We’re just a few days past the midway point for 2012, the year of our Lord. It has been a phenomenal year for new music so far and I thought I would take a moment and reflect on the best songs we’ve been given so far. This was a hard list to narrow down. I did rank them in order of greatness, but I spent a lot more time on narrowing it down to the best 25 new songs than I did on the specific order in the list. In order to include more deserving artists on the list, I chose to only include one song per album. Also songs such as “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men or “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey were disqualified, since they first appeared on EPs in 2011. Without any further ado, here is my list of the best songs of 2012 (so far). We hope you enjoy it and discover new great music.
My most anticipated album of the year is the new album one from the Beach Boys, set to be released on June 5th by Capitol/EMI. Tuesday night they kicked off their marathon 50th Anniversary Tour in Tucson and played 42 songs, including the title track off the upcoming record, “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” The new single, the first in over 20 years (unless you wanna count the Brian Wilson-less “Summer in Paradise”), was released yesterday and you can listen to it right here. These old guys still got it and are here to remind us that nobody harmonizes like The Beach Boys.
I know I am a little late on this, but here are the albums that I am looking forward to hearing the most. Please understand this is not my guess at what will be the best albums of 2012, or my attempt at finding the pulse of what the general public is most excited about. These the 12 albums that I am personally the most excited about.
Also know that I have excluded several albums that have already been released that surely would have made this list, had I done a month ago, including the new ones by Sharon Van Etten and Dr. Dog, which were both released this week.
12. Fanfarlo – Room Filled with Light (2/28)
These guys put out of my favorites of 2009 with their debut Reservoir. They have such a fun and full sound, and I am in love with the way they incorporate horns into their music without making it ska or cheesy elevator music. Here is a live session of one of the songs from the new album.
11. Passion Pit – TBA (TBA)
Here is another band whose debut album, Manners, found a spot on my 2009 year end list. And I am in desperate need for some new good dance music. Lead singer, Michael Angelakos, announced in August of 2010 that they had already started work on the follow-up to Manners, and that they wanted to release it in the spring of 2011. Here is to hoping that the delay results in an album filled with tracks I can play at all the various parties and weddings I am scheduled to DJ this year.
10. Diamond Rugs – TBA (4/24)
After the last two Deer Tick albums, and the phenomenal Middle Brother album, I am a huge fan of John McCauley, who is fronting yet another super group album. This time he is teaming up with members of Los Lobos, Black Lips, Dead Confederate, and Six Finger Satellite. McCauley is a phenomenal songwriter and as he proved last year, with my favorite album of the year, he is a great team player. This could be a hell of a rock album.
This excellent singer/songwriter never seems to disappoint. This go around he has enlisted the help of several great female vocalists, including Ingrid Michaelson and Sia. Listen to this great live recording of one of my favorite songs of his that never made it on any of his full-length albums.
8. Phoenix – TBA (TBA)
Very little details are known about the forthcoming follow-up to one of the greatest pop albums of the last decade and yet another album off of my 2009 year-end list. It will be hard to top the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which is why I was glad to hear that this new album will be a more experimental departure from the pop sounds of their previous efforts.
7. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (3/6)
I can’t help but love The Boss. Even though I was disappointed with most of The Promise, and Working On A Dream, there is no way I will be able to resist going out and getting this album when it comes out this year. The first album since losing his long-time band-member and friend, Clarence Clemens, should be an emotional one, and I will be all ears.
6. Mumford & Sons – TBA (TBA)
The only reason this album isn’t higher is because I just don’t know how you follow up a debut album as good as Sigh No More. I just can’t allow myself to get as excited as I wanna be. As a huge folk fan, these guys are just right up my alley, and I have loved the spiritual nature of their lyrics.
This girl’s voice is absolutely phenomenal. If you haven’t heard her 2010 debut, Suburban Nature, you are seriously missing out. Got the chance to see her live shortly after releasing it back in the fall of 201 and I was just blown away by the power and control of her voice. A few of the songs on the upcoming record were included on last year’s CD/DVD combo release, The Way the Sound Leaves A Room. Take a listen to the title track from that short effort.
4. Grizzly Bear – TBA (TBA)
These guys released my favorite album of 2009, with the stellar Veckatimest, and then followed that up by scoring the soundtrack for fantastic Blue Valentine. But 2011 left me hanging, other than an announcemnt on their Facebook page in December promising a new album in 2012. That is the extent of my knowledge of the new release, but that should be enough to hold me over for now. Here is a song off of Daniel Rossen’s forthcoming solo EP.
3. Fun. – Some Nights (2/21)
Lead singer Nate Ruess is seriously one of the most fun and dynamic singers and songwriters in the game. I have literally loved everything he is done. His first album with The Format, is one of my absolute favorites, and since teaming up with Andrew Dost of Anathallo, he has been creating some of the most enjoyable pop music around.
2. The Shins – Port of Morrow (3/20)
Thank you Zach Braff for using Natalie Portman’s character in your excellent film, Garden State, to introduce me and the rest of the world to the wonderfulness that is The Shins. I absolutely loved 2007’s Wincing The Night Away, and it has been way too long since we’ve heard anything from them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Mercer’s Broken Bells projects, but I can’t wait to hear the new stuff from The Shins.
1. The Beach Boys – TBA (TBA)
I still have a hard time believing that it’s true. The Beach Boys have been my favorite band since I was just a wee lad, and I had just given up on the idea of ever getting to see “The Beach Boys” live, let alone get a new album will all new material. Sure most of the guys have been touring through the years, but Wilson and Love and the rest of the gang are actually back together writing and producing and then performing together. I can hardly contain my excitement.
Back in 1966 The Beach Boys released what many people, myself included, consider to be the greatest album of all time, Pet Sounds. By the end of that summer they were already back in the studio working on what was supposed to be an even better follow-up. The band was really excited about what was supposed to turn into the album SMiLE. The late Dennis Wilson was heard saying, “In my opinion [The SMiLE Sessions] makes Pet Sounds stink — that’s how good it is.” But due to various business and legal complications, SMiLE, never saw the light of day. At least not the original recordings.
A few years back, Brian Wilson went back into the studio and took a bunch of those original songs and recorded a new album that he released as SMiLE. Which was great, but now we are going to get the chance to hear the songs as they were recorded in those original sessions. Original band members, Al Jardine, Mike Love, and Brian Wilson have gotten together with Capitol/EMI to compile a collection of songs that will be released later this year as The Smile Sessions. The collection will be released in both physical and digital formats, including a deluxe boxed set that will include “early song drafts, alternate takes, instrumental and vocals-only mixes, and studio chatter.” This is making my impossible dream of a new Beach Boys album a reality. Hope you guys are at least half as excited as I am.
Thanks to Paste and Blurt for sharing this wonderful news.