Tag Archives: 2012

AiA’s Man/Woman/Band/Singer/Guitarist/Bassist/Drummer/MC of 2012

Yes, it’s another end of year list, but instead of doing my top albums I wanted to take a different tack and give credit to individuals who have particularly shone rather than the works they have made. Consider this the inaugural AiA Awards, so without further ado, allow me to present the winners.

Man of 2012 – Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus

Steven Ellison aka Flying LotusSuper-producer Flying Lotus is the first winner of AiA’s man of the year. It was started by his incredible album ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ which merges Jazz and Electronica beautifully, and weaving in guest spots from Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu into a fluid album that visits so many musical areas while still being one coherent journey through his mind. But what separated Ellison from any other person making brillaint albums, is that this great-nephew of John and Alice Coltrane also had a secret identity, as the elusive rapper Captain Murphy. Murphy became quite a talked about figure despite (or because of) his anonymity after the mixtape ‘Duality’ was released, and it’s easy to see why, as the flow is superb and the beats are fantastic. When a live performance revealed Murphy to be Ellison it all made perfect sense, and so this year’s man of the year goes to the man who can make the best electronic album around, and then stun everyone with some seriously good rapping credentials, letting everybody know Ellison is a proper genius.
Honourable mentions: PSY, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd.

Woman of 2012 – Claire Boucher aka Grimes

Claire Boucher aka GrimesBoucher earns her place here not only for making the album ‘Visions’ that won her such universal acclaim from journalists, blogs and other musicians alike, but also for the seamless way she has taken an important role in popular culture. Grimes’ music has seemed somewhat ubiquitous this year, and that’s because of the way she bridged the Electronica and Indie music worlds. In doing so she made herself somewhat of an icon. She manages to reverse the ever-so-slightly-annoying trend of modern electronic pop music makers being a shadowy male behind a laptop with a pretty girl doing vocals, which always seemed a little bit sexist, as if women were only the pleasant window-dressing to a clever man’s work. Grimes is a powerful, solo female icon at the top of her genre. She’s also responsible for breaking a number of smaller artists onto a larger stage, particularly Twigs, who seems to be her English counterpart. She only really ‘broke’ this year, but has garnered pretty much universal respect, all the while being truly weird, which is refreshing as we’ve had far too many overly pleasant musicians and it’s time we had some musicians who weren’t afraid to look and sound like nutters. So for her success, her pop culture position and her willingness to embrace weirdness, Claire Boucher is our woman of the year.
Honourable mentions: Angel Haze, Lucy Rose, Sharon Van Etten.

Band of 2012 – Death Grips

Death GripsThis was the easiest pick of any of the categories of these awards. Simply put, Death Grips have redifined whatever they’ve touched. Whether it is the fact that they put out two albums in 2012, the first of which redefined rap music, merging it with Punk, Industrial and Techno to make music that sounds like nothing ever made by anyone, ever, and the second that redefined their own sound, pushing their creations to a darker, more minimal edge without losing any of what made the first special. Then there’s when they proved themselves the last true punk band alive (or pulling off the year’s greatest publicity stunt) by splitting from their label, cancelling their summer tour, and giving away their awesome second album of the year for free on the internet, and posting private emails from their label on facebook. Oh yeah, and there’s the small matter of making the cover art for said second album a penis with the album title written on it. They have awed the music industry and in a time where it was becoming all to easy to moan about bland major label control of music, Death Grips were a slap in the face to 2012.
Honourable mentions: Alt-J, AlunaGeorge, Purity Ring, TNGHT.

Singer of 2012 – Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes)

Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes)The vocalist for one of 2012’s best new arrivals, Alabama Shakes, was probably the main draw for this band. Howard managed to bring all the class and cool of soul and combine it with a passion and energy that perfectly fitted the retro rock’n’roll that the outfit produced. Comparisons to Janis Joplin made perfect sense as Howard’s power and intensity were clear to anyone who encountered the band.
Honourable mentions: Jehn Beth (Savages), Frank Ocean, Tom Williams, Mark Lanegan.

Guitarist of 2012 – Jack White

Jack White2012 was another year in which Jack White proved why he’s such an icon of modern music. His album ‘Blunderbuss’ stole from any and all styles of music available, led by himself and his iconic guitar playing. There are very few people who can pull of riffs like Jack White can, whether  it’s in the crackle of songs like ‘Sixteen Saltines’ or his cover of ‘I’m Shaking’. But what truly marks White out from the crowd of brilliant guitarists, even more than his ridiculous multi-faceted role as head of a label, collaberator etc. is his restraint. White never takes his guitar where it doesn’t help the song he’s crafting, he wasn’t afraid to have piano lead many of his songs from ‘Blunderbuss’ to ‘I Guess I Should Go To Sleep’, proving that one of best modern musicians around also has one of the smallest egos in music (and also one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen in the video below).
Honourable Mentions: Douglas Castle (Peace), Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden).

