E/E’s Top 50 Favorite Singles of 2012
Alright, our comprehensive list of our ‘Top 50 Favorite Singles’ has finally seen its completion. Which Grimes single made the list? What about Frank Ocean, Kendrick and who slipped into our Top Ten? Best read to find out. Stream and read why we loved our ‘Top-Ten’ so very much. Let us know how we did as always and stay tuned for our ‘Top-Ten Favorite EP’s of 2012’ tomorrow.
50. Ultraista - “Small Talk” + Four Tet Remix
49. Ellie Goulding - “High For This” (WEEKND cover)
48. Best Coast - “My Life”
47. Flying Lotus - “Putty Boy Strut”
46. Chrome Sparks - “All There Is”
45. Kill Paris - “I Do Love You”
44. Icona Pop - “I Love It”
43. Wild Nothing - “Counting Days”
42. Hot Chip - “Flutes”
41. Tanlines - “Brothers”
40. French Kiwi Juice - “Lying Together”
39. Danny Brown - “Grown Up”
38. Major Lazer - “Get Free” ft. amber Coffman
37. Blood Orange - “Neptune”
36. Ghost Loft - “Seconds”
35. Capital Cities - “Kangaroo Court”
34. Death Grips - “I’ve Seen Footage”
33. Burial & Four Tet - “Nova”
32. Gessafelstein - “Control Movement”
31. Blackbird Blackbird - “All”
30. Work Drugs - “License To Drive”
29. Chad Valley - “My Girl” ft. Jack Goldstein
28. Eleven:Eleven - “Mesmerize”
27. Cloud Nothings - “No Future/No Past”
26. A-Trak & Dillon Francis - “Money Makin”
25. Goldroom - “Fifteen” ft. Chela
24. Miguel - “Adorn”
23. Santigold - “Disparate Youth”
22. Charli XCX - “Nuclear Seasons”
21. Twin Shadow - “Five Seconds”
20. Flight Facilities - “With You” ft. Grovesnor
19. CHVRCHES - “The Mother We Share”
18. Deadmau5 - “The Veldt” ft. Chris James
17. The M Machine - “Faces”
16. Crystal Castles - “Plague”
15. Sky Ferreira - “Everything Is Embarassing”
14. Beach House - “Other People”
13. Purity Ring - “Fineshrine”
12.Kendrick Lamar - “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
11. Sleigh Bells - “Demons”
10. Chris Malinchak - “So Good To Me”
Rife with elegant melodic swirls and the rerunning vocal sample that drive this emotive pace-setter, Brooklyn, NY’s Chris Malinchak and his beautifully arranged single “So Good To Me” kicks off our ‘Top Ten’ utterly well. Malinchak engages his listeners in the atmospherics of the infamous Balearic chill for a 122 BPM breeze over the top line of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell’s timeless single from 1967, “If This World Were Mine”. Featuring the melodic vitality that his studio output, French Express, has become synonymous with of late, the soothing “So Good To Me” showcases Malinchak as an aspiring master to the soulful scope of a distinct and developing sound. The emotional groove, and the melancholy, yet hopeful synth work produces electronic music sounding as if an entire band was involved. Just a beautiful track, and one that leads our top ten off perfectly.
9. Jessie Ware - “Running”
Jessie Ware’s “Running” was a song that saw the South London pop-songstress go from featured vocalist to full-fledged solo artist, simultaneously paving the way for one of the breakout albums of the last five years, Devotion. “Running” was the musical love child of a talented menage-a-trois if you will; a collaboration with producer Julio Bashmore and the Invisible’s Dave Okumu. Like south London’s answer to Sade, Ware moves from breathy to impassioned over a slow-burn mix of echoey drums and guitar. Do yourself a favor and ring in the New Year with that special someone with this song playing. Ummmm…. yeah.
8. Chromatics - “Back From the Grave”
On the title track from Chromatics’ expansive Kill for Love album (our number one album of the year), singer Ruth Radelet declares that she’ll kill for love. A few minutes later on “Back From The Grave,” she sounds like she’s ready to die for it. Punctuated by Johnny Jewel’s liquid crystal guitar peals and Italo-disco instrumentation, Radelet sighs, “When I look at the sky, well I wish I was gone/Because mother you’re gone and father you’re gone.” What appears to be a strange sentiment to couch within the Portland band’s eerily sleek disco-pop actually strikes me as the LP’s 90 minutes distilled into a four-minute track; equal parts luxury and desperation and totally open for interpretation. Even if you just want to lose yourself within its gorgeous expanses like we did.
