Wow, this was a really, really hard list to make. There were so many great albums and great songs that to pick 20 seems insulting. To put them in an order is even worse. But, for what it’s worth, this is the first half of my list of 2012’s top 20 songs.
#20 – “I Don’t Regret” Thomas Wynn and The Believers
When I first heard this song, I thought to myself, “I forgot there were musicians who can rock like this.” This band, and this song in particular, show a style that amounts to a lead guitar and back up instruments. Wynn’s ability to wail on a guitar and make it sound both out of sync with the vocals and like the perfect compliment to those same vocals. Throw in some harmony and you’re left with an incredible song.
#19 – “Pitchman” Count This Penny
This song is about heartbreak and lies. It’s about being duped and feeling the hurt and ache. With lines like “I ain’t saying you lied, just that I believed you,” it’s not hard to understand the feelings and the pain in Amanda Rigell’s beautiful voice when she sings this song.
#18 – “Californ-ia” Dan and the Wildfire
Dan and the Wildfire released their first album this year and it was a fantastic hodge-podge of different styles and sounds. It’s defining characteristic is it’s lack of a consistent sound, showing off the bands ability to play different kinds. This one features some awesome harmonies and great songwriting.
#17 “Fire” Langhorne Slim and the Law
Langhorne Slim is a little bit Ben Harper, a little bit Bob Dylan, but he doesn’t sound like either of them. His energy is palpable and his songwriting is crisp. This is one of his more emotional songs, one that shows how he can transform his voice into a vehicle for emotion like few other artists can.
#16 “The Mtn Song” Rayland Baxter
Rayland Baxter has been turning heads this year. The soft spoken singer songwriter released his debut album, “feathers & fishHooks”, toured with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and was named one of Paste Magazine’s top 20 albums of 2012. This song is a beautiful love song with some great acoustic instruments, including a banjo, and Baxter’s soft voice and simple songwriting.
#15 – “The Blue Between Us” The Novel Ideas
While this song tops out at number 15 on our list, it may very well have my favorite line of the year. “And I miss the folksingers from the days of old, when a three chord song could save your soul.” With lyrics like that and a sound that is far more complex with every listen, this track is a hidden gem.
#14 – “The Golden Age and The Silver Girl” Tyler Lyle
It takes quite a bit for a guy with a guitar to make himself stand out. Tyler Lyle’s hold nothing back style and his excellent songwriting make his album and its title track some of the best of 2012. This track is an honest song, one that has Lyle discussing his thoughts with an honesty that’s admirable. “And I thought I could make you happy…”
#13 – “Over Jordan” Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons
Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons make good, old fashioned rock music. It’s the kind that we’ve missed in the last 3o years. He’s a throwback to a time past. This song, featuring a slide guitar, harmonica, and banjo, is an old-school blues rock song, one that wouldn’t have been out of place in the late 60s and pays homage to Tom Waits by singing, “Come on up, come on up to the house. The band just started playin’ and we’re all just hanging out.”
#12 – “Taking Alcatraz” Field Report
Field Report is Chris Porterfield’s band. He’s the frontman, songwriter, and creator of a band that features songwriting as their primary instrument. The background instruments and vocals are stellar, but it’s the lyrics and vocals that take center stage. “A line in the sand don’t matter if you don’t care. A bird in the hand is worthless if you’re too scared.”
#11 – “The Running of the Bulls” Tall Heights
When I first heard this song, I was blown away that this band was only two guys. There’s so much sound here and the use of the stand up bass and bow is hugely successful. The harmonies shine through the excellent music in this song and make it easily worth your listen and download, if for nothing else than to experience the unique style these guys have.