Bassist of 2012 – Ayse Hassan (Savages)

Ayse Hassan (Savages)If you’re gonna form a post-punk band then there’s one member of your band that has to be the rock you bass yourselves on (see what I did there). Ayse Hassan provided this for one of the many ‘return of guitar music’ acts to arise in 2012. Hassan’s bass work is as solid as anything you’re gonna hear this year, its pounding drive absolutely core to what makes Savages stand out from the crowd. All the tension, aggression and menace is right there in the bass line. The obvious reference point here is Joy Division, but comparisons to The Cure work equally well. Songs like ‘Flying To Berlin’ and ‘City’s Full’ (the one in the clip below) are pretty much powered by basslines, and even their best track ‘Husbands’ hinges on Hassan holding its chaos and calm together. And last of all, she has the most awesome name of anyone on this list.
Honourable mentions: Chris Bierden (Poliça), Lesley Hann(Friends), Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden).

Drummer of 2012 – Thom Green (Alt-J)

Alt-J's Thom GreenThis was the second easiest choice to make after Death Grips for band of year. Simply put no one else’s drumming skills and style have caused as much of a stir as Green’s stickwork. He managed to find a place for acoustic drumming in areas where it seemed electronic and programmed kits were king, and his metronomic and cymbal-less sound has become iconic, and it won’t be long before generations of Alt-J influenced drummers start forming bands and getting airplay, all mimicking Green’s sound. Tracks like ‘Something Good’ and ‘Dissolve Me’ use complex but natural patterns to capture your ears and drag you deep into the song. With An Awesome Wave, Green put himself at the forefront of modern drumming, best in 2012, no contest.
Honourable mentions:Fay Milton (Savages), Drew Christopherson & Ben Ivascu (Poliça).

MC/Rapper of 2012 – Angel Haze

Angel HazeHaze wins rapper of 2012 because every blogger and music journo absolutely shat themselves over her this year. And it’s ver easy to see why. Haze is absurdly talented, her 2012 mixtape RESERVATION took her to the top of the game pretty much instantly with tracks ‘New York’ and ‘Werkin Girls’ scoring radio plays and viral successes. Female rappers have a tendency to be categorised and patronised, overlooked when it comes to best rapper lists, but Haze’s sheer force and will stunned many instantly, her absurdly audacious claim to ‘run New York’ sounded like a true threat to any established rapper. Haze is also marked out with a horrific past story (documented in her version of ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’) and combines it with a ferocious intelligence, apparently only being persuaded into moving from poetry to rap by a friend. Regardless of any of that though, Haze wins 2012 out of sheer skill, testament to the admirable nature of the Hip-Hop industry that all it takes to make it is ability, none of the bullshit that infests the alt/indie scene.
Honourable mentions: Kendrick Lamar, El-P, Killer Mike.

So there we have it, the top pretty much everything for 2012 (I excluded producer because it’s clear who would’ve won it). I’m a bit sad there was no place for Purity Ring or Poliça but that’s the point of these things I guess. Hope you enjoyed reading it and feel free to disagree violently in the comments below.

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The 5 Best EPs of 2012

With the impeding approach of the all-important Album of 2012 list, and still a bit knackered from dealing with the behemoth Top 50 Songs of 2012, I thought I’d take a bit of time to celebrate the craft of the Extended Play. It’s a format that is becoming ever more important in the way that modern music functions. For starters it’s a great way for people to see if the bands are any good beyond one initial tune, it’s also vital for the bands themselves, so that they don’t rush headfirst into a 12-track album, but are still able to build a high profile. Their bargain price also means that I actually bought all of these releases, without the worry of forking out a tenner for something that could be crap.

Competition was incredibly high, and it’s worth saying that the order of the top 3 could be debated, but I had to pick one, and I absolutely stand by my decision. Commiserations to Haim, whose Forever EP nearly made it in, but I could never shake the vibe of the 80s off it. Pale Seas also had a release I liked in The Devil Waltz but it just didn’t have the power that these ones did.