7. Shiny Toy Guns - “Fading Listening”
Far less cluttered and intense than their usual offerings, Shiny Toy Guns’ “Fading Listening” recalls Rumours era Fleetwood Mac awash in mellow eighties synth-pop. It’s not Shiny Toy Guns’ typical sound, which is fine by us, and they could certainly have a promising future producing more downbeat music if they ever decided to take the plunge. Their album III (Crystal Castles much?) may have been as a complete piece of work, nothing at all special, but “Fading Listening” more than atones for the entire album and is a track steeped in beauty and raw emotion. Not to mention its accompanied by a catchy, downtempo pop beat that entrances your entire thought process.
6. Frank Ocean - “Pyramids”
“Pyramids” is channel ORANGE and Frank OCean’s tour de force. A beautiful 10 minute ballad about the perils of loving a stripper; something unfortunately the E/E staff is familiar with, and so much more. “Pyramids” makes the case for Ocean as a proto-Prince. Its alternately wet and starry arrangements shifting in and out of focus while Ocean expertly piles on verses that sketch out a story of “Cleopatra” through perspectives and eras; first as the revered pharaoh, then as a modern day stripper living under a pimp’s watch, then as a lust object, as admired by her powerless boyfriend. An amazing 10 minute R&B burner that should be on every one of our readers’ iPods.
5. T.E.E.D. - “Your Love”
T.E.E.D.’s “Your Love” may be the most straightforward, four-to-the-floor and club driven track off of his epic LP Trouble. It’s a track that flits between his signature house and 90s techno nostalgia-type sound, which is great, and another one that came with a great music video as well. “Your Love” is reminiscent in many ways of Armand Van Helden’s (of Duck Sauce and Dim Mak acclaim)”U Don’t Know Me”. Google its soulful refrain: “Can’t get enough/No no no/All I ever wanted/Was to be with you” and you get an article by Lori Gottlieb entitled “Why There’s No Such Thing as ‘Having It All’ – And There Never Will Be”. Well, sorry, Lori, but this track proves otherwise. Go dance to it.
4. Solange - “Losing You”
Solange Knowles has seen her career arc from basically being a manufactured “Beyonce Jr.” with her debut album Solo Star to a giant deal with major label powerhouse EMI thus producing the ambitious and altogether disappointing Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams, until hooking up with beat-savante Devonte Hynes (Blood Orange) and finally settling in as an integral piece of the Brooklyn independent music scene. The duo’s chemistry was on full display for their pet-project, Solange’s True EP and the resulting lead-off single “Losing You”. Solange cooly asks, “Tell me the truth, boy, am I losing you for good?” throughout, but even after the song immerses itself in fog, those elements never let up. There is a teenage yearning and angst at the heart of “Losing You”, but its beat underscores Solange’s desire for a clean break. She is waiting to dance it all away, or to take a dip in the pool with her clothes on and forget it all.
3.Disclosure - “Latch” ft. Sam Smith
Young UK brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, better known as production duo Disclosure had spent much of 2012 releasing very solid output of 2-Step, U.K. bass and garage singles on Make Mine and Greco-Roman Records respectively. Once their jump over to PMR Records occurred however, Disclosure landed its biggest single to date with “Latch”. Featuring Sam Smith on vocals, “Latch”, unlike their earlier work, feels less relaxed, more ambitious, and more blatantly pop -oriented, with full-bodied vocals that dominate - as opposed to vocals that have been chopped up and buried in the mix. Disclosure’s first single while not as rousing of a chart success stateside as it was in the U.K. remains a beautifully produced track and one that will live forever on our in-house playlist.
2. AlunaGeorge - “Your Drums, Your Love”
Pairing Aluna Francis’ uncanny vocal ability and George Reid’s progressive production manifested itself into one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012; London’s AlunaGeorge and their infectious single “Your Drums, Your Love.” The track’s occasionally hyper-warped male vocal gets stuck on repeat in our heads and also offers a welcomed foil for Francis’ voice to stretch and soar: “I’ve been treading water for your love,” she sings, “Whether I sink or swim/ It’s you I’m thinking of.” There’s a tinge of unexpected desperation to it, executed in a sophisticated fashion that only comes with great musical chemistry. We’re starving with anticipation for their debut LP on Island Records and we think you should be too.
1. Grimes - “Oblivion”
The amazing experimental electro-pop recording project of Grimes has found front-woman Claire Boucher’s face plastered all over independent and mainstream media sources alike in 2012, so it should come as no surprise to many that “Oblivion” holds down our #1 Favorite Single of the Year. Our favorite rainbow dip-dyed crooner drops sugar-dust vocals all over a thwonking synth loop, which all sounds perfectly dreamy until you actually listen to the words: “I never walk alone after dark… . /Someone could break your neck/Coming up behind you and you’d never have a clue.” The catchiness only makes “Oblivion’s” dark simplicity that much more intriguing.
