Aaron’s Best Of 2012

* Just for curiosity’s sake, this is post #700 here at the KMA. Happy post-iversary.


Aaron’s Best Of 2012

Hi, folks! Welcome back. A bit of forewaring: there are some changes afoot, this year.

1) In the past, I have selected 31 albums that rocked me that year; 1 winner, and 30 other great ones. This year, I haven’t bought as much new music since, in July, I left my job to be a full-time stay-at-home Dad. Necessarily, discretionary funds for new music on one income became somewhat less. Still, for 2012 I was able to compile a respectable, much shorter list of records that I thought kicked some serious ass.

2) My lovely wife pointed out that Robert Pollard has perpetually been a stand-out for me, and, frankly, deserves his own category. I agree wholeheartedly, and wish I had thought of this myself, years ago. I’m a dummy sometimes, so it’s a good thing my lovely wife is here to help me survive. Also, none of his projects has ever won Best Of The Year in this space before, because I always felt I couldn’t choose just one from the myriad releases we receive from his crew every year. This new category idea solves the problem neatly. They all win!

3) It’s about time I told you WHY these records are here, so I’ve included (very) brief notes on each record.

4) There were some cool re-releases that I got this year. I would love to include them in my deliberations for Best Of 2012, however they were not Originally Released In 2012, so I cannot do it. But believe me, they are all AWESOME.

Result: Beginning this year, there will be a Best Of The Year, and a few other records I loved. Then, there will also be a Hey, Look At All The Awesome category for everything Mr. Pollard and his various crews did this year. Some Re-releases will follow. Then, the stuff I still need to get, and the past years’ winners list, for edification’s sake.

Finally: As always, I had considerable difficulty choosing the winner this year. All these records are interchangeable for the top spot. And I’m not saying that in your grade 4 teacher “you’re all winners” kind of way. I’m serious. I loved all of these records completely.

Hopefully you’ll check out all of these entries for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Aaron’s Best Of 2012:

Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

Leonard’s second time in the winner’s circle, and deservedly so. This album is just gorgeous. Of course, any year with a new Leonard album in it has got to be a stellar year, but this is pitch perfect late night, candles and wine music. As the years go by, his voice just gets more and more rich, more evocative, more enveloping. The man has lost none of his power. Coming as it did so early in 2012, this record was (almost) unfair to what was to come from everyone else. 

10 Other Great Records From 2012 (In Alphabetical Order):

Baroness – Yellow & Green

Two CDs of thoughtful and beautiful songs. Equal doses of holding you tenderly and rocking you the fuck out. Gorgeous. I first heard this during a time of total pain for good friends of ours, which will always lend these tunes an extra, harrowing edge.

Bidiniband – In The Rock Hall

No matter what Dave Bidini does, be it music or books or whatever, I will be right there. This is such a cool collection of songs!

Carolyn Mark – Queen Of Vancouver Island

The saddest, most beautiful record I heard all year. Just makes me want to give her a great big hug. And she still has enough heart to make sure that we laugh and have a good time, too. Thank you so much for this album, Carolyn.

Jack Johnson And Friends – Best Of Kokua Festival

It ought to be a life-goal of ours to get out to one of these festivals – it’s got to be such a beautiful experience. Not just for Johnson’s songs, but for all the guests too. This CD makes me wish they’d release ten more just like it.

Jack White – Blunderbuss

At first, the songs were too angular and jarring. Maybe my ears were expecting the Stripes, and disappointed when the elements that echo them weren’t the focus. But it’s a grower, and definitely a keeper. An excellent solo effort.

Little Willies – For The Good Times

Picking right up where their first record left off (6 years ago!), Norah Jones and crew knock off another hugely fun collection of country classics.

Metallica – Beyond Magnetic

Yes, I bought this twice (see rant, in these pages). But Death Magnetic was my album of the year for 2008, so extra material is a must. And it’s great! All four of these songs deserved to be on the record… which means it should have been a double album!

Off! – Off!

No one else is currently making punk music as good as this. The second effort from this supergroup, it wastes no time in kicking your ass up and down the block.

Todd Tobias – Medicine Show

Long-time Robert Pollard producer/collaborator releases debut solo effort and knocks it right out of the park. This is fantastic! Came in a lovely (limited edition) 4-panel gatefold CD pack. Also, download the FREE single for Manatoc Enters The City/The Long Fall at Hidden Shoal while you’re buying the CD!

Tragically Hip – Now For Plan A

Even as a lifetime fan, this record took some getting used to. It seemed they were trying too hard, somehow… but once it seeps in and takes firm grip, the songs here each stand out as worthy of their impeccable discography.

Hey, Look At All The Awesome! Robert Pollard Deserves His Own Category:

Guided By Voices – Let’s Go Eat The Factory

I hadn’t dared to hope that the original line-up would get back together. Believe me: I was beyond happy when they did! These sounds were so great, in my ears. One could (and should) weep with joy for their return.

Guided By Voices – Class Clown Spots A UFO

Their second record of the year, it is some of the best music out there in 2012. It’s challenging, and it gets the job done with style, creativity, verve and the rawk.

Guided By Voices – The Bears For Lunch

Their third group album in this year (!), here we have proof that Pollard and his merry gang of cohorts are completely unstoppable.

Robert Pollard – Mouseman Cloud

Jam-packed with song ideas and riffs that other bands would kill for, coupled with lyrical flights of fancy and genius. In other words, it’s another Pollard album.

Robert Pollard – Jack Sells The Cow

Like Mouseman Cloud, this is further proof that the man is a veritable songwriting machine. Cover to cover, song by song, what we have here is another GREAT record!

