2010 was a watershed year for music. Some of my favorite bands released albums, some new additions to the scene released phenomenal records, and I fully believed I would never see such a strong year for music again in my lifetime. 2011 seemed to confirm that fact. Despite seeing one of my favorite albums of the last decade released in 2011, Wye Oak’s Civilian, the year as a whole was quite weak. I figured that between my love affair with 2010 and my general declining interest in live music, that maybe I was just losing touch with things and not caring about music as much as I used to.
2012 changed that. It was another VERY strong year for music, with pop music making quite a resurgence and some bands putting out some truly landmark albums. There were a few albums that changed the landscape for their genres, but along with that, there were quite a few memorable tracks released in 2012. This article will take a look at 20 of the best tracks of the year. To hear each track, simply click on the song name and you’ll be taken to YouTube. Enjoy!
20. Beach House – Myth
A lot has been made about the fact that with each passing Beach House record, the band simply refines their sound, rather than redefines it. In an era where bands are constantly asked by fans to reinvent themselves, Beach House have simply perfected the wheel, and it’s hard to imagine it getting any better than this. Cascading synths and Victoria Legrand’s distinctive voice propel the opener of Bloom, letting the listener know they are in for a beautiful journey.
19. Alexisonfire – Burial
Death Letter EP
Alexisonfire are one of my favorite bands of all-time, and while their break-up was saddening, it seemed inevitable. It’s clear the band is no longer interested in the post-hardcore blueprint they followed for 10 years, and this EP speaks to that, with each of these songs stripped down to their very core. It smacks far more of Dallas Green’s side project, City and Colour, than it does of AOF. Lucky for us though, they get inventive with one of the tracks, Burial. Giving it an industrial edge with a chunky guitar riff and menacing drum line, the track gains new life in this format and will stand alongside the band’s catalogue for the rest of time.
18. The Early November – Tell Me Why
Another band that made a return this year was The Early November, a pop-punk band that always stood out in the genre for their interesting arrangements and arresting hooks. Despite being on hiatus for nearly 5 years, the band doesn’t miss a beat, as this is the hookiest, catchiest, little song I’ve heard in some time. Big, swooping guitars meet the steady drumming of Jeff Kummer to create some delicious pop-punk ear candy.
17. The Tallest Man on Earth – Revelation Blues
There’s No Leaving Now
It seems only a matter of time before the inevitable electric/percussive movement comes from TMOE, and judging by this track, it can’t come soon enough. Finally adding some percussion to his sparse sound, Kristian Matsson records the drums lightly and buries them in the mix, but they add a jollity to his music that is more than welcome. When he sings “it’s the daaaaaamn revelation bluuuuuuues”, you’re not sure what the revelation is or why it’s causing the blues, but that hardly matters.
16. Field Mouse – Glass
How Do You Know?
A small band from New York, I stumbled upon them through a recommendation, and I’m hoping like hell they’re going to release more than the 4 songs they currently have available. They sound like a mix of the dreamy nature of Beach House with the driving backline of Stars, with lead singer Rachel Browne’s voice sounding majestic, standing out against the wash of dreamy music behind her. One can only hope there’s more coming.
15. Kanye West f. Jay-Z and Big Sean – Clique
G.O.O.D. Music Presents Cruel Summer
Ain’t nobody messing with my clique. I feel like a gangster just saying that. And I guess that’s the point. Three hard-hitting performances by two of hip-hop’s biggest names(and Big Sean, who at least doesn’t ruin the track), an incredibly punishing hook, and one of the catchiest lines of the year makes for a pretty damn good hip-hop track. One of the few standouts on an album that many(including myself) expected much more from.
This is a great song. If you don’t think so, you’re lying to yourself. What can I possibly say about it you don’t already know? You’re probably humming it to yourself right now, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?
13. Deftones – Leathers
Koi No Yokan
It seems that all Deftones have to do is release an album, and I am going to like it. It’s hard to imagine a group that is more consistent, and who more consistently releases songs that are as hard-hitting and powerful as when Deftones first began to bend the genre. This song features an excellent, ethereal opening that gives way to a punishing kick drum sounding the start of the first verse. Not content to rest there, the song relents in the chorus and bridge, soaring and carrying Chino Moreno’s vocals as only this band knows how to. Amazing this band is still so relevant and so quality.
12. DIIV – Doused
This band reminds me a lot of Deerhunter, but with more focus and less drugs. While I also really enjoyed “How Long Have You Known?” for its melodic bent, “Doused” hits just a bit harder, and is spastic in all the right places. The roaming bassline makes the song, as the guitar slowly dances, bobbing and weaving in and out of the listener’s ears, begging for repeat listens.
Vancouver is steadily becoming more and more known for its burgeoning punk scene, and White Lung, fronted by Vice Magazine writer Mish Way, are leading the charge. Typically a scene that had very little between the poles of “soft indie rock” and “radio-ready garbage metal”, the punk scene has a champion in White Lung. This song hits hard, 1:59 of brazen riffs, quick drums, and a stand-out vocal performance that recalls old Tsunami Bomb records(but actually good). The lyrics are dark, but when Way shrieks out “I’m tied to the seat/stuck with your feet/coiled tight, dead around my neck,” it’s pretty hard not to jump and sing along. One of the year’s best and most pleasant surprises.
#10-1 will be posted tomorrow!