Friends of the DE Best of 2012

Wayne Bledsoe - Entertainment Writer at then Knoxville News Sentinel & Host of All Over the Road on WDVX

"Some Stories" Kevin Abernathy (
"Still Wanna Fight" Mic Harrison & the High Score (
"Wand Ambition" LiL iFFy (
"Modern Victims" The Lonetones (
"Wayfarin' Stranger" Con Hunley (
"Mischievous Moon" Jill Barber (
"Who's Gonna Teach You How to Live?" Jordan Hull (
Rayna Gellert "Old Light" (
"Older Than My Old Man Now" Loudon Wainwright III (
"In the Dusk of Everything" Matthew Ryan (

Todd Steed - Rock Legend, Jazz and Operations Coordinator at WUOT

Brad Mehldau- Where Do I Start?
Mic Harrison - Still Wanna Fight
Jack Rentfro- Damascus By Sundown
The French- We Are The French
Bad Plus- Made Possible
Scott Miller And Rayna Gellert- Co-Dependents
Winterlight- Hope Dies Last
Skuli Sverrisson- Seria 2
Carrie Wicks- Barley There

Dave Vinson - Customer Extraordinaire

Porcupine Tree – Octane Twisted
Passenger – All the Little Lights
Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day
Ty Segall – Twins
Godspeed You Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Beach House – Bloom
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
My Jerusalem – Preachers
Dragged Into Sunlight – Widowmaker

***The Following have been re-printed from the Maryville Daily Times***

Scott West, co-proprietor and “head custodian,” Preservation Pub

Don’t know if we can think of a lot of new national music CDs released in 2012 that we listened to since we spend so much time listening to the thousands of bands that request to play in Preservation Pub. Anyway, here’s a few of our favorite local releases:

“Homegrown for the Holidays Vol. 3” includes something like 18 East Tennessee artists (like The Dirty Guv’nahs and Erick Baker) performing Christmas songs for charity. WFIV-FM, i105, puts out one of these every year, and it’s really cool as the entire $10 goes to great non-profits like Knox Area Rescue Ministries and Ronald McDonald House.

The Dirty Guv’nahs “Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies”: Because they’ve got a lot of Southern rock feeling and haven’t killed each other yet despite that. You might as well pick up “Youth is in Our Blood” while you’re at it, by the way.

The Black Cadillacs, “Run”: Pure rock ‘n’ roll from Knoxville’s rockingest band.

Grandpa’s Stash, “Where Does It End”: These guys have waited seven years to put one out, so let’s enjoy it. Grandpa’s Stash has become a local supergroup, with members of other great bands (like Llama Train’s Scott Faw, Madre’s Andrew Sayne, The Jojax’s John Colquitt and LipLipLip Hands’ Nathan Gilleran) joining Niles Haury and Kyle Renalds to play NOLA-meets-Southern-jams-rock.

Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet
, “Damascus by Sundown”: If you’re into hilariously smart ironic spoken-word poetry floating along a river of great musicians, this one’s for you.

Mic Harrison &amp the High Score
, “Still Wanna Fight”

O Youth is a really great, really fresh sound coming up in Knoxville. Their CD “Arts EP” is a multi-genre good time.

Marina Orchestra are impossible not to dance to, and so is their “Take On the Silence,” with its world-beat Talking Heads meets Paul Simon’s “Graceland” sound.

Mac Comer and the Coo Cool Kidders
, “Hyperbolic Length”: Mac has been keeping our crowd up very late for a very long time with his genre-jumping jams of good times and good humor.

Moon Taxi, “Cabaret”

Gary Clark Jr., “Blak & Blu”

The Kingston Springs, self-titled

The Theorizt have brought great grooves and hip-hop with an intelligent positive message to Knoxville which continues in “Samarai Love Songs.”

One national releases I’ll mention: The Gaslight Anthem, “Handwritten”

Rob Levering, co-host, WUTK-FM’s “The Funhouse”

OFF!, self-titled: Sixteen songs in under 16 minutes. Keith Morris and gang prove middle age hasn’t killed their punk ethos.

Bob Mould, “Silver Age”: Simply awesome. Hands down the best thing Bob has released since Sugar’s 1992 “Copper Blue.”

Mic Harrison & The High Score, “Still Wanna Fight”: Like a mighty fine wine, the boys just keep getting better. Their strongest effort yet and one that I have worn out. Support local music and buy this album. It’s probably better than 99 percent of everything else you heard in 2012.

Lucero, “Women and Work”: The little band that could keeps getting more Memphis soul with every release. Love these guys, love this album.

Pig Destroyer, “Book Burner”: A full-on pummeling of grindcore heavy riffage. A definite contender for metal record of the year.

