It was a pretty great year of Boston music in 2012. Several bands broke out of the imaginary confines of our city and brought our sound to global audiences, from Amanda Palmer to Converge to Passion Pit to the Dropkicks. But the real sounds of Boston were cultivated around Allston and Somerville, in Cambridge and Brookline, as well as all the surrounding cities and towns, all helping to craft a soundtrack of Boston that felt unparalleled compared to recent years. Here's a list of 75 standout jams from the past year, the tracks that filled the weekly playlists of Boston Accents, listed by band, alphabetically, with one rule: only one song selection per band. We could have listed 150, but decided to pool 75 and leave them unranked.
Not all are from specifically Boston; New England is represented, from Maine (Sunset Hearts) to Connecticut (Suicide Dolls), with a few entries from Western Mass (Speedy Ortiz, Potty Mouth). And some artists/bands have left Boston over the past year (Grand Resort, Black Light Dinner Party), but we've accounted for these songs being part of Boston in one way or another (the band having roots here, someone going to school here, etc.). We're not pretending like this is a defining list -- just the songs that defined Boston Accents.
Yesterday on the show, we spun 15 of these, and we'll spin another 15 more today, then get to as many as we can tomorrow, all airing live each day at 5pm EST on WFNX.com.
Thanks for listening.
Abadabad “All the Bros Say” -- Standout jam from September’s The Wild, breakout pick for 2013 ready to emerge from the Allston basements and clubs.
All The Bros Say by ABADABAD
Air Traffic Controller “Hurry Hurry” – If this list was ranked, this would be a Top 5 selection. Nominated for Song of the Year in the 2012 Boston Music Awards, and probably should have won. Off the critically-acclaimed Nordo LP.
Amanda Palmer “Do It With A Rockstar” – Love her or hate her, or both, she had a pretty good 2012 and is one of our city’s nationally recognized music figures. Had some success with that Kickstarter thing.
Andre Obin “Lemondrop” – Somerville/Cambridge producer temporality shelves his Soviet-bloc techno for a chillwave vibe. The Electronic Artist of the Year in the 2012 BMAs.
Lemondrop by André Obin
Animal Talk “Mama Was A Teenage Rocker” – Post-dance indie rock band channels ‘70s classic rock with glorious results.
Art Decade “I Try” – Part of a larger conceptual vision from Ben Talmi, adding a theatric sound to rock and roll; off May’s Western Sunrise.
I Try by Art Decade
Autochrome “Senses” – Desolate punk-punk from a band that unfortunately is on hiatus; March’s Separation Realms one of the best records Factory never put out.
Senses by Autochrome
AVOXBLUE “The Confessional” – Jimmy Rossi’s icy synthpop a far cry from his psych-rock work with December Sound; off the A Place Without Time EP, which was recently re-released on blue vinyl.
The Confessional by AVOXBLUE
Bad Rabbits “We Can Roll” – Teaser single off next year’s American Love and American Dreams LPs, which sure to blow up in 2013. Been waiting on new jams from the Rabbits crew for roughly two years, and “We Can Roll” is a heavy post-R&B number that pulverizes after just one listen. Stage-dive central.
Bathaus “Inferno” – Ladies and germs, witchhaus is not just for October anymore! Ashley Capachione’s choir-pop sounds are haunting.
Bearstronaut “Birds Of Prey” – Tanktop-pop goes disco as the former Lowell band relocated to Somerville and launches a thousand living room dance parties; off November’s Paradice EP.
Birds of Prey by Bearstronaut
Bent Shapes “Brat Poison” – The artist formerly known as Girlfriends spits scene vitriol in reminding us that “We could emulate a sunshine state, but New England’s dreaming.”
Brat Poison by Bent Shapes
Birthdays “Howolding Girls” – Sammy Yager throws down some sunny vibes while experimenting with electronics, issuing a self-titled solo record that is more enjoyable the more you peel back the layers.
Howolding Girls by Birthdays
Black Light Dinner Party “Leave It All” – Boston-born quartet of producers now mostly reside in NYC, but keep turning out impressive electro-pop mini-anthems.
Bodega Girls “Surf’s Up America” – If this is Bodega’s swan song, they go out with a shout-out bang. Pretty awesome video, too, by the Loroto crew.
