Doug “Rat” Brooks: My Top Tunes Of ’12

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2012 has been a good year for music; perhaps not as great compared to others, but good.

I have been looking through my CD collection and past Radio Free Athens set lists to see if there are any recordings that have blown my mind to the point where I haven’t been able to get them out of my CD player.

I can’t point to any one disc that has achieved that status, but that’s not to say that there weren’t any albums I’ve liked; there were plenty.

Shovels and Rope put out O’ Be Joyful this year and it does not disappoint. They were a crowd favorite (and mine) at 2012 Nelsonville Music Festival this year, especially when they performed with Hayes Carll.

John Hiatt put out yet another fine recording in Mystic Pinball, which I have played frequently on my radio show.

Others that you may have heard on my show have been Jack White’s Blunderbuss, The Black KeysEl Camino, Mumford and SonsBabel and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic ZerosHere. All great recordings from great bands.

Another band that I have come to like is Whitehorse. Their recording The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss is a fine release with well-written songs that have a bit of a rocking edge to them.

I was given a copy of a recording called The Sea by a band called Liquid Air. Chris “Nazz” Dillon is the drummer, along with some friends from his time at Ohio State University. Those of you who are familiar with the Athens music scene will remember Nazz as being the drummer for the great Appalachian Death Ride. Ethereal, moody and slightly psychedelic.

The Athens band Dune (I watched the film yesterday for the first time in a while–wow) put out an album this year called Roja. A good recording of what many would call “stoner” rock with what I would call an L.A. metal-tinge.

Of course, for me a best of year-end column would not be complete with out my “best of” in live performances. My favorite solo show would have to be Taj Mahal at Stuart’s Opera House. Straight-up blues from a legend.

Comfest is still one of the best free festivals in the world. It is the last weekend of June in Goodale Park in Columbus, if you’ve never been. Although I feel like the event is getting too big, I am never disappointed in the bands that I see there. This year, I was particularly impressed by a band called Bonneville.

Boogie on the Bricks was taken to a new level this year here in Athens. Will Drury and the countless volunteers who put it together made a great small festival even better. With two stages and bands like Big Sam’s Funky Nation, we have a gem in the making on the streets of A-Camp.

The highlight of my musical year was once again The Nelsonville Music Festival. Tim, Brian, Dan, Adam and all of the others from Stuart’s Opera House have the BEST festival going. Andrew Bird called it better than Coachella. Having never been to Coachella, I have to assume that he’s right. If his Saturday morning sound check can draw a crowd of about 300, he’s probably on the right track.

The great thing about this festival is that it’s still small and yet still brings in big acts like Dawes, Guided By Voices and M. Ward, while bringing us new treasures like Shovels and Rope, Hayes Carll and The Flying Clouds of South Carolina. If you have not been to this fest, you should plan on it for 2013. Already announced are Wilco and John Prine. Tickets will be limited (as to not make this another Bonnaroo) so get them when they go on sale in January.

In the meantime, keep listening to Radio Free Athens most Saturdays from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on WOUB 1340 AM. We’ll do our best to keep bringing you great music in 2013.