METZ, self-titled: Good Canadian band alert! Jesus Lizard meets “In Utero.” Loud and noisy. Sounds like a Steve Albini record.

Japandroids, “Celebration Rock”: If there’s one indie sing-a-long party record of the year, “Celebration Rock” is it. Don’t be fooled by the two-piece; this is much bigger and anthemic than it appears.

Pulled Apart By Horses, “Tough Love”: UK release. I have no clue why this hasn’t made it to the States, but tracks “V.E.N.O.M.” and “Epic Myth” make this album worth hunting down.

Converge, “All We Love We Leave Behind”: Twenty-plus years, eight albums and these guys still release some of the most emotionally aggressive music you’ve probably never heard. Not meant for easy consumption, but well worth the effort.

Rush, “Clockwork Angels”: Produced by native Knoxvillian Nick Raskulinecz. I dug this record more than anything since the ’80s era. “Headlong Flight” is epic, heavy Rush.

Derek Senter, co-host, WUTK-FM’s “The Funhouse”

Pulled Apart By Horses, “Tough Love”: This record is sick. High-energy, no-holds-barred kick-ass rock and roll! Really no need for any other description.

METZ, self-titled: Reaching back into the depths of Nirvana’s “Bleach” and maybe a little Pixies action. You should own this record.

Bob Mould, “Silver Age”: Holy @#&! Bob Mould is proving that 50 ain’t too old to kick some serious you-know-what! Best thing Mr. Mould has done since Sugar’s 1992 release “Copper Blue.” Not that he hasn’t done some decent stuff, but this record rules. It has been in my rotation for a long time. Now my 6-year-old son is requesting it.

The Biters, “Last of a Dying Breed”: Yet another EP from Atlanta’s The Biters. Take some Thin Lizzy and mix in some Cheap Trick and a dirty garage and you’ve got this band. After several killer EPs, they are apparently going to release a full-length next time. Fingers crossed.

Green Day, “Uno” “Dos” and “Tre’”: I know. I know! Green Day sucks! Yes, I’m aware it’s cool to hate Green Day. Sue me! I love their pop-sensibility. Who would’ve thought after blowing up after “Dookie” they’d have the longevity they’ve had? “Uno” is my favorite of the three releases these past few months, but all are good. Sorry. I’m not cool, and I don’t give a crap what you think.

Mic Harrison & The High Score
, “Still Wanna Fight”: I’ve liked a lot of what Mic and the boys have done in the past, but this record is hands down the best thing they’ve done and should be all over the airwaves all across the country. This is better than anything you’ll hear on a “country” radio station. Why? Because it actually has a soul. Love this record! Think I’ll go put it in the ol’ CD player now ... or fire up the iPod.

Rush, “Clockwork Angels”: It’s Rush, and it’s good. Also produced by Knoxville’s own Nick Raskulinecz.

The Darkness, “Hot Cakes”: Not sure they’ll ever catch the magic and fun of “Permission To Land” again, but it was nice to hear Justin Hawkins busting out his falsetto again, Good record.

Deftones, “Koi No Yokan”: I don’t know what the hell the title means but the record rocks. Another feather in Nick R’s cap.

Redd Kross, “Researching The Blues”: Heavy reverb, loads of fuzz, hooks that have you humming them after one listen. Redd Kross is back and they’ve still got it.

Lucero, “Women & Work”: Not my favorite thing they’ve ever done but it’s still good. Would like to see them strip back down a little and get back to the grit. I could do without the horns but it does give ’em that Memphis thang. Still solid and the songwriting is still there.

Mark Arnold, CEO, Red Mountain Event Services

Albums: Ian Hunter, “When I’m President”; Kevin Gordon, “Gloryland”; Justin Townes Earle, “Nothing Is Going To Change the Way You Feel About Me Now”; J.D. McPherson, “Signs and Signifiers”; Bob Dylan, “Tempest”; Fred Eaglesmith, “6 Volts”; Jimmy Cliff, “Rebirth”; Corb Lund &amp The Hurtin’ Albertans, “Cabin Fever”; Pallbearer, “Sorrow and Extinction”; The Trishas, “High Wide and Handsome”

Performances: The V-Roys at The Tennessee Theatre, Bonnie Whitmore at The Well, J.D. McPherson at “The Shed,” Jason Isbell and 400 Unit at “The Shed,” Amos Lee at Rhythm N’ Blooms Festival, Fred Eaglesmith at “The Shed,” Bronze Radio Return on the “Scruffy City Ramble,” Julie Lee on the WDVX-FM “Blue Plate Special,” Jake Shimabukuro at Rhythm N’ Blooms, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ at “The Shed”

Nelson Gullett, music director, WDVX-FM

The Mastersons, “Birds Fly South” (recommended Tracks: “One Word More,” “The Other Shoe”): Strong songwriting, powerful hooks, and Jayhawks-style harmonies are the hallmarks of this steady debut.

