Some good tracks this year, and hopefully a bunch that you haven’t heard (or haven’t heard too much). If you like what you hear, giving the artists a little something (buy a track or album, pick up the vinyl [records are awesome items to have in one’s possession], go see the live act, become a groupie [everyone likes a good awkwards-backwards]) is a very cool thing.
Enjoy and feel free to pass it around. Let me know how much you enjoy it so I can feel smugly self-important! Tell me that there is a serious dearth of country and metal and I clearly don’t understand music at all!
Many thanks also to Matt O’Hearn, who took the stunning photo above and allowed me to use it as the album art for this year’s best of. Dude can take some serious photographs.
Happy new year, and goooooooo 2013!!!
The link to download the whole thang is in the comments.
85. White Rabbits — Heavy Metal
84. Solander — Book of Advice
83. Jennie Gillespie — Sunshine Blood
82. Al Lover and the Haters — The Summer Solstice Suicides. Al Lover with the instumental hip-hop.
81. Here We Go Magic — Make Up Your Mind
80. Elephant & Castle feat. Tune-yards — En Memoria. Merrill Garbus’ surprisingly delicate falsetto compliments the solitary, transparent ambience of this track really well.
79. Efterklung — Apples. Ok this song is actually pretty boring. My bad. It’s got some horns in it though so, uh… well.
78. Zeus — Are You Gonna Waste My Time? Good ole’ rock n’ roll. And is it just me or does this dude totally sound like Paul McCartney?
77. Blessed Fathers — By Song Through The Americas
76. Beach Fossils — Shallow
75. Two Humans — Rooftop. This song is hilarious, and creepy. But more hilarious than creepy, so it’s ok.
74. Gorillaz feat. Andre 3000 and James Murphy — DoYaThang. This could have been so so good! Instead it is just pretty good. But pretty good is still pretty good.
73. Tanlines — Brothers
72. Death Grips — Get Got. These dudes are just ridiculously interesting. They make this weirdo-ferocious punk-rap that is just really cool, futuristic, and eminently head-nod/bangable. Plus they put a picture of some dude’s dong on their album cover.
71. Fiona Apple — Every Single Night
70. Cody Alan — Heart Like a Rabbit. You may remember this SF/NYC dude from last year, then recording under the name Lovecraft. You never know what the hell is going to happen next, but you always know that somehow the transition will be smooth, if not poetic.
69. Joey Bada$$ — World Domination. This song really should be higher on the list. It’s rad. Old skool. Don’t listen to it with your mom unless she really likes people saying “fuck.”
68. Horse Feathers — Fit Against the Country
67. Willis Earle Beal — Monotony. Willis Earle Beale has a pretty crazy story. He makes outsider music that is fragile enough to break if you set it down wrong, but feels so heavy in your hands.
66. Rocco DeLuca — Lucky
65. Sleepy Sun — V.O.G. Great guitar riff on this one. Gets a little lost in the bridge… but then the great guitar riff again! All is forgiven!
64. Allah-Las — Busman’s Holiday
63. Diplo feat. Jahan Lennon — About that Life
62. The Men — Open Your Heart. I missed these guys at Bottom of the Hill and shouldn’t have.
61. Main Attraktionz feat. DaVinci — Do It for the Bay. The new Anthem.
60. Sinkane — Jeeper Creeper.
59.Plants and Animals — Shakey Shakey Shakey. The first of 3 tunes of P&A’s March 2012 album. That’s surprising because I was pretty disappointed by the album as a whole. But this song, like the others, has just stuck in my head. “Shakey Shakey Shakey” is a bonus track that frontman Warren Spicer said wasn’t finished. It’s spare but solid, sorrowful but somehow quietly optimistic. Maybe better that it is incomplete, like a thought.
58. Mean Lady — Bop Bop. Love how her voice just rises and rises from tentative and sweet to strong and moving.
57. Delicate Steve — Afria Talks to You
56. TV Torso — No Idea Why. Probably the best thing about being fans of bands on facebook is that sometimes they post stuff by their lesser known band friends. White Denim told me about TV Torso, which I totally would not have found out about on my own.
