Hot Jamz of the Year: The Best Tracks of 2012

20. Evian Christ: “MYD” from King and Them
The Internet is a weird place. All previously-unknown Liverpudlian producer, Joshua Leary, wanted was to make some music for his friends to hear on YouTube. However, the blogosphere intervened, and the legend of Evian Christ was born. “MYD,” the best of his Tyga-sample-heavy debut, shows his uncanny ability to create engaging new tracks using only tiny vocal samples and atmospheric keys. This kid can be a big, big star if he wants to be.

19. Dan Bodan: “DP” from DP/Aaron 7″
Recalling a young, virile Bryan Ferry, the adopted Berliner effortlessly crooned his way through one of the best debut singles from a DFA artist in years. Bodan understands that sex is often about power, and his story of lust and control recalls literature from years gone by. If the mercurial vocalist can get his shit together, a full-length debut would be an early candidate for the best of year.

18. Holy Other: “Held” from Held
For an artist with such a particular aesthetic, the Mancunian producer does an amazing job of keeping things fresh and unexpected. He deftly pairs whispers, moans, and gasps with undulating, ambient synths, resulting in soundscapes that slowly unwrap to reveal breathtaking cores.

17. How to Dress Well: “Ocean Floor For Everything” from Total Loss
Another album I struggled to pick a standout from, Tom Krell’s second effort is brilliant from start to finish. Less blurry-eyed than its near-perfect predecessor, Love Remains, the Chicagoan brought his impossibly mellifluous falsetto out from under the avalanche fuzz and let it soar. The bit when he brings the beat in on this song is probably one of my top 10 musical moments of the year.

16. Beach House: “Myth” from Bloom
The finest hour from the oft-imitated, Baltimore natives’ fourth record reminds us that nobody sounds more like Beach House than Beach House. Vocalist Victoria Legrand glides imperiously over a cascade of reverb-drenched, arpeggiated guitarwork from partner in crime, Alex Scally. The most beautiful existential crisis, EVER.

15. Jeremih: “Fuck You All The Time” from Late Nights, With Jeremih
Though most of the world might still know him as Señor Birthday Sex, the Chicago-based lothario’s exquisite mixtape gives his faltering solo career a second wind. Other than the totally inexplicable loud bleep, “Fuck You All the Time” is crafted stunning well, pairing heady, druggy synths with a raft of different voices. In actually, it’s a strangely arranged song without real verses or a bridge, but it works. By god, it works.

14. The XX: “Fiction” from Coexist
I was stunned by the American press’ ambivalence to the South Londoners’ excellent sophomore release. The main criticism seemed to be that they were starting to sound too much like themselves. Last time I checked, there isn’t anybody else who sounds like them, so I’m not sure why everyone’s so against another album that sounds like their debut. Also, lionized North American artists like the National and Arcade Fire never got shit for sounding too much like themselves, rather they were praised for developing their signature sound. I digress. “Fiction” is a beautiful, erudite song about how you fill in gaps about your relationship when you are away from a lover. Ignore it if you want, but it’s your loss.

13. Fear of Men: “Mosaic” from Mosaic 7″
There was nothing immediately noteworthy about the young Brighton-based quartet’s jangly, dream-pop gem of a single, but as time went by, I simply wasn’t able to shake it off. I don’t know how else to say it, but it just burrowed its way into my heart and refused to get out of my earbuds. I’m still not 100% sure why I love it so much, but I just can’t get enough of it.

12. Chairlift: “I Belong In Your Arms” from Something
One of the great tragedies of the  world is that John Hughes never got to use this song in one of his films. Everything about this bubbly cut from the Brooklyn duo is everything about what falling in love 80’s movie-style feels like.

11. Wild Nothing: “Paradise” from Nocturne
Hear that? It’s the sound of me physically restraining my ten fingers from typing out my third John Hughes reference of this list. For mush of his career, many wrote off Wild Nothing mainman Jack Tatum as cheap imitation of the Cure, but his crowning second LP should finally put that lazy critique to bed. The Virginian’s maturation as a songwriter is most evident on this swirling, nostalgic synth-jam, which is a doe-eyed homage to opening yourself up to someone new.

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