With another fruitful year for the South Florida music scene coming to a close, we compiled a list of our favorite 50 songs released in 2012. We’ll be posting them in installments on this page until we hit numero uno. Until then, hit play and follow #2012songsMIA. — William Alton, editor of the Miami Music Guide
10. “Father” by Arboles Libres
The eponymous track from the debut full-length by trio Arboles Libres, “Father” is a direct descendent of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s electric folk rock landscapes. With an introductory jam that sets a coolly intense tone, Arboles Libres takes “Father” into guitarist Eddie Moreno’s instrumental comfort zone where he shines with blazing riffs and prodding solos.
9. “Klub” by Holly Hunt
The closest thing to a pop song Holly Hunt has ever released — and that’s merely because of the track’s speed — “Klub” still drips with the duo’s signature drone and spiritual repetitiveness. From Holly Hunt’s debut LP, Year One, co-released by Roofless Records and Other Electricities, “Klub” establishes a bombastic sonic peak, which ascends and descends with drummer Beatriz Monteavaro’s permission like a preset treadmill hike.
8. “On This Day You Lose Faith” by Black Seal
Altogether unhinged and measured, Black Seal segments and compartmentalizes genres, nearly to the point of a medley. Mixing noirish atmospheric post-rock, reverberating punk, sluggish stoner sludge pacing, and early metal riffing, the Lake Worth trio of Astaroth Crowley, Robb Erwin, and Tom Beals cohesively meshes all the music that’s likely sitting in their record collection.
7. “Never Know” ft. Soft Lightning by Abdecaf
Steve Vaynshtock, aka Abdecaf, has evolved from a middling identity-seeking tinkerer into a notably versatile beatsmith with a very high production ceiling. “Never Know”, from his Rebuild EP, employs the translucent vocals of Kansas City musician Bryan Cox, aka Soft Lightning. Vaynshtock establishes heavy mood early with a couple of long singular notes before breaking in simultaneously with a crawlingly funky bass line and Cox’s breathy pipes. With the foundation established, Vaynshtock incorporates glitzy chimes and percussive hits, subtly inching towards disco territory.
6. “Moment” by Yellow #6
Named after the food coloring dye found in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, it’s safe to say there’s nothing artificial about Yellow #6’s classic indie rock sound (Yo La Tengo anyone?). Especially not in the production. The Lake Worth trio returned this year with five raw tracks titled Demo, including “Moment”, after releasing their debut seven-song EP in 2011. Titling the new material Demo is likely the stuff of tongue-in-cheek, as the rough, tape deck recording “style” used here is as vital a component of the music as the chippy guitar, the reverb, and the sweet vocal harmony.
5. “Angry Kitten” by Pocket of Lollipops
Sonic Youth meets The Fall in “Angry Kitten”, the best song this duo has ever made. “Angry Kitten” features Maite Urrechaga at her Kim Deal-like best (especially when she sings, “So to wake you up, honey/Ding, ding ding, ding, ding, but you miss that pussycat”) and Tony Kapel doing a Fred-Schneider-through-a-funnel impression. The minimalists win.
4. “Delilah in the Woods” by Sam Friend and the Freckles
Back in August 2011, at Jam Farms down in Kendall, Sam Friend performed a raw version of a song called “Delilah in the Woods” for Beached Miami’s video camera. After the release of a fully fleshed-out version this year, we can now hear — and very much enjoy — Friend’s fantastic vision for “Delilah”, that Southern girl whose “hands hover above the soil”. This in-studio video features Friend’s freckliest friends, the riveting songstress Bridget Davis, drummer Luke Moellman (who also plays with ANR), violinist Abigail Wilensky, trumpeter Bryson Barnes, and bassist Jim Camacho.
3. “Andar” by Arboles Libres
Ignited with a quick flare of feedback, “Andar” bursts into Arboles Libres’s signature transitional rhythmic rock. Like on the band’s 2010 EP, “Andar” is a folk-rock jam that, while entirely cohesive, jumps tempos and boasts stellar individual contributions. Vocalist Juan “Nacho” Londono’s gentle speak-singing is accentuated and made even cozier by a sneakily low-registering cello-like bass (or actual cello?); guitarist Eddie Moreno fills space with brazen and beautiful solos, utilizing effects carefully and sparingly (he may be the best guitar player in the Miami music scene); and drummer Anthony Genovese drives the rhythm of a light march between classic crashing and banging. The track was produced by Aaron Fishbein, who has worked with everyone from Enrique Iglesias to Beyoncé.
2. “Sleazy Dreams” by Band in Heaven
After a quiet 2011, West Palm Beach’s The Band in Heaven (TBIH) kicked off 2012 with a fantastic albeit horrifying music video and a 7” vinyl released by HoZac Records, whose catalogue includes releases by Blank Dog, Black Lips, Dum Dum Girls, Davila 666, Mark Sultan, UV Race, and South Florida’s Teepee and Jacuzzi Boys. The Chicago label was seduced by TBIH’s slow-burn drone and the disturbing images that Alice Cohen wove together for the trio’s “Sleazy Dreams” video. The creepy video, which was featured on Brooklyn Vegan and MTVIggy, captures the band’s layered drone with a corresponding static, hazy sheen. Following a day in the life of a deranged and (hopefully) fictitious cult, the video is littered with religious symbolism, demonic children, and an all-too-convincing cult leader, thus the list of tags: “sexy”, “nuns”, “Jesus”, “Crowley”, “Christian”, “holy mountain”, “stoner”. Core TBIH members Lauren Dwyer (vocals, keys) and Ates Isildak (vocals, guitar) are now rounded out by permanent drummer Ryan Schemm. The trio’s four-song HoZac release features a re-recorded version of The Band in Heaven’s “Summer Bummer” (#6 of the Top 15 South Florida Songs of 2010) with Surfer Blood front man John Paul Pitts on lead guitar.
1. “Time Meant Nothing” by TEEPEE
Having released the sensational lo-fi opus Morals back in 2009, Eric Laurent (formerly Eric Lopez-Zareno), the 24-year-old Miami musician behind Teepee, finally released its long-awaited follow-up, Distant Love or: Time Never Meant Anything, And Never Will, in 2012. The album features the single “Time Meant Nothing”, a splashing mid-tempo introspective on an overwrought and dying relationship. Laurent, who has played in Miami bands Electric Bunnies and Melted Sunglasses, took South Florida by surprise with Morals, a highly stylized collection of bedroom pop experimentation that he wrote, performed, and produced by himself. While he also wrote all of the songs on Distant Love, Laurent received some instrumental help this time around: Jorge Balbi, who has worked closely with Sam Friend (that’s Balbi providing percussion to Sam Friend’s “On a Plain” Nevermind Miami cover) and Fernando Perdomo, mans the drums for most of the upcoming album; longtime Teepee collaborator Albert Ovadia helmed production, engineering, and mixing duties; and notable engineer Brian Lucey (Black Keys, David Lynch, The Shins, Tennis) mastered the album.