Here’s the playlist from my spur of the moment show tonight. Thanks to everyone who tuned in! I had a lot of fun. I will be starting up a more official weekly show on WYBCX within the week.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 6/28/13
Thanks for tuning in to my radio show last night on WNHU. Below you can find the complete playlist, as well as a link to stream it via Spotify. Tune in again next week for a special broadcast, during which my sister will help me out as a guest DJ. It should be a fun time.
- 1. Okkervil River - “Unless It’s Kicks”
- 2. The Front Bottoms - “Funny You Should Ask”
- 3. Smith Westerns - “Glossed”
- 4. Liz Phair - “Dance of the Seven Veils”
- 5. Camera Obscura - “Troublemaker”
- 6. Dinah Washington - “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
- 7. jj - “Fågelsången”
- 8. Autre Ne Veut - “Counting”
- 9. Wise Blood - “Rat”
- 10. Daughn Gibson - “You Don’t Fade”
- 11. Avi Buffalo - “Remember Last Time”
- 12. The Hold Steady - “Most People Are DJs”
- 13. 10,000 Blades - “Fireball” (for dustbaby)
- 14. Cursive - “Dorothy at Forty”
- 15. Pissed Jeans - “Bathroom Laughter”
- 16. Poverty Hollow - “Welter”
- 17. Liz Phair - “Firewalker”
- 18. Serengeti - “Crush Em”
- 19. Pure X - “Crawling Up The Stairs”
- 20. Zomby - “Horrid”
- 21. How To Dress Well - “When I Was In Trouble”
- 22. Boards of Canada - “1969”
- 23. Daft Punk - “Doin’ It Right” (feat. Panda Bear)
- 24. The Hold Steady - “Stevie Nix”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 5/31/13
Thanks to those of you who tuned in to my radio show on Friday. Here’s the full playlist, along with an embedded link at the bottom to stream the available tracks via Spotify.
- 1. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - “Shake The Sheets”
- 2. Troubled Hubble - “14,000 Things To Be Happy About”
- 3. Mikal Cronin - “Change”
- 4. The Front Bottoms - “Peach”
- 5. Weezer - “Waiting On You”
- 6. Vampire Weekend - “Walcott”
- 7. The Flaming Lips - “In The Morning Of The Magicians”
- 8. Desaparecidos - “Survival of the Fittest / It’s A Jungle Out There”
- 9. Iceage - “You’re Nothing”
- 10. Wavves - “Lunge Forward”
- 11. I Kill Giants - “Boys of Bummer”
- 12. My Bloody Valentine - “Swallow” (Requested by Brian Grochowski)
- 13. The Replacements - “Talent Show”
- 14. New Order - “Temptation”
- 15. Daft Punk - “Fragments of Time” (feat. Todd Edwards)
- 16. Vår - “Boy”
- 17. Majical Cloudz - “This Is Magic”
- 18. The National - “Graceless”
- 19. R.E.M.- “World Leader Pretend”
- 20. Told Slant - “I Am Not”
- 21. Elvis Depressedly - “Thinning Out”
- 22. 10,000 Blades - “Up North”
- 23. Pavement - “Here”
- 24. Josh Ritter - “Joy To You Baby”
- 25. An Amiable Medley - “At What Speed Must I Travel”
- 26. Eluvium - “Caroling”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 5/10/13
Esteemed guest DJ Ruth Douglas and I had a good time spinning tunes for you last night on WNHU. Thanks for tuning in and placing requests! I hope you enjoyed the show. Check out the playlist below and stream it via Spotify at the bottom.
- 1. Sondre Lerche - “Love You”
- 2. Sondre Lerche - “Track You Down”
- 3. Deerhunter - “Agoraphobia”
- 4. Phoenix - “Trying To Be Cool”
- 5. Vampire Weekend - “Unbelievers”
- 6. Dum Dum Girls - “He Gets Me High”
- 7. The So So Glos - “Son Of An American”
- 8. Pet Symmetry - “Please Don’t Tell My Father That I Used His 1996 Honda Accord to Destroy The Town of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania In 2002”
- 9. Mikal Cronin - “Weight”
- 10. Naive Thieves - “Grindin’”
- 11. Anamanaguchi - “Blackout City”
- 12. Great Thunder - “Kees”
- 13. Christopher Owens - “A Broken Heart” (Acoustic)
- 14. Death Cab For Cutie - “Champagne From A Paper Cup”
- 15. The New Pornographers - “The Laws Have Changed” (Requested by oceanofantics)
- 16. Bright Eyes - “Lua” (requested by Maeve Holler)
- 17. The Front Bottoms - “Skeleton”
- 18. Deerhunter - “Monomania”
- 19. Slow Warm Death - “Sunburn”
- 20. Vampire Weekend - “Finger Back”
- 21. Paul Simon - “Graceland”
- 22. Rilo Kiley - “I Never”
- 23. The National - “Secret Meeting”
- 24. The National - “Karen”
- 25. The Postal Service - “Turn Around”
- 26. Baths - “Phaedra”
- 27. Youth Lagoon - “Posters”
- 28. Sigur Rós - “Ísjaki”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 4/19/13
Thanks for tuning in last night, to those of you who did. I gave away a free Low CD and talked about Iceage a lot. I hope you liked it.
- 1. James Blake - “Overgrown”
- 2. Devendra Banhart - “Mi Negrita”
- 3. Local Natives - “Who Knows, Who Cares”
- 4. Chelsea Light Moving - “Heavenmetal”
- 5. The Front Bottoms - “Twin Size Mattress”
- 6. Great Caesar - “Generations”
- 7. The Thermals - “Faces Stay With Me”
- 8. Somebody’s Basement - “November, 2000 and 12!”