55. Big Baby Ghandi feat. Das Racist — Blue Magic.
54. Onuinu — Happy Home. This song is so freakin’ happy. Try to listen to this and not get all happy. It’s impossible.
53. PAWS — Miss American Bookworm
52. Dirty Three – Rising Below. Violins in pop music ftw.
51. Mac DeMarco — Freaking Out the Neighborhood. That loosey-goosey guitar riff just puts you in a good place.
50. Grimes — Oblivion
49. Hot Chip — Flutes
48. M.I.A. — Bad Girls
47. Está Vivo — Sunrise. One of those tiny little bands that I don’t remember how I came across. But they’re good!
46. Ty Segall & White Fence — Time. Ty Segall released 3 albums this year, and all of them were rad. See Ty Segall live. Mosh with teenagers and leave the venue literally soaking in sweat, and forget about using your ears for the next week or so. Later find it too easy to spot yourself as the big doofus moshing with teenagers in the youtube video someone shot from the balcony.
45. Sun Kil Moon — That Bird Has a Broken Wing
44. Lotus Plaza — Strangers
43. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros — Fiya Wata. Their new album wasn’t as good as their first one, but it grew on me.
42. The Helio Sequence — Hall of Mirrors. Mad respect for being around for hella years and still making good, loud music.
41. Swans — The Apostate. This is a 10 minute version of a 20 or 30 minute song. It is crazy. It sounds like a construction yard, and a motorcycle, and the ocean, and I don’t even know what instrument is playing that solo at the end but I like it.
40. Poolside — Slow Down
39. Nicholas Jaar — With Just One Glance. The understated vocals really work over the twisting and turning backbeat. Bruce Willis’s daughter is the one singing. You will remember that, and forget something important.
38. Plants and Animals — Before. This is the one song off Plants and Animals’ new album that could have been on Parc Avenue, aka The Best Album of All Time.
37. Dirty Projectors — Just from Chevron. A sweet song from the DP’s most sweet record yet. Still so intricate with weirdo guitar figures, inventive percussion, and crazy harmonies, but perhaps less complicated than some of their previous stuff.
36. Liars — No. 1 Against the Rush. No joke this song is named for the San Francisco 49ers.
35. Lower Dens — Brains
34. Thee Oh Sees — Hang a Picture
33. Odd Future — Oldie. I’m not the biggest OF fan, but watching the video for this track reminds you that despite some of the nasty shit they say, they’re a bunch of kids having fun and making tight music while they’re at it. Also Frank Ocean’s verse is siiiiiick. Dude can rap.
32. The People’s Temple — Looter’s Game
31. K.R.I.T. — Boobie Miles. Great flow, great beat.
30. B. Hamilton — Didn’t I (Live in San Jose). B. Hamilton is amazing. Get your hands on their recent album “Everything I Own is Broken” as soon as you can. Great songwriting, great lyrics, bluesy, garage-y… just great stuff. This is a track I ripped from a video of a recent show they did in San Jose. Apologies for the low quality. But you can still hear the emotion and propulsion on this one. And how about that Edge-like solo at the end?
29. James and Evander — Ambigamy. The video really did it for me. I’m pretty sure that’s what I look like when I dance. Apologies to all those people that have seen me dance. Oakland!
28. Grizzly Bear — Speak in Rounds. Shields is a really good album.
27. Mark Matos & Os Beaches — Do the Right Thing. Weird and slow and a dude with a pretty atypical voice but a rad guitar solo.
26. Kool A.D. feat. Main Attraktionz — Ticky Tacky. Kool A.D. going Hyphy. I dig. Das Racist broke up which I dig less, but it’s clear that Heems and Kool A.D. can both do some pretty good things on their own.
