TOAST’S FAVORITE ALBUMS of 2012
10) JERRY DOUGLAS – Traveler
09) LEFTOVER SALMON – Aquatic Hitchhiker
08) ALABAMA SHAKES – Boys & Girls
07) moe. – What Happened to the La Las
06) CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD – the Magic Door
05) INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS – Silver Sky
04) the SHINS – Point of Morrow
03) GARY CLARK, JR. – Blak and Blu
Moving his way up the ladder from darling of the Austin music scene to ubiquitous festival presence in 2012, guitar slinger (and I assign that label rarely these days) Gary Clark, Jr. had a lot of momentum behind this, his first major label full-length release. Unlike some of his predecessors (the Vaughan brothers, for example), he seems ill at ease playing in just the blues-rock sandbox and likes to jump from genre to genre. This could prove to be any other artists’ downfall, but Clark makes it work like it ain’t no thing.
HIGH POINTS: Glitter Ain’t Gold [Jumpin’ for Nothin’], Third Stone from the Sun / If You Loved Me Like You Say, When My Train Pulls In, Ain’t Messin ‘Round, Travis County
02) NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE – Psychedelic Pill
A classic entry into his catalog the likes of which I’ve not heard in years, and grandiose in the way only Crazy Horse can be, Young’s hitting on nearly all cylinders here. Double albums are historically at least half filler. Not the case here. Using the CD format for all its worth, some of these sprawling gems clock in between a quarter-to-a-half-an-hour, not unusual for a live setting but almost unheard of out of the studio. It’s heartening to think that someone who’s gone through as many ups and downs as Young has can still concoct something this vital after 45 years on the job.
HIGH POINTS: Driftin’ Back, Born in Ontario, Walk Like a Giant, Psychedelic Pill, Ramada Inn
01) CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD – Big Moon Ritual
This is such a perfect Toast-n-Jam album I almost can’t believe my ears. Robinson’s band follows his lead into uncharted psychedelic territory and maps out a retro-rock renaissance they can milk for years to come. George Sluppick’s drumming and Neal Casal’s guitar work are particularly tasty. This is a cohevise work of art which flows from start to finish and I recommend listening to it that way. Not as “radio-friendly” as a Black Crowes album, but more to my taste. A great band to see live too, if you get the chance.
HIGH POINTS: Rosalee, Tulsa Yesterday, Reflections on a Broken Mirror, One Hundred Days of Rain, Beware Oh Take Care
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TOAST’S FAVORITE SINGLES of 2012
10) the LUMINEERS – Stubborn Love
09) 7HORSE – Meth Lab Zoso Sticker
08) the SHINS – Simple Song
07) BIG HEAD TODD & the MONSTERS – Sexy and I Know It
06) BARR BROTHERS – Lord, I Just Can’t Keep from Cryin’
05) the HEAVY – What Makes a Good Man?
04) GRACE POTTER & the NOCTURNALS – Never Go Back
03) HEARTLESS BASTARDS – Parted Ways
02) the BLACK KEYS – Gold on the Ceiling
01) JOHN COURAGE and the GREAT PLAINS – Heartbreak Man
The most perfect song I heard all year, from a total left-field up-and-comer by most people’s reckoning, I’m sure. When people say, “They just don’t write ‘em like that any more,” this could well be the song they are referring to, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not. This is archetypal rock song craft at its finest and showcases one of the finest yowls ever recorded. Already on 2 mixtapes.
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FORMER CO-TOAST JEN [O’CONNOR] DODGE had these high points to add:
BEST NEW BAND: Chris Robinson Brotherhood
BEST LIVE BAND: Mickey Hart Band (“Turned my crank so hard, and not just because Dave Schools was in the lineup”), with Steve Kimock Band (featuring Bernie Worrell) coming in 2nd
BEST COVER SONG: “The Ballad of John and Yoko” by Widespread Panic [originally the Beatles], available on “Wood.”
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