Best of 2012: Songs

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By: Cal Meacham

Year after year I become less interested in full length albums because frankly, there just aren’t very many good ones.  Instead an album of 12 tracks will have 5 or so really strong ones and either filler tracks or bland, blah.  For the first time in many years, I hard a hard time deciding on a top 10 because there were so many good tracks.  So I present to you my favorite songs of 2012:

#10 TV Torso – Clear Lake Strangler    Woozy, warbling vocals and guitars kick off this rock song with hand claps and pounding drums making a solid backbone.  Very hooky and a throwback sound that is hard to pin down.  This is one of the best rockers that I have heard in some time, all together original and fun!

#9 Field Trip – Give Me A Break   Much like the TV Torso song, it has a distant vibe to it (leaning on some heavy reverb/tremelo).  The Cream Ep caught me blindsided as I just stumbled across the band in a random sequence of clicks on Bandcamp.  Teen angst, but with a dreamy vibe to it, this is a straight up pop tune.

#8 The Tallest Man On Earth – Theres No Leaving Now   The centerpiece and heartbreaking piano tune on his latest full length is a doozy.  I usually don’t go for the “sucker sad tune” but none of it seems forced.  It is borderline top 40 radio worthy because of its sad tone and delivery but it works on several levels to appeal to all kinds of listeners.

Listen on Youtube – Link 

#7 Menomena – Pique   The new Menomena album didn’t strike me as great but there were a handful of great tracks speckled throughout.  Pique is mature Menomena, writing about relationships with their fathers.  The strength of the song comes in the chorus when the baritone sax thumps in the background.  This is a song where you need to listen to the lyrics because they take the track to the next level.

#6 Anais Mitchell – Tailor      Anais has a unique voice that could be off-putting to some.  But this is a great little story that turns sad, then happy again.  Her voice fits nicely on top of the plucked acoustic line and the sound opens up with a few small enhancement overdubs, but never strays too far from the voice and guitar.

#5 Daniel Rossen – Golden Mile   I am going to have to admit, the new Grizzly Bear album didn’t do it for me.  Too many blah tracks but Daniel Rossen’s ep was exactly what I was looking for.  If you are familiar with his guitar playing from G.B. this song should be right in your wheel house as it has his nice full chord sounds and unique style plastered all over it.

#4 Invalids – School Social    Making math rock “listenable” again, Invalids combine insane finger tapping with some incredible bass lines and catchy vocal melodies.  Front man Pete Davis has found a fine balance between the worlds of math and pop and he created a sound that is refreshingly new.  Guitar nerds like myself will salivate while pop rock fans will find a great song to be happy to.

#3 The Sea and Cake – Harps   The Sea and Cake has been known to dabble in electronic elements and on their latest full length they took the dabbling a step further, hashing out front man Sam Prekops electronic idea and making them into S&C songs.  Harps doesn’t stray much from the electronic elements as the guitars rush in but it retains the great breathy vocals that make the band great.

#2 Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural  How do you really describe an Animal Collective song?  Insane? A splatter of noises, blips and screams neatly hidden as a pop song?  Whatever you can conjure up would probably be an accurate represntation and Today’s Supernatural is no exception.  It is hippie-dancable, seizure inducing, yet wholly fun mess.  The band will never appeal to the masses and this song is a fine example of why the won’t.  It offends without offending and plants itself in your playlist when you don’t know why.

#1 Passion Pit – Carried Away   No song has been stuck in my head as long as this one.  A grove that is sublime, a chorus that defines earworm and memorable vocals that you will be singing for weeks.  I never thought that an electronic track would even be considered for my top song but the band has found the perfect blend of electronic elements and live instruments that set this song apart.  I am sure my buddy Adam can attest, this song has become a part of my weekly routine and will be for months to come.

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