Saturday, December 29, 2012

50 Favorite Songs of 2012

In what's become an annual tradition, I've put together my favorite 50 songs of 2012. I've tried to really mix it up this year, including a little something for everyone. You've got Rock, Rap, R&B, Folk, Blues, Male singers, Female singers, Uptempo tracks, slow tracks, etc.... hopefully something you can find that you like.

I think it's really been a great year for music, wasn't easy compiling this throughout the year but hopefully it came out pretty well. I've listed the song, album, some lyrics and a video link for every song. I changed the format a bit this year but just putting all fifty songs into one post but think it's better that way. Hope you enjoy!

"Forever" - Haim (From the album, "Forever")

One of the songs I got into early in 2012, love the sound of this track. Still haven't been able to check out their live show but I've heard nothing but good things from friends that have. Look for big things from these girls in 2013.

Forever we tried to make it right,
Together we saw the end in sight,
I'm tired of fighting the good fight,
If you say the word then I'll say goodbye.

"On Your Way" - Alabama Shakes (From the album, "Boys & Girls")

I included some Alabama Shakes songs in my list last year as I had gotten my hands on their EP in 2011. Their full length album came out early in 2012 and I thought it only right to include a track from Boys & Girls. This is one of my favorites....

On your way to to the promised land, did you say
"Oh, she was such a friend"?
Then they took you higher and
I don't know if I can follow...

"Brothers" - Tanlines (From the album, "Mixed Emotions")

What a cool album this is, one of my favorites from 2012. Spent a ton of time listening to these guys this year. Hard to pick my favorites as you'll see two tracks show up in my top 50 but probably could have included three or four. Cool song, cool video to boot.

Take a chance, make a choice, you couldn't not look.
Indecision overload is only chance figures.
Change my mind, make mistakes, and put it past them.
Raise the bar, set the course.

"Empty House" - Delta Spirit (From the album, "Delta Spirit")

I've read a handful of top albums or top songs of 2012 and this is an album I haven't seen mentioned anywhere. Not sure if it's because it came out so early in the year but it's one of my favorites of 2012, definitely deserves a mention. Got to see these guys play in Brooklyn during the release of this album and they were excellent.

How could one little speck
Make a difference to the rest
Well it doesn't, no one cared
Except me

"Alone" - Trampled By Turtles (From the album, "Stars & Satellites")

Here's another real underrated album, have only seen this mentioned on a couple lists. I've seen these guys two years running now at the Newport Folk Festival and they're an excellent band. This is my favorite track off their latest album which came out earlier this year, the last minute and a half are just fantastic.

The days and nights are killing me
The light and dark are still in me
But there's an anger on the beach
So let the wind blow hard
And wear the falling stars

"Fire's Highway" - Japandroids (From the album, "Celebration Rock")

One of my toughest choices, and I only say that because I feel like I could have picked almost any song from this album. My favorite album of the year, just one awesome song after another.

I got to see these guys a couple weeks ago at Webster Hall and it was everything I expected and more, what a fantastic show. If you don't have this album, please go get it, you won't be disappointed.

Hearts from hell collide
On fire's highway tonight
We dreamed it, now we know

"Age of Worry" - John Mayer (From the album, "Born and Raised")

John went in a different direction on this album, leaning more towards a folk & country sound, a bit of a change from his previous work. There's some really strong songwriting on this album and I think this is one of the better tracks.

Don't be scared to walk alone
Don't be scared to like it
There's no time that you must be home
So sleep where darkness falls

"Mountain Sound" - Of Monsters and Men (From the album, "My Head Is An Animal"

This debut from Of Monsters and Men was one of my favorites from 2012. It was one of the earlier releases this year but I found myself coming back to it time and again throughout the year. I honestly could have probably put four or five songs on this list but kept it to just two. Really an excellent album and also a very, very good live group, got to see them at the Newport Folk Festival and they absolutely delivered a great show.

Some had scars, and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around, I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest

"Handwritten" - The Gaslight Anthem (From the album, "Handwritten")

This group writes some great rock tracks, this being my favorite from their latest album. One of the few groups I've yet to see live, need to get around to that sometime soon as I've heard their live show is excellent.

