5. Tom Waits - Bad as Me (Anti)
"Listen to the general! Every goddamn word," Waits growls on his first studio album in seven years and one that just might outshine his previous, 2004's cult classic Real Gone (well, aren't they all cult classics? Sure, Waits is in the the R 'N' R Hall of Fame but do you really see people giving this man as much credit or love as Bono? Glad we can all agree on that. FUCK BONO!). Tom Waits said his wife told him to crank out the tunes fast and furious and to be short and concise and it is a glorious collection of from one of the most interesting and continually innovative American artists of all time. Weaved within the howlers like the title track, "Hell Broke Luce" and "Get Lost" are quieter tracks, like "Back in the Crowd" that showcase just how powerful Wait's voice can be when he isn't hammering your brain with his carnival barker rasp (note: this is not complaint nor criticism). Plus, Keith Richards plays guitar on this. How the fuck can you go wrong with Keef if someone like Waits is cracking the whip? Everett True quoted a friend on Facebook describing this album as, "the best kind of 'more of the same.' Spot on. Oh and I arbitrarily ranked it this high because the lone official video released has no emu's in it.Anti gets Tom some emu's, like they did before, and in 2012 I switch all this shit up. Got it?
4. Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream (In the Red)
Not content to release one awe inspiring psychedelic skull-fuck this year, John Dwyer and co. pumped this record out (originally conceived as two E.P.'s) about six months after the sunshine-pop filled, deliriously trippy, Castlemania and I struggled about which record would retain this spot for a bit. In fact, all I did on my Xmas shift at the hospital was bounce back and forth between the two, nodding my head uncontrollably, receiving concerned glares from my co-workers who are most certainly not accustomed to acid-flashback inspiring garage rock excellence. In the end, Carrion Crawler/The Dream wins out because the band drifts off into unexpected realms, leaving the music totally unpredictable. Plus, it's the noisier of the two. It's a fantastic record and it might be their masterpiece.
3. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake (Vagrant)
Holy fuck, people, this record is unbelievably brilliant and incredibly difficult for me to write about without hyperbole. Bottom line, Polly Jean is still on the minimalist kick and along with Mick Harvey and John Parish she has crafted a wicked political album that is probably the most haunting and acerbic (well, lyrically at least) of her career. You just can't shake some of the images she splashes across your brain. Let England Shake is the most pleasurable musical punch to the balls you'd ever like to receive. She truly is the Patti Smith of her generation.
2. Mind Spiders - S/T (Dirtnap)
This is another record I was shocked (to almost violent rage) that didn't make it on almost ANY top 10 list. Are you fucking kidding me? Mark Ryan (of the amazing, criminally underrated, Marked Men) pumps out an amazing garage-pop album and just because it's released in January and not blown by the blogosphere like Bon Iver or whatever other horseshit was stylistically calculated to appease lazy music writers searching for a quick write up, this rad piece of wax gets relegated to the metaphorical dustbin? Fuck that noise. The Marked Men were, from the get go, one of the best bands on the planet and Ryan has carried that tradition on while managing to get weird at times while maintaining their obsession for 60's pop. If you don't see hope for the future of pop music in this band then Van Gogh yourself...twice!
1. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life (Matador)
If this is the end of Fucked Up, then they've gone out on an incredibly high note. Few bands can successfully do the concept album and when you throw in hardcore punk bands to the mix the odds get exponentially lower. However, these cats managed to magnificently pull it off, plotting the beats of their "rock opera" in a Toronto food court while retooling the music to coincide with it. Alongside the album, they released singles coloring the fictional town the story takes place in that run the gamut from the could have been on a KBD comp, "My Old Man's a Ginger" to the dreamy 90's alt-rock on, "Light Rain" or even the garage-pop on, "It's Hard to Be a Dad".
But, what is first and foremost here is the music on the album itself. I've been a total fanboy for Fucked Up ever since I heard Epics in Minutes. I've been thrilled to see the band progress beyond the second coming of Black Flag label that was thrust upon them, deservedly so, earlier in their career. Mike Haliecheck, the architect of this group's brilliant brand of sonic assault, deserves much of the credit for the records' success but it's frontman Damien Abraham's ripped-throat snarl that ferociously delivers the many emotional gut punches perfectly placed throughout the record. And despite the incredibly high bar this records sets for Fucked Up, I'm sure whatever it is they unleash upon us next will be at the very least, on par with David Comes to Life.
EP of the Year - Tie
Future of the Left - Polymers are Forever (Xtra Mile)
So, they dropped the bassist that has been with Andy Falkous since mclusky and added a second guitarist and yet, the proper question is, how fucking more awesome could this band get? Waaaaay more rad, folks.
Trash Talk - Awake (True Panther)
If Cerebral Ballzy weren't so drunk (not a complaint) and more into metal.