5 – Twigs – Twigs

Twigs - Twigs

Twigs will win no awards for best cover art of the year, but this EP is a thing of unnatural beauty. Originally mysteriously anonymous and with only two intense songs and videos on youtube, this artist rose to prominence after being tipped by Grimes on Twitter. One of those two tracks was in my Top 50 of 2012, so when this EP was released only last week I was delighted. The Grimes comparisons only run so far, with opener ‘Weak Spot’ taking more from Massive Attack. Skittery drums and off-kilter beats give Twigs a very singular sound, intensely rhythmical without ever settling. ‘Ache’ is a masterpiece of dark beauty, with a genius video, while ‘Breathe’ is delicate twisted pop, and the closer, ‘Hide’, is a prorof of the minimalist music genius herein. This is edgy, dark and creepy music, and a sign that we might have a UK Grimes on our hands if the promise of these tracks can be fulfilled with the next release. The album is probably best experienced via her tumblr and watching all four songs through their very arty videos.

4 – Savages – I Am Here

Savages - I Am Here

I don’t need to reiterate why I think Savages are one of the best new bands around to any people unfortunate enough to talk to me about music in real life. Simply enough, Savages are a band that plunder one of the golden eras of music, the early punk/post-punk scene, specifically bands like Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees. By moving from being more influenced by the latter than the former with this EP Savages pushed further ahead with dips into quieter moments while never letting the tension up. This EP was taken from recording of the band life and the ferocity, aggression and, yes, savagery of their playing really comes across. Saving their defining song, ‘Husbands’ (again, one of my Top 50) till last ensures that when this record ends, the only thing you want to do is get to a Savages show, that’s if you can resist throwing yourself around the room with the pure, unadultarated energy of this insane track.



TNGHT were a revelation. I was fully prepared to be annoyed at them for nicking SBTRKT’s little name trick. That is, until I saw them supporting SBTRKT at Manchester’s Warehouse project. After checking up on them once home I continue to be impressed by this music. The 5 songs here are intense enough to be highlights of any night out, especially the track ‘Higher Ground’ which I cannot resist, but they are all also short enough to prevent getting tired of them, or having to worry about not being sustainable. The genre ‘Trap’ is getting increasingly bandied around, along with the phrase ‘the new dubstep’, and it seems TNGHT may have accidentally placed themselves (renowned producer Hudson Mohawke (Scottish) and Lunice (Canadian)), at the apex of this style, with it’s half time beats and 808 intensiveness, being a strong feature of this EP. The fact this is being taken up by fans of all sorts of music, as well as regularly getting actual club plays proves how good this EP is, with it’s surreal samples and massive beats.

2 – Peace – Delicious

Peace - Delicious

“WHAT! NOT NUMBER ONE!” I hear you yell impotently at your screens. “But, but… it’s so perfect. These four songs, each bringing something unique to the EP, the intro of ‘Ocean’s Eye’, the better-than-Foals-funk-pop of ‘Bloodshake’, the best ballad of the year in ‘California Daze’ and the genius rising, falling waves of the 10 min long trance cover ‘1998 (Delicious)’.” Yes, yes, all of that. This EP is definitely perfect. It put Peace on the map as one of the finest bands in Britain around. The level of musicianship these guys have is ridiculous. I am eternally in awe of the outro to ‘Bloodshake’ where the guitars and drums make impossible rhythms seem effortless, and they way they converted trance into psychadelic rock is worthy of worship, making a massive song so easy to listen to. Their album is recorded and ready to be released next year, and seeing as I also love earlier single Follow Baby it’s one of the most anticipated records to come. But this EP is not number 1. Then what is?…

1 – Burial – Kindred

Burial - Kindred

They’ll be two reactions to this news. The first “Who the fuck is Burial and why is this better than Peace”, and the other “Yeh this was an easy guarantee”. Burial is a producer from London who has come to make some of the most important and influential electronic music around. And while I knew this last year, and was familiar with his seminal release Untrue, it wasn’t until I got this EP that Burial unraveled and I could appreciate the genius within. In simple terms these three songs are all longer than a usual Burial track, and it allows each song to fully unravel in a way that cannot fail to blow your mind. Opener ‘Kindred’ takes the trademark choppy garage drumbeat but expands it with this heavy bass, that is immensely unsettling. Multiple times the song seems to just disintegrate completely into this ambient rain-soaked calm before returning with more of the trademark spliced vocal hooks. What instantly makes this release so much more different and so much more special than his other work is the sense of unease and depression that soaks through this track. Electronica music should not be able to be so emotionally affecting, that’s supposed to be the clarion call of the indie-punk guitar bands, the Jake Bugg Tru-Music clan. But somehow this release pulls it off.

And then the EP gets to ‘Loner’ with it’s sampled intro. It moves out of the what we would expect, applying House drums to this consistent aura of darkness. As the vocals slide in and out and the distant bass rolls across arping synths, I am struck yet again by how incredibly powerful this music is. It takes everything that made Kindred so outstanding and keeps applying it to make the single saddest song that can still get your feet dancing. Finally, almost 20 minutes after pressing play we reach track 3, ‘Ashtray Wasp’. Somehow this manages to build the two previous songs into one insane, super-long track that jitters and whirls, fading and returning, shifting and changing.

