My InBox was recently gifted with a fantastic new song from Indie rocker Terence Jack. I know it’s only the Spring, but “Eastern Rise” is quite possibly the song of the year thus far in 2016.
FIDLAR start off their album Too with a main-chord-fuzzed-out-with-the-right-amount-of-overdrive tune and some snot-nosed hopelessness that seems to be what they are sticking with.
2012 was blessed with some fantastic rock songs, and it has taken weeks to whittle down the long list of worthy songs to find the 25 best of the year. Not quite sure this is perfect, but damn sure that these are 25 great rock songs. Check out the list and see if you agree.
At the conclusion of the list, you’ll find a playlist on iTunes that links to all 25.
25. “It’s Time” – Imagine Dragons: It’s Addictive. It’s always cool when the drummer is lead vocalist. It’s great to hear a viola in a rock tune. It’s good stuff.
24. “Bully” – Shinedown: Love the message in this one, and the song is pretty damn good, too. One of three bands with two songs on this year’s list.
23. “Little Talks” – Of Monsters and Men: It’s Mumford & Sons with a bit more of an edge from the amazingly talented band out of Iceland.
22. “45” – Gaslight Anthem: Great straight forward rock tune from the Garden State’s newest successor to the Boss. Also love the lyrics and the 45 metaphors.
21. “We Take Care of Our Own” – Bruce Springsteen – Yup. still on top of his game. At times this reminds you of vintage E-Street band, but it also has a nice modern flair, and a big sound.
20. “Oh Love” – Green Day: What’s old is new again. this one brings back nice memories of songs from across the band’s past two decades. Billie Joe sounding great again.
19. “Love Interruption” – Jack White: The sparse arrangement works great. The guitar and Wurlitzer fling you back into the 60’s but the vocals and lyrics are totally 2012.
18. “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers: Amazingly successful debut song from American Indie rockers that’s impossible not to singalong to and as a nice bonus, it features nice mandolin.
17. “Gold On the Ceiling” – Black Keys: Great organs, hand claps and a blast to listen to. Dan Auerbach channels his inner Paul Rodgers. Nice guitar solo, too. They had two songs on last year’s list and two more this year!
16. “Simple Song” – The Shins: Beautiful harmonies, chaotic guitar played off against sweet piano and James Mercer singing fantastically.
15. “Reboot the Mission” – Wallflowers: Jacob Dylan makes a killer comeback – with a ska single! And, joined by Mick Jones of The Clash. Super cool.
14. “Tongue Tied” – Grouplove: Another great song off of 2011’s Never Trust A Happy Song. It’s a blast to listen to with great boy/girl vocals and stellar music.
13. “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes: It’s an instant classic with such a comfortable Southern Rock feel, coupled with Brittany Howard’s soulful vocals that evoke memories of the great Janis Joplin.
12. “Burn It Down” – Linkin Park: The same roaring electro-power rock we’ve come to expect from the lads from Aurora, California – this time with even more memorable hooks.
11. “Breathing Underwater” – Metric: Excellent song in which Emily Haines offers up beautiful vulnerable vocals in a song about a relationship still struggling to survive against the odds. The only band with two in our Top Dozen.
10. “Default” – Django Django: A cool dance rock track that at different times reminds me of surf rock, classic T-Rex and 80′s new wave. Yeah, it’s a crazy mix, but it’s pretty damn fun.
9. Polarized – Luke Dowler – Great song about a relationship that just isn’t working. The music is excellent, but the lyrics are phenomenal. So many different scenarios where they are perfectly fitting. Every time I hear this, I think about our dysfunctional government (both parties) in the nation’s capital.
“He’s left, you’re always right
Polarized, You think he’s weak because he won’t decide
We’re disconnected – we’ve been infected
We’re building up defenses – protecting deadly interests”
8. “Kill Your Heroes” – AWOLNATION – My favorite inspirational lyric all year in a song that is both powerful and addictive. “Never let your fear decide your fate.”
7. “Little Black Submarines” – Black Keys: Really two songs in one love the tender opening, and LOVE the electronic jam on part two – sweet, powerful guitar and drums.
