Ok, so following on from my last Blog here is the second part of my favourite 10 albums from 2012. If you missed Part 1, fear not dear reader as you can still find the Blog here or by simply scrolling down the page to after this post. However, if you did read Part 1, well firstly many thanks for the support and secondly I hope you enjoy reading Part 2 which, with air-guitars still at the ready, we shall jump straight into with a great up-and-coming young band hailing from The US-of-A, Minneapolis.
#5. Howler – America Give Up (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #22 – 8/10)
Arriving on the scene in early January this year, young up-starts Howler released their debut album ‘America Give Up’. Now long time readers may know I’m quite a fan of this bright, young band’s slasher, surfer-rock Indie style and this debut album certainly didn’t disappoint when it arrived. With a collection of fast, catchy garage-rock tracks the band very much remind me of a lite version of The Strokes from the beach-party styled opener ‘Beach Sluts’ to ‘This One’s Different’ reminding me very much of the juke box from the old TV series ‘Happy Days’ (ask your parents kids!). ‘Told You Once’ continues the classic 60’s Diner theme, while uniquely titled ‘Pythagorean Fearem’ reminds me a lot of the dark, sinister sound the band ‘80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster’ were famed for. Throw in more fast, paced garage-rock with incredibly catchy tracks ‘Wailing (Making Out) and excellent closer ‘Black Lagoon’ and what we have here are a fun, exciting young band, which if you’re a fan on band’s like The Strokes, The Vaccines and to an extend The Libertines and missed this early album from 2012, then I would highly recommend it!
Recommended Tracks: ‘Beach Sluts’, ‘Wailing (Making Out)’, ‘Told You Once, ‘Black Lagoon’Personal Favourite Track: ‘This One’s Different’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWBdBMffoU
Howler brought their Surfer, Garage-Rock sound to The Garage back in January
#4. Maximo Park – The National Health (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #26 – 9/10)
Our next stop on this journey through 2012 see’s us arrive in the North-East; Newcastle to be exact with the long-awaited return of Maximo Park and their 4th studio album ‘The National Health’. And in my opinion it was well worth the wait as ‘The National Health’ saw the band on real top-form this year, really pushing at the boundaries of the fast, paced guitar sound the band are famed for. From opening piano ballad ‘When I was Wild’, a surprising start to the record but sets it up nicely, we then had the more ‘traditional’ Maximo Park guitar sound on title-track ‘The National Health’ and the sound continued to be found on tracks ‘Until the Earth would Open’ and ‘Wolf Among Men’, which I always find I can’t help but dance to every time I hear it. Also featuring more, ‘darker’ electro-pop on previous single ‘Hips and Lips’ and ‘Banlieue’; we also then had the sweeter, more romantic side of Maximo Park on tracks ‘The Undercurrents’, ‘Reluctant Love’ and ‘Unfamiliar Places’. It’s fair to say the band really challenged themselves and packed quite an impressive range of tracks into a 40-minute record and again this has been another record I’ve found myself listening to a lot this year.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Hips and Lips’, ‘The Undercurrents’, ‘Reluctant Love’, ‘Wolf Among Men’Personal Favourite Track: ‘The National Health’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiVxX3r5GhI
#3. The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #24 – 9/10)
We next head further North still to Kilsyth, Scotland as The Twilight Sad released their 3rd album in February this year with ‘No One Can Ever Know’, the follow-up to their fantastic second album ‘Forget the Night Ahead’. The distinctly Scottish band returned with another collection of dark, intense and cryptic songs with a generous dose of synths, electronics and even accordions applied to tracks throughout the record. Each track acts very much as a ‘chapter’ through the record, ranging from opener ‘Alphabet’ setting the more synth-based direction of this album, to the more traditional guitar tracks by the band in the momentum building and fast paced guitar track ‘Dead City’ and then the excellently told tale by third track ‘Sick’. More synth-heavy tracks appear on the album in the form of ‘Don’t Move’ and ‘Don’t Look at Me’, while we have two excellent Indie-dance tracks closing the album with Joy Division-esque track ‘Another Bed’ and the excellent, building closing track ‘Kill It in the Morning’. The Twilight Sad seem to remain another very underground Indie band but their style of dark, cryptic and intense guitar and synth-based tracks have a real charm about them and ‘No One Can Ever Know’ is yet another brillant album by a band I would highly recommend to check out and especially go see live.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Alphabet’, ‘Sick’, ‘Don’t Move’, ‘Don’t Look at Me’Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘Dead City’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wi5iyxGsIQ
