Nick Waterhouse “I Can Only Give You Everything” from Time's All Gone (Innovative Leisure 2012) —40. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first full album from Mr. Waterhouse. Great debut.Buy it!
Dwight Yoakam “Missing Heart” from 3 Pears (Warner Brothers 2012) —39. First album of original material in about seven years from Dwight, and a total keeper.Buy it!
Bruce Springsteen “Easy Money” from Wrecking Ball (Columbia 2012) —38. If at this point Bruce is writing songs for the DNC, that doesn't mean he still isn't writing some great songs.Buy it!
Leonard Cohen “Banjo” from Old Ideas (Columbia 2012) —37. I had very high hopes for this album, and if it doesn't quite rise to the level of "Ten New Songs" or his recent concert recordings, it's still a testament to the poet's genius.Buy it!
Great Lake Swimmers “Ballad Of A Fisherman's Wife” from New Wild Everywhere (Nettwerk 2012) —36. I fell in love with "Easy Come, Easy Go" when this album first came out, but this story of Gulf Coast communities devastated by the BP oil spill.Buy it!
The Honeycutters “90 Miles” from When Bitter Met Sweet (self released 2012) —35. Amanda Anne Platt and her band with a terrific, much overlooked second album.Buy it!
Spectator “Riptide” from In The Brick (self-released 2012) L —34. One of the finest albums out of St. Louis this year, featuring the dreamy harmonies of Jeffrey Albert and Megan Rooney. Hear the entire release at their Bandcamp page: http://spectatorstl.bandcamp.com/Buy it!
Black Prairie “Richard Manuel” from A Tear In the Eye Is a Wound In the Heart (Sugar Hill Records ww.sugarhillrecords.com 2012) —33. A cinematic, post-modern old-time music album, featuring members of the Decemberists and Bearfoot, and on this homage to Richard Manuel, the vocals of singer and violinist Annalisa Tornfelt.Buy it!
Carolina Chocolate Drops “Country Girl” from Leaving Eden (Nonesuch Records 2012) —32. After the departure of fiddler Justin Robinson, CCD's Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons, regrouped for their best album yet.Buy it!
Cody ChesnuTT “Where Is All the Money Going” from Landing On A Hundred (Vibration Vineyard 2013) —31. First album in 10 years from Cody -- and a keeper.Buy it!
John Fullbright “Daydreamer” from From The Ground Up (Blue Dirt Records 2012) —30. The Grammy-nominated release and first studio album from the young Okemah, Okla. songwriter.Buy it!
Band of Horses “Slow Cruel Hands Of Time” from Mirage Rock (Columbia 2012) —29. A major label debut but also the band's most country-flavored album. Completely underrated.Buy it!
Allo Darlin' “Northern Lights” from Europe (Slumberland 2012) —28. Elizabeth Morris, Paul Rains, Bill Botting and Mikey Collins from the UK. Special to John Wendland: Apparently this band has a Christmas EP.Buy it!
Nada Surf “The Future” from The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy (City Slang 2012) —27. After a somewhat forgettable album of covers, the New Yorkers return with their best album yet. Would you believe me if I said they put on one of the loudest show of the year at the Old Rock House? Well, they did.Buy it!
The Stray Birds “Dream in Blue” from The Stray Birds (The Stray Birds 2012) —26. Lancaster County, Penn. trio featuring Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven and Charles Muench,Buy it!
Alabama Shakes “I Found You” from Boys & Girls (ATO 2012) —25. An album that collects the recordings from the 2011 EP and supplements them with a few more powerhouse vocals from Brittany Howard. A gutsy and grand full-length debut.Buy it!
Neal Casal “How Quiet it Got” from Sweeten the Distance (Fargo 2012) —24. I believe this release came out in the UK in 2011, but I'm including it in the 2012 countdown because it's so beautifully realized.Buy it!
Kelly Hogan “Dusty Groove” from I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (Bloodshot www.bloodshotrecords.com 2012) —23. 2012 was the year of "overdue no more" releases -- and this was one of the most overdue and most beloved. The first album by the overcommitted Ms. Hogan in 11 years.Buy it!
Janiva Magness “Whistlin' In The Dark” from Stronger For It (Alligator 2012) —22. A spotless collection of covers and originals from the blues powerhouse. This cut is a terrific song written by Magness and producer Dave Darling.Buy it!
Craig Finn “Balcony” from Clear Heart Full Eyes (Vagrant 2012) —21. The Hold Steady is hardly gone but till the next album it was so very good to hear Craig Finn test his vocals and songwriting in a more acoustic, Americana setting, and doing it more than ably.Buy it!