11 minutes later, after a half hour of music, for only £2.50, we emerge. The oppressive darkness and depression is lifted, and we can reflect on the experience. Thirty minutes of awe-inspiring music, the most intensely affecting electronic music you’re likely ever to hear. While Peace’s EP was perfect and built the anticipation for next years release, this release doesn’t need anything else around it, it is completely fulfilling. The best albums are musical journeys that leave you a slightly different person once they’re finished, like The Suburbs, or It’s A Wonderful Life. Burial is able to accomplish this in only three tracks. For £2.50 you can get a record as good as anything on the upcoming album of 2012 list. So now you’ve read this, what’s stopping you?

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The Top 50 Songs of the Year

EDIT: Hear this list as a playlist in spotify by clicking here or starting the playlist below. Some songs it’s been pointed out to me I’ve missed are Arctic Monkeys’ ‘R U Mine’, Howler’s ‘Back Of Your Neck’, Anything off the new Bloc Party album, and Tribes’ ‘We Were Children’.

It’s the time of year music fans everywhere start making lists, usually the holy ‘album of the year’ compilation. Rest assured I’ll be doing mine, but I think it’s only fair to celebrate the opposite of the perfect flowing album: the perfectly formed song. This is a list I hope you can drop in and out of if you just want to hear a fantastic song, or you can use to see what great music you may have missed out on in this year, across the board. (As a rule, if it was on a non-compilation album, or came out as a single then I’m counting it as 2012, so no pedantic points). Also I’m picking songs that I like most, ones that have importance for me. There’s no point in even trying to be objective here as that list would be both boring and wrong. What it does mean is that some artists feature more than once, and some won’t feature because I haven’t heard of them. There will be some that you don’t like, and I don’t care, but I am interested in whatever songs you, reader, think should be up there, if there are any I could’ve overlooked or perhaps not given the proper time to.

Purity Ring by Landon Speers

Before we start I should give a nod to the songs that didn’t quite make it, or can’t make it. There’s the really great Atoms For Peace song ‘Default’, Foals’ ‘Inhaler’ is sounding immense, half a dozen Death Grips songs, especially ‘Get Got’, assorted jazz from Roller Trio, Troyka and TrioVD, and anything off the new Cat Power album. Also there are some songs that won’t be out by the time I publish this, so it makes sense to pay respect to the new Crystal Castles LP and the Soundgarden album King Animal.

With that over and done with, here goes, enjoy!

50 – Sharon Van Etten – Serpents

The spiritual successor to one of my favourite songs ever, Sparklehorse and PJ Harvey’s ‘Piano Fire’, this song is a great fusion of folky harmonies and passionate rock. This was one of the two highlights of her phenomenally good third album, Tramp. Lyrically it’s a shockingly brutal reflection on a past relationship and nice drum rolls at odd places keep the song going along nicely.

49 – Jack White – Sixteen Saltines

Two seconds in and that riff anounces Jack White’s return. The man of many collabs, from The White Stripes to The Raconteurs, he finally struck out under his own name earlier this year and was widely acclaimed. Few musicians aound have the songwriting chops of Mr White and it’s easy to see why as every part in the song is perfectly balanced and matched without losing any of the blues rock energy that he’s come to fine. Plus it’s gt a properly batshit insane music video.

48 – Lianne La Havas – Age

One of two songs that blew Bon Iver out of the water on her out of nowhere Jools performance. Stunningly witty lyrics and brilliant jazzy guitar combine with one of the best voices to emerge this year in a perfectly formed song. It’s a shame that the hotly anticipated album was such a flop, with terrible flow and lots of fluff songs. Needless to say, this still stands out.

47 – FOE – Genie In A Coke Can

Grungey and badass, FOE was one of the most overlooked artists to emerge this year with debut album Bad Dream Hotline. FOE, aka Hannah Clark, fuses pop hooks and a knack for melody with twisted samples and heavy riffs, nowhere better than on this track, a savage attack on media, pop and glamour with a brilliantly used sample of Paris Hilton.

46 – The Shins – The Rifle’s Spiral

The Shins returned after a long hiatus, but in reality James Mercer returned with an all new backing band and used his old band name. Nevertheless the trademark half poetry half nonsense lyrics and indie-pop music genius was still present. Especially in this, the album opener, the best of the more bouncy tracks released under The Shins’ name.

