The 25 Best Songs of 2012 (So Far)
Page 3 of 3
“What are you listening to right now?” If you work around music, you get this question a lot. The following list is my way of answering. Every year about this time, I like to take a quick look back at the best songs released so far. Music comes at us so fast and furious that it can be hard to keep up, but these are the songs I keep returning to.
But this is far from an exact science. These are songs that came out from Jan. 1 to March 31 in some fashion, regardless of whether the album is out yet or the song appeared on a previous EP or was already out in the U.K. (or Iceland). And this just represents my opinion with suggestions from other staffers here at Paste. Our year-end list is bound to look a lot different. Here are my picks for the best songs of 2012 so far
10. First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”
Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg offer this pretty little love-note to their American folk forebears: “I’ll be your Emmylou, and I’ll be your June / If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too.”
9. Howler – “Back of Your Neck”
It’s tough to pick a track from among the many near-perfect garage-pop gems off Howler’s debut America Give Up, but “Back of Your Neck”—with its ’50s vibe guitar and background vocals will certainly do.
8. Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”
Brittney Howard’s voice is so big and backed with so much emotion that it’s easy to overlook the chops of the rest of the Shakes. Together, they sit at the heart of American music—melding rock, blues, soul and even a little bit of country.
7. Jack White – “Love Interruption”
We’ve learned by now that we don’t care whether Jack White records solo or with any one of his bands; we’re in. This first single from his upcoming album Blunderbuss was released back in January, featuring woodwinds (oboe and clarinet?) and soulful vocals from Ruby Amanfu of Nashville’s Sam & Ruby.
6. Vintage Trouble – “Nancy Lee”
Not many bands are looking back to Chuck Berry for inspiration anymore, but Vintage Trouble goes back to rock’s roots, led by one of the most charismatic frontmen I’ve come across in a long time in Ty Taylor.
5. Of Monsters and Men – “Little Talks”
Anyone anticipating the next Mumford & Sons album would do well to pick up Monsters & Men’s debut in the meantime as it’s full of the same big choruses and joyful folk-rock instrumentation.
4. The Shins – “Simple Song”
Even with a completely new lineup, James Mercer gives us another hook-laden, sing-a-long melody like the ones that made us fall in love with the band in the first place.
3. Leonard Cohen – “Darkness”
I can’t have been the only one dreaming about a Leonard Cohen album with stripped-down production, and Old Ideas is that dream come true. Dirty guitar, subtle organ, pretty bgv’s, some drums and that deep, wise voice are all you need.
2. Sigur Rós – Ekki múkk
The new album doesn’t come out until May 28, but the first single was released to Soundcloud in March, and it’s a return to the expansive winter sounds of the Icelandic quartet’s parenthetical () album.
1. John K. Samson – “When I Write My Master’s Thesis”
At least once a week for the past couple months, I’ve found a different John K. Samson song stuck in my head, but it’s a happy morning when that song is “When I Write My Master’s Thesis”—a track about freedom from the rigors of academia. The frontman of The Weakerthans has created what may be my favorite album so far this year.
Josh Jackson is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Paste. Follow him on Twitter @joshjackson.