6. “Runaways” – The Killers: They’re back after a four year hiatus, this saga is a Springsteen-esque anthem that is pure old school Killers. Brandon Flowers at his best.
5. “What Makes a Good Man?” – The Heavy: Soulful rock from the Bath, England quartet with screaming guitar that would make Jack White proud.
4. “Youth Without Youth” – Metric: A great driving beat on a song that reminds me a bit of the most rocking Smiths’ tunes. This is a dark one about a young person who has grown up in a troubled environment and raced past their youth.
3. “Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well” – A Silent Film: It’s a grandiose rocker you’d have expected from The Killers. Love the keyboards, the vocals and the story!
2. Unity – Shinedown – Soaring melodies, Brent Smith’s superb vocals and fantastic guitar in yet another uplifting song from one of the year’s best albums, Amaryllis.
1. “Everybody Talks” – Neon Trees: OK, so, this is a wee bit overplayed – Got it. But it is an absolutely fantastic song. Tyler Glenn’s vocals are mesmerizing, and the guitar and drums are pure old school rock.
Let us know what you thought. Was your favorite on our list? Also, we’d love to see what you think about our 2012 Rock Albums of the Year.
As I looked back on the 2012 rock landscape and reviewed the year’s best rock music, I realized that I’ve definitely become more of an Indie Rock fan over the past few years. 2012 brought us lots of great Indie rock, but we also heard some rocking albums in the mainstream. You may see a few albums here that you’re not familiar with, but I implore you to check them out. You’ll open your ears to some killer new rock, and impress the hell out of your friends. (After each selection, you’ll find a link to check them out on iTunes as well as our recommendations if you just want to grab a few tracks off of each album).
So, here are the Farmer’s Dozens in reverse order. The two dozen best rock albums of the year:
Bonus Selection: Each farmer’s dozen comes with a bonus, so here are two: Grouplove, Never Trust a Happy Song and The Black Keys, El Camino. Both of these albums would be at the top of our 2012 list… if we had not already recognized them in 2011. Here’s our Top Rock Albums of 2011, to see what else we visionaries were thinking last year.
23. Lovedrug, Wild Blood – These Indie rockers out of Ohio are powered by Michael Sheppard’s unique voice and a nice Kickstarter campaign. Best tracks: “Premonition” and “Ladders.” Read our full review
21. Green River Ordinance, Under Fire – Great rock ‘n roll harmonies from this quintet out of Forth Worth. They offer up a diverse selection of tunes on another self-funded effort. Best tracks: “Dark Night” and “Lost in the World.” Read our full review
20. Mumford and Sons, Babel – A nice follow-up to their hugely successful 2009 release Sigh No More for these barrier-breaking folk rockers. Best tracks: “I Will Wait” and “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel cover).
19, Dinosaur Jr., I Bet on Sky – The Massachusetts Alt-Rockers continue to put out solid Alt-Rock with their distinctive brand of guitar rock. Every song is good on this one. Best tracks: “Rude” and “Pierce the Morning Rain.”
18. Luke Dowler, Polarized – Dowler’s music offers raw vocals with an urgent passion, mixed with poignant lyrics about world affairs, relationships and deep personal faith: Good stuff from Big Sky Country. Best tracks: “Polarized” and “Gun.” Read our full review
17. Jack White, Blunderbuss – White breaks away from the shackles and structure of his former band mates in The White Stripes and Raconteurs and it works nicely. Best Tracks: “Love Interruption” and “Trash Tongue Talker.”
16. The Shins, Port of Morrow – Fantastic lyrics, beautiful harmonies and rock and roll that just oozes likability I just wish these New Mexico natives would put out album more often than every four years. Best tracks: “Simple Song” and “It’s Only Life.”
15. Muse, The 2nd Law – The band, built for stadium rock, took some chances on this, their sixth release. This stuff is nothing like what we’ve heard from them before, but it is intriguing and captivating. Best tracks: “Madness” and “Survival.”
14. The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten – Talented New Jersey rockers who offer up their most polished record to date. Strong heart felt rock and roll with excellent lyrics. Best tracks” “Too Much Blood” and “45.” Read our full review
13. The Killers, Battle Born – Brandon Flowers and the band never disappoint. One of the year’s best produced albums and it shows the band moving in a more mature direction. Best tracks: Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb.”
