Just yesterday I was reading a news story about how scientists are regrowing hair cells (pictured above) in mice to restore hearing damage caused by loud noises. Nifty stuff and certainly something that would come in handy if and when they can actually make it work for people, but it still wouldn’t do me any good, because I’m not just talking about records I didn’t hear because I saw SunnO))) that one time without earplugs — I’m talking about albums that I didn’t hear because, for one reason or another, our paths didn’t cross at all. If you want to talk about the other kind of not hearing, ask The Patient Mrs. how loud I keep the tv at night.
But as regards those reasons: In the past when I’ve done this list, it’s usually been with some measure of shame. Last year, I had to admit I hadn’t heard Argus‘ album because I knew I’d like it and wind up buying a copy (which I finally did), and had to admit that I slept on Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. This year it’s a little different. Most of the records on this list I could’ve easily heard — if I’d wanted to hear them. In 2012, it wasn’t just that I missed stuff (though I did, I’m quite sure), but also that some stuff I just couldn’t be bothered to download the promo mp3s. You’d be amazed how often that happens.
So with that in mind, I humbly and ignorantly present my Top Five Albums I Didn’t Hear in 2012. I hope if I missed anything essential, you’ll let me know.
1. Soundgarden, King Animal
It’s a pretty rare thing for me to get a request for a review from someone neither in nor representing a band (i.e. PR or a label, etc.), and I got more than one for Soundgarden‘s reunion full-length, King Animal. I heard the record was great, but seriously, whatever. I was never a huge Soundgarden fan, and the whole tone of their getting back together left me cold — people calling them brave for putting out a rock album that everyone knows is gonna sell like mad and talking about playing arena shows in front of thousands of fans like it’s a bold decision. Sorry, but the bold decision would be for Soundgarden to have stayed broken up and for Chris Cornell to work with Timbaland again. King Animal could’ve been the best rock record of 2012 for all I know, but I’m pretty sure all I’d hear would be tuned vocals and sampled drums. Pass.
2. Baroness, Yellow and Green
I give Georgia natives Baroness the utmost respect for the heap of shit they ate as regards their luck last year, but even their tenacity in recovering from a bus accident — along with the vehement recommendations of, well, the universe — wasn’t enough to get me on board for their third album, Yellow and Green. Here’s a fun fact: Up to this point in the band’s career, I’ve owned just about everything they’ve put out, because I figured that sooner or later, I’d come around. I saw them at Emissions from the Monolith years back and picked up the First and Second EPs because I was like, “Yeah, I’ll probably start digging this band and when I do, I’ll be glad to have these.” I keep waiting for that switch to flip and it just hasn’t yet. Loves me some Valkyrie though, for what that’s worth.
3. The Sword, Apocryphon
While I’m talking about old shows, I caught Austin’s The Sword opening a Relapse Records showcase at SXSW when all they had out was a demo and thought they were bloody brilliant. I even dug Age of Winters when it came out, but my interest level diminished on the quick. I didn’t bother with 2010’s Warp Riders either, and as they made their Razor and Tie Records debut with Apocryphon in October, I barely blinked. These guys get consistent support, and I’ll give it to them that they put in their work on the road supporting what they do and always have, but in terms of what I’m going to listen to for a week straight before I review it, there’s gonna be no shortage of other Sword reviews out there and I doubt very much mine’s going to have anything revolutionary to say, so yeah, there are better ways to spend my time.
4. Rival Sons, Head Down
Maybe I could’ve climbed on board for what SoCal-based Rival Sons had to offer, but frankly the whole thing seemed a little too reality show. Like the headline says, I didn’t hear the record, but with their major label hair, purported classic rock sound and press hype, it just seemed like they were a band I was supposed to like, as if you took what makes kickass heavy rock and broke it down to Lego parts, adding a standalone moustache. I’ve heard from some reliable sources that they are indeed the shit, but the contrarian in me just wasn’t having any of Head Down. Maybe I’m wrong and next time they put out an album I’ll take a listen and have to eat my words. Wouldn’t be the first time.
5. Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral
This one I legitimately regret not hearing. Former Screaming Trees vocalist and frequent Queens of the Stone Age collaborateur, Mark Lanegan has one of those voices that he probably won’t have grown into until he’s 65 years old. You know how Johnny Cash was finally old enough for his voice when he started putting out the American series, or how Tom Waits hit that line in 2011 and everyone was like “holy crap Tom Waits is the best thing ever?” I’m pretty well convinced Mark Lanegan will get there sooner or later. I got a promo of Blues Funeral, but it was a download so I didn’t bother. Too late to review it now, but maybe I’ll pick it up somewhere along the line. Maybe not. Doesn’t seem like Mr. Lanegan‘s hurting either way, unless, you know, you count the existential agonies present in his vocal delivery.
Okay, that’s it. Everything else I heard in 2012 so there you go. No, of course that’s not true. As always, there were tons of albums I missed out on — one of these days I’m gonna sit with Heavy Eyes and give them a real chance — because I’m only one man, I only have two ears, and those ears are only so willing to listen to stuff that’s not Neurosis.
Anything essential you think I missed, or anything essential that you missed that you want to add? Leave a comment below.