I know there's someone out there feeling just like I feel
I know they're waiting up, I know they're waiting to heal
And I've been holding my breath
Are you holding your breath
For too many years to count?
Too many years to count

"Hit Me Up" - Sean Bones (From the album, "Buzzards Boy")

I stumbled across Sean Bones' music a few years ago and have been listening pretty consistently since. The feel of a lot of his songs makes me think of sitting on a beach drinking a cold beer, but if you get into his lyrics, most of the material is much more serious, which makes for an interesting dynamic. I got this track sent to me early in 2012 and it stuck in my rotation throughout the year.

and on your expedition
you found the good in me
dark into the rocks and blew all the dust off

"American Royalty" - Childish Gambino ft. Rza & Hypnotic Brass Orchestra (From the album, "Royalty")

One of the things that's really stumped me this year is that I've read a bunch of "favorite songs and albums" lists and I don't think I've seen this album mentioned once. I don't know if it's because Childish Gambino put it out for free or not but this was one of my favorites of 2012. Another album I could have easily picked four or five tracks but a couple really stood out to me.

This album is LOADED with guest appearances (and a wide range of artists as you'll see later in my top 50). I've been a Wu-Tang fan for years so hearing Rza on this track was just awesome, love the horns, love the tempo, one of the better tracks this year.

This Oxycontin carbon monox' and toxic concExplainoction
Collapse your brain cells, they swell from lack of oxygen
Leave the opposition stuck, without a pot to piss in
Hockin', spitting up blood, shark by sharp precision

"Sex" - The 1975 (From the EP "Sex")

I just recently found out about this band but I can say since the first listen, this track has been on constant rotation. Really cool sound, reminds me a bit of Jimmy Eat World and this track is just very catchy, I also like how simple the video is. Think I'll be listening to The 1975 quite a bit into 2013 and hopefully they'll make a trip over from England to play some shows in the US.

Now we're on the bed in my room and I'm about to fill his shoes
But you say no
Do You say no?
Does he take care of you? Or could I easily fill his shoes
But you say no,
You say no

"Purple" - California Wives (From the album, "Art History")

I've seen this album mentioned a couple other places so I'm glad that others have been enjoying it, a very good album from start to finish, several strong songs. This is my favorite from Art History but I recommend checking out this whole album if you get a chance.

Standing next to a friend saying things that you never should’ve said
If I keep lookin’ at you, will you cut me in two?

"Mourning Train To Memphis" - Christopher Paul Stelling (From the album, "Songs of Praise and Scorn")

What a great, great song this is. I think this might have been the first album I got my hands on in 2012 but I have played it all year long. I saw Christopher Paul Stelling perform early in the year at the Mercury Lounge and as good as this album is, he was even better live. Extremely strong songwriting, this is such excellent music.

I typically link to a studio version of the song below but had to link to a live cut just so you could see how talented this guy is.

ain’t it a shame all the people on this earth they have to die,
i don’t need no alibis the feelings only sane,
and i know that tomorrow, yes tomorrow i just might cry- it feels right
to say goodbye, tomorrow it’ll come like rain
tomorrow I’m leaving for memphis on the mourning train.

"Feud" - Band of Horses (From the album, "Mirage Rock")

This is one of the standouts from Band of Horses' latest album. I got to see the band perform a couple weeks ago and this track was great in concert (actually the whole show was pretty awesome, very good live band).

Give a little money and a house and the car
Filling up your pockets but it's all that you got

"Red Rose in the Cold Winter Ground" - The Dig (From the album, "Midnight Flowers")

This is a track that most people probably aren't too familiar with. I was sent this album fairly early in the year and there's quite a few good songs on it. Not really sure who I'd compare the band too, this song kind of reminds me of a darker Coldplay in some respects.

I started out on the frozen path
With the sun sinking down
Hole in my heart on the empty road

"Only Son of the Ladiesman" - Father John Misty (From the album, "Fear Fun")

If I were to actually rank these fifty songs, this one would be in my top five for the year. Absolutely LOVE this track, especially the lyrics and vocals. This is one of those albums that you actually pull out the liner notes and follow along, really strong songwriting.

I'm linking a live Letterman performance below because I think you can really get into the strength of the vocals and it was the first thing that sold me on Father John Misty. Not to mention, the theatrics crack me up.