‘Kill It in the Morning’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn8jcPXYc1g (Live)
The Twilight Sad stormed through an intense set at The Borderline earlier this year
#2. Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #30 – 9/10)
From Kilsyth, Scotland, we next travel to Bangor, Northern Ireland as September saw Two Door Cinema Club release their much anticipated second album ‘Beacon’ the follow-up to their successful debut album ‘Tourist History’. ‘Beacon’ was released the same week as The Vaccines album ‘Come of Age’ and while the latter may have won that particular chart battle that week, I’ve found myself listening to this album slightly more of the two over the course of the year. A record laced with the band’s now more familiar fast-paced, guitar and synth pop tracks this album really builds on the band’s debut record for me. Each track tends to unfold a tale through lead singer Alex Tremble’s falsetto voice and lyrics; this is particularly evident on tracks such as opener ‘Next Year’ and previous single ‘He Sleeps Alone’. Some of the tracks on the album are just brilliantly put together and build slowly then explode lavishly bold in their style of music and vocals see ‘Sun’, ‘Settle’ and particularly ‘The World is watching (with Valentina)’ for examples of this and overall this has been a highly enjoyable album.
Recommended Songs: ‘Sun’, ‘Sleep Alone’, The World is watching (with Valentina)Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘Someday’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y08Y15ik5pg (Live at Reading Festival 2012)
‘Settle’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seQX4m2gYNE (Live at Brixton Academy)
#1. Bloc Party - Four (Reviewed in Flynndie Reviews Blog #29 – 8/10)
So the final date on our tour of 2012 sees us arrive in London as Bloc Party returned with their cunningly named fourth album ‘Four’ also ironically released four years after their previous album ‘Intimacy’. There was a lot of speculation as to what direction the band would take with this album, after their very rocky, Indie-based debut ‘Silent Alarm, to the more ‘chilled-out’ ‘A Weekend in the City’ and the previously mentioned ‘Initmacy’ which showed more of a nod to the Indie Dance scene. I think what we got with ‘Four’ from Bloc Party was actually a blend of all three of their previous albums to date, making for a unique, eclectic range of tracks from intense, guitar-heavy Indie rock on tracks ‘3x3’, recent single ‘Kettling’ and ‘V.A.L.I.S.’, to the more serene, softer tracks such as the banjo-featuring ‘Real Talk’ and the beautifully sublime ‘Day Four’, to the post-punk sound found on closing track ‘We’re Not Good People’. Throw in some dance-vibes on comeback single ‘Octopus’ and the excellent and urgent ‘Team A’, plus a couple of old-school sounding Bloc Party bonus tracks in ‘Mean’ and ‘Leaf Skeleton’ on the deluxe version of the album and basically this album formed a great return from the band. I said at the time I reviewed this, the album felt like ‘a grower’ and this has certainly proved to be the case for me during 2012.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Octopus’, ‘Day Four’, ‘Real Talk’, ‘We’re Not Good People’Personal Favourite Track(s):
‘Kettling’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk-J1zT7TfQ
‘Team-A’’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tRK1iAIMT8 (Live at Koko)
So that concludes my Top 10 albums of 2012, I hope you’ve enjoyed my selections and if you have any good recommendations of albums I may have missed this year and are not on my list, feel free to send me some recommendations across on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below. Many thanks for taking the time to read the Blog and here’s looking forward to some great Indie and alternative music in 2013!
Rocking into 2013