December is always an exciting time for media lovers and list lovers alike. Its a time to revisit all those things (albums, books, films, concerts, plays, etc.) that we loved and obsessively turn those things into lists. So during this relative dry period, in terms of new music releases, go back and revisit the best that 2012 had to offer. I will be revealing my top 50 songs of the year over the next few days. Once again, I've followed my rule of one song per artist to give the most complete possible picture of music in 2012.
50. Beach Fossils – Lessons (Shallow/Lessons 7”)
There have been a host of dream pop/shoegaze inspired pop punk bands that have come along recently and Beach Fossils are one of the finest among them. While this is by no means their best work (see “Youth”), the riffs are catchy and it was perfect for those bright days of summer spent in Brooklyn.
49. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait (Babel)
The new Mumford & Sons album is a derivative and uninspired album that at times sounded like bad Dave Matthews Band (see “Lover of the Light”). However, “I Will Wait” was a big bright spot; catchy, passionate and reminiscent of the finest moments on the far superior Sigh No More.
48. Hot Chip – How Do You Do? (In Our Heads)
Sometimes we just need to dance; Hot Chip obliges.
47. The Mountain Goats – Cry For Judas (Transcendental Youth)
I totally missed the boat on The Mountain Goats in high school but as I’ve become wiser and more mature with time, I’m beginning to recognize the genius in Darnielle’s sharp-witted lyrics. “Cry for Judas” is brilliant throughout but the highlight comes when Darnielle sings “mistreat your altar boys long enough/and this is what you get”.
46. The Magnetic Fields – Andrew in Drag (Love at the Bottom of the Sea)
For me, The Magnetic Fields strike out just about as often as they hit. But when they hit, my goodness is it brilliant. Stephen Merritt tells the hilarious story of falling in love with Andrew when he’s dressed as a woman but being heartbroken when he realizes that “he did it as a gag”.
45. Twin Shadow – Five Seconds (Confess)
George Lewis Jr. is vanity personified (just look at that album cover) and his new album unabashedly explores the vast narcissisms of his “romantic” exploits. Musically, the album is heavily influenced by the 80s and “Five Seconds” is where the best aspects of Twin Shadow come together in perfect harmony.
44. The xx – Angels (Coexist)
The main criticism of The xx’s new album Coexist is that its so minimalistic it might as well not exist. For the most part this is completely accurate. But on “Angels”, the minimalist instrumentation is the perfect backdrop to this pure testament of unwavering love.
43. Delta Spirit – Yamaha (Delta Spirit)
On their new album, Delta Spirit departed from their Americana roots and began to really experiment with a lot of different sounds. The results were decidedly mixed but on album closer “Yamaha” Matt Vasquez and Co. created a consummately beautiful song about growing up and being willing to compromise and even change for the ones that you love.
42. Field Report – Fergus Falls (Field Report)
Christopher Porterfield is a former compatriot of Justin Vernon in their band DeYarmond Edison. After the dissolution of that band in 2006, Porterfield spent the next five years composing the album that would eventually become his self-titled debut. Album opener “Fergus Falls” is the finest representation of those five years of hard work.
41. Action Bronson & Alchemist – Sylvester Lundgren Featuring Meyhem Lauren & AG Da Coroner (Rare Chandeliers [Mixtape])
Alchemist’s beat is reminiscent of the finest east coast gangster rap of the early to mid 90s (think Havoc of Mobb Deep). Every rapper’s verse goes hard and with no hook in sight, this song is an excellent homage to better times.