JACOMB’s Best CDs of 2012


My Top 20 Albums for 2012

Well, it’s that time of year again, and it’s been a good one for music, at least in my world. This year I’ve seen Watershed five times, Red Wanting Blue five times, the Clarks, and a host of other really great (and some not-so-great) supporting acts, new acts at Comfest and some bands from right here in Youngstown.  While my annual list isn’t as Columbus-centric as past lists have been, there are still some kick-ass Ohio bands that made the list.

So, with that in mind … here are the rules:

• Must have been released between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2012 (As listed on Amazon)
• Must be available for purchase via Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, CDBaby, Bandcamp or band’s website. Can’t pimp a CD that you can’t buy or download legally
• Must be longer than 30 minutes, or it goes into the EP category
• Must not be a live album
• Must not be a greatest hits package
• Must not be a box set or a collection of previously released material

My list, my rules. Don’t like it, make your own list,

1. Red Wanting Blue – From The Vanishing Point

I never really expected this album to be as good as it is, start to finish, and shame on me for that. I kind felt like a bad fan because it sat on my desk unopened for about three months. Why? Well, I had a digital download of five or six songs I got when I bought it in the pre-sale, and figured those were the best songs from the CD. I was wrong. I’ve played this CD so much if it was vinyl I’d be on my second or third copy. And their live shows … constantly improving, both with old songs and the new tracks. Seriously, if you’re a fan of Americana, you can’t go wrong with “From The Vanishing Point” and the best song, I think, is the ghost track, “My Name Is Death.”

Favorites:  Audition, Walking Shoes, Dinosaur, Ballad of Nobodies, My Name Is Death

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

2. Watershed – Brick and Mortar

I was excited to get a new Watershed album, and even more for the tour, but I didn’t expect the album to be as good as it is. It was a real tossup between “Brick and Mortar” and “From The Vanishing Point” … and I might flip-flop them, ya never know. But there’s nothing worse than a tie, so I had to move this to second place. There’s not a bad song on the album, in fact, “Manifesto (What I Like To Do)” might be my new favorite Watershed song, and “On A Broken Radio” and “Little Mistakes” are top 10, for sure. Joe Peppercon brings a host of talent to this band, and having Joe Oestreich’s chronicle of the band, “Hitless Wonder” (buy on Amazon) as summer reading made me realize how screwed up the music industry is when a band this good can’t catch on with the masses.

Favorites: Manifesto, Little Mistakes, On A Broken Radio, Words We Say

Buy on iTunes • Buy on AmazonBand Website

3. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter

Aaron Tasjan turned me onto these guys sometime in 2008 and they just floored me. This album is easily the best thing they’ve ever done. My girlfriend says it’s her favorite of 2012 … and while it’s one of my favs, I just couldn’t move either of the two above it down, but I originally had it at #7 before listening to it again and realizing I’ve played it more than anything but the top two, so it got the year-end jump. I can’t find anything about this I don’t like … the banjo is absolutely amazing on “Live And Die” and the lyrics, start to finish, are spectacular.

Favorites: The Once and Future Carpenter, Live and Die, Pretty Girl From Michigan, Winter In My Heart, February Seven … really, the whole album.

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

4. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

There’s nothing I’ve ever heard from Kathleen Edwards that I’ve not immediately liked. This is her fourth studio release, and she just keeps getting better, every time out. The lyrics, the music, the layering, everything about this album shows her growth and desire to make the next one better, not just make it. “A Soft Place To Land” might be my favorite song of the year.

Favorites: A Soft Place To Land, Chameleon / Comedian, Pink Champagne

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

5. Dar Williams – In The Time Of Gods

I think my biggest regret of the summer was not seeing Dar Williams at The Kent Stage. This album is so good, it’s hard to believe she’s had eight other studio albums. How she finds the ability to pull out new songs, ideas, stories and song structures shows the amazing talent she is. The opening song is a crazy parental look around the world, and it just gets better from there. I think Dar Williams and Mary Chapin Carpenter are the two greatest female Americana singers in this generation.

Favorites: “I Am The One Who Will Remember You, Write This Number Down, You Will Ride With Me Tonight, I Have Been Around The World

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

6. Steven Wright-Mark – My Plastic World

Steven Wright-MarkI reviewed this album on the blog. That’s here. This is from it:
If you’re a fan of the sweet lyrical hooks of power pop powered by amazing guitar riffs and changes you don’t see coming, “My Plastic World” will score well in your real world. It’s ready, and able, to be on your turntable. It may not go straight to number one, but Steven Wright-Mark’s “My Plastic World” would be a welcome addition to anyone’s playlist.

I wrote that in August. It still holds true today. This is a great album.