Caleb Groh “Catastrophic Culprit” – Former Happiest Lion spent 2012 creating engaging folk while entrancing with an unmistakable voice; off his March record Bottomless Coffee.
Camden “(Talking On The) Telephone” – Bratty rock and roll from January’s Getting Around 7-inch; new music on the way in early 2013.
(Talking on the) Telephone by Camden
Casey Desmond “Heartbeat” – Standout track off November’s Déjà Vu, the latest dance-party-starting record from Boston’s undisputed electro-pop queen and former contestant on NBC’s The Voice.
Heartbeat by Casey Desmond
Caspian “Halls of the Summer” – Lush, expansive sounds from the Beverly post-rock outfit, off September’s seemingly-endless Waking Season, one of the best full-length records of 2012.
Color Channel “Get To Know The Person Next To You” – Electro-funk single that helped re-shape the Allston live dance party machine. Poised for a huge 2013.
Get To Know The Person Next To You by Color Channel
Cooling Towers “Hard Headed Woman” – Commodore Vic and crew take their glam-rock leanings and filter it through a punk-punk lens.
Creaturos “James Day’s Milk Shake” – Noisy, brash tin-can garage rock from two of the dudes that used to make up Doomstar!; off the Swampp Thingg cassette release via pRIMORDIAL sOUNDS.
The Daily Pravda “The Race To Space” – From ’72 Bowie to ’94 Suede for the Allston glam-rock veterans.
The Race to Space by The Daily Pravda
The Dirty Dishes “Hush” – If there was one truly overlooked record out of Boston in 2012, it was The Most Tarnished Birds EP. The Dishes now split time between here and Los Angeles.
Hush by Dirty Dishes
DOZE “Foxhunt” – Fairly new entry, only released a few weeks ago but aggressive post-hardcore that sets a brutal tone for the rest of The Dirts EP.
Foxhunt by DOZE
Earthquake Party “One More Night Could Ruin Us” – Latest EP Lets Rock, OK clocks in at three songs in just around four minutes, and the best minute-and-change come from this piece of fuzzed out bliss.
Eddie Japan “You Will Find Me Dead In My Comfort Zone” – The soundtrack for the dirty Main Street lounge you watched your sleazy uncle frequent to in the early ‘80s. By the time you were old enough to go, the place was long gone. And so was he.
You Will Find Me Dead in My Comfort Zone by Eddie Japan
Fat Creeps “Leave Her Alone” – Hooky cautionary tale from the lo-fi garage-rock darlings of the North Shore who broke out in a big way in 2012. Up next: national attention.
Leave Her Alone by Fat Creeps
The Fatal Flaw “You Need To Know” – Joel Reader pens a power-pop song for his wife Ashley as she successfully battled cancer, but packs enough riffage and melody for it to stand up on its own even without the incredible and uplifting storyline.
You Need to Know by The Fatal Flaw
The Field Effect “Ogunquit ME” – Straight up one of the most memorable tracks of 2012, off December’s Cartography LP. “I fell for you like rain” one of my favorite lyrical lines of the year.
Ogunquit, ME by The Field Effect
Gentlemen Hall “Golden Age” – Widening the scope of our city’s music scene, these pop veterans continue to expand their sound and accumulate fans and supporters in Boston and beyond.
Glass Teeth “The Light” – “The evil that men do lives after them,” wrote Shakespeare. Enter Xavier Glass’s sinister dark-rave.
Grand Resort “Microscopic” – Andres Pichardo wrote the songs to Vanguard Dreams while living in Brookline and attending the New England Institute of Art. Now backed by full live band and living in Brooklyn.
Microscopic by Grand Resort
Grass Is Green “Nice Guy of the Year Award” – One of the many attention-grabbing releases of Exploding in Sound, which dominated independent releases around Massachusetts in 2012. Off March’s Ronson record.
Hallelujah The Hills “Get Me In A Room” – Ryan H Walsh proves Ja Hills have plenty left in the literate-rock tank; off May’s No One Knows What Happens Next.
Infinity Girl “Please Forget” – Neo-shoegazers instantly reach cruising altitude and never look back. Then break up GO ON INDEFINITE HIATUS [ahem] after releasing one full length (Stop Being On My Side) and an EP (Just Like Lovers) in 2012. A brief but impressive mark from four unassuming dudes from Cambridge.
please forget by infinity girl
Lifestyle “Whereabouts Unknown” – Freezepop’s Sean Drinkwater re-boots his original synthpop project and shows all the new-jack electro bands how to craft a electronic composition with soul; off November’s Artificial EP.
