[sic] Magazine

Annual Round-Up pt. 2: My 2012 – Tracks Of The Year

Continuing my now usual tri-part annual summary, I hereby present those cuts that have best soundtracked my year – the only rule being that each entrant could only be represented once in order to best share the love.

On heavy rotation throughout 2012, these tracks truly rock/humble/excite – delete as appropriate. No doubt you had your own favourites. Here are mine:
1. Beach House – “Myth”

Moving with the slow weight of oceans whilst offering hope and tingling salvation akin to some daybreak that was never supposed to arrive, the heart-wrenchingly bittersweet “Myth” continues Beach House’s strong legacy of impeccable dream-pop. “Lazuli” aside, their Bloom LP wasn’t chocked full of such absolute beauty, but when it comes to sheer breath-taking impact wars have been settled over lesser statements than “Myth”. A worthy winner.

2. Light Asylum – “Shallow Tears”


You know just how good Joy Division ‘s “Atmosphere” was and still is from the fact that “Shallow Tears” is so forgivably similar and yet it remains as exciting, relevant and vital a release that 2012 has seen. Those monolithic drums could march an army to its willing demise and Shannon Funchess ‘s operatic scales could reduce the most hardened cynic to the tears of the track title. It’s a real pity therefore that this year’s full-length wasn’t up to the same standard.

3. Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”


This is the year the partiest punk-rockers around broke for sure, but [sic] have known about their fuzzy awesomeness for some years, placing their superlative “Younger Us” eighth in 2010 and crowning their “Wet Hair” as track of the year in 2009. We can say with confidence therefore that “The House That Heaven Built” isn’t Japandroids’ best track to date, but that thanks in part to those killer “ Oh, oh, oohs ” if there’s ever been a better beer-buddy record I haven’t come across it.

4. Tame Impala – “Elephant”


Simply, “Elephant” is unstoppably brilliant psyche-rock with a gnarly cosmic bent and a heavy footprint thanks to some juggernaut bass work. If this isn’t played back-to-back with “Seven Nation Army” in indie/rock nightclub’s the length and breadth of the universe from here to eternity then there is something very wrong with everything.
5. Poliça – “Violent Games”


With its urgent searchlight synths, muscular dual-drumming and ever-intensifying multi-layered vocal trickery, “Violent Games” broke new ground for R&B-influenced alt-pop, scoring victories across genre boards and no-doubt terrifying talent-show chart-fodder in the process. Mesmerising stuff.

6. The Soft Moon – “Insides”


Reclaiming a spot on this list since a debut in 2010, The Soft Moon specialise in dirgey dark-wave and “Insides” is no different, given life with an outrageous Gothic bassline, dagger-sharp synth pans and, ironically, sent back towards the grave thanks to Luis Vasquez ‘s sepulchral moan.

7. Dark Dark Dark – “How It Goes Down”


Sometimes simple really is best and “How It Goes Down” is just that. Impossibly fragile, reductively beautiful and endlessly impressive this is impeccable song-craft that improves with every listen, dispatching reviewers and listeners to coin ever-more elaborate adverbial descriptions too.

8. The Lost Rivers – “Cinnamon”


The Lost Rivers are another band after the J&MC crown, another band taking the dissonant route of APTBS and another bathing it all in black-strobe FX. Here they’re set apart by crushing their product with a tail-end of essential echo riffs and annihilating bass work. Welcome to the party.

9. Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”


In constant possession of something special, Sharon Van Etten finally delivered the fireworks she’d been promising in 2012. Getting angry for the first time whilst tackling biblical sin and shining a mirror back onto “her” accusers, “Serpents” is a stunning track from a fantastic album.

10. White Manna – “Sweet Jesus”


Undisputed psychonaut champions 2012, it was tough to isolate White Manna’s best jam but the strutting groove of “Sweet Jesus” just about took it. Quite what Jesus himself would make of its melting chimes and suffocating instrumentals is anyone’s guess, but mine is that is he’d freaking love it.

11. DIIV – “Doused”

Having appeared on last year’s list as Dive, “Doused” was the first DIIV sample to catch the ear after their legally obligated rebrand and its breathless jangle and suffocating shoegaze-psyche has not yet been bettered IMO, but it’s been run mighty close – “How Long Have You Known?” in particular.

12. Bat For Lashes – “Laura”

“Laura” is truly tender stuff from Ms Khan. When the hairs on your neck aren’t erect, your lip is set to quiver. It seems Bat For Lashes stripped-back is even more appealing than Bat For Lashes stripped-off – see the cover of this year’s The Haunted Man LP.

