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 60-41.
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.
Check out the Spotify Playlist here.
Shovels & Rope just like to have fun. You can just tell. They’re music is fun. It engulfs you. They’re the roots music version of Johnny and June–though Carrie Ann Hearst is more Loretta Lynn and Michael Trent is more Elvis Costello (Hearst and Trent are also married). “Cavalier” illustrates what Shovels & Rope is all about. It’s armed with a beat that just consumes you. It’s toe tapping. It’s clapworthy. Their “sloppy tonk” songs just grab hold and never let go. They’re a band you imagine would have jumped on stage somewhere in The Coen Brothers’ “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” Yet their sound is also at home among anything Jack White, Justin Townes Earle, or Turnpike Troubadours have ever put out as well.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
“14 Miles” is a refreshingly uplifting song that paints a picture of the human struggle of defining oneself. Originally written by Lubbock singer/songwriter Red Shahan, the musical stylings of Six Market Blvd have transformed this song into something special. With Clayton Landau’s smooth and soulful vocal transitions accompanied by Josh Serrato’s paradoxically mellow yet powerful guitar work, Six Market Blvd. demands listener attention. Shahan’s finite details (ex: radiator fluid) combined with tasteful ambiguities allow the listener to put himself in the story. There is something for everyone in this song. It’s about rolling with the punches, overcoming life’s challenges, discovering who you are, and there’s even a little something about love in there too. Who wouldn’t relate?–BENTON LEACHMAN
The Dirty Projectors have always been a difficult band to describe. And it’s not because they sound like so many things. For a decade now, it’s just been much easier to peg it all as “experimental indie rock.” That’s simple enough. What it does though, is just kind of write them off as just doing their own thing. It’s just a lazy way to describe a band. To me, “Swing Lo Magellan” and “Bitte Orca” has this off-center, abstract mix of pop and doo-wop. There’s this uneasiness to them, whether it’s in David Longstreth’s vocals and his compositions. He’s got a bit of Lou Reed/Velvet Underground in him where he’s got a great pop song sense, but likes to throw something in there that makes it go unnoticed by the masses.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
It’s hard to not be a bit biased as I write about my good buddies, the Dirty River Boys, but when I saw “In These Times” on this list I had to jump at the opportunity. This song stands out on their new record “Science of Flight” for many reasons. Primarily, it stands out because DRB’s bass player Colton James steps into the spotlight on lead vocals. His delivery on this song is the audio equivalent of a derringer getting pulled out of a boot and shooting you in the face. It’s really unexpected, which makes it that much more interesting and adds another layer to a really well-developed and mature full length album from these Texas stalwarts.–ADI KANLIC, The Lusitania
It takes some looking to find bands that are able to successfully blend melody and aggression, especially a band that is four albums into their career. The angst and desperation of “45” are what Gaslight Anthem have built their career on and to still have that yearning and urgency lyrically and musically speaks volumes for the band. The building guitars and driving drums give the listener a feel of a supremely pissed off Tom Petty, while lead singer Brain Fallon’s vocals have the raspy masculinity that in my opinion are missing from music lately. And honestly, how many of us have wanted to be the guy in the song with the courage to just say, ‘Let her go, let somebody else lay at her feet’? I’m done, that’s it, I can’t take anymore. Sometimes letting go and walking away is just another way to say, ‘I still love you but I won’t let you hurt me anymore.’ The band nails that theme in this song.–RONNIE EATON
Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” is about all you could want in a love ballad from an Odd Future alum. This song about heartbreak over a relationship just out of reach is soft and smooth while dripping with the sound of regret. “Thinking About You,” plays with an almost obsessive thought process of romantic thought. leaving you thinking about someone long after you should be. thinking about this person despite the fact you know you ought not to. Released as the lead single from his debut studio album “channel ORANGE” this year. However, the song was initially intended as a demo version of a song for a female singer, Bridget Kelly.–JON SEABORN, Ivory & Ash
