This has become a Thanksgiving tradition of sorts for us, beginning the year end music lists of what the calendar served up to the public as the best records of the year. Here is the first list, our HONORABLE MENTIONS category, a handful of records that did not crack our Top 10 but worthy of note. Next week we will bring our coveted, LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN award. Stay tuned for that but in the meantime, here are 2012's Honorable Album Mentions. As always it is broken up into a quick list and then with explanations.
2012 Honorable Mentions (In No Particular Order)
- Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
- Ceremony - Zoo
- Soundgarden - King Animal
- Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
- Tribes - Baby
- Hot Chip - In Our Heads
Now, with explanations:
Not since the heyday of gangsta rap has an emcee come out and give a lyrical "Fuck you" to politicians and the system. Produced by the genius El-P, Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music is a verbal document of our uncertain times and comes out swinging like prizefighter. If you are a fan of 90's hip-hop (of the Golden Era as we call it), this is a record and artist for you.
Key Tracks: Reagan, Go!
The California hardcore heroes traded their abrasive sound for something slightly more refined - a post-punk / thrash sound that mixes influences that ranged from Fugazi to Joy Division. Zoo, while still abrasive, is light in comparison to the bands other releases, however, is simply the best material Ceremony have released. Taking a much more mature and dignified step into a new direction and succeeding with flying colors.
Key Tracks: Hysteria, Repeating the Circle
There is the old phrase, "You Don't Know What You Got Until It Is Gone," and it rings true for fans of Soundgarden. Nearly two decades since their last release, 1996's Down on the Upside, Soundgarden roar back with King Animal. A record of heavy guitar licks, pounding drums, thick basslines and most of all, Chris Cornell's glorious voice as it is meant to be heard. King Animal takes life in the Seattle Grunge icons past, pecking away at various releases and moments from the bands earlier releases from their Sub Pop days all the way to their major label records and find a way to look forward.
Key Tracks: Been Away Too Long, Rowing
It was an election year, so if anyone was surprised that a new Bruce record was released, well, you don't know the Boss. On the first record since the passing of Clarence Clemons on sax, Bruce and E-Street return to give their take on the state of our Union and bring along the legendary Tom Morello for some of the ride. A furious, and lively record, Wrecking Ball plows through the nonsense and gets down to brass tacks.
Key Tracks: We Take Care Of Our Own, Death To My Hometown
In 2012 the legends of Britpop made their mark again - The Stone Roses returned to the stage, Blur broke up - then got back together again, Pulp finally came back to America and Suede said they were recording again. While those that launched the genre are enjoying a comeback of sorts, they also made the world realize how important Britpop was, thanks to a new wave of bands inspired by the 90's anthems. One of those bands were London's Tribes. On their delightfully catchy and colorful debut, Baby, Tribes take the best of Britpop and make it their own.
Key Tracks: We Were Children, Corner Of An English Field
While EDM took over the year, the London electronic rockers showed that in a post-LCD Soundsystem world, you can still rock without pushing some buttons. With In Our Heads, Hot Chip returned to form and created stadium style dance anthems that New Order would envy and tossed in enough energy that Andrew W.K. would even get exhausted.
Key Tracks: Don't Deny Your Heart, Let Me Be Him