After 12 months of good, not so good and some unbelievable surprise packages, we keep changing our minds for the final list; and will probably continue to do so. So apologies but this is a bit of a mess; a work in progress if you will. Suffice to say it rocks and it’s the only end of year parade you need.
So here’s our top 50 (we think)
1. LAFARO – Easy Meat
This is grim, truly grim but it’s the one album that immediately knocked us of our rockers and pinned us to the floor before continuously inflicting savage blow after savage blow. Far from easy, its an album that flies out of the traps and keeps you riveted right through to a nail biting conclusion. Unrelenting, punishing, insane, fantastic.
2. OFFICERS – On The Twelve Thrones
An electronic hybrid mixing all the best bits of Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson, Black Light Burns, A Place To Bury Strangers and Primal Scream, this has only just made it into our lives; but what an entrance. Superb histrionics and atmospherics make for a real surprise execution from the Leeds based quartet that very nearly made it to the top spot. One to grab and ones to watch for sure.
3. THRICE – Major / Minor
We didn’t expect anything else. After the delicate side step of ‘Beggars’, Thrice came on to the alternative rock radar with aplomb. And whilst it’s predecessor is probably more commercially accessible, ‘Major / Minor’ is a real triumph in it’s own right. Dripping with caustic beauty, razor sharp guitars and an aural accuracy that few bands can dream of creating. Fast becoming a very, very important band indeed.
4. MOGWAI – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
We’ve probably played this record more than any other. It’s like no other Mogwai LP. Where previously there would be long passages of quite and others of apocalyptic post-rock, ‘Hardcore…’ crossed over almost into Unkle territory; rolling basslines, deft electronica and mournful yet totally uplifting vocal styles. We’re carried through lush soundscapes and late night stories that cry out urban cool. Its soulful, groove laden and an unexpected surpise for sure.
5. MASTODON – The Hunter
This was expected. After the unparalleled progressive pastures throughout Crack The Skye, did we really expect anything less from the Atlanta crew. Crunching guitars, pummelling grooves and biting choruses that infuse the senses; it’s a slight diversion but everything’s here and they waste no time in laying it down. The songs feel stripped back, more lean than on ‘Crack…’; they’re certainly a way apart from the pure intensity and heaviosity of ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Blood Mountain’. A worthy addition to theirs and any hard rock collection, it’s gigantic and fantastic.
6. THURSDAY – No Devolucion
Another surprise here with post hardcore New Jersey noiseniks Thursday turning up the atmospherics and dark emotion to turn out a blinding collection of ‘rock’ songs that had us hooked on first listen. Overnight they became accessible and refreshing, immediately expressing a new vitality that meant they actually had something to say and a clear channel within which to say it. They’ve stepped up to the plate and blown their contemporaries clear out of the water which after a 13 year career, is quite an accomplishment.
7. AMPLIFIER – The Octopus
We love this band. Not to denounce any other, but they have to be one of the most hard working collectives we’ve seen. Entirely self managed, they’re closer to their fans than most and that helps, a great deal. With this their third LP they really stretched things; not only the boundaries of their own ambitions but the far reaches of their minds. Its colossal, progressive and littered with some of the most expansive guitar and percussion you’re likely to hear for years. Unquestionably epic.
8. TURBOWOLF –
Bristolians Turbowolf go straight for knackers; fast tempo, crazy punk rock that crosses so many boundaries it’s almost impossible to clasify. Heavy rock n roll, psychedelia and punk all bundled into one package that’s busting at the seams with attitude and precision. Chris Georgiadis’ vocal raising hell and raising hairs as the tunes bury themselves deep; balls out guitars and elements of Led Zepp, Sabbath, lord knows what. It’s hard, heavy, ambitious and essential; more than most it hits a sweet spot and that’s impossible to ignore.
Gared O’Donnell’s year has probably been unlike any other. His legendary band (Planes Mistaken for Stars) split and life was generally a bit shit. As opener ‘Another Hellfire Sermon’ crawls across the coals, the pace and tone for the entire album is set. You’ll not want to get up and rock out to this, it won’t make you want to party, more it will make you realise just what it feels like to to hit the bottom. Moody and gloomy with a true sense of yearning and heartfelt lyricism; Gared’s whiskey torn vocal more scathing than ever, its an album for reflection and late night tears. It couldn’t be anything else and for that, we absolutely love it.
10. JANE’S ADDICTION – The Great Escape Artist
Darker and more dense than its predecessor, Jane’s 5th LP in an astonishing 23 years was always going to make this list. It’s Jane’s they can do no wrong; and this is as good as they’ve been in a long time. In a different time to the much lauded ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ and ‘Ritual…’, TGEA has some sensational tracks on it that clearly demonstrate, despite a stop start career, the group has lost none of its hunger. And for that we are greatful.
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS – This Is The Warning
PUSCIFER – Conditions Of My Parole
11. JAPANESE VOYEURS – Yolk
12. IN FLAMES – Sounds Of A Playground Fading
13. FOO FIGHTERS – Wasting Light
14. PRIMUS – Green Naugahyde
15. CASSETTES WON’T LISTEN – EvinSpacey
16. DEUS – Keep Me Close
17. THE GET UP KIDS – There Are Rules
18. THE BLACK KEYS – El Camino
TIMES OF GRACE – The Hymn Of A Broken Man
19. AWOLNATION – Megalithic Symphony
21. MOJO FURY – Visiting Hours Of A Travelling Circus
21. WHITE DENIM – D
23. …TRAIL OF THE DEAD – Tao Of The Dead
24. MAYBESHEWILL – I Was Here For A Moment Then I Was Gone
25. ICARUS LINE – Wildlife
26. TWILIGHT SINGERS – Dynamite Steps
27. THE JOY FORMIDABLE – The Big Roar
28. YOUNG LEGIONNAIRE – Crisis Works
29. THE KILLS – Blood Pressures
30. MACHINE HEAD – Unto The Locust
31. CHRIS CORNELL – Songbook
32. PJ HARVEY – Let England Shake
33. CRAZY ARM – Union City Breath
34. THE DANGEROUS SUMMER – War Paint
35. ANTHRAX – Worship Music
36. RIVAL SCHOOLS – Pedals
37. CHAPEL CLUB – Palace
38. BRIGHT EYES – The Peoples Key
39. MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – Simple Math
40. YUCK –
42. BON IVER –
43. RADIOHEAD – King Of Limbs
44. FUCKED UP – David Comes To Life
45. J. MASCIS – Several Shades Of Why
46. WOLFMEN – Married To The Eiffel Tower
47. VESSELS – Helioscope
48. &U&I – Light Bearer
49. SLAVES TO GRAVITY – UnderWaterOuterSpace
50. EVALINE – Woven Material