The 100 Best Songs of 2012: Vol. 4
Our top 100 songs of 2012 are capped off with our final volume of 25 indie songs which we couldn’t feel more lucky to write about, let alone listen. These songs will be ringing in our ears for years and years to come, not only because we played them too loud, but because they’ve displayed lasting elements. Again, this list isn’t full of pop-songs, rather it is a list of only the very best indie music we were able to find in 2012.
(We highly recommend listening to this list with a tall glass of beer.)
Here’s looking back at 2012 and towards more great things to come in 2013! Please leave comments with your thoughts and opinions in the commenting section below.
25. Echotape – Unstable
In terms of UK rock outfits, Echotape was this year’s diamond in the rough. Ecstatic could only subtly state how excited we were to stumble on to these fellas who claim home to Wallop. Their driving guitars and stadium rock presence will surely catapult them in 2013, particularly with this single.
24. Atlas Genius – Trojans
This bouncy track reached airwaves earlier this year from the Australia foursome of Atlas Genius. The Through the Glass EP marked their arrival abroad and they quickly picked up steam, thanks to a signing by Warner Bros. Records and “Trojans”. The group will be releasing When It Was Now on February 19.
23. The Daydream Club – Neon Love Song (Pt. II)
We needed to notate the “Pt. II” at the end of this song because frankly there were two versions; the second decidedly leaps and bounds beyond the original. As professionally trained musicians, the string instruments used here from violin to piano are masterfully done. But we said it more accurately in our Song of the Week feature in April when we said, “Their style flows parallel with the music they make – skilled musicians creating beautiful acoustic measures.”
22. The Watermark High – The Disconnect
This song just wouldn’t go away since we discovered The Watermark High’s simple beat + synth melody formula late this year. ”The Disconnect” is a track that enters a rare realm in that it is chillwave and downtempo yet while repetitious itself, more than worthy of our #22 track for 2012. Astounding talent here, and more to be found on the Flux EP.
21. Rare Monk – Death By Proxy
Rare Monk has the hooks and swagger of a band who clearly isn’t trying to step into the pop class, but dips their toes into just the right amount of experimental rock to set themselves apart from the field. All at the same time, this song is quite catchy, off the beaten path and a must have from this past year.
20. Dr Dog – How Long Must I Wait
Philly’s own represented themselves with some pizzazz in 2012 with their album Be The Void. The album reaches to where they’ve been before, but again we’re floored with the right mix of old and new in their track “How Long Must I Wait”. Their mix of influences could place them anywhere in the last 50 years, and their genuine folk stories are well-recepted given a sound that could only come from a five-man band who are truly in harmony here.
19. On An On – Ghosts
“Ghosts” runs with a nonchalant set of vocals and a dragging, creeping and winding solemnity, thanks to low chords, ghostly oohing and a deathly pleasing tempo. An ironic play on ‘ghosts’ might be how this song goes nearly silent around 3:15 before coming back in spooky fashion.
18. Maximo Park – The Undercurrents
Breaking from their either high energy or low energy tracks, the London group streamlined right into the alt-rock level with “The Undercurrents”. For a group that emits a cinematic aura, The National Health opened the group’s playbook up for more personally focused lyrics, which to state bluntly, needed to be done.
17. Dan Croll – From Nowhere
Combining bedroom pop with a folky live act, Dan Croll’s indie group has that warm, beach-at-night vibe.
16. The Lumineers – Ho Hey
Before this song released, The Lumineers were unknown. Once this track and subsequent album hit, they have picked up fans quicker than clouds pick up evaporation, and we don’t blame anyone for liking them. They tour well, they chat with fans and they somehow fit into a genre that Mumford & Sons seemed to control.
15. Broke For Free – The Gold Lining
Songs like this practically put your life into a movie perspective. In fact, if there were one song to listen to while walking in a busy city, this is the track. The melodies, buildup and beats are uplifting and capture the quick movements life can take. There’s something much deeper to this track that only Broke For Free can deliver. ”The Gold Lining” embodies the song’s title, presumably making paradox of the silver lining, but certainly if there’s a silver there must be a gold, and if there’s a gold this song is it.
14. Future of Forestry – Someone
The progression of this track from dual guitars, bass and a tempo drum to Eric Owyoung’s set the foundation for a song that will live well past 2012, much like Electric President’s “Safe and Sound”.
13. Clock Opera – Belongings
It could be that Elbow is missing on this list this year or it could be that Clock Opera is widely misrepresented on the majority of the ‘best of’ lists out there, but surely if you’ve gotten down with our top 100 from past years, this track titled “Belongings” fits perfectly in the #13 spot on our top 100. The looped piano and vocals from Guy Connelly are superb here.
