1. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
"On what is his 17th studio album not only does Bruce Springsteen maintain relevancy but he cements himself as one of the greatest musicians of all time. 'Wrecking Ball' is an amazing record; loaded with so many 'every-man' anthems it's ridiculous. It also features the final appearance of Clarence Clemons on sax, capping off the longtime E-Street Band member's legacy in a wonderful and emotional way."
"If you've ever endured hard financial times and found it too difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, 'Wrecking Ball' will speak to you. Bruce Springsteen's fire has not faded in the least and Clemons' final notes must not be missed – this is essential listening on a fundamental level." - Read my full review HERE.
The Worst Albums of 2012
5. No Doubt – Push & Shove
"The sixth studio effort from No Doubt is laced with what I can only describe as 'Ska-lectro'. It's an intriguing blend of ska and electronic elements. I'm a huge Sublime fan, but I appreciated their stripped down approach when it came to the ska genre. When you begin layering it and adding too much production, it can come off noisy. 'Push and Shove' is very much hit and miss when it comes to this."
"I'm not sure a No Doubt reunion was really needed in 2012 but I'm happy to see 90's bands making comebacks two decades later. I did find this record to be a little too bland during the second half though and even though I'll admit that 'Looking Hot' was catchy -- I still died on the inside after listening to it three-four times. If you loved No Doubt before and don't mind 'Skalectro', then grab this right now because you're probably high and will forget reading this seconds from now."- Read my full review HERE.
4. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
"When you're the most sought after rap artist on the planet, what do you do if your name is Nicki Minaj? Well, I know what you shouldn't do and that's release what sounds like an Aqua meets Katy Perry mix-tape. Minaj's sophomore album 'Roman Reloaded' is a pop-hop trainwreck that went so far off the rails it's embarrassing."
"The rap is overall lazier, that is if you can find it, and the pop songs sound dated which is depressing considering there are so many of them. I don't like to use the term 'sell-out' that often, but Minaj did just that. I don't know if it was an intentional move, but Minaj's creativity freak-out resulted in a record that doesn't flow cohesively and comes across like a spastic pop-splosion with very little direction." - Read my full review HERE.
3. Green Day - ¡Tre!
"They had to go and release a record of lames*** B-Side material to close the show. At one point I'm pretty sure there's a song about a girl getting her period. I'm not joking. Album opener 'Brutal Love' is a sad foil to 'Oh Love' from the first album in the trilogy and then it's only weaker from that point on. ¡Tré!' is an unfocused collection of tracks that neither gel together nor do they sound like they should have been released as the final piece of a trilogy."
"It really does sound like a lazy mishmash of crap that Green Day didn't want to include on the other two albums. The cherry on top is final song 'The Forgotten' -- which comes from the last Twilight movie…… So there's that… Did I mention there's a song about a girl getting her period? This is bulls***." - Read my full review HERE.
2. Ringo Starr – Ringo 2012
"'Ringo 2012' may hold second place as worst title of the year to McCartney's perverse/creepy 'Kisses on The Bottom'. What the record does well however, is wedding band rock. There's so much wedding band rock and roll on 'Ringo 2012' I couldn't handle it anymore. Listening to 'Ringo 2012' made me want to drink and drink uncontrollably until I could not feel feelings anymore."
"The fact that '2012' is in the title of the album is funny considering that there's nothing current about the record. Forget time travel, turn on Ringo's album, put on a leather jacket and dance your PG:13 ass off without saying "ass"." - Read my full review HERE.
1. Paul McCartney – Kisses on The Bottom
"How does a rock and roll legend top the worst album cover in years? By slapping the creepiest and most awkward title of all time 'Kisses on The Bottom' right on top of it. This same artist unfortunately follows up those two strikes by releasing an abysmal jazzy drawl that would put coked up sociopaths to asleep in the middle of a kill rampage."
"Paul McCartney has released an album that feels 60 years too late. If you dig sipping wine and wearing cool hats, then 'Kisses on The Bottom' may complete you. The record is loaded with covers of old songs that I would have a hard time recognizing even if I were 40 years older. (I) wouldn't recommend standing up while listening to it, for fear that you could potentially fall fast asleep and stumble face first into random sharp objects." - Read my full review HERE.