I will say, though, that the album that's on top of my list so far this year is the latest opus from Ginger Wildheart. The Wildhearts are a band that I don't think get enough press stateside (they're British); Ginger marries loud guitars and melody like nobody else. Ginger ran his latest recording through PledgeMusic, and when he quickly raised 555% of his goal, he named his record after that number. (It kept creeping up, and is at 588% now.) It's... amazing. My favorite song changes weekly, but for now it's the incredibly NSFW "Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow":
The full recording session includes 31 tracks, but he released a single disc, twelve-track version called "100%" a few weeks ago for the unwashed masses, with the tracks voted on by the fans. We got most of the big tunes on there, but it's really worth downloading the full thing.
Note: Ginger has two records (a "disc two" of his "best of" record from a few years back, and the live and acoustic "Potatoes And You," which was one of my Top 10 from 2011) available for free download here.
I was pleasantly surprised to see new stuff from Blues Traveler making the rounds; "Suzie Cracks The Whip" was released early last month, and is excellent. Very impressed by Slash's new one, "Apocalyptic Love." Myles Kennedy channels Axl a lot here, but in a really good way. Also enjoying the new tunes from John Mayer, Of Monsters and Men, Chris Robinson, the live Mike Doughty two-disc question and answer set, the country record from Lionel Richie (yes, seriously), and the new Japandroids, which I see has popped up on a couple of lists here.
It isn't a Chris List without old-time rock too; Trixter got back together and released "New Audio Machine" this spring. It evokes 1991 without being overly kitschy; really just a solid rock record. "Rock N Roll Ride" from Jack Blades (Night Ranger/Damn Yankees), the new Van Halen, Gotthard's first post-Steve Lee record, and the Broadway record from Dee Snider are all enjoyable as well (yes, seriously again).
On the "bands you've never heard of" list, Venrez has spent the last few weeks opening for Alice Cooper; their debut "Sell The Lie" is a stonker. So is Halestorm's "The Strange Case Of...", which took some time to grow on me. The best tunes there come at the end: "American Boys" and "Here's To Us" both find their way into my heavy rotation. Dr. Dog's "Be The Void" is a solid listen as well.
Big thumbs up to Flying Colors also. A "supergroup" from Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs/Deep Purple and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, is proggy and poppy and metally all at once.
The big non-rock record to grab me this year is the original cast recording from Once, which won approximately a half-million Tony awards this spring. I'm admittedly biased because I've got two friends from college in the cast, but the record's stunning... and the show is even more stunning. The Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly" is on there, of course, but the gem here is "Gold." It doesn't even pop on the record the way it does in the show; it gave me chills live. Brilliant, brilliant show. Deserved all the awards it got and all the ones it didn't get too.
Note: My two friends, Mike and Lucas, are front and center (plaid shirt, guitar) and rear stage left (tank top, green pants), respectively.
On my list are the Gotye and fun. discs, which I haven't fully listened to yet, and I've heard good things about Jukebox The Ghost, Everclear, Neil Young, Lit, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Also have the new Ugly Kid Joe EP on my list to check out soon.
And in the "coming soon" section are Aerosmith, The Darkness, Alanis Morissette, Beck, Green Day (a three-CD run that will fall into 2013 also), DMB, the Killers, Zac Brown Band, and the Ben Folds Five, which I've already supported on PledgeMusic as well. (Really, really hope The Darkness kicks my ass all over the place. Miss those guys, and I like what I've heard so far.)