Top 10 Songs of 2012

This year has witnessed possibly the most seismic change in my listening habits since I left my teens and actually worked out what sort of music I like. This time the change isn't about the music itself, but about the way that music is consumed. I have always, and will always be a great believer in the album as a format. My masters' thesis was on the primacy of the album in rock music, and I can barely move for tripping over piles of CD albums. So what's changed?

Firstly, this has been my first full year of being a vinyl addict. I dug my dad's old record player out of the loft in 2011, and bought myself a nice amp, and haven't looked back since. The only CDs I've bought this year have been from indie bands and labels that just don't have any vinyl yet. Secondly, I've developed a taste for 7". I've bought more music on 7" than any other format this year, and as a result the fight for the top ten individual songs of 2012 has been particularly fierce.

As always, this list isn't exactly what it says it is. This is my favourite ten non-album tracks of the year. The album list is always a big deal here at EbM, so this list is a way of marking out some of the fantastic music that was ineligible for that list because it wasn't released on an album. It's also a place to celebrate some of the great tracks of the year that were on bad albums. One hit wonders will never feature on an album list, but that doesn't mean their solitary hits are unworthy of recognition.

So without further ado, I proudly present my Top Ten Songs of 2012.

  1. Number: 10

    The Mother We Share

    Artist: Chvrches

    I really wasn't sure about including this track on the list. The buzz around Chvrches is a mighty thing to behold; expertly crafted around only 2 songs, their rise to all the end of year lists in the blogosphere has been a PR triumph. But maybe I'm too cynical. This song's great, as is Lies, and I'm including it here because there's no denying that despite my misgivings I really do like it.

  2. Number: 9

    Ankle Shackles

    Artist: King Creosote

    Kenny Anderson,a.k.a. KC, has released a trilogy of 12" EPs this year, and this sprawling, epic tour de force came from the second one. KC made the top LPs list last year with his collaboration with Jon Hopkins, but this release marks a return to the real King Creosote sound.

  3. Number: 8


    Artist: Es Muss Sein

    Being both a nut for The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Beethoven, this singer-songwriter had my attention even before I'd heard any of her stuff. What a treat, then, to have high expectations actually exceeded by this stunning record. There's a newer version of Sail that has extra harmonies and tinkly glockenspiel, but this version is my favourite. Sparse and haunting, this is an exercise in reductionism.

  4. Number: 7

    Heart Heart

    Artist: Withered Hand

    Fence Records' Chart Ruse 7" subscription series came out all guns blazing with this fiery single from EbM favorite WH. It's more raucous than previous WH efforts, and I must admit it took a little while for me to come around to the new direction. Once I got it, however, I was hooked, and this has been a staple of my stereo all year.

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  5. Number: 6


    Artist: The 1975

    When I first heard this song I was certain it would feature higher up this list, but there's been a rash of really great songs lately that have pushed this one down the rankings a little. It's still fantastic, though; a mad rush of youthful energy and rock-star attitude, with just the right blend of emo lyrics and anthemic guitars to appeal to my inner teenager (although now the keywords in this post are going to drive precisely the wrong kind of traffic to this site).

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  6. Number: 5

    The John Wayne

    Artist: Little Green Cars

    I have the BBC's Sound of 2013 poll to thank for this gem, which was a surprise to be sure as if there was ever a poll designed to select music I don't like then the Beeb's is it. It's always good to have your preconceptions challenged, especially when it happens with a track as good as this. I know very little about this track other than that it's awesome and I can't seem to get it off the stereo.

  7. Number: 4

    Sweetheart, What Have You Done?

    Artist: Keaton Henson

    I just love the guitar sound on this 7"; clean, simple, yet devastatingly haunting. It's a really well constructed song, too, which bodes well for the new KH LP next year. His album from this year, Dear..., might yet make the top ten albums list, but it's up against some stiff competition.

  8. Number: 3

    Boxing Night

    Artist: Frightened Rabbit

    Unlike the title track from the EP this song appears on, Boxing Night won't be making it onto the new FR album, Pedestrian Verse, next year. FR have good form when it comes to seudo-christmas songs, and this one sits nicely next to Cheap Gold and It's Christmas So We'll Stop, but actually manages to be better than both of them. You've got to admire a band that can spend a song this good on an EP when they've got an album in the works.

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  9. Number: 2

    Your Cover Blown

    Artist: Monument Valley

    Atmospheric, brooding, and subtle in equal measure, in several drafts of this list this track was at the very top. Ask me in a few weeks and the one and two spots may well have switched again. No matter where I am or how I'm feeling, this track never fails to suck me into its world and hold my attention utterly. Absorbing and fascinating, Your Cover Blown is a masterwork.

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  10. Number: 1

    From Nowhere

    Artist: Dan Croll

    As soon as I realised that this track wasn't Metronomy (about 17 seconds in) it was a shoe-in for this list. More than anything else, it's the sheer fun of this record that's lifted it to the top of this selection. A record I have listened to more than any other this year, and I'm still not tired of it. Dan Croll's going to be huge next year, I just know it, but whatever the future holds, music doesn't get any better than this.

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