20. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Magic of Youth (Big Rig). After slowly fading and going on indefinite hiatus in the early 00’s, the Bosstones have quietly returned with 2 very good albums – Pin Points and Gin Joints released in late 2008 and this current one released late in 2011, which are both on par with their best releases from their heyday in the early to mid 90’s. After nearly 25 years they are still pretty much the best around at what they do. The best tracks are “Like a Shotgun”, “Sunday Afternoons on Wisdom Ave”, “They Will Need Music”, “The Horseshoe and the Rabbit’s Foot”, “The Magic of Youth”, and “The Upper Hand.”
19. Dr. Dog – Be the Void (Anti). There may be fewer highs on this release than on previous ones, but this may overall be the strongest album overall from Philly’s Dr. Dog yet. “Lonesome”, “These Days”, “Do the Trick”, “Vampire”, “Over Here, Over There”, and “Warrior Man” are my favorites.
18. Screaming Females – Ugly (Don Giovanni). Her voice may be an acquired taste, but Marissa Paternoster plays guitar and writes songs that recall Dino Jr. or Sleater-Kinney with appropriate shredding throughout. Indie-rock god Steve Albini produced this and you can hear his influence with the rougher edges in these songs. The highlights include “It All Means Nothing”, “Rotten Apple”, “Expire”, “Crow’s Nest”, “Help Me”, and the seven-and-a-half-minute “Doom 84.”
17. Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten (Mercury). The ’59 Sound and American Slang were going to be difficult albums to top and they weren’t able to do that with Handwritten. Nonetheless it’s still a good album. The highlights are “45”, “Handwritten”, “Mulholland Drive”, “Keepsake”, “Too Much Blood”, “Howl”, and “Blue Dahlia.”
16. Ty Segall – Twins (Drag City). I was not as into Segall’s previous work or his many other releases in 2012, but I really enjoyed this one a lot. Think John Lennon with fuzzy guitars or Jay Reatard I guess. My highlights include “Thank God For Sinners”, “You’re the Doctor”, “Inside Your Heart”, “Would You Be My Love”, “Love Fuzz”, and “Handglams.”
15. Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (Barsuk). The last three Nada Surf albums have all kind aged similarly with me. I sort of like them at first but put them on the back burner when more anticipated albums are released. But I’ll be darned if they don’t stick with me longer than most. Then at year end, I find them higher on the list than I had figured they’d be. This is one is no different, but a notch below their last 3 releases, but still very solid power/pop. The highlights include “Clear Eye Clouded Mind”, “Waiting For Something”, “Teenage Dreams”, “Looking Through”, and “No Snow on the Mountain.”
14. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (What’s Your Rupture?). This band seems like an old school indie rock band, recalling the indie/pop/rock of Pavement (particularly Crooked Rain) or Nodzzz or even a little GBV on some songs, but more like Sonic Youth or even the Minutemen on some of their noisier songs. My favorites are “Master of My Craft”, “Borrowed Time”, “Light Up Gold II”, “Stoned and Starving”, and “Picture of Health.”
13. Golden Gurls – Typo Magic (self-released on Band Camp). This MD-based band combine shoegaze in a Pains of Being Pure at Heart way with an indie punk sound reminiscent of Sebadoh or Dino Jr. I even hear some Afghan Whigs on some of their groovier songs. The highlights include “Kid Tested”, “I Can See the City”, “Tidal”, "Uphill Fight", and “Excited”.
12. Pile – Dripping (Exploding in Sound). This music is not just for any old “Gomers.” While Boston’s Pile is heavy and raw-sounding their songs have more melody and groove to them than many of their peers' output. On some of their songs they take a while building up to the crescendo, but after they get there it makes it worth the wait. Check out “Baby Boy”, “So Hard”, “Prom Song”, “Bump a Grape”, and “Bubblegum.”
11. Soul Asylum – Delayed Reaction (429 Records). I’ve always had a soft spot for Soul Asylum and think they are one of the most underrated bands of the last 30 years. And after you hear this record you think “where have these guys been?” This is probably their best album since Let Your Dim Light Shine. Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy are still writing really solid guitar-based pop/rock songs. Michael Bland is the official semi-permanent drummer and Tommy Stinson is now the official semi-permanent bassist (at least in the studio), a role he’s served for the most part since original bassist Karl Mueller began his fatal battle with cancer in the early-aughts. The best tracks are “The Streets”, “Take Manhattan”, “Let’s All Kill Each Other”, and “Into the Light.”
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