I usually use the month of January to catch up on everything the previous year had to offer in music, mostly to discover (online or on radio) songs I never heard, or to listen again to ones I overlooked. So, around this time every year I take a good look at my (always growing) document of songs I wrote down during the year, and come up with what always turns out to be a pretty varied list of songs that perked my ears. Thus, the time has come to close the window on 2012 with this, my definitive list of favorite cuts from it (placed, as is custom for my lists, in alphabetical order, and with sparse commentary throughout).
Alabama Shakes “Hold On” (The band deservedly got nominated for “Best New Artist” at this year’s Grammys, and vocalist Brittany Howard got to showcase her fiery Janis Joplin-esque vocal chops at the award show last Sunday night, in large part due to this killer Southern soul rock gem.)
Best Coast “The Only Place”
Black Keys “Gold on the Ceiling” (I dug this one so much that I even did my own version of it around this time last year at one of my solo electric/acoustic shows. It’s a fun, jumpy and rockin’ tune that sounds just as good played at a local bar as it does in a stadium.)
Cloud Nothings “Cut You” (There’s something both catchy and somewhat alarming about the lyrics, “I miss you ’cause I like damage/I need something I can hurt,” but this post-punk tune is so damn good that whatever meaning is behind them just gets easily overlooked by my eardrums every time.
Dum Dum Girls “Season In Hell”
Eluveitie “A Rose for Perona” (I discovered this powerful Celtic metal tune via fellow Blogcritics writer Scott Deitche’s best of 2012 list and loved it so much that I added it to mine.)
Field Mouse “Glass” (This is one of my favorite dreampop tunes of last year.)
Gaslight Anthem “45”
Grizzly Bear “Sleeping Ute” (Until recently, I had forgotten about this psychedelic, stormy folk rocker. There’s nothing else like it out there, and definitely not on my list.)
Iha, James “To Who Knows Where” (The long wait for the ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist’s sophomore solo LP Look to the Sky was worth it for this psychedelic pop rocker alone.)
Lamar, Kendrick “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Nelson, Willie “Roll Me Up (With Snoop Dogg, Jamey Johnson, & Kris Kristofferson)” (Snoop sings! And he sounds good too.)
Prong “Revenge Best Served Cold” (I don’t think these guys ever get enough credit for being one of the pioneers of alternative metal. This thrashy cut was my favorite from their 2012 album Carved Into Stone.)
Rush “Headlong Flight” (These guys recently got inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame. The honor was well overdue. But before earlier in 2012, the trio released its 20th studio album Clockwork Angels, and this bare bones rocker definitely stood out.)
Smashing Pumpkins “The Chimera” (Billy Corgan and Jeff Schroeder get to show off their twin-guitar attack a bit on this, the best of the heavy tracks on the band’s excellent Oceania album.)
Springsteen, Bruce “Land of Hope and Dreams” (Though the song itself isn’t new, this studio version didn’t come out until it surfaced on The Boss’s 2012 album Wrecking Ball, and it features what is believed to be the last recorded sax solo by the late great Clarence Clemons.).
White, Jack “Sixteen Saltines” (Jack White wears all kinds of musical hats, as fans of his are fully aware. But when he wants to rock out, he rocks hard.)
Wild Nothing “Nocturne” (With Field Mouse, you get female-fronted dreampop. On the male side of the genre on this year’s list is Jack Tatum’s Wild Nothing and their extremely addictive ’80s retro-sounding title track to their 2012 album of the same name.)
Young, Neil “Twisted Road”