Top Discs of 2012 – Part Deux
Before the clock struck midnight on December 31, I wrote of some of my most memorable musical moments of 2012. Now, I look back and add to these with a roundup of some of the other records that stood out for me this past year. These are in no particular order.
1. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
A break-up album if there ever was one, the sassy Edwards returned early in 2012 with one of her best discs yet. I had the chance to interview her for a Canadian Musician cover story and got a sneak peek of the disc before it dropped in January. As I wrote in my blog post on this site, the dissolution of her marriage to fellow Canuck guitarist Colin Cripps, and subsequently hooking up with Bon Iver creator Justin Vernon to produce her follow-up to Asking for Flowers, led to some new sonic sounds. Highlights include: “Empty Threat,” “Change the Sheets,” and “House Full of Empty Rooms.”
2. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill and Americana
I admit, as a Neil aficionado, I’m a little biased. My wife always chides me that I could never give a Neil record a bad review. Maybe true, but the “old man” had one of his most prolific outputs in 2012 – releasing two discs (one a double) and publishing a memoir Waging Heavy Peace. While many of his generation of content to rest on their past hits, Shakey showed, despite being sober for the first time, that his need as an artist to create new material still burns strong. Also, no matter how much time elapses between his collaborations with his Crazy Horse mates (Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, Ralph Molina, and Billy Talbot), the magic and passionate, rugged playing these four create does not take long to return to form. Americana was not everyone’s cup of tea, but it gets votes for originality and creativity as Neil reinvented some America classics such as Oh Susannah. For me, Psychedelic Pill was the better of the two and was worth it for the extended jams alone on cuts such as “Ramada Inn,” “Driftin’ Back,” and “Walk Like a Giant.”
3. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
Young’s fellow Canuck – Cohen – showed that, like fine wine, he gets better with age. At 77, the poet/songwriter Cohen released his 12th studio album 44 years after the release of his debut. Old Ideas peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s chart in the U.S. (a career best), and it also topped the charts in 11 other countries. Not bad for a septuagenarian.
4. Great Lake Swimmers -New Wild Everywhere
5. Amelia Curran – Hunter, Hunter
6. Whitehorse – The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss
7. Zac Brown Band – Uncaged
8. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
And, one more plug for a couple other fine songwriters to check out, who I was introduced to in 2012: Kat Goldman and Laura Repo.