Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 5's of 2012 - Shawn Williston!

Next up on our "Top 5's of 2012" we have fellow blogger Shawn Williston! (Check out Shawn's interview here!)

Shawn writes his own music blog called "Sound Bites'. You can find it at Every year Shawn does his own countdown of the years best which I always enjoy reading so be sure to check it out!

Take it away Shawn!

1. DEFTONES: Koi No Yokan

All but buried in nu-metal's rubble nearly a decade ago amongst diminishing returns and infighting, Deftones bought themselves more time with 2010's marginal return to form Diamond Eyes. Most (myself included) assumed it to be a late-career highlight, a pleasing effort to nod our heads and slow clap to as they rode off into the sunset. As it turns out, that was just the appetizer to the feast of riffs, textures and melody that is Koi No Yokan. Not only does the album achieve a near-perfect balance of beauty and brutality, it also sustains its momentum for the entirety of its 52-minute runtime. More than a return to form, Koi No Yokan is a new career high for Deftones.

Check out: Tempest, Swerve City, Rosemary


2. BARONESS: Yellow & Green

A pretty bad bus crash in August left most of Baroness injured (thankfully, no fatalities) and, while it was undoubtedly tragic, perhaps the bigger tragedy is that the crash is what people will remember Baroness for in 2012. Also tragic is that it took the Georgian rockers away from promoting their sprawling and ambitious double-album Yellow & Green. In every conceivable way their best collection of songs yet, Yellow & Green is the album that sees Baroness crawling out from under the shadow of metalheads' expectations and producing high quality tunes free of any pesky genre one would choose to pigeonhole them into. Cathartic, elaborate and wholly sensational, Yellow & Green provides all the proof you need that honest and original rock music is still being made.

Check out: Eula, March to the Sea, Board Up the House



What's always bugged me about public opinion, especially on blogs, is the notion that a band ceases to be exciting once they sign with a major label. The leap from indie label SideOneDummy to Mercury has only reaped positive results for The Gaslight Anthem; Handwritten benefits not only from the expert production skills of Brendan O'Brien, but also from the lessons of the band's past successes and failures. This album proudly wears its Springsteen and Petty influences in its grooves, but also refines frontman Brian Fallon's knack for big hooks and earnest lyrics. It's telling that Blue Dahlia, a song that rocks with the same urgency and heart of Gaslight's most popular past singles, is a mere bonus track on Handwritten; the album proper's 11 tracks are a cohesive and consistent unit, making for one of the year's most exciting album experiences. Take that, indie snobs!

Check out: "45", Biloxi Parish, National Anthem


4. DEAD SARA: Dead Sara

It may be unfashionable in 2012 to wear flannel and shit kicking boots, but don't say that to Emily Armstrong. The Dead Sara frontwoman has been called "the female Eddie Vedder" and, if you've seen any of Dead Sara's incendiary live performances, you can imagine her climbing up to the rafters during an extended instrumental and throwing herself into the crowd like Vedder did twenty years ago. All the spectacle can take attention away from the quality of the music, however. On Dead Sara's debut album, stripped of that spectacle, the songs stand up on their own. Showing more balls and grit than most male-fronted bands, Dead Sara have released a visceral yet vulnerable collection of songs. Whether Armstrong is crooning beautifully or screaming violently, one can't shake the feeling that they're experiencing something special. That the world hasn't caught on to this band yet is baffling.

Check out: Weatherman, Test On My Patience, Monumental Holiday

5. JACK WHITE: Blunderbuss

During the end of The White Stripes' run, Jack White had his fingerprints on a lot of different side projects, and the collected influences threatened to become too much for the deliberately basic duo to contain. Five years have passed since the last White Stripes record, and Jack has kept plenty busy with assorted projects and his own label. But, until 2012, he'd never released a solo record. Blunderbuss is a culmination of not only all of Jack's inspirations, but in ways a microcosm of the entirety of rock's history. From swampy groove blues to Motown soul to gospel to garage rock to punk to new wave to hip-hop, etc. There are so many strains of DNA on Blunderbuss, it's impossible to call it anything but a monster, a mangled aberration of styles and genres that has absolutely no business being as awesome as it is.

Check out: Sixteen Saltines, Freedom At 21, Trash Tongue Talker


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