13. Moonface & Siinai – “Lay Your Cheek On Down”

This arms-aloft album closer from the Moonface ( Spencer Krug ) and Siinai collaboration is truly evocative stuff, stirring feel-good thoughts of underdogs in adversity and of Mr Nice Guy finally getting his girl. Moonface is making a bit of a habit of appearing on these lists.

14. The Babies – “On My Team”

The best ramshackle anthem that Lou Reed never wrote – “On My Team” is a pure nugget of garage-psyche-cum-indie/pop (though not indie-pop) that couldn’t be more charming nor enchanting.

15. Purity Ring – “Belispeak”

From an album full of such delicious juxtaposition, the witch-house/pop cross-over smash that is “Belispeak” really stood out, staggering around on jittery beats with Megan James cooing and crowing over screwed tactics and big bass drops.

16. How To Dress Well – “& It Was U”

He’s not quite doing it alone, but Tom Krell ‘s minimal and lo-fi R&B is certainly helping to restore credibility to a much-maligned pool, here surviving on just finger-click percussion for half its life until a crumpled cardboard-box beat takes over to add some wonderfully budget soul-funk to proceedings.

17. Cloud Nothings – “Stay Useless”

We knew something special was coming when Dylan Baldi let fly the smothering “No Future/No Past” last year, but the nostalgic emo-like anthem “Stay Useless” was something else still. Those off-mic screams and post-Strokes call-and-response guitars are solid gold.

18. Sealings – “Jon Mann”

For the third year running, Sealings more than make the grade on this list, here having found a supercharged guitar amp and – clearly not afraid to use it – slaying all before them on this nasty, frenetic and speaker-blown smash. I have more faith in this band than any other in Britain.

19. Savages – “Husbands”

There’s justifiably been a lot of chatter about Savages throughout 2012 and it’s easy to hear why when the tumbling guitars, Patti Smith -like intensity and erotically charged mania of “Husbands” strikes like a viper in plain bloodlust.

20. Pins – “LuvU4Lyf”

Sharing early bills with Savages (see above) for very good reason, all-girl grammar terrorists Pins – or possibly PINS – have been creating quite a stir with their Siouxsie -style rock, and rightly so given this electric offering.

21. Exitmusic – “Passage”

“Passage” is probably the most epic outtake from this year’s list, taking the windblown and elemental post-rock of Sigur Rós and smashing it into the meatiest dream-pop of Beach House to create something chest-beatingly dazzling.

22. GHXST – “Doomgirl”

Irresistibly gloomy, female-led noise-rock for those of a certain age, “Doomgirl” is without doubt an early 90s special. If you’re thinking heavy eyeliner, shit-kicking DMs and unadulterated plaid you wouldn’t be alone.

23. Black Atlass – “Hills”

Proving the resurgent R&B-influenced alternative scene is deserving of more than some fly-by-night focus, bedroom set-ups like that of the improbably young Black Atlass are pumping out offhand gems like “Hills”, which burns with low-end intensity while fizzing with sharp and smooth contrasts.

24. Perfume Genius – “Hood”

Thanks to Antony & The Johnsons I’m an absolute sucker for emotional and gender-bending piano play. Thank you Perfume Genius for feeding this addiction with this all-too-brief beauty.

25. Best Coast – “The Only Place”

I’ve been humming this in my head all year and the po-faced muso in me wants to hate it, but the distilled summer vibes that “The Only Place” gives off are so strong as to burn off the blackest of clouds and resolutely turn my frown upside-down.

26. METZ – “Sad Pricks”

Remember when the best bands in the world were on Sub Pop ? Remember too when Steve Albini was a regular rock icon? Children bred on these mainstays have finally grown up and they’re very angry the world has forgotten them.

27. Chromatics – “Kill For Love”

It’s a pretty safe stab in the dark to assume that those behind Chromatics’ downbeat disco have been listening to some New Order of late. The tearily disinterested – yet totally awesome – “Kill For Love” is the dreamy result.

28. Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”

Italian sensation Mauro Remeddi is very at home on these lists of mine, stepping out smartly this year with a crisp beat, the edges of which he blurs out with tambourine, synth smudges and an ever-increasing selection of soft-palette sounds. Intoxicating.

29. FIDLAR – “Cheap Beer”

You might not want them as neighbours, but FIDLAR’s brief, shouty ode to modestly priced booze and profanity thrills and bruises in undeniably equal measure. These dumb-but-fun LA skaters could well be 2013’s party band of choice.

