Top 5 Worst Rock Moments of 2012

From the return of Soundgarden to the 12-12-12 Sandy Relief concert, 2012 boasted some great moments in rock music.  However, there were also several moments that a lot of people would rather forget.  Here are five rock-related moments from 2012 that I found to be exceptionally bad:

1. Ted Nugent’s Response to the re-election of President Obama. 

2012 has come and gone, and Ted Nugent is still the slimiest figure in rock.  In wake of Barack Obama’s re-election as President of the United States, Nugent took to social media and, as expected, reminded the world of how awful he truly is.  He blindly demonized Obama supporters as “pimps, whores, and welfare brats.”  No commentary needed here, Nugent has done it all himself.  During 2013, one can only hope that Nugent will make his way into a dark crevice, never to return.


2. Billy Corgan’s Statements about Soundgarden and Pavement.

During an interview, Smashing Pumpkins front man, Billy Corgan, took several shots at the recently reunited Soundgarden and Pavement; he subtly accused the bands of reuniting just to make money and of living in the past.  Keeping in mind that Corgan has had feuds on and off with Pavement lead singer, Stephen Malkmus, it was hard to look at these accusations as nothing more than biased stabs at an old foe.  As for Soundgarden, “King Animal,” their first new studio album in sixteen years, was released in November to widespread critical acclaim.

3. Shinedown’s lackluster “Amaryllis” 

Probably the biggest disappointment of the year, “Amaryllis” is dry and forgettable.  For as much hype as Brent Smith built for the album via Twitter, the album is almost entirely absent of clever arrangements and catchy choruses characteristic of Shinedown’s past work.

4. Nickelback’s release of “This Means War”

Take everything that makes a modern hard rock song generic, mash it together, and have someone chug a pint of mud before recording vocals for it- you have just written Nickelback’s “This Means War.”  The mere fact that this song charted in 2012 is unsettling.

5. Billy Joe Armstrong’s “iHeartRadio” Meltdown.

In some cases, Billy Joe Armstrong’s tirade during the “iHeartRadio” Music Festival was justified:  one does not simply cut Green Day’s set short during “Basket Case.”  However, Armstrong’s handling of the situation, while very humorous, was like that of a new artist with no perception of public record.

My Top 10 Rock Albums of 2012

1. Soundgarden- “King Animal”        

No contest.  Soundgarden have returned, seemingly right where the left off.  “King Animal’s” songs churn with crunchy grunge riffs, but they also find Soundgarden as focused as ever on small details and complexity.  Songs such as “Taree” and “Blood on the Valley Floor” loudly ring in the band’s return, while “Black Saturday” and “Halfway There” complement the album with a beautiful, acoustic shimmer.  This is the album that Soundgarden fans (and most rock fans in general) have been craving for years.  “King Animal” is the undisputed best rock album of 2012.

2. Rush- “Clockwork Angels”      

It has a big sci-fi plot, absolutely no filler, and crushing production value that rivals that of modern heavy metal bands (not to mention the most beautiful outro track of the year).  Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” is not just an album, it’s an experience.

3. Deftones- “Koi No Yokan”     

It must be easy for bands to become envious of Deftones; the band seems to be incapable of releasing a bad album.  “Koi No Yokan” is Deftones’ second album without longtime bassist, Chi Cheng.  With masterpiece tracks such as “Leathers,” “Entombed,” and “Tempest,” the band has continued to honor Cheng’s legacy in the best possible way.  Every second of “Koi No Yokan” tugs at a variety of emotional strings.

4. Dinosaur Jr.- “I Bet on Sky”    

Dinosaur Jr. released some of their best work in the 1980s and 1990s, but recently, they have been giving their classics a run for their money.  “I Bet on Sky” builds off the perfection of 2009’s “Farm” and takes it to whole new heights.  “Almost Fare” and “Pierce the Morning Rain,” among others, are some of the best songs the band has ever written.  J Mascis’s modest vocals and powerful guitar runs have arguably never sounded better.