45 – Mark Lanegan Band – The Gravedigger’s Song

One of a number of incredible voices to emerge from the Grunge scene in the early nineties, Mark Lanegan is universally critically acclaimed be it in partnership with Isobel Campbell or in The Twilight Singers with Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli. This year’s Blues Funeral was equally brilliant, although at times it did seem to drag, where it worked best it worked brilliantly, particularly on songs like this where Lanegan’s gravelly tones can soothe over heavy drums and dense guitars.

44 – AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

This was the song that made me break my rule of never buying singles. It’s just so good. Fans of late 90s r’n’b will lap this up but its fusion with the more modern end of dubstep firms up this band as one absolutely destined for 2013 success. If you hadn’t heard this before, there’s a track coming up later in this list that is even better.

43 – Alt-J – Matilda

OK, you knew they were gonna turn up here sooner or late, and no, this isn’t the last time they’ll feature in this list. I don’t need to reiterate my love of this band, nor do I need to rub it in that they won the Mercury Prize. Let’s just say this is a great folky song.

42 – Grimes – Genesis

2012 will definitelty be remembered as the year that Grimes ‘broke’ the mainstream. That is pretty much all the result of this one song, complete with the second batshit insane video of this list. Grimes’ voice loops in and out of the waves of electronica flowing across this song, and no, you can’t make out a single word she is saying. ever.

41 – Alabama Shakes – Hold On

From futuristic electronica to classic rock’n’roll. Alabama Shakes were another brand new band to emerge this year, with debut Boys & Girls, although the initial rush of enthusiasm hasn’t really led anywhere they do deserve their spot on this list thanks to – yet another – fantatsic album opening track. Oozing with groovy soul power, it’s impossible not to feel this track.

40 – Lucy Rose – Middle Of The Bed

Lucy Rose deserves credit for stepping out of the shadows of Bombay Bicycle Club and emerging on her own with a shockingly good debut album. This was one of the songs that grew on me, seemingly out of nowhere, before I found myself hitting replay again and again. (I’ll try not to dwell on the fact that I had this tagged as ‘Middle Of The Road’ for an awkward amount of time.) It’s an endearing reflection on small-town romance with lyrics that do stand out, ‘They say I love you / they say I always will / they say I love you / but these wounds won’t heal’ and the quirky ‘If you knew me at all / you would all know my hand-size’.

39 – The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

After two superb albums, The 59 Sound, and American Slang, Gaslight finally found the mainstream success they deserved with the album that this is the title track two. Earnest Springsteen-esque rock at its best, there is a passion in their songs missing from a lot of rock and indie, and seeing them last month at the O2 Brixton was something special.

38 – Jake Bugg – Country Song

Bugg may not be the ‘tru-music champion’ that bullshit-peddlers the NME keep trying to make him out as, but he has got a damn fine knack for somgwriting. This was the stand-out ‘slow song’ off his debut album and interestingly it’s one of only four songs with no extra songwriting credit on.

37 – Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

Remember him? The UK music world went a little crazy after he won the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll, when we thought we had a homegrown Marvin Gaye on our hands, and then forgot about him for ages. I have my own little conspiracy theory about what happened here, which is that Kiwanuka is a folk singer and was writing folk songs, until someone realised that if he called himself soul, and took on a retro theme he could sell a lot better. As a result – high sales, and a poor album. This song however is Kiwanuk at his folk natural best, and was definitely a standout in the year.

36 – FOE – A Handsome Stranger Called Death

It’s a second appearance in this list for FOE, who upped her game with this single, fusing the guitars with more synths and e-pianos. A different kind of clever lyrics but with even more pop-appeal than before. One of a number of songs on this list that get that perfect combination of creepy and sexy it also has a video that was alledgedly filmed for under £20.

35 – OFWGKTA – Oldie

Perhaps this’ll be a shock appearance for some people. 2012 was the year people looked at Odd Future again and decided actually, they weren’t that shocking at all, and decided that Frank Ocean was the only one with any real talent. However, out of a pretty mediocre album, closer ‘Oldie’ really showed why rap groups exist in this posse form. It’s old-school, it’s cool and actually quite endearing for the weirdo bunch that sing it.

34 – Poliça – Dark Star

Poliça encapsulated their innovative and unique sound best in this track from one of the top albums of 2012, Give You The Ghost. To be honest this song could be replaced with the equally stunning ‘Violent Games’, but I’m putting this one in instead for its beautiful fusion of r’n’b, funk, rock and electronica into a cohesive and powerful song.