I'm a steady hand, I'm a Dodger's fan
I'm a leading brand of a one night stand
I'm a ladiesman

Oh some ladiesman

"In A Big City" - Titus Andronicus (From the album, "Local Business")

I feel like Joe Strummer would like this song if he was still with us. Reminds me at times of something that the Mescaleros might have put out. Great tune.

When I know life begins at the moment of consumptions
So taxing on the dollars and the sense of deduction
And every cent I ever earned, I spend and I would again

"Swimming Pools" - Kendrick Lamar (From the album, "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City")

This is a song and album that's gotten a lot of praise and I'm in full agreement. I feel like this is something that could have come out back in the mid-90s and been just as good.

Some people like thExplaine way it feels
Some people wanna kill their sorrows
Some people wanna fit in with the popular
That was my problem

"Emmylou" - First Aid Kit (From the album, "The Lion's War")

One of the more beautiful songs I heard this year, wonderful harmonies by these sisters from Sweden. I got the chance to see them at the Newport Folk Festival this past summer and they were as good as advertised.

Now so much I know that things just don't grow
If you don't bless them with your patience

"Closer" - Tegan & Sara (From the album, "Heartthrob")

This is the first single off Tegan and Sara's new album that's slated for an early 2013 release. This is just a fun, catchy song and really pretty different than a lot of their previous material.

The lights turned off and the sun if finally setting
The night sky is changing overhead

"Pyramids" - Frank Ocean (From the album, "Channel Orange")

If you've been reading this site or saw last year's list, you know how big a fan I am of Frank Ocean's work. He continues just put out some of the best music around and did so again in 2012. I've seen this album listed all over the place in terms this year's favorites. A huge follow-up to "Nostalgia, ULTRA", this album is easily one of the best of the year.

"Pyramids" was one of the first releases off the album and it's probably my favorite. Throw in a nice guitar solo at the end courtesy of John Mayer and this song (and album) is a big time winner in 2012.

We'll run to the future, shining like diamonds
In a rocky world, rocky-rocky world

"Give Out" - Sharon Van Etten (From the album, "Tramp")

I wasn't too familiar with Sharon Van Etten until this past summer when I saw her open for Deer Tick at one of their Newport Folk Afterparty shows at the Newport Blues Cafe. I was pretty impressed with her performance so I looked up her album when I got home and have been listening since. This is another album that seems to be showing up on a lot of best of 2012 lists.

You're the reason why I'll move to the city
you're why I'll need to leave.

"Take a Walk" - Passion Pit (From the album, "Gossamer")

This song seems to be just about everywhere... commercials, tv shows, etc. No complaints from me, just another solid showing from Passion Pit.

Now I work to bring my family stateside.
Got off the boat, they stayed a while
then scattered 'cross the coast.
Once a year I'll see them for a week or so at most

"Truth" - Bloc Party (From the album, "Four")

Bloc Party is a band that I've been into for years now and I can always find some songs that I really like with each new album. This was the track that stood out to me as soon as I heard it. I've linked a live acoustic clip below that I think is just a great version of this song.

It burnt the stain
Left on my mind
Our hearts, our hearts, they beat
A quarter tone apart

"Three White Horses" - Andrew Bird (From the album, "Hands of Glory")

I have some friends who have tried to sell me on Andrew Bird for quite awhile now and I had just never really taken the time to sit down and listen to his work.... until about a month ago. I have to say that I was really impressed and actually struggled a bit trying to pick one song for this list as there were several I liked. This one seemed to stand out for me though.

Don't dismiss it like it's easy
Tell me what's so easy
'Bout coming to say goodbye

"The House That Heaven Built" - Japandroids (From the album, "Celebration Rock")

The second appearance by Japandroids on this list and like I said earlier, probably could have included two or three more songs. Love this song and the video is pretty cool too.

When they love you, and they will
Tell em all theyll love in my shadow
And if they try to slow you down
Tell em all to go to hell

"Leading Me Now" - The Tallest Man on Earth, (From the album "There's No Leaving Now")

This is an artist I had known about for awhile but finally got into this year. I unfortunately missed his set at the Newport Folk Festival but have gone back and watched some of the online clips and he was excellent. This is a really solid album and here's probably my favorite track.

