Below you'll find a cross section of songs birthed from Brooklyn bands over the last 12 months. For better or worse, this is how our borough sounded in 2012.
Brooklyn's most visible band, at least in terms of Radio City appearances and New York magazine covers, spent the year shaking off their trademark choirboy delicacy with an album full of oddly extroverted, disfigured songs (see: "Speak in Rounds"). Coupled with this track, they sound refreshed and alive.
When we were 17, we listened to a lot of MF Doom, which is exactly what borough prodigy Joey Bada$$ is doing at 17. The only difference is that it's 2012, not the 1990s, and it already landed him an appearance on Jimmy Fallon. (Another difference might be the talent. He has a lot of it.)
While jangle-pop mainstays Beach Fossils took a pause, bassist John Pena released a solo record of a woozier degree, here sounding ever so punchy... but mostly still woozy.
The other Beach Fossil-offshoot, who started the year out as Dive (memories!), also released an album but flopped Heavenly Beats' woozy to punchy proportions. Here we have one of the predominantly punchy, slightly woozy singles.
The Men got a shade gentler this year, as best evidenced by this alt-country ballad. About feeling comfy in artistic rootlessness, it nears the sad, strummy feeling of the Stones’ “Dead Flowers.”
Acknowledging the generally true consensus that Swing Lo Magellan is Dirty Projectors’ most easily accessible album to date doesn’t do a great job to prepare you for the still unusual twists and turns of their best songs. Take this one, which starts out emotionally lost and gently macabre before ending up weirdly warm.
We're not sure what it says about us that one of our favorite musical moments of the year was The Babies' Kevin Morby, sounding surprisingly like Britt Daniel, rattle off, "I like your hair/How do ya do it?" but there it is.
With Animal Collective abandoning Kings County for sunnier, cheaper, and/or European cities, we turn to Tanlines to fulfill in-house tribal-pop euphoria.
Angel Haze is our favorite Brooklyn-based rapper, probably, and her straight-up mean debut EP, Reservation, makes you feel like a tough guy when you listen to it on the subway.
“Hey! Kids! You’ll never get it back!” Mocking the chillaxed millenials, or just sarcastically waving bon voyage to their own 90s youth with an extended middle finger, this was Brooklyn's best blast of In Utero worship this year.
Slimming down to a duo and moving well past their cutesy blog hit, “Bruises,” Chairlift’s 2012 record Something was a significant upgrade, full of snappy but cerebral new wave hits like this swell single (which might be even better as a Japanese karaoke jam).
This year, Here We Go Magic’s Teeny Lieberson debuted her new band TEEN. Their best songs favorably recalled the odd, catchy post-punk everybody was making around here in the early 00s.
Quarantine gave Laurel Halo’s abstract electronics a more human face by leaving her vocals out on a bare, vulnerable limb.
This cracking lo-fi pop song about a leg wound in serious need of medical attention is such a perfect ringer for a heyday Flying Nun Records single, its makers’ Australian citizenship (and New Zealand adjacency) cannot be pretended away just because they moved here. But Brooklyn’s magnet appeal to bands from around the world is one of the best things about it, letting us effortlessly replace former hometown heroes who’ve moved on. So they're ours now, sorry.
Smart and bittersweet as any Brooklyn band we’ve got right now, Hospitality’s whole first record is super solid. But this ode to pals old and new, with its persistent, locked riff and sophisticated chorus horns, likely made the most playlists in 2012.
Because flannel doesn't go better with any other songs released this year.
Sleigh Bells’ sophomore album was better on most every level than their smash debut, except it wasn't an unexpected sneak attack this time. We saw them coming, feigned disinterest, even with hair blown back from a lumbering riff-monster like this one.
Closing the chapter on wide scope American themes and Civil War metaphors, Local Business sees Titus ringleader Patrick Stickles focusing inward on personal struggles. Here he depicts the exhilarating and distressing moments of leaving New Jersey (or wherever it is we all came from) for Brooklyn. By the song's end, the guitars are doubling as bagpipes as it slowly morphs back into a flag-waving rallying call.
Here, Van Etten's whispered introspection gives way to chugging guitar and gusty, intense cries. In the course of three minutes, she adopts a take-no-prisoners persona and becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Brooklyn workhorses Woods released another slab of acid-drenched folk-rock in 2012, as they do every year. And like every year, they've upped their game of expertly occupying the space between throwback and forward thinkers. "Cali in a Cup" is one of the breeziest, earthiest songs we've seen from them yet. As long as the Brooklyn music scene has Woods, it's going to be just fine.