Shovels & Rope, “O’ Be Joyful” (recommended tracks: “Birmingham,” “O Be Joyful”): Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hurst (a.k.a. Shovels & Rope) make a joyful noise when they stomp through this set of ragged and roughhewn country tunes with nothing more than “two beat-up drums and two old guitars.” Their sound is minimal but explosive, and they have been one of the most buzzed-about acts of the year.

Kelly Hogan, “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain” (recommended tracks: “We Can’t Have Nice Things,” “The Ways of This World”): Hogan turned to friends and collaborators such as Andrew Bird, Robyn Hitchcock, Robbie Fulks and the late Vic Chestnutt for (mostly brand new) material. She even landed the legendary Booker T. Jones as bandleader for the project. Throw in one of the strongest vocal performances of the year, and you have yourself one stunning record.

J.D. McPherson, “Signs & Signifiers” (recommended tracks: “North Side Gal,” “BGMOSRNR”): J.D. McPherson admits to borrowing heavily from The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” for the title track of his debut record. The rest is pure R&B and rockabilly joy grown out of the dancehalls of McPherson’s native Oklahoma and recorded with all vintage instruments and equipment.

Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons, “Old Love” (recommended tracks: “I’ve Been Accused,” “I Never Meant to Love You”): In a year that was defined by new and “new to me” artists, Chisel is the one that seemed to come the most out of left field. Chisel’s songs and voice just have a classic quality; an easygoing comfort and warmth that just seem to draw you in.

Kathleen Edwards, “Voyageur” (recommended tracks: “Change the Sheets,” “A Soft Place to Land”): Prior to making this record with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Kathleen Edwards split from her longtime husband and lead guitarist Colin Cripps. The resulting album is so personal, so full of loss and pain that it can be difficult to take at times.

Alabama Shakes, “Boys and Girls” (recommended tracks: “Rise to the Sun,” “Be Mine”): Vocalist Brittany Howard wails away on the Shakes’ bluesy Southern rock and soul numbers with an infectious joy that recalls everyone from Aretha to Janis. The band was deservedly named Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2012 Americana Music Awards.

Rayland Baxter, “Feathers and Fishhooks” (recommended tracks: “Mountain Song,” “The Woman for Me”): Baxter’s beautifully understated full length debut was recorded in Nashville, but has more in common with The Laurel Canyon.

Joe Pug, “The Great Despiser” (recommended tracks: “The Great Despiser,” “Neither Do I Need a Witness”): Joe Pug topped my list in 2010 with his debut record “Messenger.” This album also contains a lot of the same bare bones acoustic arrangements that first brought the playwright turned song writer to my attention. This time around, however, Pug has also expanded his sound on songs like the rocking title track (with Craig Finn from The Hold Steady) and the bluesy fuzz of “Neither Do I Need a Witness.”

John Fullbright, “From the Ground Up” (recommended tracks: “Gawd Above,” “All the Time in the World”): John Fullbright is a native of Okemah, Oklahoma. That’s the same town that gave the world Woody Guthrie. Based on this debut effort, it doesn’t seem to be a stretch to say that Fullbright appears to be a worthy candidate to carry on the songwriting legacy of his hometown.

Russ Torbett, blogger, Saints Don’t Bother (follow: )

Dwight Yoakam, “3 Pears”: Has a song or two for everyone: barn-burning rock and rollers, slow ballads, some humorous and cartoony tunes, country two-steppers and that classic Dwight high-pitch honky tonk hiccup-y sound from Bakersfield that made him a star 30 years ago.

Alabama Shakes, “Boys & Girls: My favorite “new” band of the year, hands down. Not a close second. “Boys & Girls” starts out with my favorite song of the year, “Hold On,” and doesn’t let up. This neo-Motown retro garage-rock revival is an album that will be in my collection for the long haul.

Ryan Bingham, “Tomorrowland”: Ryan Bingham returns without the Dead Horses and they may have been dead weight. As with his previous records, Bingham is loud and rowdy on this record, as well as soft and orchestrated, but with more direction this time.

J.D. McPherson, “Signs & Signifiers”: Don’t call him retro, don’t call him throwback, don’t call him the Setzer/Stray Cats of the 2010s, because he’s not. J.D. is doing the ’50s rock/rockabilly/roots/country-blues sound as if we just now found this record in our grandparents’ basement in a musty old box of 45s with Elvis, Chuck, Fats and so on.

Justin Townes Earle, “Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now”: JTE continues to make records and they continue to get better and better. It is the “same old Justin Townes Earle record,” but like his albums before, this one gets better with age too.