And every time we wonder
What we left back in your heart
Could you see we're dreaming
Know our minds just fall apart
But we will end up somehow
With a peaceful mind
And you're leading me now

"Not the Same" - Tanlines (From the album, "Mixed Emotions")

Another appearance from Tanlines on the list, like I said earlier, this is just a solid album with several strong tracks.

Tell everyone, we haven't changed
Tell everyone, we're not the same

"Ghosts" - On and On (From the album, "Give In")

Last year I got into a band out of Chicago named Scattered Trees who had put out a really good album in 2011. I hadn't heard much from them this year but recently came across some information that the band had broken up and some of the members had formed a new band, On and On. They released this single and On and On's full album is due to in early 2013. This is a very strong first release, I'm looking forward to hearing the whole album in the near future.

I was on the verge to scream
when you, wouldn't scream about anything

"Home Again" - Michael Kiwanuka (From the album, "Home Again")

I first heard Michael Kiwanuka early in 2012 and have written about him quite a bit throughout the year. This is another really solid debut album with several songs that could have easily made this list. I think "Home Again" is the best track on the album and also seemed like a fan favorite when I got to see him at the Highline Ballroom a few months ago.

Home again
Home again
One day I know
I'll feel home again

"Sweater Weather" - The Neighbourhood (From the EP, "I'm Sorry...")

This is a group I only discovered recently when a friend emailed telling me to check them out. Really liking what I've heard from them so far, this track is catchy as anything I've heard this year.

And if I may,
Just take your breath away.
I don’t mind if there’s not much to say,
Sometimes silence guides our minds to move to a place so far away.

"California" - Delta Spirit (From the album, "Delta Spirit")

Another good one from the Delta Spirit self titled release, definitely recommend picking this album up.

all of the feelings that I know you never felt,
and all of the simple words you never said,
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself, they’re not for me.

"Bright Lights" - Gary Clark Jr. (From the album, "Blak and Blue")

This one's for the blues fans out there, what a great sound coming from Gary Clark Jr. He's been getting a lot of positive press lately and after seeing him twice this summer, I can say that it's well deserved. This guy puts on a hell of a live show and is really something to see if you get the opportunity.

Since the minute I first heard this song I loved the sound, knew this would make my list months ago. I had to include a live clip below, the studio version almost doesn't do it justice.

Woke up in New York City
Lying on the floor

"Violet Rays" - Smashing Pumpkins (From the album, "Oceania")

This is one that surprised me a bit when I was going through songs from this year. I hadn't bought anything from the Smashing Pumpkins in years but I do love their older work. This track just caught my ear and I've listened to it quite a bit throughout the year. Nice to get some good material from Billy Corgan and the Pumpkins.

In magic no heart’s lost

"Spitting Image" - Freelance Whales (From the album, "Diluvia")

This is a band that I like quite a bit, really enjoyed their first album and this is a strong follow-up. It seems like they've continued a similar sound from the first album and it's something that really works, love the layers of percussion in their music. Also, another group that puts on a good live show.

we all seem to have big plans

"Breakers" - Local Natives (From the album, "Hummingbird")

This is the first single off Local Natives new album which is slated for a January 2013 release. I absolutely loved their first album, "Gorilla Manor" so this is probably the release I'm most looking forward to in 2013. "Breakers" sounds like it could have been on the first album, seems like they're picking up right where they left off. Can't wait to hear the rest.

Breathing out
Hoping to breathe in
I know nothing's wrong, but I'm not convinced
I can let it happen, just let it happen
Just don't think so much, don't think so much

"Little Talks" - Of Monsters and Men (From the album, "My Head Is An Animal")

Another great song off the debut album from Of Monsters and Men, like how this track showcases both the male and female lead vocals.

You're gone, gone, gone away,
I watched you disappear.
All that's left is a ghost of you.
Now we're torn, torn, torn apart,
there's nothing we can do,
Just let me go, we'll meet again soon.

"State Hospital" - Frightened Rabbit (From the EP, "State Hospital")

I always like hearing new material from Frightened Rabbit, I'm a big fan of their songwriting. Here's another strong single off their latest EP.

