Pick of the pops take 1…

My top 20 albums of 2012 [20 –15].

I love music. I listen when cooking, cleaning, on train and car journeys plus all day at work. As you can imagine, I get to listen to a lot of albums and I thought I’d share my Top 20 albums of 2012. So starting in reverse order…

20. King Animal by Soundgarden

I would probably have placed this higher (had it been released earlier in the year) but Chris Cornell and the boys comeback will have settle for 20th place. King Animal is chock full of Soundgarden’s unmistakable bruising drums, grinding riffs and Cornell’s vocal range still batters the ear drums (but is more gravelly). It’s a boiler of a rock album, growling with rage. From the first bars of the opening track Been Away Too Long, you’re instantly transported back to 1994! It’s as if they’ve never been away. The only difference is the lyrics. Where once they sang about drugs, helplessness and depression, songs are now about parenting and political class warfare. Standout track: A Thousand Days Before.

19. Sounds That Can’t be Made by Marillion

I have to admit that I’ve not been a fan of Steve Rothery and Co’s output post Brave and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Sounds. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the epic 17-minute-long opening track Gaza, this is right up there with the best in modern prog. It winds along with ambient Porcupine Tree-like musicality, through pounding Led Zeppelin inspired riffs and Marillion’s trademark melodies. Power is the musical equivalent of widescreen and was deservedly this albums first release. The eponymous title track is a lot simpler and the remainder of the album is filled with beautiful balladry. The final ten-minute track The Sky Above the Rain, which is as beautiful and simple as it is long, rounds of a great album and a cracking return to form. Standout track: Power.

18. Music From Another Dimension by Aerosmith

Run DMC’s classic reworking of Aerosmith’s Walk this Way led to my 20-year love affair with ‘America’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band’. I’ve since purchased every album recorded by the band and I was so excited when Music for Another Dimension was released. Nothing has changed in their style or output during this time either. You know exactly what you’re getting with an Aerosmith record – eighties sounding production, duelling guitar solos, power ballads and wailing cha, cha, cha’s from Steven Tyler. It’s the musical equivalent of putting on your favourite old jumper – familiar, comfy and hangs in all the right places. Luv XXX contains hallmark Aerosmith rock riffs (did I mention the guitar solos) and Out Go The Lights and Legendary Child evoke the swagger of years gone by. Standout track: Legendary Child

17. Boy’s Don’t Cry by Rumer

Bet you weren’t expecting this after the previous three entries? Well my musical tastes are quite varied and Rumer has the sexiest female voice since Karen Carpenter (a childhood crush). Rumer revisits a mass of easy listening classics on Boys Don’t Cry. There are reinterpretations of songs by the likes of Hall and Oates (Sara Smile) and Jimmy Webb (P.F. Sloan). The real master stroke is that you barely think of these songs as covers and they almost sound like her own compositions. Her rich, soulful voice is a blessing for tired ears and this impeccable recording is incredibly relaxing. Adele can jog on . Standout track: Soulsville

16. Ssss by VCMG

VCMG is a collaboration between two of my musical heroes Vince Clarke and Martin Gore. Both are founding members of Britain’s greatest band Depeche Mode (they are) and Vince has also released records with Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure. Ssss is the first time the pair have worked together since Vince left Mode over 30 years ago. The resulting LP is full of quirky techno, completely devoid of vocals and yet surprisingly easy on the ear. It’s reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s b-side remixes and bears all the hallmarks of the duos creative career – Martin’s anthemic electronic patterns and Vince’s ear for a pop tune. There isn’t a bad track on the album and the single releases (Single Blip, Aftermaths and Spock) were accompanied by bonkers promo videos. Fans of the likes of Orbital should give Ssss a spin. A classic. Standout track: Windup Robot

So that’s 20-15 done. I’ll upload the next 5 tomorrow. Have you heard these albums? Please let me know what you think…


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