HMCMB’s Songs Of 2012
The end of the year is nigh, and 2012 can be chalked down as a good one. The Olympics weren’t a total flop, an Austrian jumped out of a really high hot air balloon and, perhaps most importantly, the world didn’t end. In the context of this blog, it was arguably yet more important that great music continued to be made (admittedly an apocalypse might have rendered that a moot point). It was music that we certainly continued to enjoy. We hope the same can be said for you, our readers. On a more personal note, 2012 was a mixed bag at HMCMB HQ. The pressures of university and exams certainly took their toll and curtailed our post rate somewhat. It even had us questioning what exactly we were seeking to achieve. Thankfully, there were encouraging highlights to be found. People actually bothered to watch our YouTube videos – seriously, this was a major worry – and now with over 600,000 views we’re looking forward to 2013. Fingers are crossed for that 1 million mark. We were also lucky enough to be interviewed for the Guardian a couple of times, and have our opinions included in the Bestival program, this alongside attending a number of brilliant gigs and meeting some great people. These things might be of little direct value to you guys but it is these things, these little fragments of achievement, that help keep us keen to continue sharing the music we love. We hope that’s good news for everyone
Onto the music then. 2012 saw a number of old favourites finally begin to grab the attention they deserve. Bastille and the 1975 (formerly The Slowdown, one of our artists of 2011) are on the road for success in 2013. The likes of Dog Is Dead, King Charles and Alt J, artists we’ve loved right from the beginning, achieved well earned recognition. The crowning achievement being Alt J winning this year’s Mercury Music Prize award. As is often the case with blogs intent on finding new music, our ‘Songs Of’ are compiled with the knowledge that their real success may be found a year, or two years from now. This is where we again must explain, that this is our Songs of 2012. Songs that we wish to share with you in the hope you find something you love as much as we did this year. And if there’s something you’ve loved, if you agree or disagree with us, it would be great to hear from you on Twitter or Facebook. Ultimately our opinions’ value is subjective: this is not an exhaustive list of tracks from 2012. What it is though, is a compilation we hope you can enjoy, and one that keeps you checking back on us in 2013. Have a great new year and be sure to download the compilation below.
Click HERE to download HMCMB’s Songs Of 2012 compilation
To Kill A King – Funeral
You know how you sometimes keep good things to yourself? That’s kind of the antithesis of music blogging but we do it anyway: only occasionally and not really deliberately, life just gets in the way. To Kill A King are a classic example. We’ve been enjoying their music for a while now, just never got round to sharing it. Their debut album is due for release in February, it sounds promising. We were spoilt for choice on which track to include. Funeral seemed suitably epic. It may be unnerving in its message but it shows the full range of their sounds with a delicate opening building to a cathartic, impassioned close.
The Neighborhood – Sweater Weather
Coming seemingly out of nowhere toting a brilliant, free EP and tight aesthetic, the neighborhood feel like the culmination of 2012s sound. With the moody, atmosphere combined with a vintage allure and topped sharp yet subtle electronic manipulations. It doesn’t take all that long to realise these guys are on to something special. Understandably they’ve been pipped for big things by labels and critics alike. Sweater Weather epitomises their winning formula.
Xander The Great – Somewhere Tonight
A dangerously late inclusion to this list, but with the deserved successes of Frank Ocean this year, London’s answer to his mysterious, genre dancing R&B came from the equally mysterious and brilliantly named Xander The Great. They released a mixtape earlier this year that turned some heads, only to be deleted and replaced with Somewhere Tonight, a track that combines and contrasts facets of music that leave you yearning to see what else they can do. From howling, desperate guitar to raspy yet smooth vocals and brooding rap these guys are doing something that we’ve loved so far, and only hope they can maintain the standard they’ve set for themselves.
Breton – Ordnance Survey
Breton’s album was great, challenging but superb. Ordnance Survey was a warm-up act, one that was very unfortunate not to be included in the final album cut. For us, it surpassed several of the tracks that did make the cut. There’s that irresistible dutch-house beat coupled with alt rock riffs, chuck in Rappak’s warped vocals and tropical breakdown and you have a track that is as brilliant as it is difficult to define.
The Cast Of Cheers – Human Elevator
They did it. This Irish math rock set first released their aggressive strain of fiercely plucked guitars and buzz saw grit to the world in their free release Chariot in 2010. They reemerged this year with a debut that soon became one of our favourites of the year. Human Elevator shows the epitome of their progression, all swagger and confidence but with a driving pulse and raucous chorus’ that saw us fall for them in the first place. Truly one of the highlights of our musical year.
Soulmates Never Die – Pretty Missiles (Don’t Punch Me)
An artist that can sit proudly in this compilation even if this charmingly modest artist may argue otherwise. We have always strived to promote music that we feel deserves to be heard, even if the ceaseless procession of new music and money makes that difficult. Soulmate Never Die is a perfect example of that. Pretty Missiles makes for an abrasive and peculiar first listen, but once its visceral appeal drags you back, you realise the raspy vocals and flat guitar are all part of a larger charm. This track might not make every Songs of 2012 list, but it sure as hell makes this one.
