Monday, 17 December 2012

Top 20 of 2012

Good evening

I was going to write a new intro for this post but I thought I'd check last year's first.  I think it's fine as it is, so I've lazily lifted it and reposted here...

So below is my Top 20 of 2012. &nbs`;A few words before you continue...

You won't agree with me.  Some of you will think I'm pretentious for including a raft of songs you've never heard of.  Some of you will think I'm too 'mainstream' in my choices.  Some of you will think this is a massive exercise in showing off.  And that's fine.  My opinion is no better or worse than yours and my choices are no more or less valid than yours would be.  This is just my opinion - you might not like it but I can't help that.  But before you grumble to yourself or tell me I'm an idiot, try and do this yourself.

The "rules" are simple - any song that has been released (as a single, on an album or even as demo/give-away) is eligible to be included.  Pick 20 that represent your favourite and don't include more than one per artist.   I added a rule of my own where I'd limit myself to maximum one choice where collaborations had occurred.  So for example, both Arctic Monkeys and Alex Turner individually made the 2011 Longlist but I would limit myself to a choice from one.  This is only to add variety.

The list presented below is given as Track name - Artist ,/i>(Clbum).  They are not ranked in order of preference or greatness but rather the order in which I personally think they make a good playlist.  I'd love to hear what you think so get involved in the comments or tweet me @BroooOwl a.d tag your posts #top20of2012

1.  Girl Like Me - Ladyhake (Anxiety)   This was a tricky choice as so many tracks of Ladyhawke's second album are just amazing (Cellophane narrowly missed out here).  I was lucky enough to see her live with a friend of mine this year as well and she's definitely incredible.  Girl Like Me is a great way to kick this off.

2.  No Hope - The Vacccines (Come Of Age)   The Vaccines' second album is full of cracking tracks and choosing one of this album also proved tricky.  If my daughter had her way, I think we'd have Teenage Icon on here but No Hope just edged it for me - it's one where I think we can all relate to the lyrics at some point in our lives.

3.  Told You Once - Howler (America Give Up)   Some great guitar and a catchy chorus really make this one for me.  America Give Up is a good album overall as well.  I'd be surprised if you manage to listen to this without playing it in your head for a few hours afterwards

4.  The Swan - Cheatahs (Sans EP)   I came into Cheatahs pretty late in 2012 but with the quality of their two EPs, I'm glad I did.  It was a bit of a showdown between this and "Coared" off their other EP (also called Coared).  I think "The Swan" made it through due to some fancy guitar work, but do listen to "Coared" and let me know if you think it has a hit of "Monkey Wrench" by Foo Fighters as I'm convinced it does.  I suspect Cheatahs will be one to watch next year.

5.&nbp; Time Will Save The Day -
Ben Kweller (Go Fly A Kite)   I'm not sure where Ben Kweller came from to appear on my iPod this year but Go Fly A Kite is an album that surprised me a fair bit.  It's probably a bit poptastic in places (not necessarily a bad thing - try "Jealous Girl" to see what I mean) but this one is a real toe-tapper.  It's also one of those songs where you'll try and sing along but end up mumbling like an idiot.  What's not to like?

6.  I Belong In Your Arms - Chairlift (Something)   I will openly tell anyone I meet that Chairlift are one of the most overlooked bands ever as far as I'm concerned.  Maybe there's a whole gaggle of people who already know how amazing they are but I could count on one hand the number of people I've ever spoken to that have heard of them.  This is a great track from a quality album and was one of the first songs on the list for the final 20.

7.  Capricornia - Allo Darlin' (Europe)   I saw Allo Darlin' in Leeds in February and they played a great set with some great support.  The album isn't necessarily to everyone's taste I suppose - I occasionally find myself drifting from one track to another quite without knowing where each has ended, but this song stands out for me.  Beautiful and melodic.

8.  I Feel Better - Gotye (Making Mirrors)   Unless you've been living under a rock this year, you'll have struggled to escape Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know.  It's made it onto my daughter's playlist for the car because of its unmistakeable likeness to Baa Baa Black Sheep at the beginning.  Such pop whimsy aside, I do like the album and this track in particular is incredible.  I'm still astounded it's not some secret portal to the 60s.  It's brilliant and I think you'll love it.

9.  Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy - Jack White (Blunderbuss)   It seems anything Jack White touches turns to gold and this solo album is no different.  Great beats combined with piano and guitar make "Blunderbuss" one of my favourite albums of this year.  This track stands out for me in amongst a lot of good songs.

