My Favourite Songs of 2012

Well hello, blog. It’s been a while. I think that last entry said May on it, no?

Well hello, any readers I may have left. This entry is not a return to form (aka this blog is quite stagnant and I’m not taking pitches) but I still want to talk about music sometimes and right now I really want to share with you my favourite songs of 2012, the only sort of list I’ve made this year so far. Not a top 10 or 20, just my favourite songs. No order either! What is this madness? Just sing or dance along with me now.

Big Boi ft. Little Dragon – “Mama Told Me”
This song is such a tease. First, Big Boi & Little Dragon released a live video of this collab for Big Boi’s new album. Next, we found out the song could not go ahead on the album due to label disputes. Then we find out Kelly Rowland took over the Little Dragon duties and made them completely bland. Then Big Boi brought Little Dragon to perform the song on Jimmy Fallon’s show and released their version of the track for free, so guess what, we win! Little Dragon are perfect on this track (besides the fact that they’re one of my favourite bands) and add the right amount of groove and soul for Big Boi. It’s so sweet and soulful.

Hot Chip – “Night & Day”
This was my summer jam. So groovy. All I ever do when I hear this song is wiggle. That is all.

Kim Ann Foxman – “Return It”
One of the former singers for Hercules and Love Affair, Kim has completely taken off on her own and has done so well at it. This song is sexy, so ‘80s and has been one of my favourite dance tracks of the year.

David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Lightning”
Really I just picked one song off the album here, but of course this one is stellar. Love This Giant is hands down my #1 album of the year and “Lightning” is a good poster child for St. Vincent’s contribution to the partnership. This song builds itself up and explodes all around the sweetness of her voice and the horn arrangements. It’s commanding. And made even better by seeing it live.

Jessie Ware – “Wildest Moments”
I tried listening to Jessie Ware’s album Devotion when it came out to see what all the hubbub was about, but didn’t get it then. A few weeks ago, I put it on again and was instantly obsessed. I don’t find her lyrics particularly exciting but boy this album really gets to you. First it’s her amazing voice and then it’s the amazing instrumentation around her. I especially love the low bass and synth beats throughout the songs. I picked this one because it’s a real heartstrings-puller. For real I’m just sitting here swaying and singing to it as soon as I brought it up on YouTube.

Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”
This song gets ya right in the melancholy feels. It stopped me in my tracks.

The Dirty Projectors – “Dance for You”
I really grew to love this album during the car rides to and from Buffalo with my boyfriend. We just listened and listened and listened until we loved it. This song stuck with us the most and kept us calm during holiday traffic jams.

Dr. Dog – “Lonesome”
Hoo boy, this song is catchy. And with hand claps!

Here We Go Magic – “How Do I Know”
I really loved this album for the first half of the year. This song was so euphoric and deciding to me, after “Make Up Your Mind.” It is just so precious and lovely. Unfortunately when I saw them live the experience kind of ruined their music to me, but I still really like this song and its video.

M. Ward – “The First Time I Ran Away”
This is probably one of my most-played songs of this year. It will instantly calm me down. I like to think of this singer as Mmmmmmm Ward. Please play live, Mmmmmm. I want to sway in front of you.

Parlovr – “Holding Onto Something”
So much energy! So much chaos! So many friends! Hair everywhere! Screaming at shows! Fun! This was one of the most overlooked Canadian albums of the year, for sure. So good. And this video is just hilarious.

Snowblink – “Black and White Mountains”
So pretty. Just soooo pretty. This whole album. Let’s hold hands and sing.

Django Django – “Hail Bob”
Ahh these guys are so much fun. This album was really entertaining. I once read that they were spaghetti-western pop and ever since then I’ve been googly eyed for them. I am so stoked to see them in March.

Dusted – “Property Lines”
Strong work, Brian and Leon. Strong work. This is one of the most gentle beast records I’ve loved. So lovely and yet so rough around the edges, just how I like it. The guitar in this song is great. I’ve seen these guys a lot this year and all in different kinds of settings, which has been a great experience. They’ve had a great 2012.

Teen – “Better”
This song tussled my hair and gave me dreamy eyes right away. I haven’t listened to this album as much as I’ve wanted to because it is quite strong in the dreamy department but this song is great. It makes me wish I was a hip girl living in Brooklyn.

Honourable mentions:
Andrew Bird – “Danse Carribe”
Daniel Rossen – “Silent Song”
DIIV – “How Long Have You Known?”
Gossip – “Get a Job”
Half Moon Run – “Full Circle”
Royal Canoe – “Hold Onto the Metal”
Tim Fite – “We Are All Teenagers”

Top songs that will technically be released in 2013 but we already know about:

Foals – “Inhaler”
I AM SO EXCITED. Favourite band. Ridiculously crazy song. Let yourself go!

Suuns – “Edie’s Dream”
This song shows off a more collected Suuns, and you can even hear what the singer is saying. The sounds in it are just hypnotizing, too.

Phosphorescent – “Song for Zula”
Lovely. Just lovely. And sad.

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Watch Royal Canoe’s “Hold Onto the Metal” and see them tonight at the Garrison

royal canoe

Tonight my favourite band from Winnipeg, Royal Canoe, are dropping by Toronto once again. They recently wowed me at Canadian Music Week, so I’m ready to watch their very fun live performance for the second time in a couple months. With six members, two of who play drums side-by-side (a music weakness of mine), their busy and fun dynamic is interesting and appealing. There’s a LOT of gear, everyone’s singing together and even some distortions they use are oddly groovy. Their quirky Extended Play EP will be on my top list of EPs this year for sure.

Watch the video for “Hold Onto the Medal”:

They’ll hit the Garrison stage around 11 p.m.