5. Wallflowers- “Glad All Over”    

“Glad All Over” was widely anticipated by many, and it did not disappoint in the least. From the start, the album showcases some of the band’s best work of the last decade.  “Love is a Country,” “Constellation Blues,” and the Mick Jones-graced “Misfits and Lovers,” in particular, are very impressive cuts.  Jakob Dylan and the boys have found fresh energy.

6. Offspring- “Days Go By”    

The Offspring have continued to move in a logical direction with “Days Go By.”  The album shines with surprisingly captivating, controlled riffs and solos, all while echoing vintage Offspring  by means of “Cruising California (Bumping in My Trunk)” and the appropriate, burn out conclusion of “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell.”  “Days Go By” proves that the Offspring are beginning to truly reach their full creative potential.

7. Green Day- “Uno”    

For those who favor old Green Day as opposed to politically charged, rock opera Green Day, “Uno” stands as a major breath of fresh air.  The album takes the smooth production of “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown” and combines it with edgy, “don’t give a f*ck” lyrics reminiscent of “Dookie” and “Insomniac.”  Uno may be Green Day’s strongest album of the past decade.

8. Bruce Springsteen- “Wrecking Ball”    

When Bruce Springsteen releases a new album, brilliant craftsmanship is usually a given.  “Wrecking Ball” is no different;  songs like “Death to My Hometown,” “Jack of All Trades,” and the opening anthem, “We Take Care of Our Own” prove that The Boss is still one of the best in the business.

9. Three Days Grace- “Transit of Venus”    

Though not as full or emotionally charged as past Three Days Grace albums, “Transit of Venus” stands as a strong effort.  Most of the album finds the band broadening their horizons with new dynamics and song structures.  However, songs such as “Operate” and “Anonymous” still give longtime fans a reason to listen.  Regardless, it is evident that Adam Gontier’s songwriting has improved immensely.

10. Stone Sour- “House of Gold and Bones Part 1”    

Despite the fact that Stone Sour have had quite a lot of success over the years, they never truly seemed capable of producing an album that felt complete.  That is, until they released House of Gold and Bones Part 1.  The album currently stands as their magnum opus.

Alice in Chains- “Hollow” Song Review

In 2009, Alice in Chains released “Black Gives Way to Blue,” a masterpiece that ultimately marked their comeback.  It sent shockwaves through the rock world with its powerful riffs and “no filler” consistency.  Clearly, the band was back and (arguably) better than ever.

“Hollow,” the band’s latest single, explores this newfound potential even further.

“Hollow” has everything that one would expect from an Alice in Chains song:  a bellowing Jerry Cantrell guitar riff, reverberating, harmonized dual-vocals, and hard-hitting lyrics that are free of cliché and packed full of dark imagery.

The late Layne Staley can never be replaced.  However, William Duvall has established himself as the absolute next best thing; the moment he and Cantrell mutter “turning in circles, slowing down,” it is evident that they generate a chemistry reminiscent of Alice in Chains’ 1990’s glory days.

In a world of copycat artists, Alice in Chains continue to stand as true innovators.  “Hollow” is not only a lesson in structure, it is a model of perfection.

Alice in Chains- “Hollow:” 5/5

Three Days Grace- “The High Road” Song Review


“I hate everything about you.  Why do I love you?”

–          Three Days Grace, “I Hate (Everything About You)”

“I took the low road in.  I’ll take the high road out.  I’ll do whatever it takes to be the mistake you can’t live without.”

–          Three Days Grace, “The High Road”

By comparison, it is clear that “The High Road,” Three Days Grace’s latest single, is much more passive-aggressive than their past material.

The song is the second to be released from the band’s “Transit of Venus.”  It is a straightforward hard rock ballad free of the experimental elements explored on its predecessor, “Chalk Outline.”

Adam Gontier sings of uncertainty and regret amidst echoing chords and a particularly effective string section.  While Gontier’s lyrics are nothing new, their delivery is undeniably genuine.

“The High Road” is a passionate track that is worth consideration, but at times, it toes the line between memorable and mundane.

Three Days Grace- “The High Road:” 3/5

Drowning Pool- “Saturday Night” Song Review

Ten years ago, Drowning Pool unexpectedly lost their original lead singer, Dave Williams, to heart failure.  Since Williams’s passing, the band has gone through a roulette of different vocalists over the course of three albums.