Meg Myers – Monster
Living in California, the final destination of the American dream, it says a lot about Meg Myers that she’d love to move back to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. In Monster you see emotion stripped raw, the feelings of the unsettled, a sense of angst that’s simultaneously comforting in its empathy, and unsettling in its honesty. This is music for those searching for something, this is music to make you feel.
Picturebook – Sunshine (Acoustic)
We loved Sunshine from the moment we heard it back in 2011. Perhaps we shouldn’t be including it in our Songs Of 2012 then? This version is slightly different though, and even better. Picturebook re-released Sunshine this year and also recorded this gem of an acoustic version. Stripping back the electronics has made the track all the more powerful. Greta Svabo Bachs soaring vocals bettered only by the superb string section.
Mahalia – Let The World See The Light
Whether she was 13 or 18 Mahalia was always going to blow us away this year. That said, whilst we try not to labour age too much, particularly given that we ourselves would generally be perceived as a ‘young’ blogging team, the quality of music Mahalia has produced at her age, is nothing short of unbelievable. It’s not just that she has a great voice, it’s that her songs, with Let Me See The Light only being one, glowing, example, totally fit into her own style that she has curated. On a personal level, a lovely email from her mum that helped reinforce just why it is we do this a few months ago only made the decision to include her in our Songs Of 2012 more obvious.
Bear’s Den – Pompeii
An extraordinary track. It is not so much the story Pompeii tells but the way it tells it that makes it special. Tales of loss are nothing new in music but there is a different perspective here: that of a young boy coping with his father’s anguish at the loss of his mother. The power of the story is enhanced by the beautiful musical backdrop accompanying it. The chorus steals the show, powerful and moving as it is. The brass-backed close is simply breathtaking. Hopefully Bear’s Den will come out of hibernation next year and stop being so elusive.
Eliza and the Bear – Brother’s Boat
Eliza and the Bear haven’t released a huge amount, but what they have has been brilliant. Brother’s Boat first caught our attention through the indie gold mine that is It’s All Indie, but has since become a regular on the HMCMB playlist. If you love your Dry The River, and haven’t quite scratched that persistent nu-folk itch, then this cathartic new brand, all massive chorus’ and horn sections should help give it a good scratch, whilst of course also showing you the direction that this originally twee genre has progressed to, and the great things that are no doubt yet to come.
Lianne Le Havas – Final Form (Cover)
Everything Everything are great. They manage to be experimental and challenging whilst still producing coherent pieces. Covering one of their tracks is quite a challenge, a challenge that Lianne Le Havas was more than up to. It is not easy to take on such a unique sound and produce something even better, yet she manages it. The warmth of her voice transforms the track into something all the more powerful for its clarity.
Casablanca – Yes
Don’t be fooled by the black hair, black jeans and black jackets of Jacob Wheldon, Casablanca’s confident, talented front man, there is more to Casablanca than the physical manifestation of a London alternative/indie tick list. These guys first caught our attention 5 years ago as the 13 year old rockers Lo Fi Culture Scene, who despite their meagre years, went on to support the likes of Mumm Ra and Cajun Dance Party. Now they sit amongst indier than thou peers with their single Yes a promising declaration of that fact.
Emma Louise – Boy
Emma Louise was another artist we failed to share with you this year. Rather than despair at our shortcoming let’s delight in how good she is. Her aussie tones proved quite a hit this year, with Jungle cropping up on many a blog. For us it was Boy that stole the show though. What it lacks in immediacy it makes up for in texture. It meanders along in with an easy manner, the journey marked by subtle changes in intensity and sonics which reward only the most attentive listeners .
Wake Owl – Gold
Gold conjures images of hazy sunlight streaking through the gaps of a forest. It manages to feel comfortably familiar yet remain interesting. Colyn’s vocals are lullaby-esque at points yet still reach poignant heights. The underlying soundscape is suitably rich. Strings, keys and creaking guitar are knitted into a product even greater than its parts.
San Fermin – Sonsick
San Fermin are a late inclusion in Songs Of 2012. Such late inclusions are always a little risky. There is the danger that we haven’t yet had a chance to judge whether the song has the sort of timeless quality that we seek for this list. We are perhaps emboldened by the inclusion of Alt-J (or FILMS as they were at the time) under similar conditions in 2010. We aren’t suggesting that San Fermin will necessarily follow in Alt-J’s footsteps; this compilation is a review not a preview. We do believe that this track, and indeed band, is something special. Sonsick manages to be both polished and raw, its musical arrangements are near perfect yet it manages to retain a sense of rousing emotion. Their debut album is due in February, which is already shaping up to be a good month for music.
Click HERE to download HMCMB’s Songs Of 2012 compilation
So that’s it, we’re done for 2012, and are looking forward to 2013. As such, maybe it’s time to make some predictions and promises for the coming year. We’d love for artists such as Imagine Dragons, The 1975, Bastille, Kodaline and To Kill A King to gain the success they deserve in 2013. We also hope to keep producing written and visual content that keeps you guys wanting to come back. In return, all we ask is you keep reading, enjoying and sharing Hey Man, Check My Band. 2013 here we come.