The Gaslight Anthem have now churned out four outstanding full lengths in only five years, and this might be their best yet. It takes everything everyone loved from their earlier work, smooths out the rough edges, and turns the volume way up.
Now do you blow it out come Friday night?
See if you wanna, you can find me on the hood under the moonlight
Radio, oh radio, do you believe there’s still some magic left
Somewhere inside our souls? – “Howl”
While I would love to declare a tie for my favorite record of the year, I can’t do that, so I’ll have to relegate this masterpiece to second best. It is nearly perfect in all ways – from the deeply personal lyrics, to the dual vocal attack of Greg Barnett and Tom May, to the fact that it is such a huge improvement over it’s predecessor, 2010’s Champerlain Waits. This is the album that announces the arrival of one of today’s brightest up and coming acts.
Like when we would take rides
In your American muscle car
I felt American for once in my life
I never felt it again – “Good Things”
This band is huge for a reason. Some Nights is the rare album that makes a statement while still being extremely accessible. While every song sounds like it is being fueled by a mixture of cotton candy and sweet tarts, the lyrics hint at lead singer Nate Ruess’s struggles with his own past, high expectations, and society’s notions of what a rock band is supposed to be.
I was never one to believe the hype – save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style – “Some Nights”
After the not-so-great Working On A Dream, Bruce and Co. came out swinging on Wrecking Ball and created an album that is as vital as anything the band has created over their 30+ year career.
Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bills
It’s still fat and easy up on bankers hill
Up on bankers hill the party’s going strong
Down here below we’re shackled and drawn – “Shackled And Drawn”
While it might not be the most consistent album, Picture Shows standout tracks deliver on the promise the band displayed on their wildly success debute EP, Habits. “Everybody Talks” proved that good music can still make it’s way to the radio, but “Weekend” is the album’s best example of pop gold.
don’t you know how it feels
to get days and months and years
trapped inside a waking dream
I bet you you and I could sit back
tonight and try
to make it more than just a fantasy – “Weekend”
I like this album because POS makes it clear that he is mad at everyone and everything. It’s an album about the Occupy Movement from someone who hates the Occupy Movement.
Cool new blanket
Stole it from the shelf at the Walmart thankless
Threat level awesome
Threat level orange juice
Who’s gonna stop ’em
We ain’t gotta throw stones at a glass house
We break in, just so we can smash out
– “All Of It”
While they had a lot to live up to after their debut album made them an overnight sensation in the UK, they meet those exepcetions with Come of Age. It is therefore ironic that one of the album’s standout tracks (“No Hope”) is all about letting everyone down.
And I could make an observation,
If you want the voice of a generation,
but I’m too self-absorbed to give it clout. – “No Hope”
While Please Remain Calm certainly has some catchy tunes, it’s value lies in the lyrics. Vocalist Chris Martin and Co. are able to capture what it means to live in our Great Recession society better than any band I’ve heard.
Turned a circus for gamblers and gawkers and thieves.
When the word got around, we spilled out on the streets.
As the banks decorate every house in defeat. – “On Both Eyes”
The debut full-length from this English quintet is similar to Hostage Calm’s debut album in that what sets it apart from other releases is its lyrics. Lead singer James Mattock paints in broad strokes, leaving almost every song open to interpretation, proving there is much more to the record that the straight forward rock you’ll hear upon first listen.
We’re the overestimated underdogs
What you await from us, now you can get for yourself – “Til The Wonders Rise”
The Killers – Battle Born
While their last effort was dressed up with electronics and slick production, Battle Born returns to the stripped down rock and storytelling of 2006’s Sam’s Town. It may not be as radio-friendly as their earlier work, but tracks like bombastic lead single “Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb” can still blow the roof off of any arena.
They say I’ll adjust
God knows I must
But I’m not sure how
This natural selection picked me out to be
A dark horse running in a fantasy
“Flesh And Bone”
Joyce Manor – Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired
Titus Andronicus – Local Business
Hot Water Music – Exister
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Top Ten Songs of 2012:
1. The Menzingers – “Burn After Writing”
2. The Menzingers – “Good” Things”
3. Hostage Calm “On Both Eyes”
4. The Gaslight Anthem – “Howl”
5. Neon Trees – “Still Young”
6. The Vaccines “Teenage Icon”
7. Sharks “‘Til The Wonders Rise”
8. Japandroids “Continuous Thunder”
9. Bruce Springsteen – “Death To My Hometown”
10. Hot Water Music “State Of Grace”
Titus Andronicus “Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter”
The Rolling Stones – “One More Shot”
Neon Trees – “Weekend”
Blink-182 “Boxing Day”
The Gaslight Anthem – “Mulholland Drive”
Neon Tree – “Everybody Talks”
While most people do a top twenty, I couldn’t come up with 20 records that deserved to be on such a list, so here is the second half of my 2010 Top 17. Look for 1-10 in the next day or two.
11. Envy on the Coast – Lowcountry
The best record that no one listened to this year, Lowcountry suffered from awful distribution and the band’s unfortunate implosion. Despite all of this, the album successfully manages to strip away the extra layers that at times bogged down 2007’s Lucy Grey, and helps the band to go out on a high note.
12. The Wonder Years – The Upsides
When I get depressed and think about how much I hate the daily grind, I just put on this album and let The Wonder Years do the complaining for me.
13. Neon Trees – Habits
How did this 8 song mini-album make the list? Well, two reasons really. “Sins of My Youth” and “Our War.” These two songs show why this band could be rock’s next big thing, if they aren’t already.
14. My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
I give this one bonus points solely because it isn’t The Black Parade Pt. 2. I also admit that this record has some great tracks, including “The Only Hope For Me Is You,” which is one of the strongest songs the band has written. However, we had to wait four years for a record that is not nearly as good as the two records that preceded it.
15. Senses Fail – The Fire
While they probably didn’t win over too many new fans, it was another solid addition to the Senses Fail catalog, and featured some of their best work, including “Landslide,” which is one of the best songs of the year.
16. Hollerado – Record in a Bag
After winning me over with their live show, I purchased the appropriately titled “Record in a Bag,” which does, in fact, come in a confetti-filled zip-lock. While it doesn’t shine in the lyrics department, the songs sure are fun.
17 – Free Engery- Stuck on Nothing
If there is a California sound, Free Energy embodies it perfectly. This record features a handful of sunny, bouncy tracks that beg to be blasted through the speakers while driving with the top down (in the convertible I don’t have). However, it also features quite a bit of filler, which is why it’s at the bottom of this list.