Friday, December 28, 2012

Top 50 Best Songs of 2012: #20-16

#20. "King and Lionheart" - Of Monsters and Men
This Icelandic folk-rock collective and 2013 European Border Breakers Award winners stepped onto the North American scene with chords and keys a blazin' in 2012 on their My Head Is An Animal release. After releasing a handful of singles and drawing comparisons to the likes of Mumford and Sons and The Cranberries, the tour-crazy clan went on to grace international stages with their diverse instrument-packed sound and 23 year-old Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir's limitless falsetto yodel. This cheery song is a flawless representation of the band's choral team effort and explosive folk build-ups, and acts as the most infectious greeting tune to their debut release.


#19. "Wildest Moments" - Jessie Ware
On "Wildest Moments," the slow jam kickdrum, gorgeous piano balladry and Ware's natural R&B ability sound like a combination pulled from mid-90s Billboard charts. But with Ware's indie-diva flare, it works oh-so-well. The Brit singer's sultry, reflective croon aching about rollercoaster relationship woes ("Baby in our wildest moments/ We could be the greatest/ We could be the worst of all") overtop the throb of the soulful piano are enough to tug on any lovelorn heartstrings - and the four minutes of Ware staring longingly into the camera during the music video really help in twisting the song's knife.


#18. "Breakers" - Local Natives

On the long-awaited first single from the L.A. indie-rockers' 2013 release, it's pretty obvious their touring with The National, Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe has contributed to a more swelling, expansive rock sound; one that's much more developed and full-bodied in comparison with their Americana-infused rock debut which hit the scene in 2009. The soaring chorus, when each band member chips in harmonically to paint the vocal backdrop for lead singer Kelcey Ayer's chant, is without a doubt the high point throughout the song. With his, "Breathing out hoping to breathe in" shining through the melodic ruckus, syllabolically and symbolically the words couldn't be better.

#17. "Lasan" - Michael Kiwanuka
Featuring Dan Auerbach's (of the Black Keys) golden production touch, Kiwanuka's soulful, yesteryear vocals and bluesy homesick story quickly became one of the most endearing releases of the year - and an introduction to the kind of revivalist blues-rock the British musician would ooze on his debut album Home Again. Hailed as BBC's sound of 2012, Kiwanuka's standstill, gospel voice is like a wholesome guiding light throughout this swaying blues ballad - so much so that Auerbach's involvement suddenly isn't the most newsworthy part of the single.


#16. "Nothin' But Time" - Cat Power
Chan Marshall has had quite the ride. As one of her biggest fans, it's easy to always hope she's on the upswing from self-doubt and oddball behaviour, but then again - one can never know with this particular sneaky Cat. So, on this breathtaking 12-minute ode to her former flame Giovanni Ribisi's teenage daughter, it's sort of heartbreaking to hear the troubled indie goddess take time out of her own self-discovery to reassure the young girl that everything is going to be just fine. Featuring an anthemic piano melody and wacky interjection from elder rock vet Iggy Pop, "Nothin' But Time" has the same appeal and intrigue of so many of Chan Marshall's best songs - they're often bits of advice and wisdom the singer couldn't hurt from ingesting herself. "Never give away your body/ Never give away your friends/ Never give away what you always wanted/ Never, never ever give in," she urges against the ticking beat and swelling piano - and for 11 minutes, you really do think she believes it herself.

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