12. Neon Trees, Picture Show – Everybody talked about “Everybody Talks,” but this album was much more than one hit. Tyler Glenn is a future superstar and highlights his broad talent throughout the band’s third album. Best tracks: “I am the DJ” and “Everybody Talks.”
11. Django Django, Django Django – Hip, cool, groovy, rock ‘n roll with an oddly familiar feel considering this is the band’s debut. Mixes the best of the sixties, eighties and modern times. Best tracks: Default” and “WOR.”
10. Metric, Synthetica – From the opening lines of “Artificial Nocturne,” where Emily Haines offers “I’m just as fucked up as they say,” this album demands your attention. Some deep introspective tracks disguised as excellent pop rock songs. Best tracks: “Youth Without Youth” and “Breathing Underwater.”
9. Thousand Foot Krutch, The End is Where We Begin – The songs are positive Christian rock but these guys don’t slam you over the head with their beliefs. It’s solid, active rock music that any hard rock fan will enjoy. A very diverse selection from a band returning to their Indie roots. Best tracks: “War of Change” and “All I Need to Know.” Read our full review
8. The Wallflowers, Glad All Over – Jacob Dylan continues to evolve as a musician and has never sounded better than he does now. Excellent music with soulful vocals on a selection of tracks guaranteed to grow on you with each listen. Best tracks: “It’s a Dream” and “Reboot the Mission.”
7. The Drowning Men, All of the Unknown – They’re back with their second full-length album release, their first on Flogging Molly’s Borstal Beats label, which builds on the success of their fantastic debut album Beheading of the Songbird, and shows the talented quintet continuing to grow. These Indie rockers remind me a bit of the layered harmonies of Arcade Fire, with a clear West Coast U.S. bent. Best Tracks: “A Fool’s Campaign” and “Lost in a Lullaby.” Read our full review
6. Green Day, ‘¡Uno!‘ – Billie Joe Armstrong needs to be recognized as the prolific rock songwriter he is. He and his longtime band mates never fail to put out good music and this is another prime example. A great fresh punk/pop sound from our favorite So Cal trio. They released three good albums this year, this one was the best of the bunch. Best tracks: “Oh Love” and “Let Yourself Go.”
5. Fun., Some Nights – So much more than “We Are Young.” This masterfully produced album is a great vehicle for the talented vocal stylings of Nate Ruess and is packed with memorable addicting ditties. Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost round out the trio and lend their voices to create impressive harmonies throughout. On Some Nights, Fun. has developed a unique sound and carved a nice niche in today’s Alt-Rock landscape. Best tracks: Why Am I the One” and “Carry On.” Read our full review
4. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal. This talented Icelandic band has taken advantage of the revitalized interest in folksy rock courtesy of Mumford and Sons, but have kicked it up a notch. Great, fun rock songs with amazing boy/girl vocals and meaningful lyrics; as well as a few tracks that are strictly fantasy adventures like the addictive “From Finner.” Best tracks: “Mountain Sound” and “Little Talks,”
3. River City Extension, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger – The second release from this talented octet out of New Jersey is a musical and lyrical journey well worth a listen. It’s a folk rock/Americana album packed with original sounds and with each listen a different track stands out. Joe Michelini, the band’s singer and guitarist is the primary songwriter and he takes us through a varied collection of memories. He offers: “Half of this record is love songs, and the other half is ‘I’m sorry that I fucked up’ songs,” and he writes about both in a compelling way. Best tracks: “Glastonbury” and “Ballad of Oregon.” Read our full review
2. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – I had just about written off the sage of the Garden State, but this is one of Springsteen’s best efforts in years. The music is superb, and the lyrics even better. It’s a bitter, but honest look at what Corporate Greed and idiot politicians have done to his country, and Springsteen pulls it off by surrounded the words with excellent music At times, he evokes memories of the E Street Band’s greatest anthems, at other times he has us heading down an entirely new path, such as the Celtic rock feel in the fantastic “Death of My Hometown.” Best other tracks: “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball.”
