Okay, so hopefully you’ve checked out my best-albums-of-2012 post from a few days ago, in which I discussed the best 25 of the 44 albums I’ve heard from the past year.  Perhaps you were curious about all those other albums that I didn’t care for much or (in some cases) flat-out disliked.  Well, in that case, this is the post for you.  Here’s an annotated list, ranked vaguely in order from most to least decent/tolerable:

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

This is “post-rock,” a genre of music I’ve never really listened to much of.  Nevertheless, I gave this album a try at Chris’s recommendation, and I thought it was pretty cool.  Allelujah! consists of four tracks, two of which are twenty minutes apiece; those two are compositions arranged for nine musicians that take the listener on pretty engaging musical journeys.  Both of those epics, “Mladic” and “We Drift Like Worried Fire,” definitely merit a few listens each so that they may be fully appreciated.  Unfortunately, the two shorter tracks on the album don’t measure up, which makes me wonder why they were included at all since obviously forty-plus minutes of music would have been enough for an album.  These two other tracks are exercises in drone music, and while they’re not bad necessarily, I don’t understand what’s supposed to be so good about them.  Allelujah! is worth your while, but only because of its two sprawling epics.  (Check out:  “We Drift Like Worried Fire”)

The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me

I really wanted to like this album a lot more than I did.  The cover art is cool, there’s an excellent Del Shannon cover included, and this band is part of the San Francisco scene which this year produced great albums by Ty Segall, Sic Alps, The Fresh & Onlys, and Thee Oh Sees.  But compared to those albums, this one just doesn’t measure up.  The album is still worth a few spins, and the single, “They Found Me in the Back of the Galaxy,” is excellent.  But most of the songs are too noticeably repetitive, with glaringly deficient lyrics.  The songs might not actually be more repetitive than some of those on the garage-rock albums which made my top 25; however, these mostly aren’t good enough songs to mask those deficiencies.  Too bad, because I dig the Intelligence’s sound; it’s kind of like what Devo would sound like as a garage-rock band, angular guitar parts and all.  I don’t regret buying it, but I wouldn’t recommend it either.  (Check out:  “They Found Me in the Back of the Galaxy”)

White Lung – Sorry

White Lung, a loud punk band from the Pacific Northwest with a female vocalist, is kind of a throwback to the grunge-era bands that also fit that description.  Like the hardcore bands of yore, White Lung rips through this album in a mere 20 minutes.  While I only felt inclined to return to a few of the songs after listening, I did find myself pondering why I found this more tolerable than Hole or L7.  I’m still not entirely sure, but for now I’ll chalk it up to my sense that the White Lung song “Those Girls” kind of reminds me more of Kurt Cobain than Courtney Love, and I like that.  (Check out:  “Those Girls”)

Grizzly Bear – Shields

Shields suffers from a lack of the things that made Veckatimest so arresting (gorgeous vocal harmonies high in the mix, ear-pleasing pop melodies).  I’m sure it represents a terrific compositional effort, and I suppose it’s possible that I could get into it after many listens — but that’s rather low-priority for me, honestly.  (Check out:  “Half Gate”)

Fun. – Some Nights

I actually liked this more than I expected, and I’m glad that some relatively intelligent pop music managed to make it big this year.  However, after a quite enjoyable first four tracks – of which the grandiose, “Cecilia”-derived title track is the highlight – the album abruptly plunges to its absolute nadir, a grating, borderline-unlistenable pop-punk song called “It Gets Better.”  The album never really recovers from that point on.  And while I appreciate that the lead singer really does have a good voice, I could do without the masturbatory autotune/vocoder flourishes even so.  (Check out:  “Some Nights”)

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

After Mike posted a song by them, I listened to this album with the idea that it might be the closest thing to electronica that I could enjoy listening to – considering they basically use pop song structures and often incorporate aggressive distorted guitars for their noisy loops.  And as it turns out, I didn’t like it very much, but I could definitely enjoy parts of it.  Probably wouldn’t listen again, though.  (Check out:  “Leader of the Pack”)

Metz – Metz

Abrasive punk trio’s debut.  It’s cool that Sub Pop is releasing this kind of music again, and I can listen to a song of theirs here and there and enjoy it, but the parade of similar-sounding songs makes the whole industrial/noise thing pretty tiresome.  Kurt Cobain probably would have liked it, though.  (Check out:  “Knife in the Water”)

Diiv – Oshin

I don’t care much for dream-pop or shoegaze music.  But when I read about this Brooklyn band’s debut record, my interest was piqued for a couple of reasons:   First, this band’s sound draws upon ‘80s post-punk to a greater extent than most other bands of the shoegaze/dream-pop genre, and second, frontman Zachary Cole Smith supposedly likes Nirvana and draws upon them as an influence as well.  (Of course, Smith’s favorite Nirvana song is on With the Lights Out, so make of that what you will….)  Anyway, the music on Oshin is very pretty, but I found myself wishing that there were more vocals, that the vocals were higher in the mix, and above all that the songs would more frequently incorporate propulsive drumbeats.  One of the album’s singles, “Doused,” is driven by such a beat, and not coincidentally it rocks and stands apart as a great post-punk song.  I wish I liked the rest of the album as much as I like that song.  (Check out:  “Doused”)