An old friend from Canada introduced me to Corb Lund’s music during my freshman year of college. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that this guy is a hell of a songwriter. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’m always anxious to hear Lund’s newest efforts because they’re all certainly going to be different. So, the same can be said for his 2012 release, “Cabin Fever”. Though the album’s praise comes vastly from the songs, “Gettin’ Down On The Mountain” and “Dig Gravedigger, Dig,” the song “September” sticks out as the album’s deep track. Lund has a tendency of bending genres on every one of his albums where no two songs are the same. Having said that, “September” sounds more Alt-Country then anything else (even with the references to ranching). Lund sings “September” like he’s pleading with a woman. Asking her to come back from the city she left him for. The instrumentation is pretty basic and straight forward and the lyrics are direct. Lund lets the song speak for itself. Definitely a nostalgia song. If you’re unfamiliar with Corb Lund’s music, I urge you to give him a listen…and not just this song. Best Canadian export since Canadian bacon.–ROSS COOPER
Last summer I saw a crude video of Andrew Combs playing “Tennessee Time” on a front porch a midst a group of friends and a table littered with bourbon, moonshine, you name it. I immediately fell in love with the song and continued to track Combs’ musical whereabouts. He’s finally released his first LP this year and I highly recommend it. Personally, I have to pull myself out of the catalepsy an Andrew Combs’ song creates to remind myself, “OK, these lyrics are nothing I couldn’t see many writers from Nashville saying in a hundred similar ways.” But the reason we love Combs is not necessarily his written word but his pure and honest delivery–incredibly rare in a country music landscape where everyone is trying so hard–and usually failing–to sound “deep.” “Heavy” is a haunting tune about the state of indifference that follows after you ‘move on’ from your latest breakup. Also, the complexity. How you couldn’t care less about the activities of your ex anymore even though there’s that one percent of yourself that still thinks the rest of you should care due to all the time spent caring before. Of course, it’s very possible Combs is not speaking romantically at all. Interpret how you will. Maybe my admiration for Combs is derived from a feeling of familiarity or maybe it’s his mystique. That’s a combination which at first seems like nonsense, but it’s the kind of relationship every songwriter wishes he had with his audience. The exact kind of nonsense that makes a man famous.–STEPHEN HEAPE, The Lariats
Leonard Cohen never ceases to amaze me. He’s probably thrown away more great songs than a lot of songwriters have written. He just doesn’t age; he just grows wiser. He’s been putting out records since the late ’60s–yet only has 12 studio records since 1967. “Old Ideas” comes a good eight years after his last record “Dear Heather.” Through it all though, people almost never complained that he didn’t put out a record every other year. They just accepted and cherished the records he did release. There’s a smoothness to Cohen that’s never been matched by any other songwriter. He’s the upper echelon of songwriting. His diction, unparalleled. You feel, in many ways, tricked by Cohen throughout his career. As he puts it on the opening song, “he’s a lazy bastard living in a suit.” Cohen, I’ve always felt, saw songwriting as something below his talent–he was considered Canada’s greatest poet prior to songwriting–and just got into songwriting because he thought the money would be better. And in several ways, he’s right. It’s why his records are all so cherished. “Darkness” is vintage Cohen. It’s dark. It’s smooth. It’s “European blues” with some jazz backing. Fuck the Dos Equis guy, L. Cohen is and always has been the most interesting man in the world. –THOMAS D. MOONEY
A few years ago, I encountered King Tuff song “Sun Medallion”—“But I can’t go anywhere without my sun medallion”—and it hit me like nothing else I’d heard, a perfect pop rock-n-roll song from a never-happened weirdo sixties. I knew refreshingly nothing about who put it out, or what the hell the male singer was talking about. Cut to this year, when I see King Tuff perform at a record store. Turns out dude actually does wear a sun medallion (!). A similar humorous authenticity imbues “Bad Thing,” the band’s “breakout hit” of 2012. Though this song is totally fun and addictively catchy, lines like “When I’m looking in the mirror, a creature so ugly and wild” carry weight because, though they embody a timeworn rock-n-roll notion, they still feel truer than true.–ERIC BRADEN, Old Bowl
