T for Tom

Midseason Review, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on June 26, 2012

Don’t rush to the presses with this one, but here’s where I stand as a loose front to this year’s best music.  I’m not the authority on indie/underground that I used to be, but I’m not so far out of the loop.  Oddly enough, that provides the theme of what I feel so far from this year.

It’s been a year of continuations, a better word to use than resurgences.  Bands and artists that have long since been around have put their name back into the fold – Fiona Apple’s first record in seven years, Nada Surf’s first record in five years, The Cranberries reunited for their first record since 2000, The Smashing Pumpkins forge ahead with “Oceania” (my surprise pick), The Shins return with much hype (but fall short), even Everclear gets back in the mix for the first time in eight years, and artists that once lead the underground charge are still hanging around and producing top-notch work – Lovedrug pumped out “Wild Blood”, Ben Kweller is still punking out, and MeWithoutYou puts together their most complete work ever (with a Hayley Williams cameo).

But when it comes to the best, it’s left up to the best.  And that’s the chart-topping regulars, and the upcoming new voices, not the in-between.

Don’t count out as-of-yet released records.  I’m expecting Langhorne Slim’s latest to be a riot, the Gaslight Anthem to continue to channel Springsteen, and my most anticipated reunion in The Early November.  But for all the records listed below, none of them disappoint.  Each of them is worth your time if you’ve ever been a fan of any of the bands who make comebacks this year.


1. John Mayer, “Born and Raised” – Don’t go out on this by reputation.  An album like no other Mayer has released, this LP stands alone as a testament to songwriting and craft.  Channeling the best of the late 70s blues and pop, Mayer marks something near to Neil Young’s landmark “After the Gold Rush” and Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.”  Hell, he even name checks those two albums in the first track.  Frankly, the album is just splendid front to back.

2. Of Monsters and Men, “My Head Is An Animal” – What could be the new leaders in indie/alternative, this Icelandic sextet fall somewhere between Belle & Sebastian and Mumford & Sons.  That to me is a comfortable place to land.

3. Dr. Dog, “Be The Void” – For years now, Dr. Dog has been trying to get momentum going with their late-years-Beatles-inspired rock’n’roll, and may have finally hit their stride with a record that is not overachieving, yet simply shaking and grooving.  Songs like “Vampire” and “Warrior Man” channel the best of the British quartet’s style in an American vitality.

The list will likely also include Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel is Wiser…”

Honorable Mention – Smashing Pumpkins, “Oceania” – Their (his) best work since “Melancholy”, Corgan gets it right.  It feels good knowing this music can still be made.


1. “My Revolutionary Mind” by Yim Yames for “New Multitudes” – Yim Yames doing his thing.  Tearing up Woody Guthrie lyrics and breaking your heart like no thing.

2. “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, from “The Lumineers” – get up and dance.

3. “Automobile Blues” by Justin Townes Earle, from “Nothing’s Ever Gonna Change…” – Fuck yes.

Others of note-

“Love is a Verb” by John Mayer

“Hot Knife” by Fiona Apple

“Warrior Man” by Dr. Dog

“Love Interruption” by Jack White

All acquired 2012 LPs-

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser…

Beach House – Bloom

Best Coast – The Only Place

Counting Crows – Underwater Sunshine, or, What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

The Cranberries – Roses

Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

Dr. Dog – Be The Void

Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Ever Gonna Change How You Feel About Me

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames – New Multitudes

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Soul Time!

Ben Kweller – Go Fly A Kite

The Little Willies – For The Good Times

Lovedrug – Wild Blood

The Lumineers – The Lumineers

The Mars Volta – Nocturniquet

MeWithoutYou – Ten Stories

Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy

Of Monsters & Men – My Head Is An Animal

John Mayer – Born and Raised

Romany Rye – Quicksilver Sunbeam

The Shins – Port of Morrow

Sigur Ros – Valtari

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

Jack White – Blunderbuss

Denison Witmer – The Ones Who Wait

Since publication I’ve gotten:

Langhorne Slim & The Law – “The Way We Move”

Walk the Moon – “Walk the Moon”

Passion Pit – “Gossamer”

Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”

Rufus Wainwright – “Out of the Game”

The Early November – “In Currents”

Killers – “Battle Born”

Band of Horses – “Mirage Rock”

Grizzly Bear – “Shields”

Helio Sequence – “Negotiations”

Animal Collective – “Centipede Hz”

Dave Matthews Band – “Away From The World”

Cat Power – “Sun”

Divine Fits – “A Thing Called Divine Fits”

Ben Folds Five – “The Sound of The Life of The Mind”

Mumford & Sons – “Babel”

The Wallflowers – “Glad All Over”

Calvin Harris – “18 Months”

Kendrick Lamar – “Good Kid, Mad City”

Goliath & The Giants – “Done Deed”

Stereo Traveler – “Public Service Announcement”

Alt-J – “An Awesome Wave”

Future Screens – EP

John Frusciante – “PBX Funiclear Intaglio Zone”

Delta Rae



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: