We’re continuing our End of the Year coverage this week with a number of articles, and namely, this list. It’s our Top 100 Songs of 2012. We’ll be posting 20 songs a day, starting yesterday. Today, we’re posting songs 80-61.
To help make this list, we recruited a number of opinions by musicians, songwriters, and music “experts.” They’ve been kind enough to share their opinions on a number of songs sprinkled throughout the list. Be on the lookout.
For our Top 40 Lubbock Songs of 2012 list, check out the following:
For our Reader’s Poll, click here.
Our Top 100 Songs of 2012 will be released throughout the week on the following schedule:
Check out the Spotify Playlist here.
It’s hard not to love The Trishas. As a songwriter, their single “Drive” sticks out to me in more ways than one. Lyrically, it speaks to me as a traveling musician having been on the road countless times and feeling that distinct feeling of freedom and relief that only the road can provide (especially when times are tough at home). The melody is simple and sweet with a clever twist in the chorus where they sneak in a dark, sad sounding minor chord over the appropriate line “Where I don’t see your face in the cold light of dawn”. This is the stuff that gives a musician like me hope that creative integrity is still out there. Nicely done, ladies.–TONY KAMEL, Wood & Wire
I think we have all been in the position that Sharon Van Etten was in when she sings “You’re the reason I’ll move to the city/You’re why I’ll need to leave.” I was there not so long ago. To me, “Give Out” is an example of how hard it can be to allow someone into your life, especially when you know in the back of your mind that there’s a good chance things will probably not end well. It shows how easy love can act as a sword and a shield – one day feeling “your breath on the back of my neck/the only one I felt in years” and the next leading you to packing up and moving on.–ADI KANLIC, The Lusitania
DIIV, the pet project of Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole Smith, are short on words on their debut LP “Oshin.” Especially on “How Long Have You Known,” words like “forever” are repeated, almost incanted seductively against a whirling riff. DIIV can lull you to sleep, but I don’t mean that as a slight in the least–what DIIV loses in immediacy they regain in intimacy. Musicians like Smith are out to turn down the volume and subvert your consciousness, flying melodies under the radar until they are right in front of you, steering the trajectory of the daydream you now find yourself lost in.–RYAN HEAPE
Finally [exhales]. It’s been six years since Chan Marshall last put out a record of original material, the last being “The Greatest.” “Sun” finds Marshall in a new phase and sound. She’s traded in her guitar and piano for some synthesizers. At the core though, it’s the same Marshall we’ve grown to love, the indie soul singer. She’s still armed with one of the sultriest voices in music. “Ruin” is a strange mix. It’s still a Marshall song, but it’s also a dancey pop song. It’s the most upbeat we’ve heard Marshall possibly ever. But over the driving piano and drums, Marshall is giving us a critique on our society. Yes, she name drops a shopping list worth of different places, ranging from Saudi Arabia to Great Britain. But, it’s really about us, “sitting on our ruin” where we’re just “bitching, complaining when some people who ain’t got shit to eat.”–THOMAS D. MOONEY
Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk (known in the common vernacular as FIDLAR) caused a stir with this one. “Cheap Beer” is an invigorating thrasher of a tune, and you might want to break things and/or people after you listen to it. For me though, hearing it as I sat at my desk sipping an exquisitely hopped Double IPA, this song felt like a personal attack. Are they being ironic? Literal? I was afraid, at first, then confused. The video shows a huge, well-tatted biker guy invading people’s homes and breaking Stella Artois bottles over their heads. Why, I never saw myself getting painted as bourgeoisie scum. Perhaps the kinetic ferocity of this song is the only thing that matters, and the nice young men who comprise FIDLAR will spare me insult if I drink something a little tastier than Pabst.–RYAN HEAPE
For Canadians Megan James and Corin Roddick, creating electro-pop is seemingly effortless. Teaming ethereal vocals over infectious melodies about ghosts, skulls, and beating hearts, Purity Ring has carved out a niche for themselves in the indie world. This year’s Shrines boasted several standout tracks such as “Obedear,” “Lofticires,” “Ungirthed,” and the hiccopy “Fineshrine” that begins with heavy synth rhythms and r&b like drum beats. As James delves into her story, we hear of a lover who has quite literally gotten under her skin. “Cut open my sternum and pull/my little ribs around you.” A dark love song, Megan sings as she watches her remains slowly be taken over by her lover’s body. “You build a fine shrine in me.” The ghostly imagery along with Roddick’s knack for musical madness has proven to be successful for Purity Ring thus far. If you haven’t given these guys a listen, grab a bottle of wine, some smokes, and float out into the musical abyss.–LESLEY PICON