When it fails, veteran rappers bemoaning the state of the game can be the most boring and trite thing ever. And even 26 year-old Big K.R.I.T. recalls Lorena Bobbitt on his verse. But “Gossip” is really a lot of fun. Bun B gives us “you say you rockin’ Mauri but that motherfucker Rockport,” Pimp C is still somehow “gettin’ blowed on the regular,” and you’ve got Big Boi (who now has this very driven solo career) trash-talking skinny jeans and calling himself “a connoisseur of cannabis.” It’s all so Houston/Atlanta (Houstatlanta for Drake fans), but this track is the rap game 2009-10 Boston Celtics. You’ve got the three aging superstars, K.R.I.T. as Rondo, and they probably could beat the 2012 Lakers at actual basketball. “Mothafuckas nowadays are seriously sorry.” You’re totally right, Bun.–RYAN HEAPE
“You’re just a two-pack habit with a southern accent. I’m a pearl snap poet with bad tattoos.” There you go. Those two lines–18 words–epitomizes everything BJ Barham has been singing about all his life. Barham and company have been blazing across the country for years playing their sad bastard ballads and bar room anthems. They’ve had a number of really good records (“Small Town Hymns,” “Dances For The Lonely,” “The Bible and The Bottle,” and “Antique Hearts” for example). But this year’s “Burn.Flicker.Die.” just surpassed them all. It’s a fierce record. Everything came together perfectly. All the pieces fit. “St. Mary’s” is that Saturday night high where you’re not fearing the Sunday morning hangover. You’re just living for the moment.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
Anyone who truly knows me looks confused when I say how much I love this track. The intro is was caught me; Killer Mike is spitting at the mic in his toughest of MC voice, “Hardcore G shit, homie I don’t play around.” I can’t count how many times I would start it over just to hear the intro and try to memorize the words. Killer Mike–I would say–almost single handily brought this folk nerd to the realization of how much I love hip-hop. The hooks obviously stand out here, but it’s Killer Mike’s use of syllables and dialect that help this song grove. He rides the beat comparable to Method Man circa “36 Chambers,” but Killer Mike is aggressive when he attacks the beat. I’m a believer of Killer Mike. I was lucky enough to catch him in Houston, and I can remember him performing “Big Beast” and the crowd going insane, including me. This track is arguably one of the best hip hop tracks of the year; from true hip hop fans to folkies, Killer Mike’s got it.–AARON SMITH
There are some songs that really strike a chord within the heart (no pun intended). I’m talking about the ones that after the last note sounds, silence is the only thing needed to give it true applause and appreciation. This is the case with First Aid Kit’s hit single, “The Lion’s Roar,” the shining star of their 2012 album with the same title. The two, Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara Söderberg that comprise the band, have a knack for creating simplistic, yet beautiful harmonies reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses. After First Aid Kit’s 2008 EP “Drunken Trees,” and their 2010 album “The Big Black & The Blue,” this album takes a big step toward pushing the band higher up the charts. The single “The Lion’s Roar” has been my personal favorite song this year. It’s one that you can listen to on repeat and never tire of the haunting air the lyrics leave behind. The music video perfectly matches the feeling the song gives you, with a ghostly essence of exodus, exhaustion, and endurance. First Aid Kit has captured something truly magical with this gem of a song, and with its success I expect nothing but great things from the duo in the future.–TAUSHA ROSEN
Compton born and raised Kendrick Lamar is almost all you need to know to understand the legitimacy of what Kendrick’s style is all about. He draws heavily from G-Funk era beats and flow in his breakthrough single, “Swimming Pools,” in such ways that Suge Knight would be proud. Obviously, a radio hit, it draws in the younger crowd with such lyrics as, “While you babysit only two or three shots. I’ma show you how to take it up a notch,” as if he is an instruction manual on how to have fun while also being in a situation that would normally need you to be responsible. With production by T-Minus, and mixing by Dr. Dre, Lamar embodies the youth of West Coast Rap and personifies the memory of Tupac in his beats and lyrics. Regardless, of his beef with Shyne, Kendrick delivers a throwback to what real hip hop was like and will continue to grow into.–JJ HERNANDEZ
