The best albums of 2012

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Read Locey's complete column as printed in Time Out Feb. 15.
 
1. The Lumineers, "The Lumineers" (Dualtone). Believe all the hype you've heard as to the Lumineers and that "Ho Hey" song isn't even the best cut on the album - I like "Classy Girls" and "Dead Sea."

2. Zeus, "Busting Visions" (Arts & Crafts). As to Zeus, why not start at the top because if you dance with the gods, they'll lead you to paradise. This Zeus is a mind-bending Toronto guitar band that has moments of Phish, Queen and the Beatles as well as other stuff - they're really good - you can invent your own new adjectives.

3. The Bopcats, "25 Years Of Rock 'n' Roll" (Eller Sound). The Bopcats are an old school bar band sort of like the Morells or the Bottle Rockets that might make you drink more beer than you need and dance funny - Buddy Holly would've loved them.

4. John Mayer, "Born And Raised" (Columbia). I finally listened to a John Mayer album after all these years - big wow - he's a singer/songwriter on top of his game. "Queen of California" and "Something Like Olivia" are just two good ones from an album with no weak cuts.

5. Jack White, "Blunderbuss" (Columbia). Jack White knows what he's doing - he rocks hard and even covers "I'm Shakin'" by the Blasters, so extra points for that.

6. Todd Snider, "Acoustic Hymns & Stoner Fables" (Aimless Records). Funny songs about serious stuff and the answer to the unasked question: What if John Prine was a long haired hippie playing songs for those that smoked their lunch?

7. JD McPherson, "Signs & Signifiers" (Rounder). Old school r&b blues belter with soul to spare and how 'bout that great gruff been-there-done-that voice?

8. Titus Andronicus, "Local Business" (XL Recordings). The band - a textbook definition of trippy indie rock - will take you on a trip to the garage and beyond. Made a point to see 'em at Coachella last year; and before that, loved their Civil War-themed album.

9. The Shrouded Strangers, "Lost Forever" (Izniz Recordings). Moody, murky and bluesy stoner pop by this tight trio out of the redneck Richmond , mixing some early Stones and plenty of beer.

10. Spiritualized, "Huh?" (Fat Possum). The latest mind-bending exploration of guitar god Jason Spaceman who never fails to live up to his name. Listening to this may jeopardize your expected results on that drug test at work.

11. Lord Huron, "Lonesome Dreams" (IAMSOUND). Frontman Ben Schneider says it best when he calls his band "a slow motion roller coaster ride." Works for me as to this E Ticket dream pop band.

12. Divine Fits, "A Thing Called Divine Fits" (Merge). Small 's' supergroup made up of guys from a bunch of bands you've never heard of hit it out of the park with their nervous pop debut.

13. Cold Specks, "I Predict A Graceful Expulsion" (Broken Hertz/Mute). Al Spx is the pseudonym of a Canadian singer based in London belting out some so-called "doom soul." She's got it.

14. Fun, "Some Nights" (Fueled By Ramen). Intricate harmonies will make you a fan, just as it did the Grammy voters - sorta reminds me of Panic at the Disco.

15. Bob Mould, "Silver Age" (Merge). More propulsive rock as we have come to expect from the former Husker-Dude and Sugar frontman. As righteous as it is rough around the edges.

16. Trail Of Dead, "Lost Songs" (Superball Music). Sounds like BritPop - it's not - it's one of the greatest band from Texas that's as good as Phish (but way different) going where no jam band has gone before. I drove all the way to Hell-A on a work night just to buy a band shirt - the band was even better.

17. Yellow Ostrich, "Strange Land" (Barsuk). This band is a showcase for the vocal gymnastics of one Alex Shaaf - betcha the first tune, "Elephant King" makes you a Yellow Ostrich fan.

18. Shovels and Rope, "O' Be Joyful" (Dualtone). Low budget, guy and a gal Southern folk rock with happening harmonies. It's worth it just for the photo on the back cover of the album.

19. Big Walker , "Root Walking" (Big Walker). Old black blues dude who is reminiscent of John Lee Hooker and those other legends doing that down and dirty blues thing.

20. Gretchen Peters, "Hello Cruel World" (Scarlet Letter). Peters sings sad girl serenades with real religious fervor - she's as good as Adele with a smaller bank account.

21. Phillip Phillips, "The World From The Side Of The Moon" (Interscope). He was an "American Idol" winner in 2012 and after about 30 seconds of this one - it's clear why. Phillips has that perfect world-weary rock voice which totally works on these bluesy rockers.

22. Freelance Whales, "Diluvia" (Mom & Pop). Intricate vocals going off everywhere on these baroque pop tunes makes this one a winner.

23. Two Gallants, "The Bloom & The Blight" (Ato). It's a folk rock duo out of the Bay Area that make it happen with swell vocals and tight melodies.

23. Django Django, "Django Django" (Ribbon Music). These guys were the Next Big Thing BritPop band for 2012.

24. River City Extension, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger" (XOXO Records). Yet another great band out of New Jersey - all eight of them doing jam band friendly country rock.

25. Perfume Genius, "Put Your Back B 2 It" (Matador). This is the alias of one Mike Hadreas, a solo arrtist out of Seattle. He can sing and his songs will live in your head for daze - what else is there?
 
***

Honorable Mention and definitely worth a listen (or three): 

Alabama Shakes
Avett Brothers
Black Twig Pickers
JC Brooks & Uptown Sound
Gary Clark Jr.
Crystal Fighters
Dandy Warhols
Dr. Dog
the Dunwells

Ed. Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Eve 6
Kinky Friedman
Gaslight Anthem
Goldfrapp
Good Old War
Ellie Goulding
Green Day (both of them)
Ha Ha Tonka
Milo Greene
Jim Hanft
Herzog

John Hiatt
Missy Higgins
the Hives
Husky
Islands
Jaill
the Japandroids
Jeff The Brotherhood
King Tuff
Laibach
Mark Lanegan Band
Little Big Town
Low Cut Connie
Lucero
Corb Lund
Maroon 5
M83
Metric
Rhett Miller
Milo Greene
The New Number 2

AC Newman
Of Monsters And Men
the Pines
the Raveonettes
Redd Kross

Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band
Xavier Rudd
Santigold
Scars On 45
the Shins
Sonny & the Sunsets
Tame Impala
Teenage Bottle Rocket
Tom Tom Club
We Are Serenades
Paul Weller
Wintersleep
Wussy
the XX
Young Rebel Set

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Rockin' Roll Call
Bill Locey reviews music for the Ventura County Star, when he isn't reenacting the history of this great nation or teaching it to incarcerated youth.
He is the tall guy lurking in the back of all the local rock shows.
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