Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 pm
Here we are, at the end of our selections of the finest music 2012 had to offer! Maybe you found some new bands to enjoy, or maybe you disagreed with some inclusions or omissions from the list. Either way, 2013 is going to have a lot to live up to, as 2012 proved itself to be a great year for music!
The Afterman: Ascension
Coheed and Cambria
If you haven’t jumped on board with the Prog Rock/Metal/Post Hardcore/Sci-Fi epic journey that is the work of Coheed and Cambria, there is no better time than the present. All of the band’s records are chapters in a larger story arc, but you won’t feel lost at all if you start with this year’s entry in the Amory wars saga, The Afterman: Ascension. Plot wise, the album focuses on the character of Sirius Amory, but melodically, the album goes everywhere and anywhere. “Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute” is a perfect entry point, as the track features heavy riffing, big sounds, and examples of how the plot is woven into the record. The Afterman: Ascension is part one of a two album set, with part two being released in early 2013. There is a lot to take in with this record, and the journey is an excellent one.
James Mercer always turns out stellar material, whether as a part of The Shins or Broken Bells. Port Of Morrow is the latest of his works and finds Mercer at his most exuberant. “Simple Song” is a spirited ode that rises and falls over a marching beat. Slower tracks like “For a Fool” give the album its emotional core and hearken back to sixties style rock without sounding like a deliberate genre move. The Shins’ records have always had a feeling of forward looking nostalgia, and Port Of Morrow is no exception. “The Rifle Spiral” and “No Way Down” have the danceable nature of a Broken Bells tune, but a mark that is unmistakably that of Mercer’s. A good jumping on point for new fans, Port Of Morrow is also a treasure for longtime lovers of The Shins.
This record will take you by surprise. Part psychedelic early to mid sixties rock and roll revival, part punk rock rumbler, is a delight from start to finish. Be careful if you do decide to give this a spin, because you might never stop playing it. The album begins on a bang with the rollicking title track, and never lets up along the way. “Fat Ones” jumps and spins along with strong beat and a host of melodic swells and dives. From the harmonies in “Nitsa” to the aural roller coaster that is the metal tinged album closer “I’ve Lost My Everything,” Future Ways should find its way on to quite a few year-end must own lists.
Jukebox The Ghost craft the kind of tunes that will cause a smile to creep across your face before you can say “Powerpop”. The band’s piano driven tunes are instantly hummable and expertly executed. Broadway style melodies and sweeping arrangements make Safe Travels a fun and exciting record. From the guitar solo amid grand strings on “At Last,” to the driving intro on “Ghosts In Empty Houses,” to the final harmonious strains of “The Spiritual,” Safe Travels is a joyous listen.
Brittnay Howard‘s voice is reason enough to check out Boys & Girls, the debut record by Alabama Shakes, but it is certainly not the only reason. Fantastic songwriting, spot on old school production, and a tight instrumental ensemble make this record an undeniable gem. Look no further than the leadoff track “Hold On” for example, and should you need further convincing check out “Hang Loose” or “Rise To The Sun.” The blues is all throughout Boys & Girls, and the record pulsates with energy and a fresh spin on the genre. In a time where a lot of bands are aiming for “retro” vibes, Alabama Shakes stand out among their peers and take charge with a solid debut record.