12. Zulu Winter – Bitter Moon
From Language we could’ve picked a handful of songs to place here, but “Bitter Moon” has a piece of all of the march and oomph that the album boasts.
11. Vacationer – Good As New
Kenny Vasoli is back and made a huge spash in 2012, not by PersonL, another side project of his, nor with The Starting Line with whom he’s most widely known. But his alter ego Vacationer killed it with “Good As New”, a song accessable to the likes of the older crowd with the looped orchestra sample and some serious beats. The uplifting spirit is overwhelming and the consistency of the song is nothing like we’ve heard in 2012. Vasoli continues to impress more ears year after year in ways we could have never imagined.
10. The Maccabees – Went Away
As if picking one song off of one of our favorite albums from 2012 was hard enough, “Went Away” made things just that much easier. If there was a quintessential Maccabees song, this is it. If there was one track you must truly go out and buy, “Went Away” is that song. The wily South London band have truly put their best foot forward with a high-speed tempo worthy of a foot tapping experience you’ll keep with you for years to come.
(starting at 17:47 from XFM’s Soundcloud)
9. Leitbur – When The Lights Go
Leitbur didn’t release an album in 2012, but still released several EPs that should be in every DJ and indie lover’s collection. Think of Tomorrow contained this masterfully done, electronically enhanced track that landed at the fifth spot on this six-track extended play, which followed the remix-friendly title track as well as some other distractingly awesome songs.
8. Band of Horses – Slow Cruel Hands Of Time
There might be some head-turning here, but that is to be expected. In a world full of pop-hits or catchy melodies that catapult an artist from no name to headlines lies behind the producer. I preface this statement because Mirage Rock is not for everyone, but “Slow Cruel Hands Of Time” is certainly in everyone’s blood. It wasn’t until the track hit the 1:55 mark at the refrain that I actually realized the whole song was being harmonized, like that of BoH’s title track from Infinite Arms. More than anything, there are resembling likenesses of The Eagles which should surely pique anyone’s ear. ”Slow Cruel Hands of Time” will stand the test of time and grow to become more and more a favorite over the years.
The context that this group writes within doesn’t fail to amaze us as they push force tracks that facilitate yearning for something better. This track lies at the heart of Paper Route and all that they have done over the past 4-5 years. ”And what is done is done, piece together what’s been broken.” ”Better Life” can also be found along with other popular Paper Route tracks on their Facebook app.
6. Geographer – Life of Crime
It wasn’t since we heard “Kites” that we had so much trouble picking one song from Geographer’s album Myths. “Life Of Crime” reaches atmospheres that no band has hit this year. The prominent synths and more notably, Michael Deni’s vocals, make this track a sure shot for our #6.
5. The Helio Sequence – Silence on Silence
As much as “October” was a beloved return for our friends The Helio Sequence, Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel’s song “Silence on Silence” evolved beyond our expectations. By use of their vintage equipment and reaching into a music genre we can only feel priveledged for listening to, this track is equivocal to the talent the duo set forth in Keep Your Eyes Ahead. The beauty of the track speaks for itself.
4. The Tallest Man On Earth – 1904
The simplicity of the plain marriage between guitar and vocals continues to take us by surprise year after year. The Tallest Man On Earth surely takes on the persona of Bob Dylan, where the vocals may not sound so pleasing were they were not performed with such accompanied recording effects to make “1904″ sound like we found this song in a dusty vinyl bin from the basement. It’s all the same though as this track will make you feel like you were born 100 years ago listening to 60′s folk classics in their hayday.
3. The Blakes – Sea Fishing (Slow It Down)
Outside of vocal similarities from one of the Keim brothers to Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, this trio closely resembles French pop from the vocal quirks, electric guitar chord play and an intangible feeling that makes you feel that the song structure is holding the artists from losing it and going full-on experimental. David Bowie would surely smile at the sound of “Sea Fishing”.
2. Sea Wolf – Old Friend
One of the best folk-inspired groups over the past five years hails from LA. Led by Alex Brown Church, Sea Wolf comfortably lays out track after track with rich, unique stories of revelry and an undying need to triumph. 2012 marked the third album (Old World Romance) from the group and third appearance by MUF at one of their shows.
1. Ponderosa – Navajo
The top song of 2012 arrived the last Tuesday in July, and while we could be long with words, we summed it up when we said,”[it] steals pieces of everything you love about harmonizing rock – the crisp, shout-ready vocals, extended version-inspiring synth and amplified electric and bass that make you actually use the repeat button.” Well done, Ponderosa!