- 9. Telekinesis - “Empathetic People”
- 10. White Lung - “Those Girls”
- 11. Iceage - “Morals”
- 12. Daft Punk - “Get Lucky” (Radio Edit) (feat. Pharrell)
- 13. Silver Jews - “Dallas”
- 14. I Kill Giants - “Collector”
- 15. The Stone Roses - “Made Of Stone”
- 16. Kurt Vile - “Was All Talk”
- 17. Low - “Amethyst”
- 18. Hann Cassady - “Evergreen”
- 19. Bob Dylan - “Sara”
- 20. Sondre Lerche - “Stupid Memory”
- 21. Pure X - “Someone Else”
- 22. The Microphones - “My Roots Are Strong And Deep”
- 23. Titus Andronicus - “Arms Against Atrophy”
- 24. Elvis Depressedly - “Weird Honey”
- 25. Silver Jews - “Death of an Heir of Sorrows”
- 26. 10,000 Blades - “Airstream, 1972”
- 27. David Bello and his God-Given Right - “La La La”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 3/29/13
I was happy to get back on the radio this weekend after missing a couple Fridays due to vacation plans. Last night’s playlist comprised a compendium of new stuff from (sort-of) guilty pleasure acts like Vampire Weekend and Justin Timberlake, along with truly terrific new tracks from Phosphorescent, Old Gray, Josh Ritter, Donovan Wolfington and more. I truly wish I had enough time to write about all of the new stuff that I’ve been loving lately, but hopefully I’ll be able to compensate for that in the near future. If you didn’t catch my show on Friday, feel free to stream the available tracks via Spotify at the embedded link at the bottom of this post. Tune in again next Friday, April 5th, for another live broadcast of Left of the Dial on WNHU.
- 1. The Microphones - “I Want Wind To Blow”
- 2. Sondre Lerche - “Track You Down”
- 3. The Strokes - “Tap Out”
- 4. Vampire Weekend - “Diane Young”
- 5. The Modern Lovers - “Roadrunner”
- 6. Parquet Courts - “Master of My Craft”
- 7. The New Pornographers - “Mystery Hours”
- 8. Grandaddy - “Now It’s On”
- 9. The Thermals- “The Sunset” (Requested by total-witch)
- 10. Wavves - “Cop”
- 11. David F. Bello - “Better Off”
- 12. Cursive - “Bad Sects”
- 13. Donovan Wolfington - “Love Is Natural”
- 14. Algebrahs - “Salt of the Sea”
- 15. Foxygen - “No Destruction”
- 16. fun. - “Benson Hedges”
- 17. Suede - “Faultlines”
- 18. Wavves - “Demon to Lean On”
- 19. Christopher Owens - “Here We Go”
- 20. Justin Timberlake - “That Girl”
- 21. Bilal - “West Side Girl”
- 22. Blue Hawaii - “In Two”
- 23. Phosphorescent - “Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master)”
- 24. Josh Ritter - “A Certain Light”
- 25. Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - “Hanging Up My Heart”
- 26. Lou Reed - “I’m So Free”
- 27. Milkshakes - “Distant”
- 28. Old Gray - “Coventry”
- 29. Sigur Rós - “Brennisteinn”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 3/8/13
Last night my band Circle Circle played a local basement show and I took the opportunity to ‘pregame’ for it via my radio broadcast that directly preceded it. If for some reason you ever wanted to know what I listen to in order to get psyched up for a live performance, this playlist should give you some kind of indication. For my solo shows, I usually just listen to early Bright Eyes records on repeat… I hope that everyone who tuned in enjoyed the show, and I appreciate those of you who sent in requests. Stream the playlist via a Spotify link at the bottom and be sure to tune in next Friday from 6 to 8 for another live broadcast.
- 1. The Magnetic Fields - “Absolutely Cuckoo”
- 2. The Love Language - “Two Rabbits”
- 3. 10,000 Blades - “I Disagree With Randy Newman”
- 4. Slow Warm Death - “Sunburn”
- 5. Sleater-Kinney - “Modern Girl” (Requested by odd-spirit)
- 6. Liz Phair - “Stratford-On-Guy”
- 7. Jenny and Johnny - “Animal”
- 8. The National - “Start A War”
- 9. Miracle Legion - “The Ladies From Town”
- 10. Sun Kil Moon - “The Winery”
- 11. Devendra Banhart - “Daniel”
- 12. Broken Social Scene - “Stars and Sons”
- 13. Dum Dum Girls - “I Got Nothing”
- 14. David Bowie - “Valentine’s Day”
- 15. Stevie Wonder - “Summer Soft”
- 16. Milo - “Monologion”
- 17. Bright Eyes - “Approximate Sunlight”
- 18. Ólafur Arnalds - “For Now I Am Winder” (Feat. Arnor Dan)
- 19. Shlomo - “Don’t Say No” (Feat. How To Dress Well)
- 20. Baths - “Miasma Sky”
- 21. Giraffage - “Thinking About You”
- 22. The Cranberries - “Dreams”
- 23. Rilo Kiley - “With Arms Outstretched”
- 24. Slow Warm Death - “Blood 2”
- 25. Yo La Tengo - “Before We Run”
- 26. Sharon Van Etten - “All I Can”
- 27. Lou Reed - “Berlin” (Request)
- 28. Waxahatchee - “Swan Dive”
Stream via Spotify:
Thanks to those of you who tuned in to my radio show Left of the Dial last night. I got a number of great requests and it was generally a really nice broadcast. The full playlist is below, along with a link to stream the available tracks via Spotify. Tune in again next Friday from 6 to 8 for another live broadcast.