33 – Friends – Friends Crush

What do you get if you take the indie creme from Brooklyn, replace the crates of Smiths vinyl and Cure T-Shirts with mp3s of Prince, OutKast and Madonna? Friends is what you get. Stupid name, brilliant band and without doubt the coolest of the cool. Cool is pretty much the dominant word for Friends, whether it’s in frontwoman Samantha Urbani with her yelps or the chilled modern half-silly half-powerful lyrics. This track is effectively their mission statement. It’s effortlessly groovy and catchy, and yes, cool as fuck.

32 – Lianna La Havas – No Room For Doubt

Yes, it’s the second second appearence of someone on this list, and as before it’s one of the ones from Lianne’s Jools performance. This one trumps the previous song by being that bit more mature, or more appropriately more emotionally affecting. Whether or not you want the version with the Willy Mason verse, this song is still mighty powerful.

31 – Jack White – Freedom At 21

This song is – OMFG THE DRUMMER – shut up, yeh the song is – LOOK AT THEM DRUMS – really good and all. DRUMMMMMMMMMMMSSSSS – ok, yeh this song has pretty incredible drums, enjoy.

30 – Angel Haze – New York

Definitely one of the more significant breakthroughs of 2012, Angel Haze put herself on track to the very top with her mixtape RESERVATION this year, and already is preparing her debut. This is pretty much the song that put her where she is now, although the mixtape is remarkably good with every other song too. It’s a bold statement, ‘I run New York’, but… she makes a damn fine case.

29 – Purity Ring – Fineshrine

Another album of the year contender from another debut album, this here is the track that first turned me on to Purity Ring. Much like the FOE tracks above, its got the creepy/sexy thing in full swing and the line of ‘Cut open my sternum and pull / My little ribs around you’ weedled its way into my head for weeks. It’s at the most modern end of electronica production, with all the weird-ass genre tags that this means: witch house, post-dubstep. Whatever it is, it’s an awesome sound.

28 – Best Coast – Up All Night

Best Coast returned this year with what was my summer album, The Only Place. And while the happier, pop tracks have faded with the end of the season, this track remained as a slice of perfection. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a long summer night, relaxing in the heat with a beer. It’s also extremely bittersweet, the luscious melody permeated with deeply longing lyrics.

27 – Gorillaz (feat. Andre 3000, James Murphy) – Do Ya Thing

What a dream collaberation, annoyingly thanks to corporate sponsors Converse, bringing together men from three of the very best bands of the last generation, Albarn of Blur/Gorillaz, 3000 of Outkast and Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. It’s better than anything off Plastic Beach, but even better is the 13 minute long version which goes into an all-out freakout to blow minds, with 3000 screaming “I’m the shit!” over the top. Even as a shorter song it’s still one of the coolest things released this year.

26 – Twigs – Ache

This track turned up from an unknown artist called Twigs, with no press, no nothing. It’s freaking amazing and nods from folks like Grimes have helped turn the world on to this act. It’s very very modern electronica, and with a video that looks like a black version of Batman’s Bane wearing a mask made out of a bunch of Nikes. A one to watch for 2013.

25 – 2:54 – Scarlet

If any of you (like me) missed out on the fix of female goth rock that Warpaint provided then you needed to turn to yet another debut album, from sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow. Moody, reverb-laden and epic, ‘Scarlet’ was the song that put 2:54 on the map,and they still haven’t topped its brilliance.

24 – The Shins – September

The problem with the new Shins album is that once the glamour of the shiny happy songs had faded, there were no real emotional moments to drag you back under, unlike with previous record Wincing The Night Away. However, of the lot, one song definitely stood out after at first being a real candidate for skippage. September is the most Shins-esqie song  on the new album, and there is an earnestness to it that rewards repeat plays, as well as more trademark Mercer lyrics.

23 – Jake Bugg – Lightning Bolt

Whether you think it’s a rip-off or not, there’s no denying this song is ace. It’s got it all from the deceptively simple structure to the type of lyric writing not heard for a good while. I’m sure I need introduce this song no further.

22 – Poliça – Amongster

The sound of the future, the opening track on Poliça’s incredible album is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a song I had written off as rubbish at first but the more I came back to it, the more it unraveled, the layers of drums, the heavy, booding synths, the flashes of heavily treated vocals, and some of the best lyrics on the album, if no some of the best heard this year: ‘Everyone’s asking where’s your child in this plan / Why you gonna ask me if I’d cut off my hand?’

21 – Electric Guest – American Daydream

If you haven’t heard this track, be prepared to have a new favourite group. A perfect mix of pop hooks, hip-hop coolness and indie cred, the Dangermouse produced Electric Guest are yet another debut band from this year. Fans of Broken Bells should find this track the most obviously brilliant, on a solid album. This track stood out by a long way as the best thing they’d done, a subtle attack on western consumerism and with a pretty funny video too.

