It’s July. It’s hot. The 4th of July celebration has ended and the glorious barbecue food that I ate too much of (as well as the ice cream and beer) has been consumed. July has arrived and that means this year is half over. If you are to believe the skeptics (or would they be critics?) regarding the Mayan calendar, this may be the last six months we have left on Earth. If that’s true, it would mean no “best of” list for you to enjoy in December. And since I feel obligated to share what I think are the best CDs of the year with the faithful readers of Hard Rock Hideout, then it is my moral obligation to produce a half year list (just in case we don’t make it out of 2012). So, out of my debt of gratitude to all of you regular readers, here are the top five albums of 2012. If we do survive to the end of the year, there will be a year end list. It will be fun to see if any of these albums make it to that list.
5. Shinedown – Amaryllis
Following up on the best record of their career (The Sound Of Madness); Shinedown had their work cut out for them with Amaryllis. Fortunately for the fans, the band took their work seriously. The end result was one fantastic, hard rocking record of fun. Amaryllis is a fantastic album, with hit after hit pelting the ears of the listener. Shinedown was able to overcome the high expectations that were laid on them following the success of The Sound Of Madness. They rose to the challenge and created a record that far exceeds their previous work. The only problem now is that they have set the bar even higher for the next record. Given the history of the band, I am sure they will be able to surpass that bar as well.
4. The Cult – Choice Of Weapon
The Cult just released their latest album, Choice Of Weapon. Normally, I like to wait and let a record settle over me before I even think of adding it to any “best of” list. However, Choice Of Weapon is such a fantastic CD, that there is no need to wait to proclaim it as one of the best albums of 2012. If you’ve missed The Cult, or if you are seeking a hard rock beauty to add to your stereo this summer, pick up a copy of Choice Of Weapon. You will not be disappointed. With magnificent riffs, fantastic vocals, and a whole lot of power, Choice Of Weapon satisfies as the choice of album for the summer.
3. Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth
I’ll be the first to admit that I expected this album to suck. After many years of not recording together, combined with all of the documented “Eddie” issues that were lingering over the band, I figured there was no way Van Halen was going to make a solid record. I have never been happier to be wrong. A Different Kind Of Truth is classic Van Halen at its finest. From the opening riff on “Tattoo,” to the closing notes on “Beats Working,” Van Halen delivered the perfect follow up to 1984. While the Dave-sung tracks on Best Of Volume One were fabulous, they were nothing compared to what the band put on A Different Kind Of Truth. It’s sad that we won’t be able to witness these songs live this summer or fall, as Van Halen has cancelled all of their gigs until further notice. However, at least we can enjoy the studio recordings.
2. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Yeah, yeah, I know there are some regular readers out there who think Springsteen isn’t hard rock and isn’t worthy of being mentioned on this site. Whatever. We can debate that on a future podcast that contains “Is It Hard?” (You are downloading and listening, right?) For those of us that feel The Boss is hard rock, he has produced one of the best albums of his career and Wrecking Ball is one of the best albums of 2012. Blending his 70s style blue collar rock with his more recent Irish folk flavor, and mixing in some good old fashioned classic guitar rock, Bruce Springsteen has struck gold with Wrecking Ball. There is something for everyone. From ballads to blues, from guitar solos, to foot stomping folk songs, Wrecking Ball has it all. That is what makes it such a great treasure. After 40 years, Bruce Springsteen still knows how to rock and roll and Wrecking Ball is the current proof of his lasting musical genius.
1. Dead Sara – Dead Sara
The biggest gift that I was blessed with this year has been Dead Sara. When I received their debut album for review, I really didn’t have high hopes. The band had received all sorts of high praise and I just figured that they would fail to live up to the hype. Not only did Dead Sara live up to it, they smashed it. And while there are still a lot of highly anticipated releases due out this year, I don’t think there will be any record released in 2012 that is going to top Dead Sara’s self titled debut. There is not one negative thing that can be said about Dead Sara. Not one constructive criticism can be made. Dead Sara is about as perfect as an album can be, and the fact that it is a rookie effort, only helps to confirm that Dead Sara is the real deal. If there is only one record that you purchase this year, it needs to be the self titled debut from Dead Sara. You will not hear a better album in 2012.
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