RoundLetters Recommendations: David Lynch, High Places and AA Wallace

It’s been a while! Once again, I’m here for you, apologizing. But I was pretty busy making the second issue of Static Zine and all. What’s everyone been listening to this fall so far? Are you starting to work on your Top 2011 lists yet? I am.

But WAIT. Those lists better not be finalized just yet. I’ve got some recommendations that I hope will put the wind back in your hair and the bounce back in your step. The sun may be taking its sweet ol time to wake us up these days, but these recommendations have sure made an impact on me so far.

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

david lynch

While I’ve been slowly wading my way through Twin Peaks (and LOVING it), its creator and main director David Lynch has been working up his first solo album. I was hooked as soon as I heard “Pinky’s Dream,” which features Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on vocals. It’s absolutely mesmerizing, and the album continues to loop you into this twisted world that’s sometimes underwater, sometimes actually what you’d picture to be an vast, empty white space where Lynch is just sitting there getting all mind-bendy. It helps that it definitely feels like youre in the sad, sleepy Washington town of Twin Peaks at times, but overall this is a very intriguing, artistic and exciting release for this year.

Stream “Crazy Clown Time” on NPR.

Stream Lynch’s mixtape for The Stool Pigeon with James Blake, The Kills & more.

High Places – Original Colors

high places original colors

No other album will make you feel like you’re in a drugged-up, tripped-out art gallery; hazy bedroom as light trickles in; Bollywood; a dance club; soundtrack and generally curious landscapes. That sounds like a smorgasbord of locations, but tie it all up together in wire and you’ve got one of the coolest records to come out this year. I’ve spent weeks using this as my soundtrack for the walk to work (or anywhere for that matter) in order to get there faster. The California-by-way-of-NYC art pop duo are dreamy for the best of times and turn lyrics about dirty water into something captivating. This album is a lot more dancy (even though there are also some nicely done slower tracks), addictive and just better off for them. I’m excited to see them at the Garrison on November 14.

Download “Altos Lugares” on NPR.

AA Wallace – “Bowie”

aa wallace

Here’s my latest favourite dance track. Straight outta Halifax, the dance party reaches this-a-way all in the name of one pretty cool dude. AA Wallace seems to have made quite a name for himself over on the east coast in bands, making remixes and his own material, but it seems this could be the track that breaks him out even farther, as he makes all the noise he can make. I think from now on, every time “Moves Like Jagger,” that cursed earworm, comes anywhere near me, I’ll try to get this on in time to fight it off.

Download “Bowie”:

And there are remixes too!

Wednesday pick-me-up featuring Beth Ditto, Hercules and Love Affair and Handsome Furs

If you know me, you know I like to dance. I’m not a good dancer by any means, but I just can’t resist movement when a danceable song is playing around me. So, if you’re like me, and you need a little Wednesday pick me up, the medicine this week lies in the clubs. Not that I would go to any clubs really, but there’s definitely one going on wherever I am when I play these songs.

Beth Ditto – “I Wrote the Book”

Beth Ditto can do no wrong. This powerful lady is all kinds of sexy as she traipses through this video. I still play her EP often, and that’s enough danceable music to last me a while. But, all I want are remixes to these songs! Do they exist?

Hercules and Love Affair – “My House”

This song makes me want to dance AND clean. Seriously, from now on, whenever I clean, this song has to go on. “Oh myyy house is in ooordeeer!” brrrackacha!

Handsome Furs – “What About Us”

Dan Boekner’s rhythmic voice and Alexei Perry’s synths work so well together on this battle cry of a dance track. I can’t resist going a little wild to “go on go on go on go on and break my heart!”

Watch Nightbox’s new video for “Pyramid”

Nightbox

The lads of Nightbox premiered their official music video for “Pyramid” via this week’s episode of The Wedge on Much Music. Now we have it via YouTube. Just in time for the weekend, as this is that cute dancey party track you’ve been waiting for. Watch the five-piece revel in colour and imagination at an old, abandoned house and in a field (it looks cooler than how I’ve described, honestly).

Pyramid can be heard on the band’s debut EP and as a single, downloaded for free.

The band will open for the Radio Dept at the Horseshoe on Sunday.

Watch Austra’s new video for “Lose It”

austra

I’ve been listening to the new Austra album Feel it Break a lot lately (out May 17 via Domino/Paper Bag). I find it very hard to turn off somewhere before it actually ends. I’ve even sat and waited through it because it’s so good I don’t want to let it go. The band’s Toronto CD release is May 19 at Lee’s Palace, and tickets should still be on sale. Gotta say, Feel it Break seems to only be on the cusp of breaking out still, and it will, so keep a lookout. Here’s hoping that it makes its way onto the upcoming Polaris Prize long list.

Before your eyes scan down to the wacky new video for their second single, “Lose It,” here’s an article I have with lead singer Katie Stelmanis on queer identity in indie music and her love of Beth Ditto on Spinner. I was really glad I could write this, and there’s more on the band coming soon from me, I believe.

Watch Bravestation’s new music video for “White Wolves”

bravestation white wolves

Here’s another Toronto band that I am very proud of. I’ve watched these guys blossom in the last year, from sitting down with them to do a RoundLetters exclusive Q&A, reviewing their 2010 EP for Exclaim, seeing them play numerous times and getting to know them and their style. I see them going up from here. They’re currently locked away most of the time working on their upcoming album and preparing for their UK tour in a few weeks. Like I’ve said before, they don’t know it yet, but I’ll be in a suitcase! Shh.

As far as I remember, the video for “White Wolves” off the EP was filmed in the fall, but we’re finally getting to see it now. It’s a really pretty piece, following a woman who looks like she’s been through a few tumbles as she runs through the woods to and from something. It gives a new urgency to the song, letting the shakiness take on a new thrilling meaning.

Watch the video below:

Download the entire 2010 EP here.