30. The Tallest Man On Earth – “Wind And Walls”

Can the Tallest Man On Earth do any wrong? Certainly this euphoric and sepia-crackled Bob Dylan -like track would suggest not. There’s simply no-one with a profile as elevated as his with the gravitas to match this current form.

31. SpaceGhostPurrp – “Don’t Give A Damn”

Sounding for all the world like a future hip-hop classic, “Don’t Give A Damn” takes the woozy cloud-rap du jour and mixes in mesmeric piano flutters and infectious loops while his bass drops mingle with competing tempos and a stepping drum machine rip. It’s almost too easy. Almost.

32. Easter – “Somethin’ American”

Like Idlewild (if they too were students of The National ‘s gravitas) cosying up to the choicest of Sonic Youth ‘s noise, this Manchester band landed one of the British albums of the year with Innocence Man and “Somethin’ American” is one of several stand-out cuts. Do yourself a favour.

33. Eternal Summers – “You Kill”

Eternal Summers knock out female-fronted indie attacked with such enthusiasm that it defies you not to get involved and their dynamic “You Kill” couldn’t be more at home if it were played back-to-back with, say, The Breeders and Elastica . Vintage.

34. A Place To Bury Strangers – “I Lost You”

APTBS being on ear-blistering form is no surprise and “I Lost You” continues to show preening upstarts that loudest is still best. Successful covers need only apply if recorded in an active warzone under the direct flight-path of Bomber Command.

35. Grimes – “Oblivion”

“Oblivion” still sounds at its chorus like a Casio-driven, retro-futurist cover of Tiffany ‘s stellar version of “I Think We’re Alone Now”, but so too is it cutting-edge cutesy pop from one of this year’s brightest stars. Last year’s Russian-language oddity “Sagrad прекрасный” is still her best cut, mind.

36. The Men – “Open Your Heart”

Musically, this romps into life sounding like The Buzzcocks ‘ “Ever Fallen In Love”, but it’s the wide-eyed and sneering vocal on “Open Your Heart” that earns The Men their second concurrent appearance on this list. Impressive.

37. Death Grips – “Hustle Bones”

Aggro-hop with segues to industrial noise and shiny pop chops so ludicrously anti-social that you feel slapping it with a government-endorsed hug might not only result in your getting stabbed but also your corpse then desecrated, which funnily enough is how your ears will feel after tangling with this LA riot.

38. Evian Christ – “Fuck It None Of Ya’ll Don’t Rap”

The ambient electronica of the Tri Angle stable sits surprisingly comfortably beneath the big Bass hits and screwed rap samples of “Fuck It None Of Ya’ll Don’t Rap”. UK producer Evian Christ is clearly a talent on which to keep tabs.

39. Baauer – “Harlem Shake”

Perhaps the most unexpected inclusion on the list, this offbeat Bass banger skitters all over the place with warring tempos and seems to run with some sort of amplified belching repeat, but damn if it isn’t essential booty-shaking material all the same.

40. Dope Body – “Powder”

This herky-jerk shout-along belter is totally owned by its memorably growled refrain: “ My face is not my face “. It’s just one of many great tracks to be found on this Baltimore band’s Natural History LP too.

41. Black Marble – “Static”

If I were to ever dance it would be heavy-hearted post-punk like “Static”, despite it essentially being little more than a doomed echo of Twin Shadow ‘s likeable “Five Seconds”.

42. Ty Segall Band – “Wave Goodbye”

Ty Segall was a very busy boy in 2012, but for my money his best offering was “Wave Goodbye” – a combination of his trademark hooks, rat-a-tat drums and evil garage-punk, all coming on like the sloppiest, heaviest parts of the early White Stripes canon as tackled by Bedlam’s own blues band.

43. Thee Oh Sees – “Lupine Dominus”

Further cementing John Dwyer as one the foremost contemporary garage-psyche practitioners around, “Lupine Dominus” offers real value with some splendidly marauding kraut-rock and organ abuse to boot.

44. Halls – “Roses For The Dead”

Let’s be honest, Halls has probably heard a lot of Warp and Radiohead records, but that doesn’t stop his sparse and glitchy sad-wave reverberating with great slatherings of ecclesiastical echo.

45. Frank Ocean – “Pyramids”

Without doubt the first two-part 9+ minute R&B jam to feature at [sic] magazine, “Pyramids” is nevertheless strong enough to prove genre redundant and class permanent. Just watch out for that mid-point flip where it all gets heavy thanks to some synth simmer and auto-tune dislocation.

46. Frankie Rose – “Know Me”

There are those that think it isn’t difficult to write dreamy indie and that it’s more a question of who you know than the chords you know. Who cares when well-connected Brooklynite Frankie Rose takes her Girl Group garage out for a spin in the jangling mid-80s with such pretty results?