“Wildest Moments” feels like a summer love song happening in the middle of winter. It’s not fluffy and sun-baked for it to be a summer love anthem. It’s more of a cozy, soft ballad. Ware seems to have been able to mix Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver weathery textures with fellow Brit (and obvious comparison) Adele’s powerful balladry and presence. Like the music video, the song is essentially just Ware. The beat and rhythm slowly bring you in closer, but it’s Ware’s emotional vocals that really hook you in. She’s just singing to you in that four minutes. Or maybe about you.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
Indie super-group Divine Fits (Spoon, Handsome Furs, Wolf Parade, New Bomb Turks) really delivered with their debut LP this year. “A Thing Called Divine Fits“ features Would That Not Be Nice, an instant stand out due to its repetitive catchiness and simple structure. The song is a perfect example the “less is more” mindset creating a complex soundscape out of basic contributions from several instruments. However don’t let the simplicity fool you. Like any great song, this track grows, evolves, and ends in the smoothest, grand fashion. And oh my, the synth line in the last-minute is absolutely dreamy. To top it all off, Britt Daniel’s “screamy” voice ponders life’s pleasantries across the bouncy track. Throw this track on some headphones or speakers, and enjoy life to one of 2012’s finest.–JONATHAN VELA
I’m going to go ahead and say it. Pre-Rick Rubin Avett Brothers is way better than Post-Rick Rubin Avett Brothers. That being said, I think that “Pretty Girl from Michigan” is one of the few examples in the past two albums that Rubin’s direction perfectly blended the cleanliness of his production with the semi-crazy, emotional vibes of Scott and Seth Avett. The fuzzy electric guitars seem like a nod to an earlier song in the Avetts’ “Pretty Girl” series, “Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane” (There’s also Chile, San Diego, Feltre, and Airport if you’re curious). And Scott’s final closing scream seems to say what I truly believe….they might have cleaned up a little, but they’re the still the same amazingly talented, passionate performers that they’ve always been and always will be.–GRADY SPENCER, Grady Spencer & The Griswulds
Certain songwriters come around and aren’t just able to capture the feeling and mood of their hometown or origins. They’re able to find that pulse that embodies another place they’re not all too familiar with. That’s what Sean McConnell does on the opening track of his latest record of the same name, “Midland.” It’s a sparse, open composition by McConnell. He sings about Jenny, a Midland waitress who just can’t seem to get out of town. She’s stuck in time and place. “Day to day, year to year, time moves slow, it disappears. Folks pass through, leave her here in Midland,” McConnell sings in between the verses about mundane life in a West Texas town. It’s tragically pleasing.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
Trampled By Turtles was formed as an acoustic side project simply for these musicians to take a break from the different rock bands they were in. Six studio albums later, it’s clear these guys made the right decision. I’ve always been reluctant to call Trampled By Turtles a bluegrass band. Their past rock & roll influences are still too evident in their music for me to do so. It’s also what I love most about them. In the midst of the “folk-rock/bluegrass” wave that has been pouring out our radios the last couple years, these guys stand out as a band creating exceptionally honest music instead of a band trying to make the Hot 100 list. “Midnight on the Interstate” is plain beautiful. A blend of banjo, fiddle, and piano lay a perfect foundation for Dave Simonette’s haunting vocals. It plays out like a lullaby full of regret, but is just a little too catchy to let us fall asleep.–Kenneth O’Meara, KO Muleskinners
Her sister–you may know her as Beyoncé–may be the Queen of Pop music at the moment, but Solange, she’s the one with all the indie cred in the family (She’s credited with turning Jay-Z into a Grizzly Bear fan for instance.). She’s got a couple of records under her belt, but late this year is when Solange has really found that perfect sound with the release of “True.” You’ll never find a happier break-up performance. For example, check out her Jimmy Fallon performance. She’s created a modern Supremes vibe with “Losing You.” In reality, it’s one of the best break-up songs in a long time (move over Taylor Swift).–THOMAS D. MOONEY
I came to The Walkmen by way of writer Dave Eggers, in a personal Spin Magazine piece circa 2003-2004. Eggers wasn’t fucking around either: give these guys even half a chance and they will always carry you. Not to where you’re going already, but more often than not to the place you really need to be. That album in particular was ‘Bows and Arrows’. And that’s really all you need to get started. But let’s say you’ve Kept Up. Five more albums in the span of the last eight years. By now all you really need to know is this, however it’s much better just to listen: “The Rat” (“Bows & Arrows,” 2004) “Angela Surf City” (“Lisbon,” 2010) and now the latest contender “Heaven.” Go forth.–BRIAN FLORES, Nadia