20 – Death Grips – Hacker

‘I’M IN YOUR AREA!’ Yells MC Ride, and he’s right. ‘WHEN YOU COME OUT YOUR SHIT IS GONE’. Death Grips followed up the revolutionary mixtape Exmilitary with the mind-blowing The Money Store album. Call it post-rap, industrial hip-hop, whatever you do, listen to it because you are witnessing a serious change in music. Amid all the chaos, the punk/publicity stunts, this track stands out as, well, almost a hit single. It fuses the anger and experimentalism that defines Death Grips with catchy hooks and incredible beats. ‘GAGA CAN’T HANDLE THIS SHIT!’

19 – The Gaslight Anthem – “45”

Back to proper rock now, its yet another opening track, a love song to either heroin or just music. Either way it may be one of the best things Gaslight ever wrote and an uplifting singalong chorus. It’s one of those lucky rock teacks that just works instantly, getting you right where it needs to. A proper hit.

18 – Tom Williams & The Boat – Neckbrace (Big Wave)

It’s tempting to try and squeeze in the TW&tB tracks ‘Summer Drive’ and ‘Trouble With The Truth’ both of which supersede ‘Neckbrace’ in terms of creating an atmosphere, and definitely do deserve a spot on this list (that has nothing to do with the fact that neither track is on youtube). However just for simple songwriting skill it earns its place. This song was the kickstarter of the second side of the boat’s second album, and became an obsession of mine for a while, its great lyrics and delicate melody are trademarks of a sound that the boat came to own with the album.

17 – Jack White – Love Interruption

Like Buggy’s effort a few numbers above, this song is deceptively simple. At first it sounds like a home demo, and then unravels with Jack’s impeccable songwriting emerging as well as his brutal lyrics.

16 – Purity Ring – Belispeak

Back to the sounds of the future, another track from the incredible Purity Ring. This track is laden with moments of absolute perfection, whether it’s in the ‘oh’ runs after the line ‘Grandma, I’ve been unruly’ or in the intense dampening on every pulse that keeps it as minimalist as it should be. Also, proper good creepy video.

15 – AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

See, told you they’d reappear. This was the second single and arguably much much better. I’ll be yelling “I was there first” next year when they explode and become all famous and stuff. I still haven’t met anyone who doesn’t think this song is just brilliant. It’s modern, it’s dancy it’s poppy and it’s ever so slightly badass. Just a cracking tune. (for god’s sake watch in HD to enjoy the cracking art!)

14 – Alt-J – Dissolve Me

This was an Alt-J song they never released, but one that pretty much everyone who had the album for a month or so tended to agree was one of the best tracks on it. Something in the tiny parts of this song make it stad out so much. The little snare riff, the heavy heavy bass, or the fact that this is probably the closest Alt-J came to having a properly upbeat song on the album. While the album version is sonic perfection, I’m going to put an acoustic performance here, because I really think it’s a cool way to hear the tune. Also if you’re reading this and haven’t got An Awesome Wave, stop reading and get it now, it is that good.

13 – Friends – I’m His Girl

Yehhhh this one is cool. It’s a bit of an indie wet dream with its funky-as-hell bass line, semi-feminist lyrics (+ instagramtastic video), and all round postitive vibes. It’s fair to say this is the song Friends owe their career too, and it’ll be playing in Urban Outfitters everywhere for years to come.

12 – Poliça – Lay Your Cards Out

I can’t imagine there are few people out there who can dislike this song. The way it brings elements in from tonnes of genres and the deliate way it grabs and lures you into it. This is Poliça at their most perfect, all their elements of synth, bass, treated vox and twin drums working in tandem for the greater power of the song. It’s also got such a massive groove on it, the rhythm will get you, so just go with it. Epic track.

12 – Sharon Van Etten – Give Out

There’s some knack only folk singers seem to get for writing lyrics with characters and actions, but which can be incredibly emotive in so few words. This has never been more the case than with this song, as delicate melody and a motif repeats and repeats each time becoming more powerful and more emotive. It’s a masterclass in songwriting, and the best track on Etten’s album Tramp by a country mile.

10 – Purity Ring – Lofticries

An argument could be made that all of Purity Ring’s debut album is just repeated attempts at writing the same song. While that’s clearly bullshit, it is easy to imagine that Lofticries is what happened when they finally got it right. It is such a perfect tune. All the elements that feature in their songs, the glitchy electronica, the cut up vocals used as backing music, the layers of synth loops riding up and down, are present and combined as best is possible. It’s the pinnacle of what they’re doing, and as a bonus, it has a video directed by the same batshit insane guy that directed that Jack White mindfuck video.

