20. Lord Huron-Time To Run
They might not know it, but Lord Huron’s specialty seems to be wistful folk rock, ready-made for your next road trip. Insert nearly any cut from their excellent latest album, Lonesome Dreams in this spot.
19. Gary Clark Jr.-When My Train Pulls In
While much of Blak and Blu was a mild disappointment, this carry over from the Bright Lights EP actually improves on it’s predecessor. Gary’s got blues game.
18. Best Coast-The Only Place
Best Coast gets criticized for much of their catalog sounding the same, but you can’t beat them at making beach songs. Listen to “The Only Place” a few times and you might start considering a move to the Cali.
17. Kanye West-Mercy ft Pusha T, 2Chainz, Big Sean
Kanye has always loved posse cuts, but 2012 brought about some of his best gatherings. With its oddball sample and nod to DJ screw, “Mercy” might have been the most unlikely song to bust on top 40 radio this year. 2Chainz continued his string of solid features, but Big Sean steals the show with a pun heavy verse.
16. Jack Penate-No One Lied
The subtle guitar licks of “No One Lied” make way for Penate’s pained vocals about loss are quite chilling and make me hopeful for his next album.
15. Santigold-Disparate Youth
My favorite track of many great songs on Santi’s sophomore album. The building synth, stuttering guitar, and poetic hook back Ms. White’s tale of pushing past doubters.
14. Miike Snow-The Wave
While Happy To You may have been more of a “grower” than Miike Snow’s debut, the pop songwriting was just as present. “The Wave” enchants with bouncing keys, vocal distortion, a killer hook and triumphant percussion throughout.
13. Frank Ocean-Thinkin’ Bout U
“Thinkin’ Bout U” may have made waves for Ocean’s brave admission, but the track is beautiful in it’s own right. The fluttering synth and Ocean’s falsetto highlight this neo soul gem.
12. The Neighbourhood-Sweater Weather
The Neighbourhood had an impressive mysterious campaign that built quite a buzz throughout 2012. When the smoke cleared, the Cali quintet came away with an earworm that slightly sounds like Broken Bells in “Sweater Weather”.
11. Django Django-Default
The premise of “Default” is either very self-deprecating or an analogy for apocalyptic disaster. Either way, the driving guitar rhythms, spacey samples and vocal effects make for a foot stomping affair.