Top Five: Songs of 2012

Now for our last Top Five category of 2012, our most favorite original tracks of the year. We are a bit late on this one, but you know how it is, with life and all getting in the way of a hobby. This category has the most variety and sheer mass of numbers on them, of course, but you will still see one repeat in our lists – because we play the good ones to each other quite a lot, to be honest. Turntable.fm promotes the play of single tracks over albums, and as that’s where we hang all the time, we burn through a lot of single tracks in fast succession. With thousands of tracks in our queues we had to sift through a lot of single songs, and these here are the ones that were floating up top in the end.

Summary

Henje

Julia Holter – Marienbad
AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
Chromatics – These Streets Will Never Look The Same

Armeria & Karma Kid – Do Me Wrong
Elite Gymnastics – Andreja 4-Ever

Dave

Grimes – Genesis
Chromatics – Lady
El Perro del Mar – Walk On By
Hundred Waters – Boreal
Teen Daze – Brooklyn Sunburn

Jeffrey

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
Purity Ring – Fineshrine
Tomas Barfod – Broken Glass
Baio – Sunburn Modern
Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

Henje’s Top 5

Finding the five top tracks of the years proved to be more difficult than I expected. It’s not that there wasn’t enough good music out there – indeed, there was more than enough. But there weren’t many songs that stood out as spectacular single tracks for me, because the futher I venture from pop mainstream, the more it is about the flow and the feeling, and the less about hooks and cheers. I could just as easily have chosen a completely different track list, but all of these here tickled me in a special way.

Julia Holter – Marienbad

Julia Holter gets an honorary spot on my list, because her album very closely didn’t mke it onmy album list. Her careful, experimatal and sometimes weird electronic pop definitely shaped 2012 for me, but in the end, the album was too inconsistent to be completely convincing. But her music touches me emotionally and intensely, and the opener “Marienbad” shows her at her best, with tempi changes, complex instrumentation and high pitched etheral vocals.


Julia Holter – Marienbad from RVNG Intl. on Vimeo.

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

“Your Drums, Your Love” is something like the standout single this year. And I mean “single” as in radio pop standalone track, as it features a massive chorus and hooks. You know, the thing that makes you stop for a minute the first time you hear it, and has the potential to make you sick by its sweetness and predictability by the second time around. It is due to the perfect execution and vocals shifts that this never happened to me with this song, though I listened to it maybe a hundred times over the past months.

Chromatics – These Streets Will Never Look The Same

This for me was the standout track on Chromatics great “Kill For Love” album. The dry bass line hook combined with the flowing synths and vocoder vocals emulate the 80ies retro “Drive”-like sound in a clichéd but ever so sincere way. Borderline kitsch, but thats how I like them.

Armeria & Karma Kid – Do Me Wrong

This one is another chill R&B infused electronic track, with great groovy vocals by Armeria over a flawless melodic setup by Karma Kid. This British collaboration has the typical dubby current, but then a 4/4 bass sets in and makes it very danceable too. I am looking forward to hear more from them in the new year. 

Elite Gymnastics – Andreja 4-Ever

Elite Gymnastics is only James Brooks now, after the break-up with his collaborator. And this will result in a shift in sound, away from rave and drums&bass sounds, towards more personal, quieter pop tracks, as he announced. “Andreja 4-ever” was one step in this direction, and if his upcoming material is as good as this song about feminist Andreja Dworkin, 2013 will be as much about Elite Gymnastics for me as 2012 already was.

Dave’s Top 5

For me, I found that creating a top 5 song list for this year was trying. I really wanted it to be a list that didn’t have any overlap with my previous posts but all that did was create more frustration for me. It wasn’t all frustration though. In fact, I found that the greatest benefit from creating these top 5 lists was that it forced me to explore my music collection and rediscover some wonderful gems released this year. So, without further ado here is my list—with a slight overlap!

Grimes – Genesis

Such a great track. The beautiful synths along with Claire Boucher’s dreamy vocals provide a great foundation to what could be easily dismissed as just another chill track. But when that poppy beat hits I knew I was hooked. Also, not only is the track itself gorgeous but the segue from preceding track Infinite Love Without Fulfillment to Genesis is flawless.