9 – Alt-J – Fitzpleasure

Now we’re into single figures and approaching the best song of the year, how about the song that launched the best band to emerge this year. It’s no leap of the imagination to say that half of Alt-J’s success is based off the absolute immensity of this track. It’s as ferocious as any major dubstep tune, but complete with elements of plainchant and folk, because no fucks were given as to what they could do to the song. Lyrically it is proper mental, and yet still literary, based on Hubert Selby Jr’s ‘Last Exit To Brooklyn’. If you haven’t heard it yet… I am jealous of what you’re about to experience.

8 – Savages – Husbands

There’s an energy and a ferocity in this track that is out of the league of pretty much any other song this year. Savages return to the early 80s, plundering Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but rather than become a complete parody, they ascend to new heights. Be scared of Savages, their debut LP may be the most anticipated record in the world at the moment and they are definitely number 1 on my list of bands to go and see whever you can. I could make this perfectly obvious if SOMEONE HADN’T TAKEN DOWN THEIR SODDING JOOLS HOLLAND PERFORMANCE WHERE THEY BLOODY WELL STOLE THE SHOW AND WERE INCREDIBLE, so you’ll have to make do with some Dutch TV, which makes them sound kinda funny. Haha Dutch…

7 – Alt-J – Taro

Phwoooaaaar I love this song so much. As a closer on the best album all year, it’s absolutely perfect (HANDMADE IS A SECRET TRACK YOU ITUNES LOSERS). Lyrically what could I love more than a reflection on photographer Robert Capa and his lover Gerda Taro, who died in the Spanish Civil War, of which Capa took some of the most iconic photos of all time. Musically hows about the only succesful fusion of Indian music into western rock that hasn;t sounded stupid. It’s a phenomenally powerful song, and so so so so so perfect.

6 – Lucy Rose – Shiver

The absolute standout of the album Like I Used To (she even used its lyrics to name her album), this has to be one of the most instantly obviously great songs. It should be cliche, the delicate singer-songwriter ballad, but it’s just too good for that. Even after drowning it in plays, I still keep coming back to it and realising just how brilliant it is.

5 – Django Django – Default

Aha! Surprise turnout from a band not on the list yet. Django Django pretty much founded this sound, and are yet to do it better on the dancy ‘Default’. The layers of rhythm and jangly guitars is really effective and the video isn’t half bad either.

4 – Palma Violets – Best Of Friends

“Whatttt another new band at this late stage, Sachin, you’re fucking with us surely?” I hear you cry. Well screw you this song is absolutely bloody brilliant. It’s proper rock’n’roll, more than a dose of The Libertines and nods to The Doors and Joy Division. Live… just incredible, the entire joiners went absolutely nuts to this song, and it was in our heads for two days straight despite not knowing half the words. If there’s a song to get you excited about playing rock music in a band, or just listening to music, this is that song.

3 – California Daze – Peace

Gah, this song could’ve been number 1 had it not been about California. This year Peace put out an EP whose 4 tracks were better than most albums released in the UK. While ‘Ocean’s Eye’, ‘Bloodshake’ and ‘1998’ all came achingly close to entry on this list, this track is just so damn good. There’s something very nineties about it, and its a proper ballad in the way that Oasis or Blur could have written, but better than that sounds. I keep putting this on, and being amazed by just how good it really is. Peace4everever

2 – Tom Williams & The Boat – Teenage Blood

At this point in the list we’re talking songs that are trying for songs of the decade, and this track might be contender for song of my youth more than anything. As anyone knows I’m a massive fan of this band and this was the title track for their second album. Lyrically brilliant, whether you take it as a requiem for teenage fuckedupitude (technical term) or a celebration of retaining youth. It probably wins the best chorus of the decade, and I can tell you it took about a day before I set out learning the chords and playing along with the record for ages. Even as I put this I’m really having to fight the urge to change that 2 to a 1, and have this as the best song of the year, it really is that close…

1 – Alt-J – Tessellate

…But I just can’t deny the impact this single has had. 2012 is shaping up to be the year of Alt-J, capped off with that fantastic Mercury Prize win. The most iconic single, and the song that can be best said to represent the ‘Alt-J Sound’ is definitely this one. Give it the intro of ‘Interlude I’ and it brings all their elements together. Lyrically it’s genius, combining maths and sex with fantastic lines about sharks and references to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. The song is full of moments of genius, whether its the way the bit after the first ‘Let’s Tessellate’ weedles in, or that sniff, and with the line ‘Triangles are my favourite shape’ they inadvertently gave something for Alt-J fanatics to spraypaint over their facebook walls. It’ just the best thing released this year, and congratulations should go where they deserve for making such a brilliant song.

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