“Art gives me an outlet where I can be aggressive in a world where I usually can’t be, and part of it was asserting this abstract female power in these male-dominated arenas. The song’s sort of about being— I was assaulted and I had a really hard time engaging in any types of relationship with men, because I was just so terrified of men for a while.” It was information from the artist about where the song came from, but even this knowledge didn’t define the song completely, and that’s to its considerable credit.
Never once did we hit skip when this track graced our speakers, and that’s saying quite a bit.
E/E’s Top 25 Favorite Albums of 2012
Well here it is. A year of work inside and around the (mostly) independent music community has led us to our Top 25 Favorite Albums of 2012. Feel free to tell us how good or bad of a job we have done. Remember, I am just one person and could only fit so much music into a year, so if anything was blatantly omitted, please let us know. For the text inclined, we’ve also included a write up of our top-ten. Stay tuned for our Top 50 Favorite SIngles and Top Ten Favorite EP’s. Thanks and as always, stay electric and enjoy the Holidays!
25. MNDR - Feed Me Diamonds
24. Death Grips - The Money Store/NO LOVE DEEPWEB
23. Crystal Castles - III
22. Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream
21. Beach House - Bloom
20. Work Drugs - Delta
19. Tanlines - Mixed Emotions
18. Chad Valley - Young Hunger
17. Best Coast - The Only Place
16. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
15. Twin Shadow - Confess
14. Four Tet - Pink
13. Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
12. Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory
11. Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror
10. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
Leading off our Top-Ten, Hot Chip’s In Our Heads, the group’s fifth full-length,was the album we have been waiting for from the influential U.K. outfit. Over the years, Hot Chip has retained their sense of humor, largely in the music video visual sense (funhouse torture devices, boy bands getting attacked by laser beams), but something noticeable also started to take place: As they perfected a savvy blend of dance and modern pop, their music became more serious, and we were the beneficiaries of said evolution.
As a culture, dance music is sometimes perceived to be exclusionary, but its most basic pleasures lie in the escapism that it provides. Whether you’re getting your eardrums pummeled by a club’s soundsystem or enjoying the comforts that a decent pair of headphones provide, the right tune on In Our Heads can turn you starry-eyed, wiping your mind totally blank and making you happy to be alive just so you could be present to experience that very moment. Hot Chip understand that feeling, and through the broad strokes that frequently make up their work, they want everyone to experience it. So do we.
9. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid M.A.A.D. City
Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid Maad City was an album that while, was loved by everyone who covered it, was impossible to ignore as an addition to our top ten albums of 2012. So if you want to read about this album, check out any other music blog out there. Love you.
8. Purity Ring - Shrines
This Canadian duo known as Purity Ring composed their spectral electro-pop debut by writing tracks back and forth via e-mail over hundreds of miles. That sense of distance permeates their music; dark, mutable, and a likably repetitive synth whirr that recalls artfully creepy bands like the Knife. Instrumental maestro Corin Roddick makes atonal friction, and singer Megan James’ piercing vocals balance the ominously visceral. “Dig holes in me with wooden carved trowels,” she commands on “Grandloves” and on “Obedear” we learn she “came down over the sleeping mountains” and “Fineshrines” is just well… one of the best fucking singles of the entire calendar year. You can be sure Purity Ring’s feet never touched the ground with Shrines.
7.Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble
Hailing from Oxfordshire, and being the son of a classically trained composer and music instructor doesn’t necessarily scream dance music producer, but Orlando Higinbottom who performs under the moniker Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs isn’t every other producer. Higginbottom’s debut album as TEED both fits into the lineage of British dance music and stands a little apart. Steeped in ’80s synth-pop, jacking house, vintage acid sounds and contemporary electro, Trouble is identifiably club music, but speaks in a language that is personal and warm, taking big-room sounds and distilling them down to something as close and intimate as a tearful late-night voicemail or a whispered conversation on a shared pillow. TEED set out to create an album that will be revisited by its listeners for years to come, and has succeeded at exactly that.
6. Flume - Flume
Another young and savvy 21 year-old Sydney, Australia based Harley Streeten has found a home as electronic wunderkind producer; Flume. No doubt our favorite purely electronic album of 2012, Flume’s self-titled debut combines elements of chillwave, dubstep, French house, Nu-Disco, deep house and even straight hip-hop resulting in a cohesive, finished and polished piece of work. Too often do young producers, especially under the dreaded ‘EDM’ umbrella rise to prominence by maintaining as carbon copies of those successful artists before them. Flume on the other hand, has blazed a unique trail and identity for his music. The album is a testament to Streeten’s production ability and a must have for the ‘post-club’ head.
