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.
1. “Out On The Town” – fun., from Some Nights
If you’ve read anything I’ve written about Some Nights in the past ten and a half months or so, you know that the record hit me in a pretty unique way. This song, designated a “bonus track” but included on every version of the album available for purchase, is the epitome of almost everything I’ve felt from the rest of the songs. “Out On The Town” is really, really sad. Like, really. It’s got that undeniable pop sensibility that only people of Nate Ruess’s ilk can create, while still maintaining a level of sophistication in terms of structure, lyricism, and arrangement. It’s the sort of song that infiltrates your ears and never leaves, but it’s alright because it’s so incredible. A lot of Some Nights makes me feel something, but most of the songs took a few listens. This one made me feel immediately, and it makes me feel even more now. When I look back on 2012, this makes the soundtrack as introduction, intermission, and closer. I can’t say enough about how much I love this song, and I’m not sure I’d want to even try.
2. “Stay In The Sun” – Make Do And Mend, from Everything You Ever Loved
Nearly every time I’ve listened to this song, I’ve had the urge to share it in some form. Every single line rings true, and it’s incredible how perfectly this track describes the sort of thoughts that can accompany any major change. In 2012, I left my college, the state I grew up in and still call home, transitioned into an even longer-distance relationship, and did a bunch of other things that it’s in my nature to reflect upon. This song came at just the right time to make me apply it to everything. The first time I read the lines “you can click your heels until you wear holes in the floor and realize that no place feels like home anymore,” I knew that this song was going to be great. Adding melody and dynamic instrumentation makes impactful lyricism even better. It’s one of those rare tracks that I want to put on repeat, and I can’t see it ever getting old. It’s sounded like a classic from the first listen, and there’s hardly a thing better than that feeling, from a songwriting perspective. One last favorite pair of lines: “There’s nothing else that we could ever do. What comes and goes always goes too soon.”
3. “How Long” – The Tower And The Fool, from How Long
Since our arbitrary number of full-lengths to write about on year-end lists was one shorter than my number of absolute favorite records from 2012, this is where I’m going to say that How Long is one of the best and most-overlooked pieces of art to be released last year. The record sounds like America, but in a somehow novel way. Blending folk, country, and rock, it’s a chronicle of heartache that feels pure and honest in a way that most things simply don’t. This song is everything I just said, but in one song and a single question: “How long am I gonna feel this way?” Centered around the ending of something that clearly hasn’t ended well, the lyrics describe a universal understanding and are masterfully written to avoid sounding cliche. Over mostly acoustic guitars, lines like “she might not know it, but she wears my heart on her sleeve” (which help bookend the rest of the song) and “I bet you’re hoping to see her and not really need her” express sorrow beautifully. How Long was my most-shared album of 2012, so I implore you to check the whole thing out here. Immediately.