When I heard that Grizzly Bear was releasing a new album in September of this year, I was pretty stoked. i’ve been hooked on these guys ever since I was introduced to their first album, “Horn of Plenty,” a few years back. These days, there seems to be an incalculable number of indie bands that are in/from Brooklyn, but I can definitely say this one in particular is a favorite. What began as songwriter Ed Droste’s sort of side project has grown to a band truly making a name for themselves. But anyways, back to the track…Once “Sleeping Ute,” the lead single, was released back in June, my excitement for the album, “Shields,” grew tenfold. I played it over and over…and over again. It’s just an awesome, beautiful, mysterious hypnotizingly cool song. One thing that really appealed to me was all the different aspects to the song. It has touches of psychedelic, folk, and garage rock. It’s a place where old school meets new school meets something totally different. “Sleeping Ute” essentially showcases many of the great sounds that Grizzly Bear’s come to be known for. Guitarist Daniel Rossen’s job on lead vocals aren’t too shabby either. To add even more to the cool factor, the band recorded it–along with “Yet Again”–in Marfa, TX. Anyone who’s familiar with Marfa knows about the odd occurrences that allegedly go on there (i.e The Marfa Lights). It kind of adds to the whole mystical feel of the song.–CHRISTIAN SCULL
Atlanta’s Baroness seem fixated on naming their records after colors (“Red Album,” “Blue Record,” and this year’s “Yellow & Green”). More importantly though, the sludge metal rockers are branching out musically. I don’t even necessarily think you can call them just a “sludge metal” or “stoner metal” at this point; they’re just an American band. On “Yellow & Green,” they take several different paths on songs. They’ve hinted at these sounds before, but they really take a creative leap here on “Yellow & Green.” There’s more ambience. More post-rock sounds. Even, dare I say, folk. It’s Baroness deciding that they’re more Led Zeppelin than Black Sabbath. They don’t want to just play straight forward heavy metal. “Yellow & Green” shows these different sides of Baroness.–THOMAS D. MOONEY
Frank Ocean continues to prove why he just may be the best R&B artist of this new wave that is taking place. Pink Matter is a well-written short story on questions that lie in the back of the minds of the deep thinkers. Why are we here, why do people act the way they do, and what is our real reason for existing? Are we here purely for the entertainment of something greater or is there more? These are just a few questions Ocean presents over the violin progressions leading up to climatic end delivered by Andre 3000 of OutKast fame, who’s brief appearance is executed flawlessly. He adds on to the questions that Ocean presents in a form that only someone on a “spottieottiedopaliscious” creativity level could come up with.–CHARLES MOON
For being a generally hi-fi production, Turnpike Troubadours’ third album, “Goodbye Normal Street,” felt like the loosest album of the year. The guitars and fiddle feel lived-in and warm, and vocalist Evan Felker sings with purpose and charm. There’s confidence and familiarity, and I should mention that “Goodbye Normal Street” is a good drinking record because it sounds like Turnpike had things to drink while recording it. “Gin, Smoke, Lies” is its menacing first track. It’s about an uncomfortable confrontation, the kind that only takes place at three in the morning. You could mention Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder And Lead” here, and you wouldn’t be necessarily wrong for doing so. But the mood Felker strikes with this tune is unique to him alone. Felker’s smartassed intonations during “well the rooster, he’s got twenty gals/bet he’s happy as a lark” are a Haggardian delight. So that when he sings “GIN, and SMOKE, and LIES!” toward the climax we witness the act with only a winking seriousness. It sounds like I’m doubting Turnpike’s conviction, but in country music, conviction can be an overrated commodity. Charisma matters more, and you can find boatloads of it in the untoward ramblings of Turnpike Troubadours.–RYAN HEAPE