- 1. Youth Lagoon - “Mute”
- 2. Beach Fossils - “Shallow”
- 3. The Men - “Half Angel Half Light”
- 4. Joyce Manor - “Call Out (Laundry)”
- 5. Somebody’s Basement - “860”
- 6. The La’s - “There She Goes”
- 7. Jens Lekman - “Black Cab”
- 8. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - “Wide Lovely Eyes”
- 9. The Act Of Estimating As Worthless - “Algae”
- 10. Pill Friends - “Wearing My Dead Dog’s Skin”
- 11. Serengeti - “Seasons”
- 12. Flying Lotus - “See Through To U” (Feat. Erykah Badu)
- 13. Atoms For Peace - “Ingenue”
- 14. Kitty - “Hittin Lixxx”
- 15. College - “The Energy Story”
- 16. Kavinsky - “ProtoVision”
- 17. Owen- “Good Deeds” (Requested by withlugosi)
- 18. Single Mothers - “Baby”
- 19. Rivers Cuomo - “Let Me Wash At Your Sink”
- 20. Waxahatchee - “Whiskey & Math”
- 21. Infinity Crush - “Paper Dreams”
- 22. The Mountain Goats - “The Mess Inside”
- 23. Paul Baribeau - “Only Babies Cry”
- 24. Sufjan Stevens - “Give A Little Love”
- 25. SPOOK HOUSES - “Garden”
- 26. Pavement - “Stop Breathin’” (Requested by Malcolm)
- 27. Mark Kozelek - “I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was The Greatest Night Of My Life” (Live at Phoenix Public House Melbourne version)
- 28. Into It. Over It. - “Pontiac, MI”
- 29. Ricky Eat Acid - “I Can Hear The Heart Breaking As One”
- 30. Grouper - “The Man Who Died In His Boat”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 2/15/13
Thanks to everyone who tuned in and the people who made requests during my radio show last night on WNHU. Check out the full playlist below, and stream the available tracks via Spotify through the embedded link at the bottom. Tune in again next Friday from 6 to 8 PM for another live broadcast.
- 1. The Thermals - “I Might Need You To Kill”
- 2. David Bowie - “A New Career In A New Town”
- 3. Broken Social Scene - “Fire Eye’d Boy”
- 4. By Surprise - “Criteria”
- 5. My Heart To Joy - “Giving My Hands Away”
- 6. Sondre Lerche - “Modern Nature” (Requested by anonymous)
- 7. LVL UP - “Graveyard”
- 8. Elvis Costello - “No Dancing”
- 9. Cymbals Eat Guitars - “…And The Hazy Sea”
- 10. Yo La Tengo - “Paddle Forward”
- 11. My Bloody Valentine - “Who Sees You”
- 12. Ducktails - “Sedan Magic”
- 13. Foxygen - “Shuggie”
- 14. Serge Gainsbourg - “Ballade De Melody Nelson”
- 15. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - “Push the Sky Away”
- 16. Cat Power - “Metal Heart”
- 17. Beat Happening - “I Love You” (Requested by dbldblwhmmy)
- 18. LVL UP - “Nightshade”
- 19. Infinity Crush - “Sleeping In On A Snow Day (In 2011)”
- 20. Julia Brown - “Virginia”
- 21. Teen suicide - “Falling In Love”
- 22. Perfume Genius - “Normal Song”
- 23. Giraffage - “All That Matters”
- 24. Elvis Depressedly - “Cry Babies”
- 25. The Tallest Man On Earth - “Wind and Walls”
- 26. The Decemberists - “Odalisque”
- 27. The Comsat Angels - “Independence Day”
- 28. Crystal Castles - “Suffocation”
- 29. Destroyer - “Downtown”
- 30. LCD Soundsystem - “Great Release”
Stream via Spotify:
I made a mix for today. Fourteen songs for February 14th. Stream it at the embedded link below or download the whole thing HERE. It’s all properly tagged and ordered and everything. I made it for both my heartbroken followers and my happily coupled followers, but mostly for the heartbroken ones.
- 1. Jens Lekman - “I Know What Love Isn’t”
- 2. Julia Brown - “Library”
- 3. Bright Eyes - “Loose Leaves”
- 4. Morrissey - “I Am Hated For Loving”
- 5. Midi & The Modern Dance - “Where Do You Think I Belong?”
- 6. My Bloody Valentine - “New You”
- 7. Teen Suicide - “Falling In Love”
- 8. Sky Ferreira - “Everything Is Embarrassing”
- 9. Dirty Projectors - “Impregnable Question”
- 10. Bob Dylan - “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”
- 11. Christopher Owens - “Everywhere You Knew”
- 12. Chet Baker - “It’s Always You”
- 13. Cat Power - “Color and the Kids”
- 14. Waxahatchee - “I Think I Love You”
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 2/1/13
We were having some technical difficulties in the studio at WNHU last night, and the online stream may or may not have been working for the entirety of the broadcast. Anyway, if you did get a chance to tune in, or if you’re just interested in what I played, here is the full playlist from Left of the Dial last night. I won’t be doing my show next Friday because I’ll be seeing Jeff Mangum, but be sure to tune in the Friday after that for another live broadcast.
Stream the available tracks from the playlist below via Spotify.
