Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Twelve Songs For 2012

I listened to a lot of music in 2012, but these twelve songs most often and most obsessively. Play loud.

Copper Fields by Blacklisted. The band takes their stage magic v. real magic as motif for relationship and executes on it perfectly. The vocalist is no magician and the love between the two people wasn't conjured up whether from the depths of our psyche or a sleeve or hat. It's also one of Blacklisted's best songs, new or otherwise, and stands taller, I think than most of the incredible Heavier Than Heaven or No One Deserves.

"More like suicide king / less like ace of hearts."

Drag My Body by Hot Water Music. I believe this is the best song they've ever written. I didn't bother listening to Exister because of how good this song was. It's not like Hot Water Music is going to top it until the next record. Another pinnacle from a band known for incredible highs and breathtaking views.

"Something's rattling my bones!"

Bag by White Lung. They might dislike choruses. I love 'em and in one of my favorite Deranged records to come out in years, a chorus means something. I listened to this record in transit, but especially during the NATO Summit. It was music that made me feel ashamed for not protesting.

"I'm about to / warn you"

Desert Lily by Make Do And Mend. I must have heard this guitar line somewhere before. Maybe in another life? One before, or one yet to come? I'd say this thing cuts, but it isn't meant to cut. It's meant to soothe and ameliorate. It does that. So it's a ballad about finally being home from tour and with your lover, and it might be the only one on this list. It's one song on the record that sounds the least like their guiding star, Hot Water Music. I want, desperately, to hear where they go after this.

"I've earned my share of home..."

Patriot-Hostage Calm. It's a mid to late album stunner. It's almost acapella, mostly four voices and if the Futureheads hadn't already done an entire record acapella, I'd stare slack-jawed. But, it's executed well and surprise counts for a lot. It might have my favorite lyric on the entire record. It's about American history and the disappointments that come from knowing where that progress comes from and what it entailed.

"And drunk with pride / you hurt / you stole but I still carried you home / from the jungles to the deserts / to the trenches' reddened snow..."

Here Comes My Man-The Gaslight Anthem. Brian Fallon's lyrics tend to find easy crutches for purchase. Blood is spilled on the page. Black as a raven. Women are drugs. You get the idea. Despite that, I connected with Here Comes My Man in a way that I haven't connected with Gaslight Anthem song since I first heard Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis when I was in Pennsylvania. As an aside, that's a Planes Mistaken For Stars shirt that the drummer wears. Oh yes.

"Singing oh sha la la..."

The Obituaries-The Menzingers. So the Menzingers are pessimistic. They've got every right to be. They know intimately how far good songs will take them, and they also know intimately how those same songs can't pay them rent. But. Some kid will hear this song and know that the Menzingers aren't insulting their intelligence or talking down to them. With this, they become the heroes they always aimed for.

"I will fuck this up, I fucking know it..."

Constellations-Enter Shikari. The rest of the record is hit or miss, but the final track on A Flash Flood Of Colour is a game-winning home run. I'm not terribly interested in their sound generally, but this song is something fantastic. If it doesn't make you look up at the sky and smile, well, there might be nothing for you. It's the most traditional song on the record, by a wide margin. Maybe that's why I like it? It's easier to digest.

"with forgiveness as our torch and imagination our sword..."

 Maple Boy-No Trigger. This song feels too good to be true. The rush of melody. The rush of speed. I'm sad the rest of Tycoon isn't as good, but between this and Checkmate, it was a brilliant, but not quite blinding ray of sunlight in the miserable winter.

"But now in its place / a legacy of full grown trees!"

Sunset On 32nd (live)-Strike Anywhere. Acoustic record. Live. It comes off of a record that has two parts, one part that's almost a BBC live session, it's clear and it's pretty. The other is from a benefit for the IWW and it's billed as more raucous, and it is, but there's almost no crowd singing, which is what you go to a raucous Strike Anywhere gig for. Except, of course, for one song and that one song is Sunset On 32nd. In this one song, you understand why this part of the record exists.

"and when they pinned you to the floor / did you say / 'officer I am not resisting you?'"

Self Immolation Family-Self Defense Family. It goes a indulgent by the end, the riff gets a little long in the tooth. But still. They need an editor, it's true, but until minute five, the six minute song is majestic and frankly, I didn't know the band that wrote Eddie Antar could do that. Maybe they can do anything...

"Tune with no bite. Tune with no reach..."
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