December 12, 2012

The Best Songs of 2012

I have never made a 'Best Songs of the Year' list before. They always seemed a bit too specific and arbitrary, putting a grade on something that wasn't even meant to be ingested alone. But this year I gave in. I felt that there were too many tracks that deserved individual attention for me not to. So here it is: The 25 songs that really sunk in, gave me chills, and ran around in my head for weeks. Enjoy.

1. Milo Greene-"1957"
The first song released by the indie-folkers turned out to be the best on the album, and the best of the year. Lush vocal harmonies, huge crescendos, and a lively catchy chorus combine to form the perfect indie jam that just takes you away.

2. Tyler Lyle-"When I Say That I Love You"
There are a few songs in the world that give me shivers every time I hear them. This bittersweet ode to the changing nature of love is one of them.

3. Bowerbirds-"Tuck The Darkness In"
On their new album, Bowerbirds hit their stride and let things get heavy. The first track demonstrates the change perfectly and is surprisingly infectious.

4. The Lumineers-"Flowers In Your Hair"
This brief jangling intro to one of the best rookies of the year has some killer lines like "It takes a boy to live. It takes a man to pretend he was there."

5. Yellow Ostrich-"Marathon Runner"
The music of Yellow Ostrich is filled with childlike wonder and simplicity. This standout track tells quite a tale of giving up on dreams and running without knowing why.

6. First Ait Kit-"Emmylou"
While the two sisters in First Aid Kit were born in Sweden, they were clearly raised on Americana. They harmonize flawlessly about their American musical heroes while forging a path into the music scene they revere.

7. Field Report-"Fergus Falls"
The former bandmate of Justin Vernon has been trying to come into his own and be seen as a great songwriter in his own right. This poetic track will show you how he succeeded.

8. Haim-"Forever"
Three L.A. sisters have revived the old folk scene of their hometown with influences like Fleetwood Mac and the joy of summer. Yet they infuse a modern, R&B style into it all, keeping things awfully interesting.

9. C2C-"Down The Road"
If you can listen to this track without feeling the urge to move, there has got to be something wrong. The four French world-champion DJ's that make up C2C have begun releasing original music, and they gave us the funkiest track of the year.

10. The Shins-"Simple Song"
Over the years, The Shins have released quite a few catchy indie-pop anthems. While most of their recent album left me underwhelmed, this first single is one of their most fun, energizing and anthemic songs yet.


11. Dirty Projectors-"Offspring Are Blank"
Ominous backup vocal harmonies, handclapping, and a crazily-awesome snare sound all build towards a chorus filled with raucous guitars and one of the catchiest songs Dave Longstreath and friends have ever made.

12. Damien Jurado-"Working Titles"
Mr. Jurado has had a long career yet his newest album sees him breaking from his traditional form. This standout track compares relationships to poetry and it is gorgeous.

13. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"Same Love"
Becoming the first rapper to write a song about his support for same-sex marriage, Macklemore wove his story in with his beliefs in the best way possible. It is tasteful, tender, smart, and beautiful.

14. Cold Specks-"Holland"
Al Spx has created one of the most exciting new sound in music combining her unique aged voice with soothing, dark "doom-soul" lyrics.

15. Bahamas-"I Got You Babe"
Afie Jurvanen, the former guitarist for Feist, has really come into his own on his new record, displaying his extremely simple, catchy, and riff-filled songwriting. This common reassurance towards a loved one  helped him get nominated for Canada's Polaris Prize.

16. Of Monsters And Men-"Sloom"
Their whole debut album is full of rollicking Arcade Fire-esque fun. But this song, one of the slowest and most simple ones stuck with me the most.

17.Two Trees-"Your Woods"
This virtually unknown couple from Stockholm caught my ear with this track (their first one) and hasn't left my attention since. It features some of the best male/female harmonies I've ever heard and a beautiful guitar line that weaves one of the prettiest songs of the year.

18. Jack White-"Love Interruption"
Jack White returned to the public view with this track featuring Ruby Amanfu's awesome voice in which he sings "I want love to stick a knife inside me and twist it all around."

19. Ben Howard-"Old Pine"
The British surfer dude is bringing his noodling stateside helped along by this beautiful guitar-driven melody.

20. Nas-"No Introduction"
One of rap's finest lyricists sums up his rags to riches story yet laments that fame has left him "exhausted." The huge beat opens up one of the most honest rap albums in a while.

21. TNGHT-"Higher Ground"
Perhaps THE heaviest track of the year comes from the collaboration between Hudson Mohawke and Lunice that has been getting everybody's feathers ruffled lately. Quick, somebody rap over this!

22. Brother Ali-"Stop The Press"
After explaining where he's been these past few years, he delivers some of the most deeply emotional verses I've heard in a while discussing his troubled marriage, and his father's suicide.

23. Alt-J-"Fitzpleasure"
The British group manages to fit grinding bass, tra-la-la-ing, echoey post-rock style guitars, and a nasally yet appropriate voice in the same song with it all feeling completely natural. 

24. A.C. Newman-"I'm Not Talking"
The new album from the lead singer of The New Pornographers may not have been an amazing collection, but this song was one of the most charming and catchy of year.

25. Delta Spirit-"Empty House"
The lead track to the best rock album of the year starts things off right: messy, loud, grungy, and fast.

You can listen to our extended best-of list on Spotify below.

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