- 1. The Antlers - “I Don’t Want Love”
- 2. The Velvet Underground - “Beginning to See The Light”
- 3. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “A Teenager In Love”
- 4. Los Campesinos! - “Romance Is Boring”
- 5. Grimes - “Genesis”
- 6. Wise Blood - “B.I.G. E.G.O.”
- 7. Dirty Projectors - “Gun Has No Trigger”
- 8. Animal Collective - “Also Frightened”
- 9. Primal Scream - “Higher Than The Sun”
- 10. The Beach Boys - “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”
- 11. The Stone Roses - “Waterfall”
- 12. Elvis Costello - “The Greatest Thing”
- 13. Cat Power - “Manhattan”
- 14. The xx - “Islands”
- 15. David Bowie - “Sound and Vision”
- 16. The Jam - “Start!”
- 17. Titus Andronicus - “Ecce Homo”
- 18. The Modern Lovers - “Roadrunner”
- 19. LCD Soundsystem - “Beat Connection”
- 20. Tame Impala - “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
- 21. Iceage - “Coalition”
- 22. Bright Eyes - “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)”
- 23. Crystal Castles - “Untrust Us”
- 24. WHY? - “These Few Presidents”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 1/25/13
Thanks to those of you who tuned in to last night’s broadcast of Left of the Dial. It honestly felt like one of the best shows I’ve had in a long time in terms of playlist quality; maybe this whole ‘losing all the music on my harddrive and rebuilding from scratch’ thing is paying off. Check out the full playlist below and stream the available tracks via Spotify at the embedded link at the bottom. As always, be sure to tune in again next Friday from 6 to 8 PM.
- 1. Hymie’s Basement - “21st Century Pop Song”
- 2. The Dismemberment Plan - “The City”
- 3. Broken Social Scene - “Almost Crimes” (Radio Kills remix)
- 4. Bleeding Rainbow - “Pink Ruff”
- 5. Television - “Venus”
- 6. Hallelujah The Hills - “Get Me In A Room”
- 7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “So Good At Being In Trouble”
- 8. Sidewalk Dave - “Cayenne”
- 9. Titus Andronicus - “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With The Flood of Detritus”
- 10. Suns - “Be Good Boy”
- 11. Iceage - “Coalition”
- 12. X - “We’re Desperate”
- 13. Pylon - “Crazy”
- 14. Rilo Kiley - “Portions For Foxes”
- 15. Screaming Females - “Poison Arrow”
- 16. Ducktails - “Ivy Covered House”
- 17. Marti Jones - “The Element Within Her” (Elvis Costello cover)
- 18. My Bloody Valentine - “When You Sleep”
- 19. Purity Ring - “Grandloves”
- 20. Eskmo - “We Are All Terrestrial”
- 21. Nosaj Thing - “Home”
- 22. Small Black - “Photojournalist”
- 23. Waxahatchee - “Peace and Quiet”
- 24. Wye Oak - “Civilian”
- 25. Comadre - “Hack”
- 26. Black Moth Super Rainbow - “Windshield Smasher”
- 27. The Magnetic Fields - “Strange Powers”
- 28. Grouper - “Living Room”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 1/18/13
Thanks to everybody who tuned in to my most recent radio broadcast on Friday. My guest DJ Malcolm and I had a lot of fun spinning tracks for those of you who listened. Check out the full playlist below and stream the available tracks via Spotify at the bottom.
- 1. WHY? - “January Twenty Something”
- 2. Animal Collective - “The Purple Bottle”
- 3. Belle and Sebastian - “My Wandering Days Are Over”
- 4. Bob Dylan - “The Man In Me”
- 5. Christopher Owens - “Love Is In The Ear of the Listener”
- 6. Junip - “Line of Fire”
- 7. Paul Simon - “The Obvious Child”
- 8. Laura Stevenson & the Cans - “Beets Untitled” (Requested by Sam)
- 9. The New Pornographers - “Myriad Harbour” (Requested by oceanofantics)
- 10. The Postal Service - “Nothing Better”
- 11. JJ - “Ecstasy”
- 12. Rilo Kiley - “The Execution of All Things”
- 13. Destroyer - “The Sublimation Hour”
- 14. California X - “Curse of the Nightmare”
- 15. Youth Lagoon - “Dropla”
- 16. Sky Ferreira - “Everything Is Embarrassing”
- 17. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - “Shipbuilding”
- 18. Andrew Bird - “Anonanimal”
- 19. Ellen McIlwaine - “Can’t Find My Way Home”
- 20. Four Tet - “Angel Echoes”
- 21. Antonio Carlos Jobim - “Agua de Beber”
- 22. King Geedorah - “Anti-Matter” (Feat. MF Doom & Mr. Fantastik)
- 23. Bonga - “Mona Ki Ngi Xica”
- 24. Bear in Heaven - “Beast in Peace”
- 25. Beirut - “Venice”
Stream via Spotify:
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 1/4/13
My first radio broadcast of 2013 went off without a hitch. Thanks for everyone who tuned in and enjoyed some of my early pickings of great new music for the new year. January is a great time because there aren’t too many high-profile new records coming out, but I’ve found that the ones that do get released or leaked around this time are often very good. Last year we had that Cloud Nothings album, the Sharon Van Etten LP, and Perfume Genius all within the first month or so, and this year I’ve already heard solid-to-great new records from Low, Yo La Tengo, Christopher Owens, A$AP Rocky, and more. I’ve also gotten a chance to listen to some stuff that I missed in 2012, such as that terrific Bat For Lashes album.
Check out the full playlist below and stream it via Spotify at the embedded link at the bottom. Unfortunately, since much of the material was new, unreleased, and/or rare, not many of these tracks were available in the Spotify database.