Meshell Ndegeocello “Don't Take All Night” from Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone (Naive 2012) —20. Featuring Sinead O'Connor on this song written by Bennie Benjamin and Marcus Sol.Buy it!
First Aid Kit “Blue” from The Lion's Roar (Wichita 2012) —19. One of the very best debut albums by 20 something sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg.Buy it!
Michael Kiwanuka “I'll Get Along” from Home Again (Interscope 2012) —18. Another stunning debut from a young musician with so much potential. STL booking agents, get this guy in town in 2013.Buy it!
Cold Specks “When The City Lights Dim” from I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (Arts & Crafts Productions 2012) —17. A major discovery for me: Al Spx, and no that's not her real name, as her recording personal Cold Specks.Buy it!
Kevin Gordon “Don't Stop Me This Time” from Gloryland (Crowville Collective 2010) —16. Just another masterpiece from Kevin Gordon.Buy it!
Bob Dylan “Soon After Midnight” from Tempest (Columbia 2012) —15. Two theories explain Mr. Dylan's failure to appear in my top 10. 1) This was an insanely great year for new music or 2) this album isn't among his best late-period releases. It's a combination of both.Buy it!
The Walkmen “We Can't Be Beat” from Heaven (Fat Possum 2012) —14. Hamilton Leithauser leading his band of post-garage hipsters in an acoustic doo-wop tune = One of my songs of the year. And the whole album is gorgeous.Buy it!
Calexico “Better And Better” from Algiers (Anti- www.anti.com 2012) —13. Very excited to see this band at the Pageant with Yo La Tengo on January 31.Buy it!
Heartless Bastards “Skin And Bone” from Arrow (Partisan Records LLC/MapleMusic Recordings 2012) —12. Erika Wennerstrom too sole ownership of the "Heartless Bastards" trademark this year. And that's all the biz news from me. If you haven't seen this band live, don't miss them next time through town.Buy it!
Rough Shop “Convenience Store” from Beneath the South Side Bridge (Perdition 2012) L —11. Written and sung by Andy Ploof, one of the purest musicians in town. This is the album of Rough Shop's career and, deservedly, the most-played album on KDHX in 2012.Buy it!
Ed Romanoff “St. Vincent de Paul” from Ed Romanoff (self released 2012) —10. The best new collection of songs I heard this year, by the little known New Yorker. Produced by Crit Harmon (Martin Sexton, Lori McKenna, and Mary Gauthier) and featuring backup vocals from Josh Ritter and Tift Merritt.Buy it!
The Amazing “Flashlight” from Gentle Stream (Partisan www.partisanrecords.com 2012) —9. You better have the goods if you're going to call yourself "The Amazing." These Swedes do. Featuring guitarist Reine Fiske and drummer Johan Holmegard from Dungen, along with Granada singer Christoffer Gunrup and Fredrik Swahn.Buy it!
Rumer “Soul Rebel” from Boys Don't Cry (Atlantic Records UK 2012) —8. A soft-rock masterpiece by Sarah Joyce. This is, of course, the Bob Marley classic.Buy it!
Bill Fay “This World” from Life Is People (Dead Oceans 2012) —7. Featuring vocals by one of Mr. Fay's champions, Jeff Tweedy. One of my songs of the year. This is only the third album by Mr. Fay, and his first since 1971.Buy it!
Chuck Prophet “I Felt Like Jesus” from Temple Beautiful (Yep Roc 2012) —6. "It's Chuck Prophet's world, and I'm glad to live in it." -- Steve Pick. And add to that poet klipschutz, who co-wrote most all these songs.Buy it!
Ray Wylie Hubbard “Lazarus” from The Grifter's Hymnal (Bordello 2012) —5. One of the funniest and wisest songwriters we're lucky still have with us.Buy it!
Lee Fields & The Expressions “Moonlight Mile” from Faithful Man (Truth and soul 2012) —4. A sublimely soulful cover of a sublime song. Easily one of the concerts of the year at Lola this past fall.Buy it!
Kathleen Edwards “Empty Threat” from Voyageur (Zoe 2012) —3. "I'm moving to America. It's an empty threat." Fine, Kathleen, you just continue to freeze yourself up in Canada, but you're always welcome here in cozy St. Louis.Buy it!
Dr. John “Revolution” (2012) —2. I'm not going to bag on or hype the Black Keys -- I like them just fine -- but Dan Auerbach's work on this album really is masterful.Buy it!
Iris DeMent “The Kingdom Has Already Come” from Sing the Delta (Flariella Records 2012) —1. Sixteen, yes, sixteen years. That's how long I've been waiting for a new album of new songs by one of the singers and songwriters I love most of all singers and songwriters.Buy it!
Like everything else, times are approximate.
Spinitron and this station are not liable for errors or omissions.