13
Dec
2012
Darren's Top Ten Songs That Weren't On His Top Ten Albums
Darren's Top Ten Songs
Darren
While 2012 had some great albums that consisted of great tracks, which you will find out my views on tomorrow, I wasn't smitten with every album that came out this year. Some of them were real letdowns from longtime favorite bands, while others I got on a whim and thought "well it's good but not great." And while some of the albums were so entirely forgettable that I don't feel like making the effort to search for them on iTunes, others had some really great standout tracks. This is no commentary on the rest of the album, but these are the choice cuts from 2012's releases that didn't make my top 10 album countdown.

10. G.O.O.D. Music - New God Flow
Album: Cruel Summer




As an occasional hip-hop listener, I got pretty excited when I heard about the G.O.O.D. Music collective coming out with an album"¦and I felt really let down after listening to Cruel Summer several times through. While most of the tracks have very lazy beats, clumsy raps, and Kanye West occasionally popping in to go "HEY YOU GUYS STILL GOOD? COOL!" this song "New God Flow," sticks out for sounding like real effort went into it. The piano backtrack sets a good beat, no annoying vocal effects are used on Kanye West, Ghostface Killah, or Pusha T, and it has some pretty good rhymes. While I may not listen to the rest of the album much at all, I do keep coming back to this song.


9. Maximo Park - The National Health
Album: The National Health




Maximo Park represent a bit of a dichotomy; on one hand, they frequently pump out great songs that are catchy and clever, and on the other they epitomize the British indie sound to the point that a lot of their songs truthfully sound exactly the same. This year's release The National Health is no different, with many tracks truthfully blending together, but the title track really sticks out due to its strong energy relative to the rest of the album and the fact that it follows a short and quiet introductory song. To me, this song is the album's climax, but unfortunately only the second track in.

8. Islands - Hallways
Album: A Sleep & A Forgetting




Islands tend to make great indie pop tunes, so when A Sleep & A Forgetting came out this year and was full of quiet and heartfelt songs, it wasn't exactly what I anticipated. Unfortunately, true to the second word in the album's title, I didn't really get too into most tracks no matter how much frontman Nick Diamonds poured his heart out in them. "Hallways" however is easily the most upbeat song on the album, largely due to its thumping beat and intermittent piano melody. This is not to say that "upbeat" necessarily means good for Islands and "downer" definitely means bad, but Islands spent the three albums before this showing how they excel at indie pop and it does really work for them. Maybe they can just make sad music that sounds happy like Passion Pit.

7. Matt & Kim - It's Alright
Album: Lightning




Indie pop musicians/couple Matt & Kim are great at making their special blend of obnoxiously happy and catchy tunes, and as appropriate as their music is for background music in commercials, I can't help but really like their singles. However, an entire album of their music does get overwhelming, and this year's release Lightning definitely can tucker you out when not taken in small doses. While the songs are all chipper and repetitive, I can't help but find them catchy as hell, with "It's Alright" taking the cake. Maybe it's the simplicity of the song and its melody, but boy did this song get stuck in my head when I listened to the album at first. Now, if I'm in the mood for a Matt & Kim song, this is definitely my go-to.

6. Yeasayer - Henrietta
Album: Fragrant World




After jumping on the Yeasayer bandwagon with Odd Blood in 2010, I was really excited for another album that was both experimental and had some great accessible hits. Instead we got Fragrant World, which is too weird for most Odd Blood fans and not weird enough for the die-hard experimental fans. However, album single "Henrietta" shows that it wasn't a total wash, as it opens with a more pop-friendly part before devolving into a more trippy segment where the only lyric is "Oh Henrietta, we can live on forever." Also - dat bass.

5. Andrew Bird - Lusitania
Album: Break It Yourself




Andrew Bird is hard pressed to make a genuinely bad album, as he's a ridiculously talented dude. However, when Break It Yourself came out this year, I couldn't remember most songs on it no matter how many times I listened to it all the way through. One that did stick out to me though was "Lusitania," maybe because of the guest vocals by St. Vincent or maybe because I'm a history nerd that thinks of the start of World War I. However, the song features most everything Bird is good at - dynamic and layered instrumentals, poetic lyrics, and superhuman whistling. While the same can certainly be said about some other songs on the album in terms of their composition, this one really just sticks out to me as having a slight step more than the rest.

4. Ben Kweller - Jealous Girl
Album: Go Fly A Kite




Ben Kweller is another talented dude on this list, and he has a great ability to play multiple styles of music. He got his start in pure indie rock, but then randomly did a country album in 2009 called Changing Horses. This year he seemed to want the best of both worlds in Go Fly A Kite, which featured some old and some new Ben. While the country-oriented songs on the album kind of came off as half-hearted, his more rockin' tracks really picked up the slack, particularly "Jealous Girl." The song kind of reminds me of earlier Weezer (maybe circa the Green album) with its pop sound and catchy chorus, and it throws a piano part into the basic rock ensemble for good measure. I've listened to this song a ton since the album came out, and I sure wouldn't complain if Kweller made an album with more songs just like it next time around.

3. Maps & Atlases - Silver Self
Album: Beware & Be Grateful




Math rock is always a tricky genre to play, as it tends to say "screw everything else, I just want songs with a complex beat!" This means that the song can either sound oddly catchy or can be so out there that people will only listen to say "you just don't appreciate the syncopation man." Maps & Atlases treads this line carefully, and their album Beware & Be Grateful is full of tracks that tend to end up more in the latter category. I truthfully find their singer's voice kind of annoying, so it's up to the instrumentation to save the song in most cases. On "Silver Self," it definitely does. While the first part of the song is totally a cappella, the drums kick in out of nowhere at 1:30 and then shit gets real. Around 3:55 the singer stops and a guitar part playing crazy-psychedelic riffs for the remainder of the songs starts. While the oddness of the song may not be for everyone, I keep finding myself coming back to it.

2. Two Door Cinema Club - Handshake
Album: Beacon




Two Door Cinema Club are great at making indie rock dance friendly, and when I saw them live this year they really managed to get the audience into every single one of their songs. However, while debut Tourist History was all hi-hats and quick riffs, 2012 follow-up Beacon was a mixed bag with more mellow tracks. Amidst all this though comes "Handshake," which has a synthesizer melody consisting of all of three - count "˜em - three notes the entire song. And somehow it works perfectly with the guitar melody and bass part. The drums start out fairly mild, by no means the band's danciest, but really do kick up on the choruses and in the final third of the song. All the while singer Alex Trimble swoons you with lines like "She said the devil will want you back." I really wanted to like this album more, as I think the band has a ton of potential, but this song really sticks out as something that works for Two Door Cinema Club that isn't identical to the debut.

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Mladic
Album: Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!




After a decade long hiatus, Godspeed You! Black Emperor came back onto the scene this year with their album Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! It's everything that you would expect from the band, in that it consists of long, instrumental and orchestral pieces with a feel of doom and gloom to them. However, two of the four tracks on this album more or less consist of a droning noise for several minutes, and the longer track "We Drift Like Worried Fire" isn't bad but isn't Godspeed You! Great. Then there's "Mladic." Holy shit. First of all, this is definitely the best song I've heard named after a Bosnian Serb war criminal - it's way better than "Karadzic" by One Direction. The song has an amazing buildup, almost lasting 7 minutes, and while it starts with the sounds of what seem like angry gulls, by 7:30 it ends up being the hardest the group has ever rocked. And just as you think the energy will let up, it builds up again until the last minute when the sound of a drum circle takes over (I don't get it either). Even though the song is about 20 minutes long and has no lyrics, this is one song that I do keep coming back to just because it really is that intense.

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