- 1. By Surprise - “Who’s To Say This Year Will Be Any Different?”
- 2. P.S. Eliot - “Mood Ring”
- 3. Aye Nako - “Molasses”
- 4. Beach Fossils - “Generational Synthetic”
- 5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “From The Sun”
- 6. Tame Impala - “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
- 7. Yo La Tengo - “Ohm”
- 8. Bomb The Music Industry! - “Big Kisses”
- 9. Into It. Over It. - “A Curse Worth Believing”
- 10. Jake Shaker - “Hard To Find”
- 11. Christopher Owens - “Everywhere You Knew”
- 12. Milo - “Sweet Chin Music (The Fisher King’s Anthem)”
- 13. Big Boi - “Higher Res” (feat. Jai Paul & Little Dragon)
- 14. jj - “From Africa To Malaga”
- 15. Junip - “Rope & Summit”
- 16. Crayon - “Snow Globe” (Requested by fistfuckthesky)
- 17. Crystal Castles - “Sad Eyes”
- 18. Grimes - “Vowels = Space and Time”
- 19. cLOUDDEAD - “Rifle Eyes”
- 20. Burial - “Truant”
- 21. Teen Suicide - “xxxxxxx”
- 22. Jens Lekman - “Silvia”
- 23. Bat For Lashes - “Laura”
- 24. Low - “On My Own”
- 25. Christopher Owens - “Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue)”
Stream via Spotify:
Top 25 Songs of 2012
A great song is a singular entity — something that stands out from the pack on a record, that distinguishes itself from everything it touches. The following 25 songs all happen to appear on albums that I liked, many of which I enjoyed largely because of the strength of these individual tracks and others. Some were huge singles, and others were local anthems. Some were big budget hits, and others were simple demos. Some made me laugh, more of them made me cry, but all of them made me feel something real inside. Behold, my 25 favorite songs of 2012.
Stream the 8tracks mix featuring all 25 songs in reverse order at the embedded link below. Read on and enjoy each song individually below that. As always, thank you for being supportive and reading my work. I appreciate it more than I can articulate.
25. The Magnetic Fields - "Andrew In Drag"
In a way that no other track on Love At The Bottom of the Sea succeeded, “Andrew In Drag” perfectly blends modern synths, beats, and textures with the lyricism of Stephin Merritt’s very best material as The Magnetic Fields. “Andrew In Drag” hits all the marks of being a classic Magnetic Fields track, from its twee bleeps and bloops to its unexpectedly soaring chorus, and its inclusion of gay humor for both romantic and comedic emotional appeal. It’s also got one of Merritt’s best lyrical characters in years — not Andrew, the cross-dressing titular subject, but rather the frustrating, confusingly lovestruck observer.
24. Joey Bada$$ - "Survival Tactics" (feat. Capital STEEZ)
While going over my completed list, I was actually listening to this song when I heard the news that Joey Bada$$ collaborator and Pro Era member Capital STEEZ had died of an apparent suicide at age 19. The effect was rather chilling, and probably not unlike hearing about the death of any of the now deceased 90’s hip-hop legends that Bada$$ and the Pro Era crew idolize. Before I heard the news, I was thinking about how STEEZ’s verse is what makes this song so great — such a stellar combination of 2012-nowness (to the point that it already almost feels dated) and childlike nostalgia. Bada$$, of course, is the star of the show throughout most of his 1999 mixtape, but right now, I think it’s probably more important to honor the awesome feature guest, who will sadly never grace another terrific track with his rhymes.
23. WHY? - "Sod In The Seed"
Far and away the best cut that the ever-unpredictable hip-hop act WHY? put out this year, “Sod In The Seed” is a hard-charging, fist-pumping anthem the kind of which Yoni Wolf & Co. have never before released. It drives along, driven in equal measure by a terrific bassline and Wolf’s nasally, bleeted raps, spat faster than nearly anything else in his discography, solo or otherwise. It’s a tour-de-force of a track from a strictly musical perspective, but Wolf’s hilarious lyrics are the real highlight. A road veteran, Wolf knows what he’s talking about when it comes to insincerity and vulturism in the music business, and is quick to call out all the “wordy blogger thugs” and their equivalents in the world with as much spite as he has humor. It’s self-aware, comedic, and laughable, but there’s more than a grain of truth to Wolf’s lamentation of the “first world curse.”
22. The Human Fly - "Moth"
"Moth" is the most pure and pristine distillation of the product that The Human Fly was trying to craft on Everything Feels Bad All At Once, the emotionally crippling debut from Robert Mathis’ solo project. Hell, its lyrics are even insect-themed. It’s really rather heartbreaking, posturing Mathis as the utterly insignificant ‘fly on the wall’ and subtly, beautifully conveying that feeling of total helplessness through its slowly overlapping guitars and Mathis’ deep, hushed vocals. He re-recorded this track and others with a punk band shortly after the release of the debut album, channeling that complacent grief into anger, but the effect is lost in that context. On the original, Mathis grieves solemnly, and is all the more evocative because of it.
21. Titus Andronicus - “In A Small Body”
This track may deserve its spot primarily for a single line, which happens to be my favorite lyric throughout all of Titus Andronicus' new album Local Business. In between memorable figurative punchlines like “your dick’s too short to fuck the world” and references to Titus’ pals Diarrhea Planet, Patrick Stickles delivers some cold, hard truth: “What do you know about being no sort of slave?” he screams over dueling guitars, “I know some kids who’d kill for this kind of cage.” With that verbal wrecking ball, Stickles ideologically demolishes a number of his newfound Brooklynite peers, but he also cuts himself down to size. Stickles himself is the cage — a flawed, damaged, but still remarkably privileged one at that. If there’s anything that I wish Local Business would have done more of, it would be to acknowledge that more thoroughly.