Her heart beats like a breeze block thrown down the stairs
Her blood is thicker than concrete forced to be brave she was, born into a grave

"Common Sentiments" - Typhoon (From the album, "White Lighter")

This song is slated to be on Typhoon's upcoming album in 2013. I think it may be my favorite this year, have listened to it too many times to count. There's a short album teaser on their website which you can see HERE.

If you haven't heard of these guys, do yourself a favor and check them out immediately. Probably my favorite new band over the last couple of years. They play with about ten (or more) people on stage and it's just an awesome show. Their music is layered with percussion, horns, multiple guitars... just a really full sound. Absolutely a favorite of mine, excellent band.

I thought it was safe for me and my own,
I began hearing these voices in the dial tone.
And they come to me now, though I dismember my phone.

"Heartbreak on the 101" - Band of Horses (From the album, "Mirage Rock")

You ever see a band in concert and they play a song that really comes to life in that setting so you revisit it on the album version? That's kind of how this track caught me, I really dug the live version so I've been getting more and more into it. I feel like it's got a bit of a Lou Reed/Velvet Underground vibe.

I know it's old but I was caught out in the rain
So I rested under a bridge
I made some new friends
And I wept, and I wept

"Paddling Out" - Miike Snow (From the album, "Happy To You")

Miike Snow has some really cool songs, I've gotten into them over the last couple years, finally getting to see them in concert a few months ago. This is my favorite from their latest album.

You say isn’t it hard?
Paddling out, paddling out

"Silk Pillow" - Childish Gambino featuring Beck (From the album, "Royalty")

Another awesome track off this great album... Childish Gambino & Beck?!?!?! What a collaboration, absolutely love this track.

Sigh you lose face, disgraced, God forbid you
Fall off of the face of the Earth to chase
The black hole of what you thought it was worth today

"Ho Hey" - The Lumineers (From the album, "The Lumineers")

This is another song that has appeared in a bunch of places this year but you can understand why, just a great catchy tune.

(Ho) I don’t know where I belong (Hey)
I don’t know where I went wrong

"Lover of the Light" - Mumford & Sons (From the album, "Babel")

This song is pretty much in line with most of the other tracks that Mumford is known for but I give it extra points for featuring Idris Elba in a starring role in the video. (What can I say?... I'm a big Stringer Bell/Luther fan).

I know I tried
I was not stable
And flawed by pride
I miss my sanguine eyes
So hold my hands up — breathe in and breathe out

"Feel So Close" - Calvin Harris (From the album, "18 Months")

This track is probably a little bit different than most of the stuff I typically listen to but it always comes on my pandora station and I catch myself jamming out every time. Cool song.

I wear my heart upon my sleeve, like a big deal

"Thinkin Bout You" - Frank Ocean (From the album, "Channel Orange")

Whenever I hear this track, I forget that it's on this album. Probably because I think I heard it live a while back and usually associate it with "Nostalgia, ULTRA" but either way, another huge song from Frank Ocean.

We'll go down this road
'Til it turns from color to black and white

"Chum" - Earl Sweatshirt (From the single - "Chum")

Staying with the Odd Future theme, I got into this track real late in the year, probably about a month ago or so. Love Earl's style though, such a simple beat but his lyrics and storytelling bring it to life. Definitely want to hear more from him in 2013.

Nothing was fucking awesome, trying to make it from the bottom
His sins feeling as hard as Vince Carter's knee cartilage is

"Among the Leaves" - Sun Kil Moon (From the album, "Among the Leaves")

Over the last few years I've gotten into some Mark Kozelek material and gave this album some listens earlier this year. Really like Mark's voice and this was probably the track that stood out the most for me off this album.

When evening comes I play guitar
For the planets and the stars
I leave the porch light on like I do when I'm gone
Winter, spring, summer, fall

"This Isn't Our Parade" - Santigold (From the album, "Master of My Make-Believe")

I've liked Santi's music since I first saw her perform years ago with Mark Ronson before her first album came out. I like her voice and a lot of the beats in her songs. This one jumped out at me earlier in the year and has been in the rotation ever since.

I hear you calling
I'm reaching you my hand
I can hear you now
I can hear you calling