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Best albums of 2012

title or description
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Here We Rest. The music ranges from Tom Petty-flavored rock to a strain of country that even non-country fans will enjoy. Isbell’s stories about loners of one kind or another ring universally true in a heartbreaking kind of way—even the honky-tonk flavored “Codeine.”

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Aimee Mann, Charmer. The strongest collection of songs yet from one of our most talented songwriting storytellers. “Labrador” is stunning.

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Band of Skulls, Sweet Sour. Not quite up to the standards of their first album, “Baby Darling Doll-Face Honey,” but those were high standards to begin with. One of my “gotta see ‘em live” groups. “Wanderluster” and “The Devil Takes Care of His Own” are by themselves worth the price of the CD.

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Greg Laswell, Landline. A different sound, based mostly on Laswell’s playing of a grand piano, but the album is an appealing mix of musical styles, and it will spend a lot of time in your CD or MP3 player. Check out “Come Back Down.”

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Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1967. Miles with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams: Those are five monsters. For someone like me, whose musical tastes run toward rock and blues, this album is mind-blowing—so good I can’t name a “check it out” track.

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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