20. Elvis Depressedly - "Road Side Memorial (repeat)"
Out of the context of his 2012 album Mickey’s Dead, Elvis Depressedly's grim closer “Road Side Memorial (repeat)” paints a bleak and powerful portrait of a vague, tortured individual. In the context of the album, though, the listener realizes that it is a portrait of Mat Cothran himself — the remarkably damaged songwriter behind the Elvis Depressedly project. This knowledge doesn't necessarily increase our perceived quality of the song, but it does make me at least very worried about Cothran's stability and wellbeing. There is something so perilously honest about “Road Side Memorial,” from its reverberant, single chord throb to Cothran's hard-panned multitracked vocals almost casually dropping lines like “burn my wrists with cigarettes / wash the blood out of my dress” and “I don't want or need your fucking help.” Cothran, it seems, doesn't literally need the “self portrait painted in vomit” that he describes in the second verse; this track is as wounded, flawed, and true as any self-portrait could be.
19. Hostage Calm - "Woke Up Next To A Body"
Hostage Calm want to be a pop band, but they can’t quite shake their punk rock roots. “Woke Up Next To A Body,” from this year’s Please Remain Calm, is something like their Archaeopteryx, miraculously blending a sunny, power-pop verse melody with one of the year’s greatest stage dive-inducing, fist-pumping shout-along choruses. It’s also one of the most personal tracks on Please Remain Calm, conveying the universal struggle for romantic validation through a distinctly millenial lens. The track’s closing line, “No longer young and in love and at war with the world,” may actually describe Please Remain Calm more accurately than the band’s chosen descriptor — “The punk rock album of the Great Recession.”
18. Dum Dum Girls - "Lord Knows"
All the praise that is being heaped upon Dum Dum Girls for their new EP End Of Daze, and its lead single “Lord Knows,” seems to focus on how much frontwoman Dee Dee has developed as a songwriter. I, however, maintain that at least since the Dum Dums’ second LP, she’s always been mature, poised, and hugely talented. If I had heard Only In Dreams last year, I guarantee that “Coming Down” would have graced the top 10 of my Songs of the Year list for 2011. “Lord Knows” doesn’t quite reach the highs and lows of that aforementioned drugged out lamentation, but it’s definitely a terrific track, floating breezily on a reverb-heavy chord progression that gives way to a terrifically unexpected chorus. Dee Dee may have always been a great songwriter, but now she makes it sound easy.
17. Grimes - "Oblivion"
At the Pitchfork Music Festival this year, I skipped Grimes' set to get a spot in the front row for Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I don’t exactly regret it, but I do feel like I missed out on an important aspect of my potential 2012 experience. Even if it was just to hear this song, I would have liked to be a part of that communal existence — to take part in something that would only ever mean as much as it did in that very moment. Every year has a song like this, but no song I’ve heard has ever been like this, exactly. “Oblivion” is far-reaching in its appeal, accessible and catchy, bolstered by the year’s best video, and yet, it still feels like a great secret. I still feel like I could put it on a mixtape and not feel ashamed. In its best moments — the deceptively ominous chorus, the first time the “la la las” come in from the back of the mix, the “girl you know you’ve got to watch your health” line — it almost makes me want to love Visions as a whole. It doesn’t quite succeed at that, but it comes close.
16. Serengeti - "Go Dancin"
If Serengeti's pitch with this year's C. A. R. was for originality, then “Go Dancin” is his most successful sale. In its frantic, image-powered depiction of a decaying relationship (probably a marriage, given the context that the rest of the album provides), “Go Dancin” achieves in four minutes what countless minimalist indie films struggle to do in two hours. Geti’s constant lyrical contrasts, his increasingly emotional delivery, and the song’s brilliantly simple concept leave the listener struggling to decide whether to root for the narrator or to abandon him like his partner eventually does, as Geti’s last-ditch efforts for a meaningful life turn into empty promises and eventually selfish kiss-offs. It’s an emotionally wracked song that achieves remarkable pathos from relatively meager means.
15. Slow Warm Death - “Sleep”
The 2011 dissolution of emo revival firebrands Snowing left many wondering what direction frontman John Galm would take with his next project. He answered those questions to a certain extent when he dropped Slow Warm Demos, a demo collection released under the name of his new band Slow Warm Death. The record is perilously lo-fi, and mostly comprises gritty garage rock numbers in the vein of Ty Segall’s early material. One track, however, stands so tall above the rest that it would be criminal for Galm not to explore this style more in the future. “Sleep” begins with hollow acoustic guitar and strained vocals, calling to mind Galm’s rare solo material, but at exactly the one minute mark, the track goes supernova, evoking the massive sonic weight of Have A Nice Life with maxed-out guitars and a thunderous drum machine. Despite its demo quality, no other track blew my brains out the way that “Sleep” did this year.
14. Jens Lekman - "I Know What Love Isn’t"
Like Giles Corey, my #1 album of the year pick for 2011, Jens Lekman's I Know What Love Isn’t is best appreciated as a full album, not as a collection of songs. Unlike Giles Corey, I Know What Love Isn’t is a lot of fun to listen to. On an album full of great tracks, the song “I Know What Love Isn’t” is one particular highlight. Lekman throws caution to the wind over a jaunty acoustic guitar, shooting the shit with a best friend, ogling girls from afar and, for 3 minutes and 33 seconds, forgetting about the one who broke his poor little Swedish heart. By the end, you’ll realize that he’s still miserable and alone, but each time that the glockenspiel signals the beginning of the song, I can’t help but feel that there’s hope.
