5. Propagandhi – Failed States
I listened to an original copy of Propagandhi’s debut album How To Clean Everything on vinyl the other day and it amazed me how it was so stylistically different from 2012’s Failed States. However, both albums have the uncanny ability to make one jump around and scream at the top of one’s lungs and after all isn’t that what a good hardcore album is supposed to do? And with the NHL lockout Failed States is easily the number one most important thing coming out of Canada right now.
When a band is capable of capturing my attention with an album featuring mostly a cappella style vocals and an overt use of dominant seventh chords they must be doing something right. This album was by far the most refreshing album I heard in 2012, providing a nice balance with the Hardcore, Punk, and Metal that normally dominates my headphones. Although not the best album of 2012 Please Remain Calm is by far the most unique and taps into such a plethora of different genres and subgenres that it has a little something for everyone.
With the much anticipated return of original drummer Josh Eppard and the departure of bassist Mic Todd, the progression of Coheed and Cambria was certainly in flux. However, Sanchez and company silenced all non-believers with an album that brought back the groove of prior albums with an equally as compelling new installment into the sag known as The Amory Wars. The only disappointing part about the album was that listeners have to write till February and the release of Descension to hear the finale.
So I like underdogs and when you self release an album in opposition to the wishes of your label at the end of November I consider you an underdog. Yet, Pentimento’s self titled debut is arguably the definitive “pop” punk album of the year. With drummer Mike Hansen’s catchy, yet emotionally charged lyrics on top of powerful anthemic punk rock this album is the kind of record that gets stuck in your head for months to no complaint.
Theoretically it’s hard for a band that’s been around for 14 years to continue acting as a game-changer in a scene that’s arguably become staler than month old bread. Yet in 2012 we saw veterans Every Time I Die do just that. Ex Lives was the perfect amalgam of the chaos that defined early Every Time I Die (Last Night in Town, Hot Damn!) and the dirty southern riffage that categorized albums such as 2007’s The Big Dirty. With the added spark plug of drummer Ryan “Legs” Leger Ex Lives was easily the most urgent and timeless album of the year.
Best Live Show – Every Time I Die/The Chariot/Title Fight/Kills and Thrills
This one is a no brainer for me. When Every Time I Die returns to their hometown of Buffalo they always bring their A-game and this show was no different. Playing a glorious twenty song set with incredible support from three other great bands this was a show for the ages. Words cannot do it justice.
Biggest Disappointment – Lamb of God – Resolution
Lamb of God’s Ashes of the Wake and Sacrament are two of my favorite metal albums of all time and so I was moderately excited for their latest effort Resolution. However, the album lacked the originality and sharp lyrical output singer Randy Blythe is known for. The single “Ghost Walking” was the only song to make a worthwhile impression on me. Hopefully Blythe’s time in a Czech prison can provide some fresh inspiration for their next album.
Biggest Surprise – Title Fight – Floral Green
Although I’m going to take a lot of flak for it I have to admit that I don’t like Title Fight’s debut album Shed. I found a lot of it sloppy and contrived. However they’ve pulled a complete 180 with Floral Green which shows a lot of maturation and altogether better songwriting, finding the perfect balance between modern day fast paced punk and throwback 90s post-hardcore. Thanks to this album I am now a fan.
Most Anticipated – Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands that Thieve
Like approximately half of America I was left disappointed on Election Day, not because I wanted Mitt Romney to win, but because November 6th was supposed to be the release day of Streetlight Manifesto’s latest venture The Hands that Thieve. However, in true Streetlight fashion singer and songwriter Tomas Kalnoky delayed the album, solidifying his place as the biggest perfectionist in music. Regardless of this, their rabid fanbase (including myself) is now even more eager to get their hands on new material from a band whose knack for fusing ska, folk, and punk is undeniable.