With the good must come the bad, as well as the disappointing. 2012 was an interesting year for music, to say the least. As always, while a great many albums delivered the goods, there were several albums that flat out sucked, and more than a heaping share of concrete disappointments. So many bands released albums this year that should've been good, that we wanted to be good, but ultimately just weren't, resulting in that hollow and dissatisfied feeling that usually comes on Christmas morning when you realize your loved ones bought you yellow underwear and Drake's new album.
A best or worst-of list demands numbers, but these records are not in any preferential numerical order. Number one isn’t the worst and number fifteen isn’t the best, this is merely a collection of 2012's biggest musical let-downs - in my opinion. So, with no further ado, here are 15 Albums That Disappointed (Or Just Plain Sucked) In 2012.
Port Of Morrow
Artist: The Shins
The Shins is one of those bands that you’re supposed to like because the other guy in the short sleeve form fitting shirt, tie and skinny jeans says so. It’s like this idea of success through mutual fear that the other guy won’t think you’re cool. I was hoping Port Of Morrow would radically change my mind about this band. The Shins have been away five years, we’re both older, maybe this time I could see into the mechanics of the genius. Nope, nothing for me to grab onto. I’ve grown incredibly tired of this “Melancholy and the infinite jangle” sound that seems to have a stranglehold on the indie rock scene and Port Of Morrow does very little to break that mold. You’d think a five-year wait between records might instill some new life into The Shins, but no dice. They’re still writing theme music for kids who go to shows and stare at the ground.
Imagine you look into a kitchen and see all the best materials being used by an accomplished chef. You just know the mouth-watering results will be talked about for days. Then, when you bite into this morsel of delight, it isn’t very good. It isn’t terrible, but it just doesn’t pack the punch you were expecting. Same can be said for King Animal. All the ingredients are here. Chris Cornell’s wails and screams, Matt Cameron’s inspirational drumming and Kim Thayil’s muddy and thick mix of Sabbath, Zeppelin and noisy punk. When it all comes together, King Animal should spend its entirety crushing your nuts with excellence. Instead King Animal pokes and prods the bear. It keeps threatening to become a great record but refuses to commit. Personally I blame the production. Soundgarden always worked because they sounded filthy and dirty, like a garden of sound coming from the depths of the Earth. King Animal has been polished so hard that all those appealing rough edges are gone. Without that badass dirty quality, the King Animal never stands up and roars.
A Different Kind Of Truth
Artist: Van Halen
“I heard you missed us, we’re back” That classic Van Halen was fresh on the lips of all who had waited with bated breath to see David Lee Roth reunite with his estranged rock brethren. Then we heard the song “Tattoo” and all seemed lost because the song sucked beyond our wildest fears. Personally I think Van Halen played it smart by releasing “Tattoo” First. That song is so monumentally awful that, when put up against it, the rest of A Different Kind Of Truth isn’t so bad. Critics and fans alike used the “Tattoo” scale to judge the rest of the album and it became a slew of “Hey, this is pretty good” or “For a reunion record this kicks ass”. Not for me. To me A Different Kind Of Truth is the equivalent of watching the heavy set guy at the college bar, the 50 year old one with the open shirt and gold chain and spray tan, trying to kick it to the girls. If any other band had put out this sad record nobody would have cared at all.
Artist: The Killers
Every time The Killers release a record I hold my breath hoping it will be as good as the first one. Battle Born, the band’s fourth album, is not the answer I was hoping for. At this point I’m guessing Hot Fuss was a fluke and the band really only has this kind of dull, middle of the road “rock” in them. Battle Born doesn’t suck but that’s because there isn’t enough to it to suck. The fans that think everything The Killers’ put out is genius will love this album, wear the shirts and see the shows. Anybody not dedicated to finding something to like about this band will be bored to tears.
Artist: Linkin Park
Linkin Park are not a good band, they never have been. Sure, Chester Bennington can sing and he’s the maser of arena-anthem choruses, but his lyrics have always come across like he stole the diary of any given melodramatic tween girl. Combine that with Mike Shinoda’s laughable rap style and you get the absolute pinnacle of rap-metal mediocrity. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make Living Things disappointing and I can’t, this album just sucked. Linkin Park claimed they were going back to basics, and maybe they have. Who knows? Who cares? 2010’s A Thousand Suns was an exercise in fashionable rebellion, Living Things is an exercise in “Well, nobody cared about that record, let’s try going back to basics”. Face it guys, it’s over. Be done with it.
The Cursed Remain Cursed
Artist: Vision Of Disorder
I remember when VOD burst onto the scene in 1996. They helped usher in the sound of Metalcore, which, like it or not, has grown into a monolithic sub-genre of metal. After a promising start, VOD fell apart and spent years dwelling in the wasteland of being a band mythologized by the generations that came after them, but simultaneously forgotten as a force in modern music. The Cursed Remain Cursed was supposed to be the band reclaiming their throne after a long absence. It’s not that, in fact, this album is nothing more than a decent metalcore album with cool parts that never form into great songs. I was hoping for an album that would teach these skinny jeans wearing Avenge Sevenfold fans that metalcore might one day amount to something. Instead I got a bleak reminder that metalcore was never really any good.
