Tracking 2012's Best Songs #18

On this week's Tracking listen to additions from King Krule, Passion Pit, Animal Collective, Dum Dum Girls, Twigs and Cold Showers.
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On this week's Tracking listen to additions from King Krule, Passion Pit, Animal Collective, Dum Dum Girls, Twigs and Cold Showers.
Tracking

This week on Tracking––a weekly series in which we discuss our favorite songs of the year (you can check out the official list as the year progresses)––you can listen to additions from King Krule, Passion Pit, Animal Collective, Dum Dum Girls, Twigs and Cold Showers. (Click on the arrows to navigate through the songs.)


King Krule

King Krule - "Rock Bottom" (1 of6)

“Rock Bottom” sounds like this – King Krule’s Archy Marshall takes to a stool on the foot-high stage in the diviest dive bar you’ve ever imagined (greasy checkerboard floors, someone throwing up in the bathroom, everyone drinking cheap whiskey and cheaper beer), takes two shots (he’s 18), and starts playing this song, with its dreamy, bluesy interlude giving way to a cutting, hyper-catchy riff, and just when you think you’re going to hear a song about selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads a smattering of electronic percussion kicks into gear and you can imagine the guy selling out a stadium tour, before it cuts back into an almost-twee coffeeshop open-mic mixtape closer. It’s mind-blowing how it flows so perfectly, but Marshall’s made up his mind not to make up his mind, and what makes “Rock Bottom” so good is its utter unpredictability. –– Genevieve Oliver

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Passion-Pit-Gossamer

Passion Pit - "Constant Conversations" (2 of6)

Frank Ocean isn’t the only guy making R&B slow jams that indie rock hipsters could groove to this summer. On an album full of great tunes, “Constant Conversations” stands out as the biggest musical leap forward for Passion Pit. A trance-inducing beat anchors the track, which uses the band’s usual helium vocals and warbly synths in an entirely new way. Unlike most of Manners and Gossamer, “Conversations” is not an energy-driven dance-pop song, but it also is not a traditional “ballad” in the vein of “Moth’s Wings.” Instead, Angelekos created his first true neo-soul anthem, with an insanely catchy, wordless “oh-oh-oh” chorus that’s right up there with the hooks of “Little Secrets” and “Take A Walk.” To top it off, the lead singer throws in some all-out falsetto belting at the end for a classic, old school finish. There’s clear emotion in his voice, too – the lyrics on “Conversations,” which touch on Angelekos’ mental health issues and alcoholism, help prove that Passion Pit’s music is far more than something that’s just good to dance to. –– Adam Offitzer

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Animal-Collective-Centipede-Hz

Animal Collective - "Today's Supernatural" (3 of6)

“Woah” is the immediate reaction to the beginning of “Today’s Supernatural,” and that’s intended. The wacky and over-the-top “Come on le-le-le-le-le-le-let-GO” refrain is repeated throughout the song, leading into an "organized mess" of video game noises and synthesizers. It’s a song that seems to revel in its insanity, which is only (slightly) tampered down for the chorus, when the singing becomes a bit more controlled, and the percussion groups together to find a simple, driving rhythm. “Today feels so supernatural,” Avey Tare sings at the end of one of these more digestible melody-driven moments, before blasting back into an explosion of fuzzy, rickety sounds with a big “le-le-le-le-le-le-let-GO.” It’s a clear move away from the slightly more pop-inspired, accessible harmonies and hypnotic sounds of Merriweather Post Pavilion, jumping back to the craziness and aggressiveness of Strawberry Jam and Sung Tongs. For better or worse, it’s classic Animal Collective. –– AO

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Dum-Dum-Girls-End-of-Daze

Dum Dum Girls - "Lord Knows" (4 of6)

I, too, was bummed when I found out that “Lord Knows” wasn’t an epic Dum Dum Girls/Rick Ross collaboration. But what the song lacks in gospel samples and a Rick Ross guest verse, it makes up for in softly churning guitar chords (reminiscent of Explosions In The Sky’s Friday Night Lights score) that float behind gorgeous group harmonies and a memorable chorus. “Oh boy, I can’t hurt you anymore," sings lead vocalist Kirstin Gundred, "lord knows what I’ve hurt, my love.” Like the best Beach House or Grizzly Bear songs, the instrumentals and vocals are dreamy, but not sleepy. The guitars on “Lord Knows” have just enough bite, and the drums have just enough of a kick, to make it an active listen - not just something you’d use exclusively for study music or a bedtime playlist. Still, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to nap to this one. –– AO

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Twigs

Twigs - "Ache" (5 of6)

Twigs’ “Ache” sounds like the moon on the water and a distant bass throb from underground. Her voice sounds intimately confessional, whispered in your ear – that chopped-and-screwed, breathy chorus, "I-I-I-I a-ache for you-ou-ou-ou" is absolutely unforgettable. What Twigs has done here is make probably the most honest and romantic song of 2012 to date, the most convincingly, swooningly lovestruck piece of music, in each and every facet, that we’ve heard in a long time. The drum machine sounds like your stuttering, skipping heartbeat, those whirling, dizzying synth effects like the swirling fog in your head. It’s an intricate, five-minute microcosm of a complex feeling; it’s so successful because you can’t help but feel it too. –– GO

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Cold-Showers

Cold Showers - "BC" (6 of6)

Cold Showers aren’t exactly treading totally unfamiliar territory on “BC” – there’s a hefty post-punk influence at play here, what with a New Order-esque motorik, krauty drumbeat and Joy Division’s moody vocals and shoving bassline – but rarely can a band tread those long-forged pathways and not sound over-worshippy. Cold Showers can weave a hypnotic driving-at-night dreamscape that toes the edge of the nightmare line without sounding like a cover band; in fact, they can forge something new and fascinating, as evidenced when Crystal Antlers’ Andrew King’s wailing, distorted guitar cuts apart that driving groove as though with scissors. –– GO

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