Here we are again with our newest feature Throwback Thursday, and this week looking back at my 2012 top albums list and looking for answers as to why I ranked certain albums where (Why is Go Radio a top 10 album for example?) 2012 was a year of big changes in my life. I began writing quite often for the old Keep Calm blog (starting with the album that is number 2 on my re-rank list) and I became a full-time guest host on our radio show. All that change was marked by a significant increase in the sheer amount of music I listened to. Here is my original top albums list:
Original Top 15 Albums:
15. All Time Low- Don’t Panic
14. Make Do and Mend- Everything You Ever Loved
13. Yellowcard- Southern Air
12. The Forecast- Everybody Left
11. Silversun Pickups- Neck of the Woods
10. Title Fight- Floral Green
9. Enter Shikari- A Flash Flood of Colour
8. Further Seems Forever- Penny Black
7. Go Radio- Close The Distance
6. Circa Survive- Violent Waves
5. The Menzingers- On The Impossible Past
4. The Early November- In Currents
3. Fun.- Some Nights
2. Anberlin- Vital
1. The Gaslight Anthem- Handwritten
Albums that dropped off my list: Title Fight- Floral Green, Further Seems Forever- Penny Black, Go Radio- Close the Distance, Yellowcard- Southern Air
These albums were the beneficiaries of what was simply just a down year for my musical tastes. Go Radio made my top 10 based almost solely off the strengths of two songs: “Go To Hell” and “I Won’t Lie,” which are both great songs, but do not make the album worthy of making any best-of-year list. Yellowcard’s Southern Air made it onto my year end list primarily because I horribly overhyped it in my album review for our old Keep Calm and Carry On blog and I didn’t want to have it miss the cut after all that. Title Fight’s Floral Green is not necessarily a bad album- and it doesn’t really have any particularly bad songs- but it’s just horribly forgettable to the point where I haven’t even listened to it since 2013. Further Seems Forever was a case of us looking at the storyline of a reunion instead of the product of that reunion. Penny Black sounds stale, even by 2012’s admittedly lower standards, today.
My re-ranked list (previous ranking parenthesized)
- Misser- Everyday, I Tell Myself I’m Going to Be a Better Person (Not Ranked)
Even as I said it would be difficult for Go Radio to make the album’s list with just two good songs, here we are with the Misser case study of that very scenario. Sure, “Time Capsules” and “Reconnect This” are phenomenal, but the second half of this album varies between barely listenable and abomination to music. But that “Time Capsules” melody though….
- Coheed and Cambria- The Afterman: Ascension (NR)
Coheed’s best album since Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 1 in 2005. It’s amazing that after almost twenty years of being a band, Coheed and Cambria can still surprise their fans and put out interesting rocking music like Vic the Butcher and the other eight songs here.
- The Forecast- Everybody Left (12)
While I don’t go back and listen to this record as much as I probably should, the little-known former Victory Records band from Peoria, Illinois put out the best album of their career in Everybody Left. It was at once catchy, memorable, and original. Everything about this Americana-tinged album screams summer, from the clean guitar tones and hand claps to the major-key melodies.
- Make Do and Mend- Everything You Ever Loved (14)
The rip-roaring punk styling of End Measured Mile took a backseat to somber alt-rock introspection on Everything You Ever Loved, the second full-length record from Make Do and Mend. Although the band’s newest Don’t Be Long is easily their career highlight, Everything You Ever Loved displayed their ability to convey a resolute urgency while still taking your foot off the gas pedal.
- The Killers- Battle Born (NR)
Criminally underrated in The Killers canon, somehow thought of by many Killers fans as the band’s worst album, not only does Battle Born feature the band’s best song since “Mr. Brightside” in “Runaways”- but it’s also a return to the band’s arena rock gesturing that made Sam’s Town such a tremendous success.
- Silversun Pickups- Neck of the Woods (11)
One of the best alt-rock bands in the world, Silversun Pickups released their “worst” album yet in 2012 and yet it was still good enough to reach my top 10. That’s just the caliber of the albums that came before it. Neck of the Woods is a little on the overlong side, but the band’s shoegaze influenced alternative sound is on full display here and it features a little something for everyone.
