Being that it’s already January and I’m about to start another semester at grad school, I had better pump this list out now. It was originally intended as a two-part deal with full reviews for each record…but now it’s going to be a list with some random words thrown in here and there.
Honorable mentions: Jessie Ware, St. Gregory Orange, Tigercats, Clock Opera, Sinkane, Shrag, The Maccabees, Maribel, Exlovers, Egyptian Hip Hop
And the top 20…
20. Lone Wolf / The Lovers
19. The Megaphonic Thrift / The Megaphonic Thrift
18. Django Django / Django Django
17. Cheers Elephant/ Like Wind Blows Fire
16. The Evens / The Odds
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After a week+ of putting this list together, I’ve finally reached the end. Not surprisingly, I’ve come across a few songs that should probably be included, but it’s impossible to be 100% thorough with these things. If you want to see the rest:
Next week I’ll work on the albums and my 2013 list, and maybe get around to some of the stuff I missed (but probably not).
Either way, this will be a good way to not think about how bad the Sixers are without Bynum and Jrue.
10. Everything Everything “Cough Cough”
At times when this quartet do the whole “art for art’s sake,” it can hinder the music, but on their debut you heard the potential for something great. Tunes like “MY KZ YR BF” and “Suffragette Suffragette” hinted at this, and with “Cough Cough” – the first single from their sophomore album, that potential has been fully realized. It’s an anthemic, percussion-heavy romp that shows the band at their darkest, but also most triumphant.
9. Runaround Kids “Blush”
There’s nothing minor about my obsession with this band any longer – it’s a full blown love that’s absolutely craving the next album. The smattering of singles and comp appearances from the band this year showed that the massive growth on Linked Arms was no joke – they were still looking above and beyond their current subject matter of “GIRLS DON’T LIKE ME DRINKING DRINKING DRINKING BAND BAND WAKEFIELD WAKEFIELD GIRLS.” With “Blush” – the sole new add-on to the Teeth Blue, Lips Red EP, we’re getting a potential sneak peak of 2013, a year that could very well feature this trio running things in West Yorkshire, London, and beyond.
8. Pulled Apart By Horses “Everything Dipped in Gold”
I gave up on most “heavy” music years ago – it just really wasn’t my thing any longer, but Pulled Apart By Horses are one of those rare, once-in-a-decade bands who are truly next level. What’s most important is that they know how to write songs – catchy as all fuck songs – that rarely leave your head and make their gigs truly memorable events. “Everything Dipped in Gold” is one of those moments that remind you that anyone can write a timeless song.
7. Pins “LuvU4Lyf”
Some bands are downright annoying with their marketing – like WU LYF, but others take a more understated approached, like Pins. And in reality all the band did was remain under the radar, release minimal information, and play utterly brilliant gigs – or at least that’s what I heard from scores of locals. The band’s first single stoked the flames a bit, but the release of their first EP, of which “LuvU4Lyf” is drawn from – lit a massive fire. Clocking in at just 2:30, it’s pulsating bass-led rhythm section and explosive chorus are accented by lead singer Faith Holgate’s proclamation, “I would die for you, and I love you for life.”
This is the type of song that makes a career.
It’s finals week, so I probably won’t get the next installment of this up until Friday. Gotta get A’s or else.
If you missed 50-41 on Monday (I don’t blame you), then here’s a link so you can catch up before you read below.
40. Pulled Apart By Horses “Some Mothers”
A brutalizing, two-minute post-hardcore jam should not be this melodic, and should not get lodged in your head all day. But it does. Each and every time.
39. Niki & the Dove “Mother Protect”
I initially avoided this duo because of the massive hype – and also because one of the guys doing PR for them is a massive, self-centered douche. But in a way, I suppose I lost out. The band’s debut one is one of the more enjoyable listens of the year, pulling in elements of electronica that would make Bjork proud. “Mother Protect” is the album’s most inventive moment.
38. The Kabeedies “Eyes”
“Eyes,” the lead single off of the band’s second album,” saw a shift in sound, away from saccharine pop to an expansiveness that sees more focus on rhythm. Surprisingly it works, and the new music has had a much longer shelf life.
37. Let’s Buy Happiness “Works Better on Paper”
My love for this band has nothing to do with the fact that I’d like to go on a kissing date with their lead singer. Brilliant indie pop.
36. Cheers Elephant “Doin’ It, Right”
Good music with a ’60s rock feel, “Doin’ It, Right” recalls some of the best moments of the Kinks. Best thing of all? They’re from Philly.
35. The Spills “Atomic Arabian Facebuster”
The Spills were relatively quiet this year, but of the songs they released, this is my clear favorite. It emits hyperactive energy through every note, making it the musical equivalent of Coke and Pop Rocks.
34. I Concur “Your Chair”
When a band releases their finest moment as their latest single, you hate to hear that it’s also their swan song. Their knack for storytelling over fuzz-drenched indie noise is going to be missed, as “Your Chair” continues their trend of brilliant lyricism backed by memorable instrumentation.
33. The Megaphonic Thrift “Fire Walk With Everyone”
At times this Norwegian group sounds like Guided By Voices raised exclusively on a diet of T. Rex and Ride – and that’s nowhere more apparent than on this track.
32. Egyptian Hip Hop “Yoro Diallo”
After this London group’s string of brilliant singles a few years back, I was sure that their debut album was going to be life-changing. When it finally came out this year, I can’t say it was the tour de force I was expecting, but the more time I devote to it, the more I really start to understand it. And “Yoro Diallo” was the first track to grab me. It’s a lo-fi electronic masterpiece that rewards those who are willing to devote the time to really break it down.
31. Alt-J “Tessellate”
Alt-J probably never meant to be a pop band, and this tune for sure was never meant to be a pop song. But alas, “Tessellate” is pop music for 2012, a song that pushes all of the right buttons and at times can be quite uncomfortable to listen to while home alone.
Alt-J, a band who made an appearance on my best of the first half of 2012, recently unveiled their new video. While there is a gulf between concept and execution here, they’ve still done an admirable job updating Raphael’s “The School of Athens” from the perspective of hip-hop culture. Although I’ve seen a lot of harsh criticism of the clip, you have to congratulate the band for doing something different.
“Tessellate” was released as a single on 07/16, and their brilliant debut An Awesome Wave is out now. Their US tour starts tonight in Los Angeles – dates are listed here.
I’ve been fooling with this post for awhile. I meant to do something like this a few weeks ago, but between school, work, the lack of a cohesive idea, and difficulty agreeing on what should be on the list, it got pushed back. But finally, here it is. There will be some omissions, there may be some mistakes, but overall, I hope it’s a good picture of what this year has looked like so far. And since it’s the half, it’s gives me some time to reflect and make some changes before the year ends.
FOE – BAD DREAM HOTLINE
It’s rare anymore that an album remains on heavy rotation for more than six months, if only because there’s a lot of great new music out there. This year is no exception, and the debut album from FOE (Hannah Clark from Arthur, Hannah Shark) is exactly what the world needs right now. Bad Dream Hotline firmly instills Clark as a unique personality, one who would have thrived in the ’90s and deserves to conquer not just England and the United States, but the world over. While each of her videos have been made on a shoestring budget, they all contain things you can’t buy with money – creativity, ambition, and ingenuity. It’s the ideas that have and always will drive great music, and Clark is onto something very special here. Latest single “The Black Lodge” (the album’s best song) is released on 07/23. Not only this year’s best debut, but this year’s unequivocal best album.