Not going to try to argue that these are the best albums of the year, but they are my favorites. My top 10 for 2012:
THE MARK LANEGAN BAND, “Blues Funeral”: His words are like a razor blade to love’s wrists, delivered in a solar-eclipse-of-a-voice that swallows all radiance. Still, Lanegan’s death baritone is a thing of tortured beauty, romantic and rueful in the same whiskey-saturated breath.
CONVERGE, “All That We Love We Leave Behind”: These obstreperous progressive hardcore one-uppers have made a career out of turning freneticism into a kind of aesthetic. Here, their tantrums are as tightly honed as they are heart palpitating.
CALEXICO, “Algiers”: Mating sun-baked Americana with Tejano music flourishes, “Algiers” is as gorgeous as the Southwestern landscapes it was born in.
LAMBCHOP, “Mr. M”: By turns spare and orchestral, doleful and reflective, this intensely affecting collection of Baroque country is dedicated to deceased singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt, who was as one-of-a-kind as Lambchop continues to prove themselves to be.
BURNING LOVE, “Rotten Thing to Say”: On “Made of Apes,” these Canadian rabble-rousers testify to their primal origins. True to form, this record is as noisy, unhinged and safety imperiling as a gorilla fight, all bulldozer riffs and blown vocal cords.
TORCHE, “Harmonicraft”: The album covers depicts a pair of magnificent beasts spitting rainbows from their maws, and that’s an apt visual representation of this record, on which Torche leavens great gobs of guitar thunder with radiant melodies that bounce more than bruise.
PATTERSON HOOD, “Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance”: Only the titular weather phenomenon booms on this spare, tender album, where the Drive-By Truckers singer/guitarist turns down the volume and amps up the longing as he ponders all those left behind in the pursuit of one’s dreams.
BARONESS, “Yellow & Green”: Emerging from a prog-metal cocoon, Baroness metamorphosed into an entirely different creature on this sweeping double album of alternately stirring and saturnine alt-rock that shifts in color from one song to the next like light passing through a prism.
DIAMOND RUGS, “Diamond Rugs”: Spend a night in the drunk tank with select boozers from Deer Tick, Black Lips, Los Lobos and more as they sweat out equally seedy and sweet rock ‘n’ roll about losing it all with a smile.
GOATWHORE, “Blood for the Master”: Remember that scene at the end of “Drive Angry” where Nic Cage drinks a beer out of the skull of a vanquished foe? This Hessian blend of Dixie sludge and carcinogenic black metal is kind of like that.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476.