Top Ten Singles of 2012 (so far)

Its nearly November. I know there are two months left. There have however been 10 months of really great music to absorb. I have been to more gigs in 2012 than for years. I have seen two Mercury prize nominated bands amongst them. Don’t ever believe those naysayers who complain about their being no good new music. This is piffle and hogwash of the highest order.  I have been privileged to see such acts as Francois and the Atlas Mountains, Django Django, We Are Augustines, Field Music, To Kill A King to name but a few this year. All of them original, innovative and good live. I have even seen Mark Radcliffe and the Big Figures strutting their stuff in Hebden Bridge. To think, even disc jockeys showing off on stage too!

Mark Radcliffe & The Big Figures – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge

These ten songs however are those which have really caught my ear. My exposure to them is largely down to BBC 6 Music. They are in no particular order but it is no surprise that the first video is The Shins -Simple Song which is their first single off the 2012 album ‘Port of Morrow’. Undoubtedly the finest single I have heard this year and indeed for many a year. It has everything a pop/rock single should have. The video is dark but comical. The track blew me away on first hearing. I have played it endlessly since the beginning of the year.

The Shins -Simple Song
Shields – Mezzanine

Shields are a band from Newcastle whom I saw live very recently, supporting To Kill A King in Leeds. They were bright, tight and interesting. This track particularly has stuck in my head. A true earworm.
Dodgy – Did It Have To Be This Way?
Dodgy have been a long term fave of mine. Their albums in the 90’s were bright, exciting and beautifully written. They reformed a couple of years ago and released a new album Stand Upright In A Cool Place earlier this year. This track really stood out amongst a great return to form. 
Maximo Park – The Undercurrents
Another band from the North East. If Simple Song is my No 1, this has to be close on its coat tails. It is a truly stunning song that I am playing repeatedly maybe to the annoyance of others around me. It is taken off another excellent album released in June called ‘The National Health’.
Jake Bugg – Lightning Bolt
This young singer songwriter is sensational. He captures the raw energy of early Bob Dylan/Paul Simon and mixes it with Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers. It is hard to believe that he is only 18 as his songs so stunning. He is about to embark on a US tour supporting Noel Gallagher. He will go far I am sure. 
Jack White – Sixteen Saltines
Jack White is a very busy musician. He collaborates extensively and performed as part of the White Stripes to popular acclaim. His debut solo album ‘Blunderbuss’ was released this year and this single was the first release off it. It has a raw energy that grabs you and electrocutes you. The video is very interesting and not easy watching at times. The album is a real winner though.
Richard Hawley – Down In The Woods
2012 has to be Richard Hawley year. He has been at the forefront of critical praise for his album ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’. It has produced several singles off it but I particularly like this one. It is moody, eerie and powerful. A Mercury Prize nominee again following his 2006 nomination for the sublime ‘Coles Corner’ album. This album is themed around his beloved home town of Sheffield.

Bob Mould – The Descent
In truth I don’t know much about Bob Mould and his previous incarnation as frontman for the band Husker Du. What I do know is a great track when I hear it. This is loud, raw but intelligent. It is reminiscent of REM in their prime mixed with touches of Blink 182 or Soul Asylum. The album ‘Silver Age’ is well worth checking out.
Bob Dylan – Duquesne Whistle
Lord Bob Almighty! Yet another studio album from arguably the greatest living songwriter. His delivery is croaky, he remains typically quirky but this album has real quality. He has found a sound that suits his rambling, sentimental old age. This track makes me smile every time I hear it. It harks back to days gone by and is as catchy as flu. 

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Johanna and Klara Soderberg have been around for a since 2007 as a group. Their first album (The Big Black and The Blue) was released in 2010 but it is their second and current album ‘The Lion’s Roar’ that has really taken the public and music critics attention. It is powerful yet beautiful. It has the strength and purity of The Mamas and Papas in their prime. The title track was the second single to be released and is my favourite.
I hope you like the selection. It is my opinion as ever and not comprehensive. If you go on to buy the albums, then you will not be disappointed. Watch out for the new Jim Jones Revue album – ‘The Savage Heart’ sounds like a winner too. 

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