Now, following Ryan McCombs’s departure, the band has returned once again with new vocalist, Jason Moreno, and hopes to solidify a permanent line-up.  “Saturday Night,” a heavy, feel-good party anthem serves as the lead single off their upcoming, currently untitled fifth album.

The song’s lyrics aren’t exactly clever, but its arrangement masks this notion for the most part; surprisingly, despite legions of similar, contemporary bands, Drowning Pool’s signature style is still very easy to identify within seconds.  However, Moreno’s voice, though similar to McCombs’s at times, alters the band’s usual mudslide sound.  He sings with a rough, slithering draw that sounds like a fusion of Taproot and Rob Zombie.

“Saturday Night” barely compares to past Drowning Pool material, but it teases listeners with fresh potential.

Drowning Pool- “Saturday Night:” 2.5/5

Wallflowers- “Glad All Over” Album Review

Too much of a good thing can occasionally turn into a bad thing; sometimes, it’s better to give things a break to renew interest.  Jakob Dylan knows this.  Dylan and his award-winning band, The Wallflowers, after impacting the charts with a plethora of successful singles and albums, took a much-needed break after 2005’s “Rebel Sweetheart.”

Now, seven years later, the Wallflowers have returned- and it almost seems like they never left.  “Glad All Over,” the band’s newest album, picks up right where “Rebel Sweetheart” left off.

“Hospital for Sinners” starts the album with an upbeat, gritty jam that shows off fresh energy.  “Misfits and Lovers” swoops right in behind with smooth, layered riffs that echo the brightest moments of “Three Marlenas” and “Bleeders.”  These two songs help set the uplifting mood of the album, which is effortlessly carried on by “First One in the Car” and the somber, piano-heavy ballad, “Love is a Country,” among others.  For the most part, the album holds up as full listening experience.

The Clash’s Mick Jones, an idol of Dylan’s, joins the band twice on the album; his guitar and vocal contributions blend surprisingly well with classic Wallflowers song structure- especially on “Reboot the Mission,” an inventive homage to Jones’s former band.

Dylan’s lyrics remain consistently great; they generate unique, emotional imagery that will be very hard to find anywhere else on most popular music charts.

Despite a tiny bit of dead space, “Glad All Over” is brilliant, progressive, and an absolute pleasure to listen to.

All in All:

Standout Tracks:  “Hospital for Sinners,” “Misfits and Lovers (ft. Mick Jones),” “First One in the Car,” “Reboot the Mission (ft. Mick Jones),” “Love is a Country,” “Constellation Blues”

The Wallflowers- “Glad All Over:” 4.5/5

Deftones- “Koi No Yokan” Album Review

Bands change, it’s almost inevitable.  Most artists tend to dabble in some form of stylistic experimentation, but the Deftones hold up as one of the most consistent in the business.

Rather than exploring new horizons, “Koi No Yokan,” celebrates all of Deftones’ old tricks; but that’s exactly what everyone wants.

The new album, which is Deftones’ second to not include bassist, Chi Cheng, finds the band in a much more relaxed state of mind.  2009’s “Diamond Eyes,” seemed to indicate a much needed release of emotion that bled with subtle themes of rising above. “Koi No Yokan’s” material is just as passionate and provocative, but revives the stripped down, garage-style snarls that initially helped defined the band’s sound.

“Swerve City” quickly makes this evident with an intro that plays like repeated right hooks to the face.  “Leathers,” “Poltergiest,” and “Tempest” all showcase “Around the Fur” style grandeur with buzzing, neck-breaking verses and soothing, hook-driven choruses.   Most of the album’s tracks shine through their sheer ferocity, but there are several entwined reminders of Deftones’ unique beauty and control; “Entombed,” for example, is mesmerizing.

The craftsmanship displayed on “Koi No Yokan” is simply unparalleled; every single space on the album is filled with fine-tuned detail that commands undivided attention.

All in all:

Standout Tracks:  “Swerve City,” “Leathers,” “Tempest,” “Poltergeist,” “Rosemary,” “Entombed,”

Deftones- “Koi No Yokan:” 5/5