Listening to the Punch Brothers’ music, it’s hard to believe that cocky frontman Chris Thile is the same baby-faced mandolin prodigy who fronted Nickel Creek in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. The pretty, simple melodies we came to know and expect from Nickel Creek are hard to detect in the Punch Brothers’ more complex, unorthodox song structures (although some later Nickel Creek songs like “When in Rome” and “Best of Luck” certainly foreshadowed the depths to which Thile would eventually take his music.). To say Thile has matured as a musician and songwriter is an understatement, and his talent has never been so evident as it is in his work with the Punch Brothers. It is no exaggeration to say that, in terms of pure, raw talent, the Punch Brothers are one of the best bands around today. “Hundred Dollars,” the eighth track off the band’s third album “Who’s Feeling Young Now?,” almost makes the listener feel uncomfortable. It’s not the kind of track you casually have on in the background and walk away from in one piece. Musically, the song takes several unexpected twists and turns, culminating with a bass-driven musical interlude before the final bridge. The instrumentation and harmonies throughout the track are, as always, flawless. Meanwhile, the song’s lyrics are as raw and biting as the throaty growl Thile sings them in. While it’s not the “prettiest” song on the record, “Hundred Dollars”’s honesty and originality make it a definite standout.–LESLIE HALE
It’s 1987 again. Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It” 2.0. Death Grips overall are spastic. The only thing predictable is the unpredictable shit they’ll jam together. For some bands, people like to dissect and label them. They want to categorize it as this or that. Death Grips are no different. Is it punk? Is it hip-hop? Or is it just noise? Drummer/producer Zach Hill and vocalist MC Ride don’t really care. They’re the mad scientists in this music experiment. “I’ve Seen Footage” just seems to be the Frankenstein they’ve created for 2012.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
Grit is not normally a word you would associate with a love song. But combine Lincoln Durham’s rough around the edges sound with the blues guitar of Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, grit is what you get. And grit suits this aching love song of a man’s final moments with his “Clementine” as he fades out of the world away “from this painful heartbeat.” Without even listening to the words, the song has a beautiful old-time blues feel. Throw in the somber yet brilliant lyrics and “Clementine,” is a standout track from the mostly quicker-paced songs from Durham’s first full-length album “The Shovel vs The Howling Bones.” Although he wrote and recorded it just in time to include it on the album and never sang it again, the song has become an accidental fan-favorite. It makes perfect sense that Hubbard produced this album… grit is his thing. And through songs like “Clementine,” Durham leaves hope that old school blues, country and folk sound is not long gone.–HALLIE BERTRAND
Who is John Fullbright? Is he an Americana songwriter, or a folky crooner with roots in southern soul? Who knows. “Jericho,” from the album “From the Ground Up,” is a perfect example of Fullbright’s genre defying sound. The song is a mysterious creation that grabs you with a chorus full of biblical allusions. It’s up, it’s down, it’s everything the listener needs to hear whether they know it or not. This song is a staple on an album that showcases an incredible ability to write songs that appeal to any listener. Hailing from Woody Guthrie’s hometown, it’s no surprise that he is such an attentive storyteller. Let the haunting “Jericho” convince you of that….it will.–RYAN SUMMERS, Grady Spencer & The Griswulds
A dark synth riff, coaxed out by an urgent drum machine, propels this amazingly catchy and ethereal tune. Claire Boucher isn’t your typical ethereal songstress, though. There is a sense of fun in this music, and a poignant sense of determination in her voice that’s all her own, especially when she sings lines like “I need someone now, to look me in the eyes and tell me ‘Girl you know you’ve got to watch your health.’” Even if you can’t make out any of the lyrics—except “I see you on a dark night,” the song’s ominous refrain, her pronunciation is fairly ambiguous—the song’s many melodic hooks will crawl their way into your brain and stay there. Pop music rarely is this sincere and this smart.–ERIC BRADEN, Old Bowl
As it may be, today’s section of the list seems to be filled with love songs. “Brenda” is Todd Snider’s contribution–though it does come through the Snider lens and with a spin that only Snider could do correctly. The straining, complex relationship of Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards has been well documented over the years. Brenda is what Richards said he affectionately calls Jagger in private (or at least at one time). “Mick Jagger was born on a Monday morning/Keith Richards was born on a Saturday night” cements the song as something that’s too perfect to be the truth, but who knows. Snider’s storytelling has never been sharper.And with Amanda Shires on backup vocals and fiddle, never more beautiful.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
So this seems to be to an extent, the product of Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “Watch the Throne” record. It’s on a smaller scale with London and Rocky, but hell, it’s still fucking flashy, glossy, and big. The Shirley Bassey sampled “Big Spender” beat and chorus is one of the best I’ve heard in a while. London and Rocky go back and forth with verses overflowing with punches. Who knew they’d be such a lethal duo? Everyone probably. They complement each other as artists so perfectly, there better be more material in the works. Check out the song here on YouTube.–THOMAS D. MOONEY