47. Shearwater – “You As You Were”

Epic indie maestros Shearwater have rarely been as unashamedly in-your-face as on “You As You Were”. I imagine this is like battle music for bird watchers.

48. La Sera – “How Far We’ve Come Now”

La Sera secures her spot on this list for the second year in a row due to this slow-burning garage fuzzer, which sounds none the worse for a would-be Nuggets-era 7” smash played at 33 speed.

49. PS I Love You – “Future Dontcare”

The other Canadian fuzz-punk duo finally come to fruition with this melancholy racket, in which – amongst its off-mic muttering and ferocious noise – a super strong melody is perhaps encoded.

50. Memoryhouse – “Walk With Me”

Evoking thoughts of lovers past, “Walk With Me” isn’t the creepy Lynchian turn you might expect, and is instead rather a sad summer jam interwoven with hypnotic dream-pop loveliness. Wistful.

The best of the rest (ordered by track name and with some loose genre classification):

Daphni – “Ahora” (Experimental House)
Xiu Xiu – “Always” (Avant-Synth/Experimental-Pop)
Mere Women – “Amends” (Post-Punk)
Mac DeMarco – “Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans” (Singer-Songwriter/Indie)
Heidi Harris – “Brave Idea” (Folk/Experimental)
Indian Handcrafts – “Bruce Lee” (Stoner Rock)
Creature Breath – “Comfort Your Mother” (Folk/Experimental)
GRMLN – “Coral” (Indie/Dream-Pop)
The Raveonettes – “Curse The Night” (Shoegaze/Indie)
MYTHS – “Deadlights” (Synth-Punk/Darkwave)
Broken Water – “Drown” (Noise Rock)
Andrew Bird – “Eyeoneye” (Singer-Songwriter)
Alt-J – “Fitzpleasure” (Folk-Step)
Twin Shadow – “Five Seconds” (New-wave/Post-Punk)
Liars – “Flood To Flood” (Experimental Rock)
Lorn – “Ghosst” (Post-Dubstep)
Breton – “Ghost Note” (Experimental Indie)
Grizzly Bear – “Half Gate” (Indie/Folk)
Nedry – “Havana Nights” (Post-Dubstep)
Mmoths – “Heart (feat. Keep Shelly In Athens )” (Chillwave)
Ceremony – “Hysteria” (Punk/Rock)
Moon Duo – “I Can See” (Psyche-Rock)
Oberhofer – “I Could Go” (Psyche-Pop)
U.S. Girls – “Jack” (Singer-Songwriter/Lo-fi Pop)
Worship – “Leviathan” (Contemporary Pop/Post-Dubstep)
Peaking Lights – “LO HI” (Ambient Dub)
Black Mountain – “Mary Lou” (Psyche-Rock)
The xx – “Missing” (Atmospherica)
Grave Babies – “Mourning Heir” (Industrial/Lo-fi)
Black Bananas – “My House” (Alt/Art-Rock)
Nite Jewel – “No I Don’t” (Chillwave)
oOoOO – “No Way Back” (Post-Drag)
Wild Nothing – “Nowhere” (Indie/Dream-Pop)
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Only In My Dreams” (Singer Songwriter/West Coast)
Cat Power – “Ruin” (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Pop)
The Menzingers – “Sculptors And Vandals” (Punk-Rock)
HAIM – “Send Me Down” (Contemporary Pop)
The Shins – “Simple Song” (Singer Songwriter/Indie)
John Talabot – “So Will Be Now (feat. Pional )” (Deep House)
Equalibrium – “Sometime” (Hip Hop/Jazz)
Craft Spells – “Still Left With Me” (Indie/Dream-Pop)
Dawn Hunger – “Stumbling Room” (Industrial-Step)
Dream Affair – “Syndrome” (Post-Punk)
Maria Minerva – “The Sound” (Psyche-Pop/Lo-fi)
Animal Collective – “Today’s Supernatural” (Psyche-Pop/Experimental)
Spiritualized – “Too Late” (Neo-psychedelia)
Terry Malts – “Tumble Down” (Punk/Rock)
Soap&Skin – “Vater” (Singer Songwriter/Neo-classical)
Ringo Deathstarr – “Waste” (Shoegaze)
Get Well Soon – “You Cannot Cast Out The Demons (You Might As Well Dance)” (Folktronica/Chamber-Pop)

My 2011 – Tracks Of The Year

My 2010 – Tracks Of The Year

My 2009 – Tracks Of The Year