Whereabouts Unknown by Lifestyle
The Luxury “Why Don’t You Cry Anymore (Like You Used To)” – Former winners of the Rock and Roll Rumble resurrect to show the Coldplay wannabes of the world how to write an indie rock jam fit for arenas.
Why Don't You Cry Anymore (Like You Used To)? by The Luxury
Mean Creek “Young & Wild” – Anthem of 2012, one of a handful of ace tracks (Do You Know?,” “Shakey,” “You Were Wrong”) off Youth Companion, my favorite Boston rock record of the year, and the winner of Best Album in the 2012 BMAs.
"Young & Wild" by Mean Creek from loroto on Vimeo.
Mellow Bravo “Where The Bodies Lay” – No frills blues rock band keeping the grit alive with muscular songs and a bruising live show, one of a few megajams off their self-titled second record. Oh, this video kinda rules, too.
The Milling Gowns “Zenith” – Another late entry, taking the sound of early ‘80s Manchester and sprinkling it across Somerville streets. Gloomy post-punk for the optimistic folk, best served cold with a side of Munich. Off the Something Dangerous Loves Me EP.
Zenith by The Milling Gowns
MMOSS “Okay” – New Hampshire psych-folk continue to churn out some of the best live performances in New England. Off November’s Only Children record.
Okay by MMOSS
The New Highway Hymnal “Out With The Lights” – First single off Whispers from the Massachusetts psych-punk crew. Be warned: vocalist Hadden Stemp will get in your face during a live show.
Out With The Lights by The New Highway Hymnal
Night Fruit “Human Touch” – Possible finale from Cambridge dream-pop trio, but could also just be the first single off a new record in 2013.
Orca Orca “Say So” – Jimmy Hewitt once crafted these dreamy post-punk songs alone in his Allston bedroom, recording vocals in his car so his roommates couldn’t hear him. Now has a full band (featuring members of Qualms) and one of the better live shows around town.
Say So by Orca Orca
Organ Beats “Living Without You” – Massachusetts power-pop veterans masters at writing a hook. First single off November’s Goldenheart LP, and it fails to get old after dozens and dozens of spins.
Living Without You by The Organ Beats
Parks “Sweater Weather” – New pop project from Oranjuly’s Brian E. King predicts a prosperous 2013 on the horizon.
Sweater Weather by Parks
Parlour Bells “Bachelor Hours” – The shades are pulled down on Glenn di Benedetto and Nathaniel Leavitt’s noir-pop project, and this is the seductive standout on their dance with moonlight, Thank God For The Night.
Bachelor Hours by Parlour Bells
Passion Pit “Take A Walk” – As heard on the Doritos Loco Taco Bell commercial (“Take a guac, anyone?), Boston-born Passion Pit deliver on high-pressured sophomore album Gossamer. Maybe not even the best track on the record (“Constant Conversations”? “I’ll Be Alright”?) but it's a song that was everywhere in 2012 and helped define the year.
Pile “Prom Song” – Another five-finger face-punch from the Exploding in Sound crew; off October’s Dripping.
Prom Song by Pile
The Pomps! “Icepack” – Thousandth-wave ska with a fresh feel is no easy feet, but pulled off by this project featuring members of the Sterns, Have Nots, and Void Union.
Icepack! by The Pomps
Potty Mouth “Hazardville” – Western Mass is blowing the fuck up (Psychic Blood, Speedy Ortiz, Bunny’s A Swine, Chris Villon of Young Adults), but the Sun Damage 12-inch stands out. Released on three different Massachusetts labels at the same time. That’s how great it is. Also of note: “Dog Song.”
Hazardville by potty mouth
Pretty & Nice “Capsules” – Get herky, get jerky, bend yourself all fucked up to Boston’s most innovative and anti-linear guitar-rock band. Off November’s Us You All We EP.
Qualms “Thousands” – Easton, Mass., goes glossy with a lullaby sound for the 3pm Benedryl generation; off October’s Honeylung record.
Thousands by QUALMS
The Rationales "Radio" -- Boston rock veterans continue to deliver hook-laden songs immune from trends or fickle demands.
