Getting tired of the same old "end of year" lists? Me too. So, I thought I'd try something different this year and put together a list of Top 10 Best Kept Secrets of 2012. Or in other words, the best things in music and movies you might have missed…
1. The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 – Sure, I’m biased when it comes to Ronnie James Dio and if you love metal, you should be too. Made up mostly of later Dio tracks from 1996 to 2004, this volume shows that RJD is still relevent in modern metal. You're not a heavy metal aficionado unless you have this collection in your playlist. Favorite tracks include "The Eyes", "Killing the Dragon" and "Electra" (a bonus track from the 2010 Tournado Box Set).
2. My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman – As one of the greatest rock legends of our time, Gregg Allman has experienced a storied life of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll and has lived to tell the tale. If you love 60's rock stories, you'll love this book. I recommend downloading the eBook version complete with video and concert footage – now that’s quality reading!
3. Palladia – MTV gets a lot of flack for veering away from their music programming and cozying up to dumb reality shows. They've redeemed themselves by bringing us Palladia, a live music network for true music lovers. The network has been around since 2008, but seems to have hit their stride in 2012. Featuring popular concerts such as Bruce Springsteen and Coachella, Palladia also offers obscure acts such as Trey Songz and Razorlight. Turn it on at any time and you could be treated to musical surprises like a Joss Stone and Tom Jones duet, Flaming Lips performing "Dark Side of the Moon" or Led Zeppelin's epic film The Song Remains the Same.
4. The Idler Wheel… by Fiona Apple – The talented singer/songwriter/musician doesn't always produce radio-friendly hits, and there's not one on her latest album (thank goodness). But what Apple does produce is a swirling, carnival of unfiltered sounds squeezed straight from the heart. Favorite tracks include "Jonathan" and "Every Single Night".
5. The Doors: Live at the Bowl '68 – This classic concert by one of the greatest rock bands of all time at the iconic Hollywood Bowl gets a digital makeover. With tricked out audio and digital touch ups, Jim Morrison's shaman stage show looks like it was shot yesterday – not 45 years ago. Check out the trailer.
6. The OF Tape Vol. 2 by Odd Future – The debut album from hip hop's most diverse super group. If you're looking for a wildly unique sound, this 18-track mix tape offers the ultimate in Rap, Electro and R&B artistry. The group rolls out tunes by notable members Tyler, The Creator, Hodgy Beats, Frank Ocean, Syd tha Kyd among a thousand others. Favorite tracks include "Analog 2" and "Rella".
7. Live From Daryl's House – Daryl Hall started the free monthly web show in late 2007, after having the idea of "Playing with my friends and putting it up on the Internet," and the show has since garnered acclaim from Rolling Stone, SPIN, Daily Variety, and BBC. It's a kick to see musicians such as Shelby Lynne or O.C.'s own Dirty Heads drop in on Hall's home studio for a chat and an impromptu jam.
8. Bones Brigade: An Autobiography – Directed by skate legend and former Z-Boy Stacy Peralta, this film chronicles the beginning of Bones Brigade skaters Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Tony Alva, Steve Caballero, Peralta, Christian Hosoi, among others. The only way to see this skateboarding flick is by downloading the digital version. Pre-orders are available on their website and you might be able to catch it at a local film festival in 2013. Check out the trailer.
9. Beauty Queen Sister by Indigo Girls – The Georgia duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers haven't produced a hit since the album Swamp Ophelia in 1994, but they continue to churn out poetic and politically charged music to the delight of an engaged loyal fan base. Their 14th album is a homespun whipping post of bluegrass, Celtic, and Americana sounds chronicling pain, war, loss, love and reflection. Favorite tracks include the title song "Beauty Queen Sister", "John" and "Making Promises".
10. The Observatory OC – Located in the heart of Santa Ana, this little club has earned the reputation as one of the standout venues in Southern California. Formerly known as The Galaxy Theatre, the newly renovated Observatory showcased a variety of musical acts in 2012 such as: The Head and the Heart, Odd Future, CSS, and The Game, just to name a few. Check out their calendar for 2013.
Follow me throughout the year on Twitter @PJ_LaBella & have a safe & Happy New Year!