These bands might not be as new to you as some of my other left field picks, hopefully you’ve heard them already, but if not, you don’t want to be missing out on these two kick ass female-fronted albums which are sure to be on the shortlist for my favorites of 2012.
Heartless Bastards: Arrow
The Heartless Bastards are one of those bands that isn’t quiet under the radar, but still doesn’t quite get the universal admiration I personally think they deserve. Heck, all Erika Wennerstrom and company do is put out killer rock album after killer rock album, no big deal! This year’s Arrow is a crowning achievement: superlative songs with patient, build-to-climax construction and some of the most soulful female vocals to sing them. Each time I listen to this album I discover a new favorite track, there ain’t a weak link in the bunch. I love the mature confidence of the opening “Marathon,” the subtle swing of “Only for You” and the heartfelt wail of “The Arrow Killed the Beast.” Aw, hell, I love it all, this is rock and roll in 2012 at its finest.
Cat Power: Sun
Like Wennerstrom & the Bastards, Chan Marshall (d.b.a. Cat Power) displays a hard-earned maturity and a powerful confidence on her latest album and the result is a surprisingly soulful, groovy masterpiece. My reaction on looking at the album cover and first listen was “This is Cat Power?” My next reaction was “This is awesome.” Marshall has bounced around between sounds, genres and lifestyle directions, but instead of an inward-looking, blue and moody album, the sound is upbeat, bright and altogether fearless. Tidbits of electronica and just the right sound layering in post-production frame Marshall’s voice nicely and punctuate what I find to be her best album yet.