Chromatics – Lady

I know I’ve already talked about Kill for Love being one of my top 5 albums of this year. All of those tracks are superb but I find Lady is the one that stands out. It showcases the group’s signature Italo-Disco sound but also pairs perfectly with Ruth Radelet’s catchy but cool vocals. Anyone who is fan of the Night Drive hit Tick of the Clock will sure to be a fan of this one as well.

El Perro del Mar – Walk On By

If I ever wanted to reminisce about the early 90’s (and sometimes I do) I need only queue up Swedish singer Sara Assbring’s, AKA El Perro del Mar, smooth Walk on By. I mean come on there’s even a sample of Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy in there. It’s a fun track to chill out and groove to.

Hundred Waters – Boreal

This another one of my top 5 album posts. For those unfamiliar with Hundred Waters I find that Boreal is a great track that features the experimental and playful side of the group. The looping of Nicole Miglis’ piano play and glittering vocals along with the layering and stripping away of some fantastic bleeps are what made me a fan.

Teen Daze – Brooklyn Sunburn

I almost forgot about the massive amount of music that Vancouver chillwave dj Teen Daze, AKA Jamison, released this year. I mean 2 LP’s within 4 months of each other is just nuts. My favorite comes from his “first” LP All of Us Together. Brooklyn Sunburn has great dreamy elements that Teen Daze is famous for but it also has a nice beat that I could see being played in the clubs.

Jeffrey’s Top 5

For me, 2012 is a year represented by numerable solid album releases and far fewer stellar tracks. Consistency seemed to be the rule of the year, which lends itself to very enjoyable listening sessions but lacks somewhat in those singular tracks that beg to be played over and over again. That said, there were a number of tracks that spoke to me this year, and these five are surely fantastic on their own.

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

As I mentioned in my Top 5 album explanation, 2012 will be remembered by me for the infusion of R&B into experimental electronic and indie music. No track epitomizes this cohesion better than AlunaGeorge’s end of the year gem. The opening echo and vocal manipulation hints at a grime or IDM track, but the entrance of Aluna Francis’ soulful vocal transforms the track and the chorus is a pop hook up there with the best of the year.

Purity Ring – Fineshrine

2012 also featured a number of Canadian electronic acts redefining the sounds of pop. Like their fellow Quebecois Grimes, Purity Ring manipulate vocals and warp synths in order to create new sonic textures at once both catchy and off-putting. “Fineshrine” allows Megan James’ lyrics to shine above a churning bass and choppy vocal effect that lend a slightly ethereal touch to her plea to “cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you.” Touching, yet wonderfully weird.

Tomas Barfod – Broken Glass

Salton Sea is Barfod’s first full-length under his own name, and it is markedly different than his previous work with WhoMadeWho and as a solo DJ, allowing him to use familiar aesthetic pallets to go in a new direction. Barfod says that Blade Runner is the album’s biggest influence, and on the stellar “Broken Glass” you can hear the use of Vangelis’ iconic ambient atmosphere. Band-mate Jeppe Kjelleberg’s vocals are distorted soulfully as the track ebbs and flows evocatively beneath him.

Baio – Sunburn Modern

Vampire Weekend is a much-loved band among the fraternal hipster and college party set, but the bands numerous side projects are often of greater interest (ROSTAM, Discovery, collaborations with The Very Best, etc.) for fans of bloops and bleeps. Bassist Chris Baio started DJing around the time that Vampire Weekend was first formulated, and keeps up with electronic music around the band’s studio and tour schedule. This year he released his first EP, which includes the absolutely fantastic “Sunburn Modern”, a 6 1/2 minute romp of melody and world percussion styles.

Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

Norwegian space-disco enthusiast Todd Terje released a brief EP at the beginning of 2012 that screamed novelty: four tracks recorded entirely using an ARP2600 synthesizer – hence naming the EP It’s The Arps. It’s a composition gamble that asked for skepticism, but immediately after the opening feedback of “Inspector Norse” the track ambles for 6 1/2 minutes through disco infectiousness, culminating in one of the biggest builds of the year – another trick, as Terje opts to release the pressure simply by re-instating a funky disco groove. In a world overcome by epic drops, it’s such a welcome jaunt of fun.

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