Joe’s Top 10 Albums of 2012

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2012 has definitely been a great year for music… usually, I struggle to find albums that I consider “good enough” to be put on a top ten list, but with the material that’s been coming out since January, my list has far surpassed its limit of albums that deserve to be recognized. However, it’s called “Top Ten” for a reason, so these are the ten albums I feel most accurately represent this year in music:

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1. The 2nd Law – Muse

Some bands stick with the same sound on every album, which can get repetitive. Other bands attempt to experiment to find their “new sound” and fail miserably. Muse is a band who tries not necessarily to find a new sound, but to expand their sound with each new album. The 2nd Law shows the hugely popular British rock band reaching the limit of their musical genius and going even further past that boundary. They have mixed their distinctive space rock genre with funk, R&B, and even dubstep, to create the most unique album of 2012, AND of their career. With so many varied tunes, everyone is bound to like at least one song off The 2nd Law. I, on the other hand, happen to love every song Muse puts out, which is why The 2nd Law has found its way to the top of my list. Congrats fellas!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek0SgwWmF9w

2. Go – Motion City Soundtrack

Motion City has always been a solid band all the way through. I have seen them live at countless points in their career, and they only ever seem to get better. Go, the band’s most recent effort, has that classic MCS vibe, as well as some interesting new twists. Several songs off this album, like “Circuits And Wires” and “Bad Idea,” were originally set to be released off their previous studio albums but were put off until Go, which is what gives this album its old-school MCS sound. The more dancy beats on “Boxelder” and “Son Of A Gun,” and bassist Matthew Taylor’s string arrangements on “Everyone Will Die” are what counter this and give the album a modern edge as well. Overall, Go is my personal favorite rock album of this year, and it will certainly help boost Motion City Soundtrack forward as a great rock band.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwd9a75g_js

3. Babel – Mumford & Sons

Two years ago, Mumford & Sons seemingly came out of nowhere with the release of their debut album, Sigh No More. I remember hearing “Little Lion Man” CONSTANTLY on the radio and loving every second of it. That’s why I was extremely excited to hear about the folk group’s second effort, Babel, coming out this year. Though the album is much of the same, it means the songs are just as catchy as those on Sigh No More. “I Will Wait” and “Below My Feet” are songs I will definitely still be listening to several years down the road. Marcus Mumford and the gang are also getting a bit more electric on this album, with several tracks featuring electric guitar, electric bass, and even a full drum set. This change of pace adds to the greatness that is Babel, making it another masterpiece from 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGKfrgqWcv0

4. On The Impossible Past – The Menzingers

On The Impossible Past, the big breakout album of The Menzingers, has definitely been this year’s big punk record. The Menzingers have kind of been on and off the radar with their previous albums, but with the release of their most recent effort, they have definitely found their way into the big leagues, opening for Rise Against for a series of stadium shows and even headlining their own tour in Europe. On The Impossible Past is classic punk rock all the way to the end, and you can sing along to pretty much every chorus. The Menzingers also get the award for the crudest lyrics in a chorus for this year (those of you who know the song “The Obituaries” will know what I’m talking about). At the risk of sounding like a hipster, I have loved everything the Menzingers have put out since my friend showed them to me about two years ago, and with the release of On The Impossible Past, this band has secured their position as one of my favorite punk bands of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVKO8BeDIw

5. Blunderbuss – Jack White

It’s a shame it has taken me this long to get into The White Stripes, especially since they broke up so recently (early 2011). Nevertheless, after listening to the late band’s six studio albums pretty much nonstop, I was glad to hear about Jack White’s debut solo album coming out. Though significantly more folk-influenced than The White Stripes, Jack White’s Blunderbuss definitely has some killer tunes on it. I think a large part of the reason I love this album so much is because Jack White is such a unique and mysterious character that every song he writes feels like a new (though very confusing) experience. A prime example of this is White’s music video for “Sixteen Saltines” (Some parental guidance may be required if you plan on watching said video). In a music industry filled with hundreds of bands of the same genre that all sound identical, it’s very nice to hear a standout album like Blunderbuss for a change.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iErNRBTPbEc

6. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger – River City Extension

The great thing about working at The Core is that you get introduced to a ton of not very well-known bands that are still incredibly awesome, and Toms River locals River City Extension are no exception. I first saw them at Bamboozle in 2011, and I have been listening to them ever since. The Unmistakable Man, the group’s debut album, had some serious hits on it, like “Something Salty, Something Sweet” and “Our New Intelligence,” so again, I was very much looking forward to their second release, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger. The strange thing about this album is that for some reason, I rarely every listen to it. Whenever I do though, it is always an inspiring experience, considering how perfect the songwriting of this band is. So though it may be one of my least listened to albums of the year, it definitely earns its spot in the top ten.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvlYBMsJ0qY

7. Beacon – Two Door Cinema Club

A band’s second studio album is that risky sophomore release that tells the listener whether a band is here to stay or whether they can only produce one album of good material. Not only have there been a ton of second albums released this year, but most of them are surprisingly very good, from Mumford & Sons’ Babel to River City Extension’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger, and now Irish rock group Two Door Cinema Club’s awesome indie release, Beacon. Following up their hugely popular debut, Tourist HistoryBeacon serves up much of the same, but with a little less indie and a little more rock. “Sun” is a big single off this album, and it takes the band into all-new territory with a heavy funk base accompanied by a blistering horn section. Definitely another very solid album if you dug their early stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKyK1Mme9Sc

8. Synthetica – Metric

While Synthetica isn’t Metric’s second studio album, it’s certainly the second album of theirs that has been released in the U.S. with considerably positive reviews, following up their album, Fantasies. Metric’s style is simple, yet very catchy (guitar, bass, drums, and heavy synth), so practically every song gets stuck in your head at some point. “Youth Without Youth,” “The Void,” and “Clone” are some of the big standouts, but again, it’s very easy to listen to the entire album all the way to the end without having to skip around. Though they’re not as big as they deserve to be, Metric always puts out great material, and Synthetica is definitely worth a listen or two.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttqMGYHhFFA

9. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind – Ben Folds Five

Since it has been thirteen years since Ben Folds Five have put out any new tunes together, their reunion album, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, is chock-full of fresh, original material. Not only are the songs catchy and well-written, but Ben Folds, Robert Sledge, and Darren Jessee are all so musically gifted that every drum fill, bass riff, and piano solo make you cringe at how talented they truly are. This, mixed with the classical and jazz background the trio infuses into their music, helps make The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind another truly unique collection of tunes and another great album of this year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEyrfFwf3rI

10. My Head Is An Animal – Of Monsters And Men

This was a VERY last-minute addition to my list (unfortunately kicking out The Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten), but My Head Is An Animal is truly too good to ignore. Icelandic folk rockers Of Monsters And Men hit the scene in the U.S. with their huge single, “Little Talks,” and after listening to this song to the point of nausea, I simply passed the group off as just another one-hit wonder. However, while sitting around one day thinking I needed to listen to something new, I gave their full album a listen and loved every song instantly. If you made the same mistake I did, definitely listen to My Head Is An Animal when you get a chance, especially if you love “Little Talks.” These guys have way more to offer so be sure to keep an eye out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I

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