Thursday, January 24, 2013

Top songs of 2012- #1-5

And finally, my top 5 songs of 2012. Some rock, some dance and mostly Brits. Yep, that's about right.

1. Arctic Monkeys- "You and I (featuring Richard Hawley)"

It's painfully predictable that if the Arctic Monkeys release something in a calendar year (even a b-side), that it will land in my top 5. Add Richard Hawley and you get a #1.

2. Rudimental- "Feel The Love"
I waffled between this and "Spoons," but this was the first track by Rudimental that caught my eyes/ears, so I figured I should stick with this one. Plus this is a better video.

3. Amin Edge And DANCE- "Going To Heaven With the Goodie-Goodies"
Heard this on BBC Radio, late on a Friday night, while driving in Scotland. This is the kind of music that reminds me of the UK. A crate digger track that a breaks DJ with a great vinyl collection pulls out and blows the party apart. It's the track you hunt down, keep in your rotation for years, and yet no one else knows it. Banger.

4. AlunaGeorge- "You Know You Like It"
As usual, there's an act every year that I hear via UK channels, get excited about and have to wait for years to see on our shores. Hopefully, AlunaGeorge is so good that they will get here faster than that. This is great modern pop music.

5. Jack White- "I'm Shakin'"
When it comes down to it, I like Jack White as a person more than his music. His solo record is par for the course with my feelings about most of his work. There are some amazing highlights that are instant classics, and there's often lots of passable ok filler. This cover is an instant classic and proves his great ear and personal style.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Top Songs of 2012- #6-10

Let's continue my favorite songs of 2012 with #6-10 songs today:

6. Eugene McGuinness- "Shotgun"
Criminally unreleased and unknown in the US. Looks good, sounds good.

7. Charli XCX- "Cloud Aura ft. Brooke Candy"
If I have to like something that sounds like a radio song, this would be it. The cinematic video clips and her adorable face help the cause as well.

8. Blood Red Shoes- "In Time To Voices"
I've been banging the drum for Blood Red Shoes since their first V2 release. I love a commitment to rock n roll and this duo has that in spades. If the 90s sound is coming back, then Blood Red Shoes should lead the charge.

9. The Hives- "Go Right Ahead"
The Hives never meant to reinvent the wheel. They just serve to remind us how easy rock n roll really is.

10. Doorly- "Something to Say"
I reserve the right as an old person to champion this song and strongly confirm its sentiment. Damn you kids! Get off my lawn.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top 15 songs of 2012- #10-15

As my listening habits change (be it because of time, my age or technology), I find it asier to find great songs than it is to find great records. It might be my lack of focus, but it may also be that the long play record format just has no real place in this era. It's not dead, but why not put out a great song that can stand on it's own nowadays? Why wait?

Therefore, I decided that I should also complement my top 10 records of 2012 with the top songs I heard in 2012*. Below are numbers 10-15. Top 10 to follow...

10. Factory Floor- "Two Different Ways"
A touch of new wave, a dash of industrial and brought to us by the folks at DFA. All good to me.

11. Wet Nuns- "Heaven Below"
Sheffield UK metal is coming back.

12. The Violet May- "Jennifer Lies"
More Sheffield, UK rock, and part of the Arctic Monkeys family tree, but unfortunately they have already broken up. Sad indeed.

13. Willy Moon- "Yeah Yeah"
Yes, it's in an Itunes commercial now, but that doesn't make it any less catchy or infectious. Fun fun fun.

14. Faye- "Water Against The Rocks"
Faye could be huge in 2013 if she gets the right attention.

15. More Sounds- "Analog Steak"
Thanks to Ram Jam Rodigan for unearthing this one. The kinda track trainspotters live for.

*And yes, I realize some of these release dates might not have been in 2012, but this is my usual burden each year as so much doesn't get released in the US at all, so I'm going by when I heard it. I have also excluded songs that would have been covered by inclusion in the top 10 records.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Top 10 for 2012- #1-5

And now, my top 5 records for 2012...

