Thursday, December 27, 2012

15 Underappreciated Albums That Rocked 2012


I can't kvetch much about 2012; pop radio's song-writing improved a bit, some indie-rock got spikier, pop-punk kept its 21st century momentum, dub-step gave us all a genre to crack-wise about and, Hell, I even found a hip-hop album to love. As usual, I make no bones about the narrowness of this old geezer's listening regime, and hence this list reflects my taste for hard-hitting albums that didn't dominate the big name 'Best of the Year' lists.

(All artist name links go directly to a homepage - or some such place - for your listening pleasure.)

1.     Masked Intruder: Self-Titled
Wisconsin's Masked Intruder (more HERE) breathe fresh life into pop-punk not only by writing killer songs but also by taking it's favoured lyrical stance to its most extreme conclusion:

2.   Jake Bugg: Self-Titled
Bob Dylan-Lonnie Donnegan-Donovan-Oasis-Tallest Man on Earth. Fill in the dashes and you've got every review ever written about this young song-writer from Nottingham, the year's winner of my annual "Dylan-Was-a-Punk' Award.

3.  OFF! - Self-Titled
L.A.H.C. - fuck, yeah!

4.     Undecided by Default: Totally Undecided
Australian indie-surf-punk-garage-pop group were heralded by The Un-herd Music (and not many others), despite stand-out songs like, "Way Too Cool":
Undecided by Default - "Way Too Cool"

5.     Graham Parker and the Rumour: Three Chords Good
Three Chords Good is a cool, confident comeback from England's Graham Parker and The Rumour (more HERE), who've been estranged for thirty years.

6.     Duncan Reid: Little Big Head
Duncan "Kid" Reid from London's seventies pop-punks, The Boys, put out a solo album that expertly re-assembles all the pop, glam and punk elements that made his band so original.

7.     Chuck Prophet: Temple Beautiful
San Francisco singer-songwriter-rocker, Chuck Prophet (more HERE), formerly of eighties alt-rockers Green on Red, has been quietly releasing albums full of incredibly well-written songs for years to way-too-little acclaim.

8.     The Coup: Sorry to Bother You
Incendiary, rapier-witted but still catchy, Sorry to Bother You by Oakland's The Coup (more HERE) proves that this group's in it for the long haul.

9.     Teenage Bottlerocket: Freak Out
Despite being devout members of the Church of the Ramones, Wyoming's Teenage Bottlerocket (more HERE) are always up for a few heretical ideas - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse - which keeps their albums inspirational.

10.    Gentleman Jesse: Leaving Atalanta
Former Atlantan Gentleman Jesse (more HERE) delivers his finest set of driving rock n' roll songs.

11.    Futureheads: Rant
Scottish art-punks The Futureheads (more HERE) go A Capella to stunning effect.

12.    Terry Malts: Self-Titled
As I said about this California band recently (see HERE), "maybe the ever-fickle British press will get Terry Malts synthesis of various strains of independent guitar rock of the last thirty years (c86, indie-pop, new wave, pop-punk et al) and anoint them the next Kaiser Chiefs."

13.    Dan Vapid and The Cheats: Self-Titled
After an ignoble end to their long partnership, Ben Weasel kept the Screeching Weasel moniker for his shitty Carnival of Schadenfreude EP, while Chicagoan Dan Vapid (more HERE) got down to putting out this sing-long, pop-punk barn-burner.
Dan Vapid - Torture Chamber

14.    John K. Sampson: Provincial
Winnipeg's John K. Sampson (more HERE), also of The Weakerthans (more HERE), returned to working solo on this record, which was full of his usual mix of wistful longing, local history and electric-folk.

15.    The Dahlmanns: All Dahled Up
For our 'Anachronism of the Year', the one album from last year that whipped past our porous defenses, it's the a-fuckin'-mazing debut by Norway's Lords of Punk-Powereed-Pop, The Dahlmann's (more HERE) - one of my most listened to albums of the year.

While I'm sure I missed some great albums, that covers almost everything...

Did you hear anything you dug on this list? 
Did we miss something that might've fit?
Let us know in the COMMENTS section!

Update: Geographical references corrected.


  1. provincial is probably my lp of 2012. A little correction though, jake bugg is from nottingham in the uk, not london

  2. I had the pleasure of seeing OFF! play live at Trees in Dallas earlier this year. Outstanding, energetic performance from Keith and the boys!

    1. It's hard to believe a sick man getting on his years could perform like that!

  3. Three Bay Area artists (Coup is from Oakland, not LA)! Another reminder of my blessings (besides not waking up to President RobMe on November 7)....
    C in California

    1. You are indeed blessed! (and my geography is a bit fucked!)

  4. I missed that Dahlmanns album last year too. So good it makes a case that Andre Dahlmann is MVP of the Yum Yums rather than Morten Henriksen... although who wouldn't want both in their band?

    And, yeah, the Undecided By Default deserve a lot more attention than they get.

    Great list!

    1. Yeah it's interesting that I really like the Yum Yum's but I absolutely adore the Dahlmanns .

      And thanks for all your podcasts. I don't always have the time to go through each track but when I do I am ALWAYS rewarded by something like that Undecided By Default (or The Pilgrims) that nobody but you has noticed!

  5. The Off Video is really funny...Thanks Jeffen, I needed that.
    Here's to another year of MRML,and hopefully many more to come.

    1. As Long as people read, and comment like you, we should be able to keep this crazy enterprise afloat a while longer.

  6. We were told that no one gives a shit about the music we make and there was no point in releasing the cd we just recorded, no one would want it in this country (AUST). I thought fark you , l'll make it a free download on bandcamp and put it out there and l believe "it will eventually reach the ears that will want to hear it". Thank you, you make my heart POP, mwha Maria, The undecided by default.

    1. Maria,
      Idiots! That album is fantastic (perhaps I'll do a little write-up on it later) and why there are still such narrow-visioned people in a country that's produced as much great rock n' roll as Australia is baffling to me.
      Keep up the great work and if you ever produce a physical copy of the album let me know!

  7. I will have to give both the Terry Malts and Chuck Prophet albums a closer listen while I wait for my Masked Intruder to appear.


  8. Thanks for the list, I checked out some of these and my three favourites where the Masked Intruder, Dahlmanns and the Chuck Prophet. I was really blown away by the Masked Intruder album, its bloody brilliant, I don't think there is a bad track on it. My favourite is most probably Heart Shaped Guitar but its close as there are so many. I've got a ticket to go and see them in Manchester (England) in April for a £5, can't wait to see them. Chuck Prophet is also touring the UK in April so will be off to see him as well. Really enjoy the blog - keep up the great work!

  9. 'Heart Shaped Guitar " is the song I keep playing to anyone I can. When poeple listen ot it they love it!
    Thanks for the feedback, always nice to know I'm not just yelling into the void


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