- Kendrick Lamar- good kid, m.A.A.d city (NR)
One of the best hip-hop albums of the millennium, good kid, m.A.A.d city was an album that took me far too long to get into. Once I finally gave it the proper time and respect, it instantly earned a place in my library. The yearning with which Lamar delivers his lyrics is unmatched by any of the other albums on this list.
- Circa Survive- Violent Waves (6)
As was the case with Silversun Pickups, this is Circa Survive’s worst record of their career to-date, but is still strong enough to earn a top 10 spot. Violent Waves was an interesting change of pace after the fairly straightforward Blue Sky Noise. Spacious, unpredictable, and at points prone to excess, Violent Waves is a perfect snapshot of where Circa Survive was in their lives in 2012- and as a result it works as a nice compliment to the band’s newest, Decensus.
- The Early November- In Currents (4)
The Early November’s return, In Currents, is one I never could’ve predicted loving as much as I did. It’s a messy, erratic album, shifting sounds and styles at a whim – and yet all of those factors are what make me find In Currents so engaging and keeps me coming back. When you can transition directly from the ambient “A Stain on The Carpet” to the blistering “Frayed In Doubt” you’re doing something intriguing and worth listening to.
- Enter Shikari- A Flash Flood Of Colour (9)
The most controversial selection on this list no doubt- and let me make this clear, I am an absolute Enter Shikari “Stan”- is one that I think you should without a doubt listen to if you have written the band off in the past. Easily Enter Shikari’s best record, A Flash Flood of Colour interestingly eschews a lot of the band’s screams in favor of Rou Reynold’s increasingly impressive clean vocal delivery. Combine that with a renewed focus on their lyrical content, and A Flash Flood of Colour could be a surprising favorite to those that have only heard “Sorry, You’re Not a Winner.”
- All Time Low- Don’t Panic (15)
Speaking of bands you may have written off in the past, many of you may have completely given up on All Time Low after the twenty-car-pileup that was Dirty Work. But if you’re like me and were rubbernecking at the car wreck, you were rewarded with Don’t Panic, the band’s stunning followup. If you don’t find at least two songs to love on this album’s front half, I’m not sure you have ears or a heart. Damn near perfect pop-rock which they are now no doubt going to squander by going back to work with a pop producer and co-writers again.
- Anberlin- Vital (2)
While this was initially my number 2 album of the year, . This is a near perfect rock record from my favorite band of all time. It’s just that that same band has two- possibly three- better records and as a result I can’t put it anything but fourth on this list.
- The Gaslight Anthem- Handwritten (1)
For the first time, I legitimately regret putting a certain album number one on my album of the year list going back. It’s not that Handwritten is a bad album- it’s very nearly The Gaslight Anthem’s best- it’s just that another band did everything The Gaslight Anthem did here about 10x better. But we’ll get to that in a few….
- fun.- Some Nights (3)
The best pop album of the 2010s, made by perhaps the most unlikely of sources- a pop-rock supergroup of members from Steel Train, The Format, and Anathallo- Some Nights took over the world for a solid year. It’s easy for those detractors to say fun. sold out for their success, but those detractors are sorely mistaken. Fun. Released an album that was filled with the same kind of self-deprecating, anxiety-ridden lyrics that Nate Ruess and Jack Antonoff had always written and sang about in their previous albums and projects, while the music was just as quirky and different as anything on the band’s first record Aim and Ignite. Fun. is pop music for people who don’t like pop music.
- The Menzingers- On the Impossible Past (5)
Years down the line, people in the punk community will regard this album as an all-time classic along with the likes of The Clash’s London Calling, The Ramones’ The Ramones, and Never Mind the Bullocks Here’s the Sex Pistols. I know that sounds like an utterly ridiculous statement- and in part it is- but I’m also just trying to convey how important I feel this album continues to be three years later. Tom May and Greg Barnett perfected their storytelling on On The Impossible Past– at once synthesizing the latent nostalgia and hopefully yearning of one’s early 20s into one of the most somber, yet hopeful, albums of the generation. Listen to it.