1. Shinedown, Amaryllis – I loved “Bully” the moment I heard it and was pleasantly surprised to hear the excellent diversity on the rest of the album. It’s aggressive, powerful, passionate rock that’s impossible to put down. The Jacksonville based band has only put out four albums in their decade plus together, and each one has gotten just a little bit better. Rolling Stone hated the album, which in itself is proof that it’s mainstream rock for the masses. Amaryllis is one of the best hard rock albums in years and it’s packed with great songs. Best tracks: “Unity” and “I’m Not Alright.”
There you have it – the best rock albums of 2012, according to me. Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.
2011 was an interesting year for rock music, with a tremendous focus on artists with original sounds. Sure, a few of these tunes have a familiar feel, but far more offer us a unique new sound. That’s exciting stuff and leaves me anxiously awaiting 2012. Check out the RARAsFarm Top 25 and let us know what you think.
Bonus Track: Songbird – The Drowning Men. This album was released in 2009, but just re-released in the US this year. “Songbird” is a fantastic song that evokes darker memories of The Arcade Fire.
25. Shake It Out – Florence and the Machine. She’s back with a new album. Honestly, Ceremonials is not as powerful as 2009’s Lungs, but this tune is solid.
24. Get Some – Lykke Li. The Swedish muse told us this one was about power, everyone still believes it’s about sex. Either way – the song rocks.
23. Sing – My Chemical Romance. This is probably the most mainstream song the band has ever released. It’s a synth-laden anthem in waiting.
22. Burn – Papa Roach. This was one of the few new ones on their live Monsters of Annihilation album. Glad we didn’t need to wait for their next studio album for this one.
21. You Are A Tourist – Death Cab For Cutie. The band’s first number one hit, and well deserved. The guitars and layered vocals are beautiful.
20. The Roller – Beady Eye. Liam Gallagher seemingly channeling the Beatles, and it works very well.
19. If You Wanna – The Vaccines. A fun little ditty that will leave you singing. Reminds me lots of their UK brethren The Kaiser Chiefs.
18. Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys. This one was off of their previous album Brothers. The trance-like bass and drums are addictive.
17. Go Outside – Cults. A great debut from the young duo out of Manhattan. The sound is fresh and new. and features a xylophone solo. Nice…
16. Help Is On The Way – Rise Against. The band’s highest charting song, and first to really garner some overdue mainstream attention.
15. Changing – The Airborne Toxic Event. The West Coast rockers do it again. This one again features superb vocals from Mikel Jollet.
14. Baby Don’t Dance – Mother Mother – Ryan Guldemond’s unique vocals highlight this quirky hit from North of the Border.
13. New Low – Middle Class Rut. Finally a commercial success for this under appreciated band out of Sacramento.
12. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People – The hip, happy song with the dark lyrics swept the world and the festival circuit this summer.
11. Black Night – Dodos. The freight train drums and addictive lyrics powered this song to the band’s most significant airplay.
10. The Sound of Winter – Bush. Gavin and Company are back after a ten year hiatus. and sounding as good as ever.
9. Crystal Vases – The Last Royals. This catchy tune reminisces on a relationship gone bad, and is the highlight of the band’s excellent debut EP.
8. Shake Me Down – Cage the Elephant. The best song on our album of the year, Thank You Happy Birthday. The lyrics reflect on life’s disappointments while hoping for something better. (Check out The Albums of the Year)
7. These Days – Foo Fighters. It’s Dave Grohl’s favorite song that he’s written, ever. Mine, too.
6. Colours – Grouplove. Christian Zucconi’s unique vocal stylings, grunts, groans and a distinctive sound make this the best offering off their excellent debut.
5. What About Us – Handsome Furs. This one brings back memories of a great 90’s rock dance tune from another excellent young Canadian band.
4. Lonely Boy – Black Keys. The only band with two songs on this list, and this might be their best ever. Great stuff off the just-released El Camino.
3. My Body – Young the Giant. These California rockers, created this gem in ten minutes at the conclusion of what was otherwise a crappy day. Amazing.
2. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall – Coldplay. I think it’s their best ever, and we’ll be listening to this one forever.
1. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie – Red Hot Chili Peppers. It started with a bass chord Flea couldn’t get out of his head. It morphed into be the best Rock song of the year.
You can sample all of the songs below…
Rock On – Cretin