In no particular order. I’m excluding Icelandic music for a separate post.
Just a list of my top 10 favorite songs of 2012 for your enjoyment or criticism 🙂
The XX – Angels
For some reason I didn’t expect the XX to follow up their gorgeous debut with anything of similar quality. Gladly I was very wrong…their second album far outclasses the debut and this song is just one big goosebump moment.
Gonjasufi – Nickels and Dimes
Gonjasufi is so different from anything else. His music is just so compelling and I love how I can’t put a finger on why. This album wasn’t as good as Sufi and a Killer but this is in my opinion the best song he has released so far.
Mark Lanegan – Gravedigger’s Song
It’s an undisbutable fact that Lanegan is the best living rock singer. That’s just the way it is. That voice!! This song is his best since Screaming Trees. No contest. Great to see him in top form.
Grizzly Bear – Yet Again
This is how you secure your place as indie legends. After 2 great albums came the masterpiece.
Perfume Genius – Hood
For 2-3 months this year I didn’t really listen to anything else. It’s a gorgeous album and seeing him live at a small club here in Stockholm in the middle of summer was just beautiful. My song of the year.
Metz – Rats
My album of the year. Came out of nowhere and pretty much the best punk/noise rock I have heard. The key is the amazing production here, similar to Steve Albini’s In Utero production. Drums and guitars up front and vocals in the back. Hits hard and just simply cool!
Neil Young – Ramada Inn
Neil is one of my top 5 favorite musicians of all time (The others are My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead, Boards of Canada and Tom Waits btw for those that are interested :)) and this was his best form in a long time. 16 minute epic full of feedback and minor chords! Not that he’s been bad last decade… this is just his best possible form. I really, really want to see him live again this tour!
Beach House – Myth
I don’t really know what to say about this one. It just grabs you. Such a gorgeous song!
Niki and the Dove – DJ, Ease my mind
Swedish hipster pop. My weakness! Taking the best elements from Robyn and The Knife. Great album and they are really good live with plenty of improvisation, which was fun to see.
The Shins – Simple Song
I just love The Shins. Mercer is one of the greatest classic songwriters this generation without a doubt. It’s just the best kind of happy feelgood music. I also think this new Shins lineup is better live than the old one. A really solid concert in Stockholm last winter.
Other notables (I will update this list as I remember more and more that I’ve forgotten):
Just simple. Some old music that is amazing. I actually hope you haven’t heard any of these before because then you’re in luck! I wish I was hearing them for the first time because it’s mindblowing stuff.
Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was the Night, Cold was the Ground
85 year old music that sounds like nothing else. Nobody plays guitar like this anymore..and the vocals feel otherworldlyand beyond time almost. Incredible song.
Son House – Don’t you Mind People Grinning in Your Face
Another incredible song. Simple and doesn’t even need instruments. Just one man clapping and singing about the difference between true and fake people. This is Jack White’s favorite song of all time and he covered another Son House, Death Letter, with his band The White Stripes….arguably their best live song.
Mississippi John Hurt – Spike Driver Hurt
One for guitar players. Incredible guitar player but there’s also just something really smooth about all his songs overall. His style is just really calm and flows really well. One of a million songs about the rebel railroad worker hero John Henry, but this one may be my favorite of them all.
Leadbelly – Where Did You Sleep Last Night
Well this one it is very likely you have heard… covered by Nirvana. It’s a great song and Leadbelly was a great musician. He was a real tough guy though and a criminal, but you can’t take anything from the quality of his music.
Woody Guthrie – Tear the Fascist Down
Woody is a personal favorite. I went through a long period of listening to all his stuff and I love all of it. Woody was a poor worker born out of the great depression and the over farmed wastes of the Midwest of the US that lead to terrible dust storms and massive movement of people to the west coast of America. It’s a fascinating period and I highly recommend people read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath to learn more about it. It’s also a period that sounds like we imagine apocalyptic fiction to be today…but it’s also a period that is frighteningly close to us…only 70-80 years back. Woody was a worker hero and his songs mostly revolve around the duststorm migrations. worker rights and the fight against fascists. There would be no Bob Dylan without Woody Guthrie. Dylan himself has said that many times and when Dylan was young and starting out he visited Woody often, then in his later years. Great musician and a fitting end to this post 🙂
One more in my series of linking to 5 songs that are awesome. This time they are from films! This is music that really stands on it’s own and I tried to pick something that is a little more obscure. My favorite soundtracks are by they way Blade Runner by Vangelis, Amélie by Yann Tiersen, Good the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone, Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass and Tron Legacy by Daft Punk. I stay clear of those this time around.
There is a theme here. I would call it a somber but epic mood if I wanted to be pretentious. I think I’d also call it that if I was not being pretentious ..but whatever I’m rambling. On to the great music!
The Proposition – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Proposition #1
Kundun – Philip Glass – Escape to India
The Tree of Life – Alexandre Desplat – Awakening
The Fountain – Clint Mansell – Together we will live forever
Solaris – Cliff Martinez – First Sleep
Ambient! Exciting isn’t it?? Anyways, I’ve been a long time fan of ambient music and it’s a term that is sometimes really difficult to pin down. In my opinion it’s something that creates a really nice ambience which makes it good for reading or more chilled out activies/non-activities. I tend to snob a little by excluding all new age style pan flue crapness from the definition but you’re welcome to define that as ambient…although it will make BINNI RAGE!! …Which would lead to me having to sit down and listen to some great ambient music.
Here are 5 awesome ambient songs in no particular order. There were so many good ones that I think I will be doing this kind of post regularly. 🙂
As a fun question for comments…which one of these was recorded in Iceland, my home country? Bonus question would be where and through what unorthodox method…
Biosphere – Kobresia
Blanck Mass – Chernobyl
Max Richter – Horizon Variations
Tim Hecker – Piano Drop
Stars of the Lid – I Will Surround You