5. Jessie Ware - Devotion
2012 may very well have been the year of Jessie Ware. After being featured on SBTRKT’s wonderful self-titled debut album, the London based vocalist emerged from the shadows with one of the most impressive debuts to date in Devotion.
While R&B has certainly gotten moodier in the presence of ’90s nostalgia and post-dubstep ambience, actual restraint is more scarce. But it’s that atypical quality that gives such an ineffable aura to the not-just-dance-music of Jessie Ware, a lyricist capable of connecting the husky lows of Whitney Houston to the hypnotic highs of En Vogue’s Dawn Robinson while forging her own path through a series of sly, subtle, hooky, light-meets-shadow grooves. In no way does Devotion live in the past; it should just be your beat-noir shelter of choice while the quiet storm passes.
4. Wild Nothing - Nocturne
Oh Jack Tatum. Your lovelorn, Anglophilic shoegazey dream-pop and beautiful songwriting makes our lives just a little bit better. Wild Nothing’s third release, Nocturne found the group’s stride, while only minimally toying with their basically established sound. This record is about craftsmanship. Lead singles “Shadow” and “Paradise” feel urgent in the most holistic of ways, going places Tatum couldn’t access in his Blacksburg dorm room two years ago. “Shadow” allows itself brief space between verses to let those lustrous strings reverberate, while “Paradise” interrupts its glistening downer-disco for a self-indulgent ambient build-up. Wild Nothing’s past work has been soaked in reverb, but on Nocturne their vocals shine through unaffected and soar above very cleverly arranged instrumentation.
It’s called dream-pop for a reason. There’s no logic for what drives adults to lie out on the grass staring at the sun for hours or write songs about girls with fantastical names like “Rheya”. Nocturne gives a voice to those feelings, and dayum if it isn’t lovely to listen to as well.
3.Grimes - Visions
Claire Boucher has seen her one-woman cyborg-pop outfit Grimes evolve from a bedroom recording princess project to a full-fledged major music festival highlight. thanks in part to her latest LP. Visions presents itself as the ultimate statement album from the Canadian songstress; a statement that is cohesive, measured and assured. More solidly constructed and a lot more fun to listen to than anything she’s put her name to thus far, the electro cotton-candy of Visions is an inviting entrance into Grimes’ peculiar kind of bliss. She spends most of her time singing in that now patented and vaporous falsetto (see also: Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Vi$$er), and occasionally manipulates her voice but mostly she just loops it, layers it, and cloaks it in reverb; something that complimented Grimes and the album’s aesthetic perfectly.
Visions is simple enough to leave room for Grimes to grow, but this thing is so compulsively listenable and fucking catchy that it’s extremely difficult to come away from it wanting much more. Anchored to the digital imagination but unbridled from its skittish anxiety and concerns, Visions gestures skyward and beyond. Go pick it up if you haven’t already.
2. Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE
There’s not much to be said about Frank Ocean’s first album that hasn’t been previously covered by every other music blog on the web-o-sphere. This was an amazing debut by an extraordinarily deep and layered artist. Enough said.
1. Chromatics - Kill For Love
A long time ago we came to the conclusion that while he may not be the most pleasant person in the real world, Johnny Jewel is a musical mastermind and his Chromatics project (among Glass Candy & Desire) stole our #1 album of the year; along with our hearts. Kill For Love made us believe in love again. It made us weep when listened to at low points and light up when heard during peaks. Chromatics didn’t just incorporate the vocoders and vintage synth arpeggios of the turn-of-the-1980s originals, they added brittle guitars, dubby reverb, and the urban dread of post-punk resulting in a style and album both collectively amazing and completely their own.
If Kill for Love had been a 10-track LP, with its most immediately striking songs each edited down to filter out the moments of pure ambiance, it would’ve still been impressive. In fact, in an interview posted by Self-Titled, Jewel hadn’t made up his mind about whether to put out one or two discs. Ultimately, he made the right choice. Kill For Love’s closing track “No Escape” may not be as immediate as the title track when heard in isolation, but luckily, we don’t have to listen to it in isolation. Just as on albums by Deerhoof, M83, and countless others, the experimental interludes spliced throughout the albumhelp create a context that makes the pop songs that much more effective; by including so many mood-oriented parts, Kill for Love paradoxically rises above synth-pop’s occupational hazard of dissolving into a blur of mood alone. It’s not just a collection of hits; it’s an album, one that gives the project’s familiar nocturnal foreboding a new sense of grandeur, and one that has earned our Favorite Album of 2012.