25. Thee Oh Sees — Lupine Dominus. Thee Oh Sees are way fun to see live. Even if you are literally not drunk at all. Also it was at this show that Stickle and I thought of how great it would be to go up to a bar and order a round of Clausthalers for everyone, who would at first be like, “yeah, this person rocks! Cheers!”, but then everyone would realize that Clausthalers are non-alcoholic beers, and now they have to drink a full glass of non-sweetened grain soda. But it’s too late, because they already cheers’ed and patted you on the back.
24. Jen Shande — I Really Like Sonic Youth, and I Really Want to Have Sex With You. How could you disagree with a title like that? Also, it’s a great song of a really cool album.
23. Jessica Pratt — Night Faces. What a voice.
22. Daniel Rossen — Return to Form
21. David Byrne and St. Vincent — Who
20. Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre — The Recipe. Initially I was all like, “whatever, Kendrick Lamar is overrated.” But the tables have turned, and now Kendrick Lamar is like “whatever, Will is overrated.”
19. Cat Power — Ruin
18. Matthew Dear — Up & Out. Sam says this sounds too 80’sed out, but I think it rocks. I hope I’m right, because the 80’s are the worst.
17. The Amazing — Gentle Stream. This year’s Fleet Foxes?
16. Andrew Bird — Desperation Breeds. I’ll always have a soft spot for Andrew Bird. Love the reverb-heavy electric violin picking on this track.
15. The Field Recordings — We Will Become Strangers Faster Now. I found these guys on some random Connecticut indie music blog because I was in CT. Good find, me!
14. The Spyrals — Lonely Eyes. Local SF dudes, stummin’ guitars like it’s the 60’s.
13. Poolside — Only Everything. I listened to a lot of KCRW this year. Great station. They play a bit more electronic music than I usually listen to, including a lot of this LA band. Disco! Pools! Cocktails! People in Bathing Suits! All good things!
12. Sun Kil Moon — Sunshine in Chicago. This is a sad song about growing older, which is a really sad thing. But it’s pretty. Sad + pretty usually equals heavy, but somehow this is light, almost buoyant. There’s gotta be a metaphor in here somewhere.
11. Plants and Animals — Lightshow. During/after the Plants and Animals show at the Bottom of the Hill last May, I: a) supplied everyone around me with a needless excess of bad whiskey; b) snuck backstage to tell the band that the show rocked and invited them to a party that did not exist; c) was hip-checked by M O’H in the middle of 18th St. and possibly broke my patella; d) all of the above.
10. Django Django — Hail Bop
9. Sic Alps — God Bless Her, I Miss Her. The Sic Alps are another one of those bands that finally got aboard the “hey, we’re pretty good, so let’s stop recording our music in lo-fi which makes us sound like we just learned how to play our instruments after we bought them at Target yesterday” train. Glad they did.
8. White Denim — Gas On F. White Denim is a great band to see live. Super high energy, crazy segues from song to song.
7. Mø – Pilgrim
6. Bonnie “Prince” Billy — Hummingbird, Pt. 1. A classic bluesy stomp that entirely avoids the trap of being too boringly bluesy.
5. Ty Segall — Thank God for Sinners. Ty Segall rocks so hard. For reasons I will never understand, he was invited to play a morning news show in Chicago. The anchors do not understand those reasons either. Also OMG I just learned that Ty Segall is moving to LA and that is just horrible news.
4. Lianne Las Havas — Tease Me. I don’t know anything about Lianne Las Havas other than she has written this song, is really good at fingerpicking her guitar, and is really good at singing. Just sexy, smoky, and true.
3. Tame Impala — Mind Mischief. Tame Impala does the new psyche thing better than anyone.
2. Divine Fits — Flaggin’ a Ride. Divine Fits is made up the guy from Spoon and the Guy from Wolf Parade. This song sounds like a mix between a great Spoon track and a great Wolf Parade track. So that worked out pretty nicely.
1. Daniel Rossen — Silent Song. Just perfect. Love the sound he gets out of his guitar, love the stages and phases of every song on his (too) short EP from earlier this year. By all means buy that EP and you will thank me. Just gorgeous, inspired, provocative, fun music. Daniel Rossen: please come to SF! You can stay on our airbed, and we’ll make you pancakes in the morning.