Also! 4 GREAT Re-Releases This Year:

Gowan – Great Dirty World (Special Edition)

I’ve been a fan of Gowan’s since Strange Animal, back when I was a kid. I remember seeing him perform these songs on the original tour. I was in the crowd when they filmed the video for Awake The Giant. An anniversary release with extra material is a no-brainer for me. 

Rolling Stones – Charlie Is My Darling

Recorded during their 1965 tour of Ireland, and filmed as well. I got the Deluxe box set for Christmas and it is a thing of beauty, indeed.

Sloan – Australia 1999 (vinyl)

A gorgeous birthday gift from super-generous James, this limited edition vinyl captures Sloan flying high down under! 

Sloan – Twice Removed (Deluxe Edition) (vinyl)

A beautiful Christmas gift from my lovely wife this year, this is the record that got me hooked on the band (and was my first live experience of theirs). Contains the album (remastered), the demos, the outtakes, a bonus 7″ and a gorgeous book. Oh, and full digital download too. Days worth of fun, indeed!

Shopping List Of Records From 2012 (Still Need To Get): 

Bob Dylan – Tempest

Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream

Boston Spaceships – The Greatest Hits Of Boston Spaceships: Out Of The Universe By Sundown (more Pollard!)

Deftones – Koi No Yokan

Gary Clark, Jr. – Blak And Blu

Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

Evens – The Odds

Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage

Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat And Bone

Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day 2-CD/2-DVD

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Americana

Rush – Clockwork Angels

~and surely there are many others~

Previous Years’ Winners:

2011 Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Play The Blues: Live From Jazz At The Lincoln Center

2010 Jack Johnson – To The Sea

2009 Leonard Cohen – Live In London

2008 Metallica – Death Magnetic

2007 Carolyn Mark – Nothing Is Free / Immaculate Machine – Fables (tie)

2006 Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It


Thanks for tuning in. See you in 2013.


10 thoughts on “Aaron’s Best Of 2012

  1. mikeladano says:

    Very nice list indeed. Baroness, from what I heard in your car, is incredible. Sloan, goes without saying. I listen to the official bootlegs as much as I listen to the official live album! And that box set was second to none for the care put into it.

    The Hip I haven’t heard yet. The last new album of theirs that I seriously loved was In Violet Light, which was cool.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks! The Baroness is indeed awesome. You have it all there, to check it out, ya know. 😉

      The Sloan is all beautiful. They really do things up right.

      Man, you’ve got some catching up to do on the Hip. All of their albums will get into your blood, if you let them. They’re all different, but still sound like the Hip. Great stuff. GREAT!


        1. keepsmealive says:

          Well, Dude, THERE ARE NO EXCUSES: World Container is $5 brand-spankin’-new on Amazon. Five bucks. For that GREAT album? It’s a travesty. In fact, most of their records seem to be between $5-10, which means every good Canadian can do their patriotic and civic duty and collect them all! They can’t make it any simpler. Some people spend more than that for a complicated, stupidly-named coffee at the local corporate-whore-homogenous-experience coffee shop. Which would YOU rather have? Anyway, these are also perfect for those times you need to fill out an order to get the free shipping, but in my humble opinion an order of all Hip would be the most satisfying. Hop to it!!


          1. mikeladano says:

            $5? Holy crap! Sounds like I just found a CD to bump my next order up to free shipping status.

            Weirdly, I don’t have that one, but I do have We Are All the Same (which I love). Not sure how I missed World Container. I actually thought the albums were in opposite order!


  2. Heavy Metal Overload says:

    Nice list and I like the format you used! Baroness is definitely on my catch-up list for next year. Beyond Magnetic was really enjoyable although I keep forgetting to listen to it! And I was so close to buying that Off! record… kept meaning to ask you about it I see you have the 4 EPs in a previous list, how does the new one compare?

    You really like Robert Pollard eh? Prolific chap by the looks of it! And Sloan seem to be doing a roaring trade in reissues!

    And…. no Manowar?!


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Glad you liked the format. It changes a bit, year to year, but generally is the same. Baroness is a MUST! And it’s easy to catch up right now, they only have the 3 records. I got Red and Blue for $10 each on sale at HMV a while back. SO worth it.

      I loved Beyond Magnetic. And good thing, because if I had bought it twice and it sucked I’d have been pretty pissed! 😉 Of course, it’s Metallica. How bad could it be, right? Oh… right… Lulu…

      Off! is definitely worth checking out, both records. Well, the First Four were actually vinyl EPs, the CD just collects them. Anyway, it’s old school west coast punk, done by vets of the scene. All the new bands should be bowing before them in thanks! There’s no comparing the two releases, it’s all great.

      I don’t really like Robert Pollard. I AM A HUUUUGE FAN. Prolific? Hahahaha that’s understatment of the year. 2012 was a slow year, only the 5 records. Must’ve been all those art shows he was doing. And two books. Yep, slow year.

      Sloan seems to put out a re-ish every 6 months or so. It’s awesome. I’m hoping they do a box like this of Peppermint EP/Smeared next. Don’t know why they didn’t do that first. Anyway.

      Nope, no Manowar. I don’t have any of their stuff right now, though I used to at one point.


        1. keepsmealive says:

          I can make the Off! and Baroness sotd’s, so at least you can hear them! But with the Baroness, you can’t hear one song and form an impression – they are an album-band, ya know? The Off! will just tear your head off. So cool. I got Beyond Magnetic on iTunes, then on CD. No vinyl.


          1. Heavy Metal Overload says:

            I did hear one Baroness track on a mag freebie and though it sounded great. I watched an Off! promo on YouTube but I don’t like watching videos of a new band. I prefer just to hear with my ears! Feel free to use them as sotd’s though.


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