Radio (Single-2012) by The Rationales
RIBS “Alarms” – From start to finish, Russian Blood is a mesmerizing post-millennial rock and roll record, and the blistering riffs in “Alarms” takes it even higher. Named Best Rock Act in the 2012 BMAs.
Alarms by RIBS
RM Hendrix “Summer Dresses (Ivorine & Chai)” – Cambridge solo artist constantly charting a new C86/shoegaze course while maintaining a very low profile.
Summer Dresses (Ivorine & Chai) by R.M. Hendrix
Ruby Ridge “Annie Christian” – Art-damaged electro-punk that contorts and confronts from John and Callan Bittrich. Off the Intent EP.
RULE “Sucker” – Hard-rock with a non-cheesy early-‘80s Manowar flair from a Voltron band of Boston music scene veterans.
Sucker by RULE
Seer Group “Wounded Animal” – Collaborative effort led by Jason Rozen and company (Elijah Wyman, Eleni Castro, etc.) delivered some of the smoothest synthpop out of Boston in 2012. March’s Owlpine had several gems on it, but none stronger than this throbbing low-end number.
Wounded Animal by Seer Group
Slowdim “Money” – Back in February, Paul Sentz rode a catchy jangle-pop train from the station to the destination, setting the stage for this March’s upcoming full-length.
Money (single) by Slowdim
Speedy Ortiz “Taylor Swift” – Named Best New Band in Massachusetts in the 2012 Boston Phoenix 50 Bands 50 States feature, and they delivered with this single and the Exploding in Sound 10-inch, Sports. Beautifully noisy, sludgy, grungy, and vulgar.
Taylor Swift by Speedy Ortiz
SPF 5000 “Doorknocker” – Somerville electro-funk trio lay down the beat and crash every dance party in town. More than seven-plus minutes of shimmy n’ shake.
Stephie Coplan & the Pedestrians “Jerk” – The last great FM radio success story? While attending Tufts Miss Coplan sent in this track to WFNX, and we spun it two hours later, instantly placing a star over the innocent smile of the piano-pounding songwriter with venom in her lyrics.
Streight Angular “Supermarche” – Al Polk was everywhere in 2012, for better or worse, and “Supermarche” finds the garage rock band at their full-frontal awesome-est.
Supermarché by Streight Angular
Suicide Dolls “Drive” – Connecticut rock trio go into overdrive with a relentless, almost-industrial bitz; Off January’s Prayers in Parking Lots.
Drive by The Suicide Dolls
Sunset Hearts “Past Lives” – Our Maine pick in the Phoenix’s 50 Bands 50 States, Casey McCurry and his collective take M83’s blazing sonic template and reshape their electro-pop in the shadows of New England melancholy.
Past Lives by Sunset Hearts
The Symptoms “Don’t Leave” – Young Allston quartet graduated high school outside of Boston back in June, but show potential with this experimental pop gem that borders on trip-hop.
Velah “Skeleton House” – Led by former Static of the God Jen Johnson and her soaring-yet-soothing voice, anyone who bought this yearning rock number online missed out on one of the most creative physical 7-inch packaged crafted in 2012.
Skeleton House by Velah
Viva Viva “Dead In Yr Tracks” – One of Boston’s best live rock and roll bands pull it back for half this joint, then slowly build back up to a bluesy drunken ruckus only they could create.
Western Education “All I Am” – The first song spun on the re-launched Boston Accents back in October, as this Lowell quartet threw down one of the best tracks of 2012, a furious joyride modern-rock jam with a choral breakdown right when its least expected.Off this month's The Weekend Sessions.
All I Am by Western Education
White Dynomite “White Dynomite” – Dave Unger is an Allston-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm and garage rock bombs.
Yale Massachusetts “Danger City Population Me” – In under two minutes Yale Mass kicked the pop-punk labels in the balls, and got tons of shit thrown at them in the process. Bah bah-da, bah!
You Won’t “Who Knew” – The minimalist beauty in the standout track from February’s Skeptic Goodbye was an underrated folk success, and made us hope that somehow, some way, this duo earns a spot on next year’s Newport Folk Fest lineup.
Who Knew by You Won't
Young London “Call My Name (Tonight)” – Doing the dirty work of breaking down Boston’s long-standing rock and roll walls one dance party at a time, all the while adding some electro-pop bliss to our city’s ever-evolving soundtrack. Nominated for Song of the Year in the 2012 BMAs.