1. Flats- Better Living

No record this year impressed me as much as Better Living. I am still amazed that I heard no buzz about this release, haven't seen it on any other lists, and it hasn't made any waves anywhere. Harkening back to the days of metal, industrial, experimental and heavy political rock isn't the way to turn heads nowadays, I guess. But for me, this is exactly what the world needs now: Black Sabbath riffs, samples, Pailhead screams, and industrial noise.

Mark my words, (this band and a few others have me thinking that) metal and heavy rock from the UK is coming back. There may be hope yet for "the kids."

2. Django Django- Django Django

A great debut from a band that works all the touchstones they can. From Beta Band and The Specials to krautrock and afrobeat, Django Django wrapped all their tight pop song writing in all sorts of experimental packages, and delivered a great record.

3. Tame Impala- Lonerism

Just by having released "Elephant," Tame Impala cemented a spot in my top 10 this year. Definitely the best single of the year, its glam rock meets psych groove was a game changer. With 2-3 other possible singles on this LP, it's an interesting record that deserves time and attention, even if psychedelia is not your thing.


TOY was the record The Horrors should have released next. This is a perfect next step in the London nouveau shoegaze scene, without getting caught up in the tropes of their inspirations. With their look, sound, and songs, they are the complete package and I can't wait for their next move.

5. S.C.U.M- Again Into Eyes

I waited a very long time for this record and was not disappointed. After all the talk of goth music and fashion returning, no one seemed to take it seriously or produce music, fashion or art that really understood it. Again Into Eyes for me was the only thing that really hit the target. It's not aping the past but taking inspiration from it and taking those ideas to the next progression, by adding other ideas, genres, textures and re-contextualizing them for 2012.

Sadly, after waiting for 2 years for S.C.U.M to release a full record, it took them less than a year after to break up. Sad days, indeed.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Top 10 for 2012- #6-10

When critics publish their annual Top 10 lists in November, it's usually against their will and all about deadlines rather than good criticism. Not only are there still more weeks in the year for music to still be released, but there's also a need for reflection. With that said, I finally present my Top 10 for 2012, starting with #6-10...

6. Richard Hawley- Standing At The Sky's Edge
A beautiful rock record. And at a time when I didn't think I'd have a chance to ever say that again, it is a real gem to be cherished. It's intimate and immense at the same time, and oozes sentiment without ever sounding obvious or cloying.

7. Dwight Yoakam- 3 Pears
It took Dwight Yoakam 7 years to get back to making records, but his talent is none the worse for wear. Typically quixotic for Yoakam, 3 Pears is an undeniably country record, but finds inspiration in George Harrison as much as The Flying Burrito Brothers. Also including collaborations with Beck and (gasp!) Kid Rock, this is a one of a kind country music record, and one only Dwight could create.

8. Low Cut Connie- Call Me Sylvia
I have been asking the music gods for a piano rocker in the vein of Jerry Lee Lewis for years now, and finally, Low Cut Connie has answered my prayers. A rollicking good time band with respect for original rock 'n roll as well as doo-wop, rockabilly, garage rock and boogie-woogie, Low Cut Connie will remind you why Jerry Lee was (arguably) the real king of rock n roll.

9. The Vaccines- Come Of Age
A fitting title for a band who previously had the songs, but none of the attitude. The sophomore release  seems to have taken to heart some of the criticism given to their debut and made plenty of adjustments. A bit edgier, a bit darker and a bit tighter, Come Of Age is a good reminder that good simple rock songs always win.

10. King Tuff- King Tuff
I am a sucker for garage rock. But even though I admit my soft spot for the entire genre, I also take more of an offense when it's executed poorly. And unfortunately, in the last few years, there have been so many bands with a fuzzbox that think that's all it takes. Not so for King Tuff. Juvenile in all the right ways, this record is a stomp monster with the all the right attitude and energy. And the hooks, oh yes, so many hooks.

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