50 best songs of the calendar year. Songs must be from an EP, LP or demo released during 2012 and no band may appear twice. Today, we count down 30 to 21.
30. Reptar - "Orifice Origami"
No one had more fun in 2012 than Reptar did during the opening thirty seconds of single, "Orifice Origami". The shuddering synthesizer arrangement coalesced for a brief moment on the shouting lyric, "Something's not all right here," a sort of something-is-rotten-in-the-state-of-Denmark for a generation of kids almost as gutted and even less decisive than Hamlet. Irony was the twist, a party song about everything being all fucked up, dancing on the edge of a disaster, or what your summer should have sounded like if you were under the age of 30 and stuck with these circumstances.
29. NO - "Another Life"
"Another Life," represented the resounding announcement from post-National rock outfit NO. It channeled Berninger to be sure, only missing a lyric about apple pies or lemonade or something in the lemonade. It was Americana all the same, dark slices of counterfactual, lines like "we'll get pretty after," all targeting a group of future selves that would self-actualize. It wasn't "Mr. November" but on the shaking conclusion, it was NO's "Mr. November".
28. Paradise - "Endless Wave"
Paradise is shaping up to have a massive 2013 around first demo "Endless Wave," a carefree surf-pop arrangement that owes just as much to the Beach Boys as it does to LCD Soundsystem. Opening to a stomping middle section, the band concerned itself with languid days of summer and a sort of zero-friction reality where the confetti cannons explode and we're all carried away on their "Endless Wave".
27.The Rest - "Laughing Yearning"
The most criminally underrated rock band of 2012, The Rest released a crushingly great record and no one from mainstream independent music circles, at least in the US, seemed to go as bananas as they, perhaps, should have. "Laughing Yearning," without spoiling all the fun, is the song that Local Natives will struggle to find on their second long-player, a wide open and Western rock song about hysterical lost love. These were celebratory drums, and a soaring melody, all colliding in one of the best chord resolutions of the year, the lead singer moaning into the maw, tumbling downwards and finding himself in the final group of choruses.
26. Bloc Party - "Truth"
No one made guitars sound so at once warm and abrasive as Bloc Party did on "Truth". Easily the best song off what was a forgettable fourth record - and it was called Four which should have been the first non-silent sign of alarm - "Truth" churned forward toward a crystalline chorus. The band's traditional sawing guitars were here harnessed for the purposes of elevation, signaling a danger and a submission, Kele promising, "I am yours now, respectfully."
25. The Mean Season - "Hearts"
It was gritty stuff on The Mean Season's "Hearts," opening lyrics about past pursuits and cold hearts. The innovation, beyond the shabby indie rock arrangement, was the critical commentary about the heart ever became a symbol for love. Perhaps it is just a mean little fist that keeps you from dying. Maybe love is elsewhere, rather than the four-chambered flesh beneath your rib cage. Even a bit meta, the band demanded, "Who decided it was such perfect symbol for love/when it's only an organ pumping your blood?" in one of the best, worst and most memorable lyrics of the year.
24. Theme Park - "Jamaica"
Like St. Lucia, Theme Park was actively engaged in making equatorial music in 2012. "Jamaica" joined the already great single, "Two Weeks," to firm up the sense that Theme Park could be staging a take over in the next few months. "Jamaica" was carefree, an instantly memorable hook and a chorus that drifted along under its own power.
23. Thieving Irons - "Poison"
If "Poison" didn't make sense to you, you either had an intensely bucolic adolescence or missed it all together. The narrative thrust, the repeating hook, "I've got poison in my head," exploded into a middle section that was the closest rock music has come to the churn and crush of the finishing kick of LCD's "All My Friends." After all, "Poison" had a second motif. "You were always on my mind," they sang, a reference that this poison might have a proper noun attached to it. She, like the song that followed, was an absolute killer.
22. Harriet - "I Slept With All Your Mothers"
There wasn't much to "I Slept With All Your Mothers." It was less than two-and-a-half minutes long, a lonely little piano and some plodding guitars. It was the vocal, a screaming and insistent melody, not to mention the most pathological conclusion of any rock song of the year, that sent "I Slept With All Your Mothers" near the top of 2012. It was all love and rage, a "fuck off" to the girl who broke your heart, and a middle of the town square scream, "I Slept With All Your Mothers!" before wading off into the friscalating darkness alone.
21. Suburban Living - "I Don't Fit In"
It was the Cure song that the Cure never released. "I Don't Fit In" was independent rock's "Friday I'm In Love" for 2012, only without the saccharine coating and the radio play. All reverb and washing guitars, Suburban Living chased the melody around for awhile before shouting the title lyric against a backdrop of glittering guitars. It was the final downbeat, a relentless and dogged driver, that propelled the arrangement along. This was the music the Drums could never dream of making, a sadness of an unarticulated type that no one has time for anymore.