Gregg’s 2012 Album of the Year

There are some strong contenders for the title of Album of the Year for 2012. They range from bands that deliver hard riffs and cryptic lyrics to a movie soundtrack that musically enunciated each note to a heart-pounding degree. There were also a few newcomers that brought some refreshing strength to what can be at times a repetitive music industry. Still, at the end of the day, there can only be one.

First off, a little band called Paper Tongues started making themselves known in 2010 with their self-titled album.  They still flew under the radar of many and this year released a 5-song EP.  Granted, its limited length wouldn’t qualify for consideration as an actual album, but it still provides a pretty accurate representation of who this band is and the rap/alt rock energy they bring.  If you get a chance to see these guys live, take advantage of it.  They bring a wicked stage presence and provide a level of musicality that can’t be captured on their studio recordings.

One band that isn’t new to the scene but almost captured the prize is none other than Linkin Park.  These guys came back strong after two lackluster recordings.  The electricity that brought these guys to the forefront was reignited on Living Things that takes off from the very first track, ‘Lost in the Echo’.  It may not be Meteora, but buying this album was a no-brainer.

The last time I decided on a worthy album of the year, it ended up being a major motion picture soundtrack…Tron Legacy to be exact.   Daft Punk assembled a score that was nothing short of incredible.  The best soundtrack of 2012 easily belongs to The Dark Knight Rises.  Composing genius Hans Zimmer borrowed from the music of the two previous films in the trilogy providing a sense of consistency while new elements were added creating yet another tension-filled symphonic masterpiece.

Before I get to the winner, let me mention my biggest disappointment of the year, which I actually thought would be a frontrunner; Dave Matthews Band.  Their 2012 release, Away from the World, was highly anticipated, yet it became a bitter pill to swallow.  It even reunited the DMB with the famed Steve Lillywhite who produced the band’s greatest works.  However, when it came to Away from the World, the tracks were uninspiring, completely lacked an upbeat presence and felt like they just rambled on without cause.  The temptation to hit the ‘next’ button on my CD player was incredible.  Sadly, the music was anything but incredible.  The album could be retitled Away from the Fans.

Drum roll please.  This past September, a friend of mine had encountered a bottle of wine or two and in her drunken stupor, randomly purchased and downloaded a plethora of music.  The following day she simply said to me, “Check out this song ‘Radioactive’.”  So I went to iTunes, gave the sample a listen, then promptly hit ‘Buy Song’.  The tune was slowly paced and deliberate in its delivery, but the energy that it harnessed with its thumping bass and confidently-announced chorus was addicting and adrenaline-inducing if nothing else.  The band is Imagine Dragons and it is their first major recording, Night Visions, which gets crowned as Album of the Year.

From ‘Radioactive’, the album progresses to anthems such as the up-tempo ‘Tiptoe’, to their first single, ‘It’s Time’, now getting airplay.  Opening with a catchy mandolin riff, ‘It’s Time’ takes listeners on an audible journey with its matter-of-factly set of lyrics where the vocals proudly say, “I’m just the same as I was…and I’m never changing who I am.”  From ‘It’s Time’, the varied flavors of Night Visions progress to the almost smile-contagious beat and affirming statement of ‘On Top of the World’ while the seriousness is reinstated with the lyrics’ pleas of desperation in ‘Hear Me’.   Night Visions closes out on a solid note with ‘Fallen’ on the 13-track, 14-song alternative rock album.

The formula for the album consists of an irrefutable combination of creativity, energy, and talent.  Night Visions brings a lot of variety to the table so as not to have one song become a virtual clone of the previous.  Now that they’ve achieved national (and soon international) notoriety, the next big challenge of Imagine Dragons will be to follow up with an equally impressive sophomore record.  Can they pull it off?  If you put out an album like this that is unshakable from top to bottom, I’d say there’s more than enough gas left in the tank of creativity to deliver again and again.


6 Responses to “Gregg’s 2012 Album of the Year”

  1. Brian White

    I don;t think I can ever get used to you saying a DMB album isn’t up to snuff. I like the new Gregg!
    Yes…LP put out a good album…for the most part. Light years better than that last stinker.
    But I am glad we agree on the DKR soundtrack.
    Sadly…I’m not sure I have a favorite album this year 🙁

  2. Gerard Iribe

    My favorite album(s) of the year are Julien-K’s “We’re Here With You” and Lit’s “View From The Bottom.”

  3. Gerard Iribe

    And a side of Kiss’ “Monster” on the side.

  4. Gregg

    Gerard, do a story on it! I want more info.

  5. Brian White

    We can leave the Kiss album out 🙂

  6. Gerard Iribe

    Gregg, I reviewed Lit’s record here:


    Never did review Julien-k’s or Kiss’ records, though.