Days Go By
Artist: The Offspring
The Offspring’s obvious metamorphosis from poppy punk band to poppy alt-rock could’ve worked if they had become better songwriters, alas, that was not to be. Days Go By, the ninth and most unimpressive of Offspring’s’ albums, is so forgettable it begins slipping your mind before it’s even finished. The Offspring were never good enough to really inspire a mid-nineties punk following like their peers in Green Day or Rancid, and they haven’t evolved musically enough to be relevant today. Days Go By is, at best, a fans album. I don’t mean to infer Offspring made this for their fans only, they clearly wrote this with wide radio appeal in mind. The result, however, is something only die-hard fans will tolerate.
The Only Place
Artist: Best Coast
When did female vocals that sound as though the singer’s either lobotomized or about to pass out, combined with that indie fallback position of the jangly, over reverbed guitar and mixed with melancholy that’s so melancholy it sounds disinterested become the stuff of greatness. I’m so sick of people kissing the Best Coast’s ass for no reason other than some kind of lame hipness rating. Sprinkle all the hipster post-ironic visuals and lyrics you want into it, bask in the power of their shoe-gaze and stare blindly into the bright sun of their cool indifference, Best Coast still suck and so do their records.
Artist: The Darkness
Remember when The Darkness were going to be the next big thing in rock n roll? I thought those fifteen minutes would never pass. Years later the band still crank out silly sounding seventies rock records that come across as more of an SNL skit about a rock band. Hotcakes isn’t good but it’s not offensive. It’s more the most unforgivable of rock sins, forgettable, utterly and completely. Big, rock guitars, catchy choruses, and that seventies rock boogie pounding into your skull. It sounds good on paper but it doesn’t work here. Somewhere behind the Manowar level of self-indulgent dress up, there might be a great band in The Darkness, but not on Hotcakes.
Call me an old man. Call me an aged rocker. Call me whatever you want but I still keep hoping for another great Kiss record. When Monster hit the streets I was there, fingers crossed, ready to be baptized again in the fire of the Cat, Starchild, The Demon and the Spaceman. There was no baptizing to be had. None. Instead, a boring, predictable and largely unnecessary record tarnishes the legacy of the a rock icon. Monster also begs the question: How much longer can these guys do this? I don’t mean by way of their desire, but more how long until they completely eviscerate their former glory and become heavy metal’s answer to the Rolling Stones. A bunch of old guys trying desperately to be young again.
Koi No Yokan
Go ahead, get your best hate bombs ready because I’m not spraying jizz all over the new Deftones record. It’s okay, I can take it. The Deftones have become a new version of U2.Their first few albums were amazing, and then they settled into this repetitive guitar trick and vocal line that they have milked for the last several years. Big, sweeping guitars play while Chino sings that same melancholy by way of extremely sleepy style. Boring. Where’s the power? Where are the dynamics and the excitement. I listened to Koi No Yokan with great expectations. I kept wanting it to click with me. It never did. The most frustrating thing here is that I really enjoyed Diamond Eyes, so I was expecting Koi No Yokan to continue that vibe. Instead this album belongs among their more interchangeable records e.g. the self-titled album or Saturday Night Wrist. I have great love and respect for the Deftones and I expect greatness from them. When I get the kind of mediocrity that Koi No Yokan provides, it actually kind of hurts.
Artist: Green Day
If this had been a collection of throw away Green Day tracks all slapped together to distract fans while Billie Joe rested up from his temper tantrum, then Dos might be passable. When it’s the second offering in Green Day’s trilogy of records, then we have an issue. Dos never coalesces, it never finds its voice and it never really begins. The sequencing is such that you keep waiting for the album to really kick in and while you’re waiting, it ends. I’ve never really understood the hoopla over Green Day, but I’ve always thought they were good songwriters. Unfortunately Dos is not part of their better catalog of albums.
Into The Future
Artist: Bad Brains
This one hurt to write because I worship the Bad Brains. I wasn’t very jazzed on the band’s last two albums so I wanted nothing more than to be once again inspired by the frenzied genius that is the Bad Brains. Into The Future is not that record. Instead it’s a collection of songs that sound more like a Bad Brains cover band attempting to write original Bad Brains material. Into The Future is not a horrible record, it’s just less than I’d expect from one of the most important bands of the last three decades.
The 2nd Law
I’m guessing Radiohead will make sure their dumpster is securely latched from now on in order to keep a band like Muse from sifting through their refuse and constructing songs out of their discarded material. The 2nd Law is half Radiohead dumpster and half desperate sadness by the band that they didn’t write Joshua Tree. This is the kind of fake, superfluous, unimportant music that makes me angry. Not because it isn’t deep or thoughtful, but because Muse try to act as though what they do has any real musical merit to it. I know their legions of fans will scream record sales or try to describe the band’s sublime use of this or that. Sorry. No sale. This is nothing more than music made for people who don’t care about music.
Artist: Maroon 5
If a race of Demi-Gods from a far away dimension used magic to suck out our ability to tell good from bad, we could all still point at Maroon 5 and say “they suck”. More a never ending commercial for jeans and cocktails than a band, Maroon 5 produce achingly bad pop crap for people who lack imagination and bravery. Overexposed is another latch on Maroon 5’s lengthy chain of absolutely abhorrent records. Nothing about this album is good, nothing about this band is good, especially their egotistical, self-indulgent lead singer who looks like he could carry Douche Bag into a whole new realm.
Okay, there’s my list.