Top 10 Albums of 2012

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

Each and every year sees the charts hit with a barrage of albums and new releases, some good and some just downright awful. With 2012 now in the books and a new year of music quickly approaching, here is my top-10 list of favourite albums from the past year.

- Image courtesy Reprise.

– Image courtesy Reprise.

10. ¡Dos! by Green Day

Releasing three full-length studio albums over a three-month period, Green Day made a powerful return after 2009’s Grammy-award winning 21st Century Breakdown¡Dos! was the meat of the Green Day studio-album sandwich and arguably the best of the three

Top three highlights from the album include: “See You Tonight,” “Amy” and “Stray Heart.”

9. My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men

Hailing from Iceland, Of Monsters and Men took North America by storm with its first studio album. While it hit shelves in Iceland in September 2011, it didn’t reach Canada until April 2012, where it would go platinum.

Top three highlights from the album include: “Six Weeks,” “From Finner” and “Little Talks.”

- Image courtesy Battleaxe Records.

– Image courtesy Battleaxe Records.

8. Dope Sick by Madchild

The blonde-haired, rage-spitting Madchild, well-known for his work with Battleaxe Warriors’ Swollen Members, dropped his solo album in late August. The release marked a smashing return to the Canadian hip-hop scene for a soul who many thought was lost. Dope Sick tells the tale of an oxycontin-addled rapper who fights his way back from addiction and through recovery.

Top three highlights from the album include: “Wake Up,” “Judgement Day” and “Runaway.”

7. Small Fame by Bend Sinister

Originally from Kelowna, Bend Sinister released its third full-length album in July 2012. Harnessing classic rock sounds commonly heard in giants such as Supertramp, Billy Joel and Queen, Bend Sinister brings 1970s and ’80s rock to a new generation. The sky is the limit as Bend Sinister is only beginning to tap into its potential.

Top three highlights from the album include: “One Shot,” “Give It a Rest” and “Black Magic Woman,” a fantastic cover of the Fleetwood Mac song that Santana would popularize in 1970.

- Image courtesy Silvergun & Spleen

– Image courtesy Silvergun & Spleen

6. Semi Truck by Silvergun & Spleen

Featuring two sassy female leads, Marie-Eve Mallet (vocalist/guitarist) and Veronique Mallet (vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist), Silvergun & Spleen burst on to the Canadian music scene with the release of Semi Truck in September 2012. Semi Truck is the follow-up to 2011’s EP, Through My Skeleton.

Top three highlights from the album include: “Kiss & Tell,” “An Eye for an Eye” and “Semi Truck.”

5. Stomping the Phantom Brake Pedal by Angels & Airwaves

2012 marked a year of change for Angels & Airwaves. With the passing of long-time sound engineer Jeff Newell on New Year’s Eve 2011 and the departure of drummer Adam Willard, uncertainty was in the air for a band coming off the release of a double album and accompanying full-length feature film. After adding new percussionist Ilan Rubin, formerly the touring drummer with Nine Inch Nails, Angels & Airwaves released a double EP, Stomping the Phantom Brake Pedal.

Top three highlights from the album include: “Reel 6,” “Anxiety Remix” and “Reel 1 (Diary).”

- Image courtesy Last Gang Records

– Image courtesy Last Gang Records

4. The Sticks by Mother Mother

Mother Mother returned to the Canadian music scene in September 2012 and while The Sticks may have been darker than previous efforts from the Quadra Island indie rockers, the reception was no less positive. Still maintaining certain elements of the classic Mother Mother indie dance-pop the band has become known for, lead singer Ryan Guldemond and his four band mates displayed versatile song-writing and the ability to step outside their own norm. Mother Mother has been on the rise since the release of 2008’s O My Heart and The Sticks contributes to the groups continuing upward trend.

Top three highlights from the album include: “Bit by Bit,” “Love It Dissipates” and “Infinitesimal.”

- Image courtesy blink-182

– Image courtesy blink-182

3. Dogs Eating Dogs by blink-182

It might have snuck in under the wire with its release on Dec. 18, 2012, but blink-182’s Dogs Eating Dogs EP makes the cut nonetheless. Not only that, but despite only being a five-song EP, it manages to crack the top three on this list. Quality over quantity, my friends. The California rockers returned with a vengeance, looking to stake a claim to the part of the rock world that once belonged to them. After going on a lengthy hiatus, 2011’s Neighborhoods was met with mixed reviews. Dogs Eating Dogs has already received numerous five-star reviews and for the first time a decade, blink-182 is once again relevant in the music industry. A split with Interscope Records likely allowed the group a bit more creative freedom and that can certainly be heard on Dogs Eating Dogs as the band experiments with sounds unconventional when lined up with blink-182’s previous recordings. They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but it certainly seems as though the aging blink boys have utilized freedom from a major label to teach themselves a few new tricks.

Top three highlights from the EP include: “Disaster,” “When I Was Young” and “Pretty Little Girl.”

- Image courtesy Universal

– Image courtesy Universal

2. Is by Hey Ocean

Mother Mother isn’t the only band loaded with potential to come out of B.C.’s West Coast music scene. Hey Ocean has been around since 2006, longer than Mother Mother, but has yet to have the same critical success of its Quadra Island counterpart. 2012 was kind to Hey Ocean as the band’s latest release, Is, was met with positive reviews. With an upbeat and inspiring dance-pop sound while managing to maintain a soft indie rock soul, Is doesn’t just cater to one audience and that brings about a significant contribution to its success. The group’s energetic and passionate live performances help pull in love and adulation from fans across Canada. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund an international tour, it seems as though global fans will also get to experience the same positive vibes as those of us in Canada have already been so fortunate to soak up.

Top three highlights from the album include: “Steady,” “Jolene” and “Give.”

- Image courtesy Mercury Records

– Image courtesy Mercury Records

1. Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem has steadily been on the rise in the alternative rock scene. Bringing an energetic blend of upbeat modern rock and classic folk-style Bruce Springsteen, the New Jersey group hit its first true homerun with 2012’s Handwritten. From start to finish, Handwritten is an absolute masterpiece. Listening from one end of the album to the other, most listeners will be hard-pressed to find a weak link within the 14-track set. From the opening track and lead single, “45,” to the quiet yet passionate love ballad “National Anthem,” lead singer Brian Fallon is quickly establishing himself as the next strong American singer-songwriter. Handwritten hit number one on the U.S. Rock chart, U.S. Alternative chart and U.K. rock chart. It peaked as high as number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 and soared as high as number five on the Canadian charts. The deluxe edition of the album includes the bonus track “Blue Dahlia” as well as covers of Nirvana’s “Sliver” and Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky.” The Tom Petty cover is arguably one of the best cover songs to be recorded in years.

Top three highlights from the album: “Too Much Blood,” “Keepsake” and “National Anthem.”