13. Beach House - "Lazuli"
Beach House have distilled their formula for dream pop bliss so perfectly on “Lazuli,” that the track doesn’t even need a chorus. The effortlessly beautiful and cool Victoria Legrand’s smoky falsetto simply hums along each time the verse gives way, arching skyward over a constantly rising synth loop while Alex Scally layers harmonic textures. They’ve been building towards “Lazuli” for years, and from here, I honestly don’t see how their aesthetic could get any better or any more refined. Given the quality of this track and the rest of Bloom, for that matter, I’m nevertheless excited to see what they do next.
12. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"
If I had released this list a week ago, nobody would have minded this choice. You might even have thought that it was ‘cool’ of me to include such a sugary, maximalist pop song on a list that mostly comprises music released on independent labels. But now that everyone from Pitchfork to Stereogum to probably Rolling Stone or something like that has included Carly Rae Jepsen's summer smash “Call Me Maybe” on their end of the year lists, a lot of people are throwing the 'pop tokenism' card. I can't say I blame them, given the track's utter ubiquity, but to dismiss this as a token pick would be a disservice to just how great “Call Me Maybe” is. Although she goes for the 'innocent teen girl' market, 27 year old Jepsen's anthem is remarkably empowering and even quite mature. On top of that, this synth-heavy treat is endlessly appealing. Even after hundreds of plays, on the radio, at parties, and in the comfort of my own home, “Call Me Maybe” has yet to grow tiresome for me.
11. Purity Ring - "Fineshrine"
If I can write about Carly Rae Jepsen for a little longer, I have to admit that I was made a little uncomfortable when I found out about her age. I had been imagining her as 19 at the oldest, and the realization that she was 26 when “Call Me Maybe” was released made me aware of just how powerful marketing can still be. Afterwards, the song made me feel kind of creepy and weird in a way that was definitely unintentional. Around that time, though, I was just starting to get into Purity Ring, another terrific pop act that also made me feel creepy and weird, but in a decidedly purposeful manner. “Fineshrine” is on par with Jepsen’s hit as my favorite straight up synth pop song of the year, but Megan James’ eerily sexual lyrics and self-imposed, childlike fetishization make “Fineshrine” the superior dark horse, despite its considerably lower budget. I’ve had “cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you” uncomfortably stuck in my head for six months, and that chorus shows no sign of leaving any time soon.
10. Self Defense Family - "Self Immolation Family"
I think we can stop calling them End of a Year now. The latest music from the newly re-christened New York band Self Defense Family bears little in common with the DC post-hardcore worship of the records released under their former name. The new Self Defense Family is decidedly more experimental, heavier, and much, much better, as their recent output indicates. The perfectly-titled “Self Immolation Family” is the a-side to a 7” they released on Deathwish, Inc. this year, recorded at Sigur Ros’ studio in Iceland. True to its Nordic origins, “Self Immolation Family” is frost-bitten and, at over 6-minutes, glacially paced. The band’s endearingly tuneless frontman Patrick Kindlon barks his bitter heart out with vigor, but the real highlight is the pummeling instrumentation, with interwoven guitars and bass that evoke post-rock more than the band’s once-signature post-hardcore style.
9. The Music Tapes - "Takeshi and Elijah"
Much has happened to the Elephant 6 collective in 2012. Jeff Mangum continued his second year of solo touring after a very successful return to the spotlight in 2011, and has possibly hinted at a Neutral Milk Hotel reunion for 2013. The Olivia Tremor Control continued their reunion, including a stop that I witnessed at Pitchfork Festival, until the untimely and mysterious death of frontman Bill Doss. Honestly, I think the best thing that happened to the closely-knit Athens, Georgia collective was the release of The Music Tapes' new album Mary’s Voice. It’s really the first great album from Neutral Milk Hotel ex-pat Julian Koster’s longtime pet project, and the closing track “Takeshi and Elijah” is far and away the best song he’s ever written. It’s mostly a solo cut, featuring Koster’s strummed banjo and nostalgic lamentations and remembrances about his life, including his time with his old band. It’s actually rather sad, for the most part, but once the full band comes in at the end with Rob Cucchiaro’s horns blaring, it’s clear that there is still hope — for Koster, and for all of us.
8. One Hundred Year Ocean - "1576"
Often, the most profound memories are set off by the simplest remembrances. In “1576,” the heartbreaking standout from One Hundred Year Ocean's Poison Smoak EP, Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak describes fumbling around in a messy car for a dropped marijuana joint, only to find “burned CD-Rs” and other mementos of a former life that now seems so distant. It’s a bittersweet paean to the confusion of life, the unfortunate necessity of companionship, and the bittersweet comfort of home. Shanholtzer-Dvorak wrote “1576” about his current home in the small town of Willimantic, Connecticut, but it could just as easily be about my hometown of New Haven, or any other town in America. “All cities are coffins,” he sings along with vocal harmonies from his wife, Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak. The lyric is grim, but the sentiment is transcendent. “We’ve all got to die somewhere,” he sings in the guitar pounding final movement. He’s right.
7. Suns - "Crocodile"
"Crocodile," the best track from Suns' debut full length The Engine Room, creeps up slowly in a manner not unlike the animal that its title describes. Lithe, and swimming just beneath the surface, the track lures the listener into complacency with its spindly guitar line and soothing vocals, before exploding in a cataclysm of spiteful virulence at the end. There are lyrics there, but only two lines are discernable. “WHY DON’T YOU GET IT?,” screams frontman Will Rutledge. Later on, the sentiment is even more desperate and angry — he’s simply shouting “Oh my god.” The violent final minute of this song is my favorite 60 seconds of music from 2012, but it’s only so powerful because of the preceding three minutes of slowly building, restrained urgency.
