Continuing with the tradition set in place two years ago, the first few editions of the 3 Of The Week column in 2013 are going to take a focus on some of my favorite music from 2012. Looking over my list, I’m struck by how few of these acts might’ve been predicted before the year began. There were a lot of things I anticipated, but it seems that a lot of what struck me most came from where I least expected it. Great new music’s always a good thing, and 2012 was a great year for new music. If you haven’t heard these songs, you’re in for a treat. They made my year that much better, and truly dominated my headspace for quite some time, up to this very day. I hope they do the same for you.
4. “Someone Anyone” – Anberlin, from Vital
A few months ago, I made the bold assertion that this might be my favorite Anberlin song, and there are a few very good reasons why. From the dynamic, driving instrumentation to the powerful lyricism and strong vocal performance, everything about this is one side of Anberlin in a perfect three and a half minute package. The production is top-notch, and each element of the sound fits together wonderfully. As a huge fan of the band, I love hearing this quality of musicianship and emotion from a group of guys ten years into their careers. It’s clear that they’ve matured and come to a point where they’re truly able to create some of the, if not simply the, best work we’ve heard from them to date. While “God, Drugs, & Sex” is the culmination of another side of the band, “Someone Anyone” has that certain spark that makes it stand out as not only one of the best songs from a specific album or band, but one of the best of any album or band.
5. “Thinkin Bout You” – Frank Ocean, from Channel Orange
That this song is only at number five should stand as a testament to how good the other songs on my year-end list truly are. It’s pretty clear that Channel Orange had a huge impact on music last year, receiving near-universal acclaim and topping or nearly topping many lists. And, with this is the song kicking it off, how could it not? Smooth, soulful, and earnest, “Thinkin Bout You” is everything that an R&B song should be. Reminiscent and vulnerable, the lyrics are nondescript and specific enough to be universal, while the beat is hooky and expansive while still almost unmistakably maintaining its connection to the style embraced by other members of Odd Future. The studio version’s great, and his performance alongside John Mayer on Saturday Night Live is so visibly heartfelt that it’s like reading over someone’s shoulder as he or she writes in his or her diary. In any form, this is simply a great song, and just barely edges out other fantastic tracks like “Bad Religion” and MEB favorite “Pyramids.”
6. “Safe For Now” – The American Scene, from Safe For Now
The second title track on my list keeps up the trend of being exactly what every title track should be. Embodying everything I love about one of the best records of 2012, this is the sort of song that makes me want to put Safe For Now on repeat. The lyricism is poignant and striking, while the timing and feel of that guitar part in the last minute or so is simply flawless, particularly when it’s preceded by that drum buildup. I’m going to go ahead and quote what I said in my review of this record now, because I don’t think I could describe this song any better than saying that “This is the sort of breakup song that almost makes you feel like you’re the one being broken up with – as if the final moments are the end of a long relationship that is seeing its rapid decay far too soon.” There’s emotion flowing through every note, word, and second of this song, and that’s what makes it one of the year’s best.