10.  Emmylou - First Aid Kit (The Lion's Roar)   I love First Aid Kit.   They're sort of my country music guilty pleasure, though with some of the music I've listened to this year, I'm wondering if I'm not becoming a full on country-convert.  "Emmylou" is a wonderful song and I defy you to be not singing along by the end.

11.  Leland - Cemeteries (The Wildernes)&nbcp;  This album is one that I think you need to listen to from start to finish to appreciate, so it's rare that you can pick a track out of the middle of it that holds its own.  "Leland" has a dreamy bassline that repeats and I'm always surprised when I find out it's less than 4 minutes long.

12.  Angels - The xx (Coexist)  I was concerned that The xx wouldn't be able to follow up their first album with an equally good second.  Fortunately there were no such problems.  This is another album where listening straight through (preferably with the lights off and your eyes closed) should be the recommended listening approach.  "Angels" is the opening track and sets the tone for the whole LP

13.  Au cinema - Lianne La Havas (Is Your Love Big Enough)   Another album I came to late in the year but I'm glad I did.  I was trying to articulate to someone why I like this track so much and think part of it is because of the way she accentuates all the syllables.  Hard to explain but give it a listen and I think you'll see what I mean.

14.  Nethertons Teeth - The Magnetic North (Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North)   The Magnetic North feature Erland of Erland and the Carnival fame.  I'll be honest when I say that this is a bit of an odd album but there's something familiar about the melody of this one that lets it make the final shortlist.

15.  (I Should Be) A Communist - This Many Boyfriends (This Many Boyfriends)   It was a while back now, but I think This Many Boyfriends were supporting Allo Darlin' when I saw them in February.  Regardless, this track is brilliant.  A bit of a New Romantics vibe to it with a catchy chorus.  Another one you'll be singing along to.

16.  Anything Could Happen - Ellie Goulding (Halcyon)   I know a lot of people aren't huge fans of Ellie Goulding but it's fair to say I am.  Her second album is a definitely a mixed bag but this one really stands out for me.  I think it fits in well with the rest of the playlist as well.

17.  Black Light - Diagrams (Black Light)   Diagrams are a bit of a mystery to me.  I'm sure someone told me I had to listen to them and if that was you, I'm very grateful.  "Black Light" narrowly beat "Ghost Lit" onto the list but your life will be a little bit richer for listening to both

18.  Down Here In The Dark - Blood Red Shoes (In Time To Voices)   This is a bit of a sultry sounding song with a slow beat to start off but picks up into something as it progresses.  I'll confess I'd not listened to much Blood Red Shoes before but I really like this one

19.  R U Mine - Arctic Monkeys (R U Mine (single))   Anyone who knows me won't be surprised to see Arctic Monkeys on this list.  They've had a quiet year after their 4th album in 2011 but this track has a lot of play on my iPod this year.  It's heavier than anything from "Suck It And See" but it's still amazing.  I'm a huge fan of pretty much anything Alex Turner does and this is no exception

20.  Down Into The Woods - Richard Hawley (Standing At The Sky's Edge)   Richard Hawley not winning the Mercury prize this year was a bit of a travesty in my opinion.  This is a fantastic album from start to finish and choosing one track off it was incredibly tough.  "Seek It" missed out by the tiniest margin and I'd really urge you to listen to it as well.  This song has some great guitar and Hawley's voice is excellent.

As with last year, there's some music I've been disappointed in and some other good albums that didn't make the cut.  The Killers' new album really let me down - I think they've just moved too far away from the stuff I really liked on Hot Fuss.  The New Alicia Keys album also didn't live up to what I was expecting.  Alt-J missed the final 20 by a short length - Tessellate is a great track in my opinion.  Whilst I know it was also pretty fashionable to like Lana Del Rey in January and hate her by summer, I really do like "Born To Die" and Diet Mountain Dew is a great track.

A new "award" for this year is my Album of the Year which this year goes to Ladyhawke.  Anxiety is a superb LP in my opinion and it's hard to pick a poor song off it.  If you were going to pick one album off the Top 20 (or the longlist), then I'd really make it this one.

As with last year, I've done aSpotify playlist of the Top 20 of 2012 for you to listen to.  Or at least I have in theory.  I'm a bit hopeless with Spotify playlists, something my friend Lorna will hopefully rectify for me if this doesn't work.  Give them a listen a see what you think.

If you made it this far, then thanks for reading.  Hopefully you'll find something new you've not heard before.

This is my last blog before Christmas, so I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and eat/sleep/drink as much as you like.  Hopefully you'll get a few decent presents too.  I'll be back before new year to give you my 2012 Review.



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