6. Kendrick Lamar - "Swimming Pools (Drank)"
Last year I was at a party where somebody asked me to put on some music. I put on a track from Kendrick Lamar's Section.80 mixtape, and within a minute or two, somebody had exchanged it for some other song by a different artist. It was kind of depressing, but I understood it. Section.80 wasn’t party music material. From a certain standpoint, neither is anything on good kid, m.A.A.d city though, ESPECIALLY “Swimming Pools (Drank),” the super depressing alcoholism study that Lamar released as a lead single from his major label debut earlier this year. Why then, does Kendrick’s reedy flow and “Swimming Pools’” cavernous bass hum seem to follow me to every party I attend? Probably because it’s the best track he’s ever released. Hip-hop purists might prefer the 12-minute suite “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst,” but to me, this single has the perfect combination of eeriness and accessibility, pleasure and pain, and happiness and misery.
5. Spirit Night - "The Last Time"
Spirit Night's “The Last Time” strikes a very similar emotional chord with me as One Hundred Year Ocean's “1576,” which is appropriate considering that they were both released on Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak's label Broken World Media this year. Like OHYO's anthem, “The Last Time” is a sweeping piece of emotive, mid-tempo indie rock. It courses with the viscous, tangible energy of desperation, opening up slowly as frontman Dylan Balliett describes with just the right amount of vagueness a harrowing teenaged realization. “I don't want to have to kill you,” Balliett stammers in the first chorus, “I don't want to have to kill anyone…” By the time the chorus rolls around again, he sounds stronger in his convictions. The listener never learns exactly what “The Last Time” is about, but the music is so incredibly powerful that one can't help but feel its innate confusion, sadness, and pain.
4. Frank Ocean - "Bad Religion"
So much of Frank Ocean's breakout album channel ORANGE is effortlessly great, from the buttery soul of “Sweet Life” to the borderline rock chug of “Lost.” Of all the great tracks, only “Bad Religion” seems to take a genuinely painful emotional toll on Ocean. On “Bad Religion,” the California-based singer abandons his philosopher’s mentality for the first time and bares his soul to a humble taxi driver, unraveling a truly unexpected outpouring of sorrow and conflicted pain through his achingly gorgeous falsetto. The album’s accompanying letter gives Ocean’s pathos context, but more than all the other tracks on channel ORANGE, “Bad Religion” truly speaks for itself. No other song in 2012 made the tried and true topic of unrequited love so real, so intimately human, more than Frank Ocean’s solemn, quiet masterpiece.
3. How To Dress Well - "Ocean Floor For Everything"
"Ocean Floor For Everything" is the most formless song on How To Dress Well's stellar Total Loss LP, but it’s also the most powerful, favoring pristine, nearly divine-sounding atmospheres over songwriting chops and structure. In that way, it almost seems like ‘post-music’, or perhaps something more pure and ancient, untouched by the musical conventions that humanity has developed over thousands of years of making noises just for the pleasure of it. Philosophy student Tom Krell, the mysterious electronic/R&B project’s unassuming mastermind, is still singing words of course — lamenting “the worst of things” that no amount of planning could prepare for. And yet, this isn’t a song about sadness, or even particularly a sad song. It’s an experience in and of itself: not a conveyer of emotions, but an objective constant from which emotions may come. It’s art for the sake of art, untouched by the perversion of the surrounding totality.
2. Title Fight - "Head In The Ceiling Fan"
Much as Grimes' “Oblivion” video did a lot to increase my appreciation for that song, so too did Title Fight's clip for “Head In The Ceiling Fan,” the breathtaking, anomalous standout from their otherwise merely solid Floral Green LP. That grainy VHS footage of friends laughing, jumping off rope swings, and playing baseball in empty parks contrasts in such an intensely heartbreaking way with the slow, building chaos of the song’s shoegazing guitars. When the drums crash in, godlike in their sonic density and heft, it’s hard not to be emotionally moved. All of this joy that comes with everyday life, the song seems to suggest, will fade just as unexpectedly as it arrived. “Head In The Ceiling Fan” is the sound of that happiness dying out. It is the sound of your entire life’s experiences meaning more to you than you possibly could have imagined at the time. It is the groaning, glacial progression of existence towards a formerly unwanted but ultimately welcome end.
1. Japandroids - "The House That Heaven Built"
I have been waiting for so long — at least since I first started consciously paying attention to new music — to find a new album like Japandroids' Celebration Rock that is as good as Celebration Rock, with a song as good as the lead single “The House That Heaven Built.” My favorite songs of the year for the past two years have essentially made me want to kill myself, but this is different. This is flawless, unforgettable punk rock makes me want to stay alive forever, and I couldn’t be more gratified that it exists. I could have chosen “Adrenaline Nightshift” or “The Night Of Wine And Roses” or “Fire’s Highway” or nearly any of the album’s eight near-perfect tracks to put in this place, but “The House That Heaven Built” somehow stands out in particular. It is the apex of an album about living life to the most ridiculously intense degree, about forgetting the rules and breaking them inadvertently, and ultimately, about transcendence. Isn’t that what we all want, at our deepest core? I can’t speak for anyone reading this, but if I ever achieve that primal goal, “The House That Heaven Built” will be blasting on my record player in the clouds.