2012 was another banner year for new American music. The tracks below represent Stateside’s top picks by bands based in the U.S.A.
Liars - “No. 1 Against the Rush”: Moody and minimalist synth-pop inspired by American football; great tune and NYC’s Liars certainly win points for originality.
King Tuff - “Bad Thing”: Bubblegum garage pop from Detroit up-and-comers and another solid single for the venerable Sub Pop label.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - “Only in My Dreams” may just be the most accessible track on the 2012 release Mature Themes, as it harkens back to the poppier sounds of the Elephant 6 collective and their forbearers R.E.M, The Beach Boys and The Everly Brothers.
Sharon Van Etten - “Serpents”: Standout track from the New Jersey singer’s winning record Tramp; sexy, dark and, yes, quite serpentine.
Grizzly Bear - “Sleeping Ute”: Beautiful, fractured pop from Ed Droste-fronted outfit and the opening track from the band’s latest opus, Shields.
Danny Brown - “Grown Up” A stab at relative maturity for the notoriously gonzo Detroit MC; this recalls the old school flow of 80’s/90’s heroes Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.
Frank Ocean - “Bad Religion”: This track harkens back to Purple Rain-era Prince and you can hear the torch being passed from the original R&B innovator to his young disciple.
Grimes - “Genesis”: Okay, technically Grimes is Canadian but I am claiming her for the U.S.A., as we need more beautifully deranged dream pop.
Chairlift - “I Belong in Your Arms”: Dead cool new wave from a dead cool Brooklyn duo.
Lightning Love - "Wake Up and Find Myself" is spare and bit haunting; simple piano, flute and vocals that sound as if they were recorded inside the witch's oven just as she was preparing for lunch with Hansel and Gretel.