The Mastersons, “Birds Fly South”: Here’s the Mastersons debut together, now that they made it official with their nuptials. This music scene veteran couple put together a poppy but personal, smart but not too smart, hipster gem.

Lucero, “Women & Work”: Lucero = sad songs about living hard, loving hard, playing hard, drinking hard. Take the aforementioned songs and add full time steel guitar, keys and horns. Now these sad songs are still sad, but have the duality of feeling happy and upbeat, but deep down they are still, in fact, sad songs sung by Ben Nichols, one of the great modern day storytellers.

Channing Wilson, self-titled: This LaFayette, Ga. (just south of Chattanooga) country boy’s self-titled album is one from the songwriter’s songwriters. Channing has a way with words and melodies that will absolutely grab hold of you, pull you in and completely melt you.

Nada Surf, “The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy”: Nada Surf. Take perfect power pop, mix it with songs of feeling alienated, about growing up, and falling in and out of love, throw in some New York hipster street cred and you have a still-great band still rocking after 20 years, doing it their way, on their own schedule, writing great and catchy-as-all-get-out songs.

Band of Horses, “Mirage Rock”: This one is a bit more of a sleeper/creeper than their last couple though, but I haven’t given up on it yet. I revisited it too, just as I did with Justin Townes Earle, and I am starting to see what they were shooting for with this record. It’s live, it’s loose, it’s not all loud.

Boone Vires, brand manager, AC Entertainment

Witchcraft, “Legend”
Deftones, “Koi No Yokan”
Converge, “All We Love We Leave Behind”
Enslaved, “RIITIIR”
Torche, “Harmonicraft”
Baroness, “Yellow & Green”
Gojira, “L’Enfant Sauvage”
High On Fire, “De Vermis Mysteriis”
Royal Thunder, “CVI”
If These Trees Could Talk, “Red Forest”

Eric Bowen, editor/writer, Knox Music Today blog (

Beach House, "Bloom": The Baltimore duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have released a masterpiece. Every song is an absolute pearl.  It is more majestic and plush than any other album released in 2012, and it is an album that I can listen to on repeat over and over and then play again the next day.

Milo Greene, self-titled: I’ll have to admit, this album is a pitch right in my wheelhouse. Smooth California sounds dominate the entirety of the self-titled debut album from this Los Angeles quintet. It is a remarkably deep album for a debut full-length and it has a few short instrumental-oriented intros to songs that add a refreshing consistency to the overall effort.

Patterson Hood, "Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance": The songs for this album were written in the early 1990s when Drive-By Truckers front-man Patterson Hood was going through the breakup of a previous band and significant personal issues including a divorce. This album is absolutely stunning in terms of its songwriting. It is remarkable that although the songs are from a rock-bottom point of his personal life, Hood manages to tie them together in a manner that provides the listener with a feeling of hope and that victory over depression, addiction and despair is possible.

Grizzly Bear, "Shields": With all of the buzz and hype that preceded the released of "Shields," I was prepared to dislike the album. Then I listened to it. And I listened to it again. It quickly became apparent that the album absolutely belongs on the Best of 2012 list.

Santigold, "Master of My Make-Believe": Honestly, I didn’t appreciate this album entirely until I saw Santi White (a.k.a. Santigold) perform at Bonnaroo in June. Although this album didn’t receive as much hype as her debut album, it is more polished, consistent, and deeper in terms of songwriting than her first album.

Cat Power, "Sun": There is a little bit of everything on this album — electronic beats, synthesizers, piano ballads, and catchy pop phrasing that will knock about in your head. All in all, the result is a wonderfully complex album from an equally wonderfully complex artist.

Sharon Van Etten, "Tramp": I’m a bit biased with this selection because I am such a fan of Sharon Van Etten’s 2010 release, "Epic." Her latest album is an extension of the success of its predecessor with a wider range and depth in terms of song variety and quality. Sharon enlisted a bevy of talented musical friends for this album including The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Beirut’s Zach Condon and Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes.

Moon Taxi, "Cabaret": Of all the live music I experienced in 2012, I probably saw this Nashville band more often than any other band. Adding up the number of sets at the Bonnaroo and Forecastle festivals, plus the times they visited Knoxville, it is likely that I saw six or seven Moon Taxi shows in 2012. And I was thrilled at each and every one!

The Black Cadillacs, "Run": The Cadillacs can bring the RAWK like no other Knoxville area band and although I’m typically not a fan of rock bands who dilly-dally with ballads, the Cadillacs prove that it can be done. And done well. This album is a remarkable achievement from such a young and fresh band.

Kelsey’s Woods, "One More Heart to Break": I have one beef with this album — it should be a double-live recording that comes packaged with a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser.  Kelsey’s Woods have released a fantastic debut full-length album and the band makes every Knoxville-area live show a ‘can’t miss’ event.

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