Music Review: My Hand-Picked 2012 Selection – One Soundtrack and Four AltCountry Albums

I counted about 41 albums that I got in 2012. Most are pretty much rock-oriented reflecting my state of mind, but there is a little more thrown in there for variety. Let me describe a couple of the most obscure ones and then give you a quick Top 10 in followup post.

Easy Listening/Soundtrack

breaking-bad-albumEarly this year, David Porter released the Original Score from Breaking Bad and it is wonderful. There is also a “Music from” dating from 2010 that is excellent. This year’s score is probably more for BB fanatics than the average listener, but it exhibits a high degree on creativity and originality and is worth a cursory listen on iTunes. It is mostly very quiet which is what makes it so great actually. One of the touches of genius in this show is that the music does not tell the story (as it does in Dexter and most network TV shows) meaning that there isn’t that foreboding music just before someone dies and so forth. Porter’s music is there to fill in the mood and stay out of the way, just on the edge of your conscious mind.


I made three discoveries in this genre and was very pleased with one album from an old favorite.

Mike and the Moonpie‘s “The Hard Way” is a full, happy trad country disk full of humor and has some nice hooks as well. I especially appreciate the first track “Damn Strait” and “The Hard Way”. The entire disk is a great listen which doesn’t slip into nauseating Nashville big-lights style country but still has some classic country love “don’t go with him” type songs like “Stop Falling In Love”.  Pretty much a sure bet and it is not surprising that they are taking Texas by storm right now.

mountain actually have been around for a while and I would have lived in ignorance of that hadn’t it been for a fortuitous listen to NPR’s Fresh Air Podcast where they talked about the new album, “Transcendental Youth”. The music is addictive but it is especially the renowned lyrics of John Darnielle that grab you. If you check out the Facebook page, fans have petitioned the US Gov’t to name him a National Poet Laureat. It is not surprising once you listen to a few songs like “Cry for Judas” and “Counterfeit Florida Plates”. I did go back and listen to some other albums from the Goats. The musical style changes constantly, but the lyrics are always surprising and totally original.

marthaMartha Wainwright was back last year with her third album “Come Home to Mama” which is as hard-hittingly honest and self as her previous work (the self-titled 2005 debut and 2008’s “I Know You Are Married But I Have Feelings Too”).  This was also one that was mentioned on the same NPR podcast. I think I ought to listen to that more regularly because they were right on with Martha. Her lyrics are great and her voice is wonderful. Another pleasant discovery with great morsels like “Some People”, “Radio Star” and “I Wanna Make an Arrest, I am looking forward to more, “Can You Believe It?”

ryanProbably my favorite album in this genre is from an artist that I discovered two years ago via the Radio KGSR 107.1 Broadcast CDs. I actually own all 20 of them and find that they are a treasure trove of music ranging from pop to country to rock and back. The artist I wanted to mention here is Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses and their 2012 release “Tomorrowland”.  I think it is as strong as his previous masterpiece of 2010, “Junky Star”  which was wonderful. Tomorrowland rocks from end-to-end with Ryan’s unique voice and catchy riffs on a great tangy yet riveting guitar. I like “Guess Who’s Knocking” on which the bluesy guitar reminds me a bit of Muddy Waters, its lyrics remind me a little of Lucinda Williams, but I like that he “mother fucker is knocking on the door”. The song “No Help from God” is a typical Bingham ballad with his unique voice and forlorn words but filled with determination rather than fatalism. The album is nostalgic and not at all apologetic. A definite high point for 2012.

I’ll write another post later to cover pop/rock and others…

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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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3 Responses to Music Review: My Hand-Picked 2012 Selection – One Soundtrack and Four AltCountry Albums

  1. Ed M. says:

    Thanks for the tip. I love WIlco, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams, Neko Case, and Lucinda Williams, but haven’t done much exploration in this genre.

  2. Ed M. says:

    For a real treat check out my favorite Alt-Folk band “The Crane Wives”. The soaring harmonies of the two female lead singers are unique and sound amazing.

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