The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

Billy Corgan calls this his best work since Mellon Collie, and he may be right, but… I mean, unless you’re an Adore fan, that isn’t saying too much, is it?  It’s unsurprising that the music here is a lot better than that on the Pumpkins’ undisputed misfire of a comeback album, Zeitgeist.  Evaluated independently on its own merits, Oceania isn’t a bad set of songs, but it’s not a particularly good one, either.  Evaluated as a part of the whole Pumpkins catalogue, Oceania is mainly problematic because it seems to lack the emotional core and therefore the punch of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie, which are of course regarded as vital teen-angst records.  Yeah, Corgan is older now, but what’s supposed to be filling the hole in his songs where the angst used to be?  I don’t know either, but I cringed when I looked up some of the lyrics for the songs on Oceania.  File this one under “For Completists Only,” and don’t even consider buying unless you already own Gish, Siamese Dream, and Mellon Collie.  (Check out:  “Inkless”)

The Shins – Port of Morrow

Zzzzzz…  It’s hard to feel strongly one way or another about such a forgettable Adult-Contemporary snoozer.  I’m not a big Shins fan, but to me this record seems inferior to their three previous albums and the Broken Bells side project.  (Check out:  “Simple Song”)

The Killers – Battle Born

It’s sort of like they’re aping Meat Loaf, but performing in a way that’s sapped of all of his songs’ energy.  Bland ‘80s pop-rock, except without a hook in sight.  Hasn’t grown on me since I wrote more extensively about this album in September.  (Check out:  “Miss Atomic Bomb”)

The Lumineers – The Lumineers

I think this genre of Americana/folk-rock is not really my cup of tea.  This album is pleasant enough, but when all was said and done, only two tracks seemed worth returning to:  instantly recognizable lead single “Ho Hey” and piano-driven narrative “Submarines.”  I don’t want to be too harsh, though; if you like this kind of thing, you could definitely do worse than the Lumineers.  (Check out:  “Submarines”)

Mumford & Sons – Babel

…Specifically, you could listen to Mumford & Sons.  This is round two with Marcus Mumford, and once again, here is a somewhat cool sound without the songs to back it up.  Everything bleeds together and nothing seems worth a second listen.  The bonus-track Simon & Garfunkel cover is both the best and the most distinctive thing here.  (Check out:  bonus track “The Boxer”)

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

British electro-folk-rock (“folktronica”?) band some have hailed as “the next Radiohead.”  Alt-J and Mumford & Sons are two sides of the same bland coin:  interesting sound, forgettable songs.  In this case, there’s too much focus on being artsy and “interesting,” not enough on songwriting.  And, as a direct result,  An Awesome Wave pales in comparison to Django Django.  I don’t like the singer’s voice either, although that concern is really secondary to the poor songwriting.  (Check out:  “Breezeblocks”)

Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth

As glad as I am that David Lee Roth has returned to his perch as the band’s lead singer, and as impressed as I am that Eddie’s shredding ability is undiminished after all these years, I just didn’t enjoy listening to this album.  There are a few decent tracks, like the uncharacteristically heavy “Outta Space” and “Honeybabysweetiedoll.”  But the lead single, “Tattoo,” is embarrassingly bad, and stay away from “Stay Frosty,” a bungled attempt at writing another “Ice Cream Man” or “Take Your Whiskey Home.”  (Check out:  “Outta Space”)

The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

“45” is pretty good for a radio-rock single, but the rest of this album consists of mediocre rock that’s almost too boring to get through.  The bonus-track Nirvana cover is startlingly good by comparison.  (Check out:  bonus track “Sliver”)

Muse – The 2nd Law

This album was purported to be a marriage of trendy dubstep and pretentious prog-rock, so I was sure I would find it revolting.  The dubstep elements turn out to be limited to a few tracks, but the remainder of the album isn’t any good either.  The singer sounds like he’s trying to perfect his Bono impression on several songs, including single “Madness,” which – no matter how modern its electronics – weirdly gives off a Zooropa-era U2 vibe.  (Check out:  N/A)

Death Grips – The Money Store

Chuck D & Bomb Squad wannabes.  They’ve made waves with critics and hipster-rap fans, to be sure.  But if this is the direction in which either hip-hop music or the punk aesthetic is headed, count me out.  Difficult to get through.  (Check out:  N/A)

Grimes – Visions

True, I probably should’ve stayed away once I heard this described as “gothtronica,” but I gave it a shot anyway.  Her voice is high, lispy, childlike, and obnoxious overall.  I don’t like the electronica accompaniment either, but the vocals are what make this utterly unlistenable in my estimation.  I cannot for the life of me understand why this album received such rave reviews.  (Check out:  N/A)

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