Favorites: My Friends Are Trash, Almost Summer, Imaginary Friends

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

7. Enemies! – Desolation Dream

Desolation Dream - smallIn addition to putting out two EP’s and touring all over the country, Aaron Lee Tasjan managed to get a full-length album out, too, with this Madison Square Gardeners side project with Rich Hinman, Mark Stepro, and John Kengla. Twelve songs of music that rocks you out of your seat, or gives you a beat to relax to when they slow the tempo down, including the album’s opener “Apathy Junkie,” which is going to be featured in “The Way, Way Back,” a movie starring Steve Carrell and Amanda Peet. That’s pretty sweet, if you ask me. Always happy when good things happen to good bands!

Favorites: Weird Ohio, Apathy Junkie, Summer of Legs, Fighting For The Rock ‘n’ Roll

Buy on Bandcamp • Enemies! Facebook Page

8. Two Gallants – The Bloom and The Blight

An aptly named album if there ever was one … this is all sorts of sonic noise and amazingly soft quiet tunes with a flow that just made this an album you listen to, not a collection of songs. Not a concept album, but expertly tracked. As gruff and chaotic as it is at times, it’s just as surprisingly slow and sweet at others. I liked this a whole lot more than I thought I would based on what I’d heard from others about it. Hope they tour out on this side of the country.

Favorites: Willie, Sunday Souvenirs, My Love Won’t Wait

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

9. Sinead O’Connor – How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?

Yes, she’s still making music. And yes, it’s still really good. This is her ninth studio album and her voice is still just as sharp and identifiable as ever, and her lyrics are just as haunting. “Queen of Denmark” might be my favorite song she’s ever done, and that’s taking the crown from “Jackie,” from her debut album, so that’s saying a lot. While this is a whole lot less angry on the surface that some would expect, she’s still simmering, just presents it better.

Favorites: Old Lady, Back Where You Belong, The Wolf Is Getting Married, Queen of Denmark

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

10. Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives

Someone gave me a Postal Service CD at a show in Columbus in 2005. “Listen to this. I think you’ll like it.” That was my introduction to Benjamin Gibbard. I hadn’t heard anything from Death Cab For Cutie, simply because the name sounded like something I’d not like at all. Granted, that changed after I listened, and when I heard he was putting out an album of songs that have been stuck in his back pocket for years, I was pretty exited. Like Greg Joseph’s “American Diary,” sometimes when you’re in a band, you have songs you write for yourself. This is like that. Said Gibbard, “‘These songs span eight years, three relationships, living in two different places, drinking then not drinking. ‘They’re a side story, not a new chapter.” What’s funny is the first single, “Teardrop Windows,” is like my third favorite song on the album. “Bigger Than Love” and “I’m Building A Fire” are better, in my opinion.

Favorites: Teardrop Windows, Dream Song, Bigger Than Love, I’m Building A Fire

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

The rest of the Top 20

… in list form, because this is late and I’m lazy.

11. Todd Snider – Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables

Favorites: In The Beginning, New York Banker, Digger Dave’s Crazy Women Blues

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

12. Harper Blynn – Busy Hands

Favorites: In Another Life, Knife, Summer in Exile

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

13. Bob Mould – Silver Age

Favorites: Star Machine, Round The City Square, First Time Joy

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

14. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

Favorites: Hold On, You Ain’t Alone,  On Your Way

Buy on iTunes  • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

15. The Whiles – Somber Honey

Favorites: So Sweet, Mouth of the Wolf, Seem So Long Ago, Somber Honey, Leaving

Buy on Bandcamp

16. The Lumineers – The Lumineers

Favorites: Dead Sea, Ho Hey, Stubborn Love, Morning Song

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

17. Alberta Cross – Songs of Patience

Favorites: Magnolia, Ophelia On My Mind, I Believe In Everything

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

18. Keane – Strangeland

Favorites: Disconnected, Silenced By The Night, Sovereign Light Cafe, It’s Not True

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

19. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

Favorites: Handwritten, Too Much Blood, Biloxi Parish, Mae, National Anthem

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website

20. Green Day – Uno, Dos, Tre (combined)

Favorites: UNO: Kill The DJ, Oh Love, Angel Blue;  DOS: Baby Eyes, Amy, Makeout Party; TRE: 8th Avenue Serenade; Amanda, Walk Away

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon (Uno, Dos, Tres) • Band Website

Bonus: Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

Favorites: Land of Hope and Dreams, Death To My Hometown, Rocky Ground

Buy on iTunes • Buy on Amazon • Band Website


Agree? Disagree? Leave me comments about what you think I missed.

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2 Responses to “JACOMB’s Best CDs of 2012”

  1. dawn@lightenup! Says:

    You always were such a great source for new music. And I see you still are.

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