Xmas comes but once a year and brings along with it the decorated trees, inflated Visa bill and those cool little sausages wrapped in bacon. It also signifies the beginning of the end of the year and thus the regular festive tradition of the top ten season. So here’s my top ten albums released this year. Sadly not wrapped in bacon.
Lamb of God have had a bit of an up and down year with singer Randy Blythe still currently being accused of manslaughter in the Czech Republic. At least the year started off better with the release of Resolution. It’s a rocking album full of the usual variety of high powered riffs, chugging guitar and awesome drums you’d expect to hear. There’s a little variety this time round too with one song featuring some orchestrated parts. Maybe not the best entry in the discography, but a damn good record that I’m still enjoying even though it was released in January.
Billy Talent went for a change this time round by giving their fourth studio album an actual name instead of being yet another self titled record. Thankfully, that’s about all that changed as the catchy hook filled power punk infused rock they’ve created so far is as good as its ever been. Going back and listening to the first record again, vocal is noticeably cleaner and less shouty this time round, and album four easily rocks almost as much as the previous releases. Although I never actually reviewed it for the site, I’ve enjoyed repeated spins over the last few months and also enjoyed giving it another whirl in preparation for writing this piece. Great stuff.
Easily the most curious album in this run-down, Fiona Apple proves that armed only with a voice and a small collection of eclectic instruments you don’t need loads of people to create an excellent piece of music. The first track “Every Single Night” is one of the best album openers I’ve heard in a long while and pretty much only features some xylophone, double bass and the teensiest pinch of percussion added to her distinctive warbling vocal. This woman is a genius songwriter and crafter, sculpting some beautiful melodies around lyrics infused with some scathing wit. She should be heard by everyone and this album is a superb place to start if you never have.
The second year running that We Are The Ocean have appeared in my top ten. Despite losing a singer they still produced an excellent album although they do sound like they’re maybe missing his distinctive voice here and there. I really enjoyed Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow if not as much as last years entry. It’s not as overtly rocky and I think their next release written from scratch aiming for a single singer will produce even better things. Here’s looking forward to three years in a row.
I absolutely loved Straight Lines first album Persistence In This Game so really looked forward to follow up Freaks Like Us. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed at all with great songs like the eponymous title track, and singles “Commitments” and “Half Gone”. A band with very distinctive vocals and some unconventional song construction chopping and changing when you least expect it, Straight Lines offer some great rock with a unique edge. They are touring with We Are The Ocean in February 2013 and I’m pretty sure that will be one of the best gigs of the year.
I firmly believe Sinch are the best band you’ve never heard. When I reviewed Hive Mind back in April I said that I liked the album but wasn’t sure if I’d grow to love it as I do the previous releases. It’s only been 8 months but I can safely say now that my fears of it not lasting the test of time have been alleviated. Hell, I now even rather like “Jack’s Heart”, a song I initially labelled as “abysmal”. I still think the production is a little flat, though that’s about all that lets this album down. You’ll find the entire top ten playlist below so give “State of Affairs” and “Vessels” a go at the least and see if they whet your appetite and say hi to your new favourite obscure band.
Go play opening track “Swerve City”. Go on, I’ll wait. Cracker, isn’t it? And the best thing is, that level of bombastic power balanced with grace is just as strong throughout the rest of the album. I’m not sure if Koi No Yokan is as good as previous album Diamond Eyes, but that’s a bit like saying that one precious stone isn’t a shiny as another one. Deftones are one of my favourite bands and so what I expected to be a pretty decent album blew me away. It was easily my most anticipated album of the year with the exception of my number three entry.
Joining the trend of releasing albums in parts, Coheed and Cambria released this first half of the prequel to the Amory Wars saga late on in the year. That certainly hasn’t detracted from it being one of the stand out releases of the year though. It sounds typically Coheed with the regular blend of lengthy character based schizophrenic epics and slices of dark yet radio friendly pop rock. Admittedly I felt a wee bit cheated by The Afterman: Ascension only being just over 35 minutes long, but it’s a cracking record indeed and has left me keen for next years Decension. Here’s hoping that’s a top ten contender too.
I’m slightly saddened by this album because it was the final release from a band I really thought deserved massive success. It makes for some interesting listening though as some of the lyrical content of Behind The Bright Lights can be interpreted in a different light when you consider the band announced the split while they were still writing and recording it. Thankfully they did complete and release it as I’d have missed out on one of the best records I’ve heard in a long while never mind this year. It’s full of energy, anger and technical skill. Love it.
1. InMe – The Pride
Any regular reader of the site this year won’t be even a little surprised by this not so startling revelation of my number one album of the year. Hell, I’ve harped on about them enough. InMe are a band I regrettably lost touch with over the years and it was only noticing their Pledgemusic campaign did I realise what I’d been missing. Running through the back catalogue has been great, but it’s perfectly topped off with The Pride, one of the single most beautiful records I have ever heard. The musicianship throughout is glorious, the vocals are passionate, the lyrics truly heartfelt, making a full product that’s a gem to behold from start to finish. I’m still discovering nuances to it even having listened to it over and over and over again. In fact, I’m off to give it another spin.
And so there we go. 10 albums and 115 songs that I’ve really enjoyed this year. Thanks to Spotify you can play them all with the widget below. I’ve no idea what’s in store for us in 2013 but if it produces anything as good as these records I’ll be happy. With any luck at least one of them might even be wrapped in bacon.