Best Indie Rock Songs of 2012, Vol. I – The Shins, Andrew Bird, Cloud Nothings, Guided By Voices, Imperial Teen, Dr. Dog, Shearwater

This is not your ordinary best songs of the year post. First off, we’re not dictating the best songs to you as most media sites and blogs do, but rather highlighting the number one songs from each weekly Top 10 Songs playlist in 2012. If you’re familiar with IRC’s top ten series, you know that the most popular songs of the week are based on which singles, often from albums and EPs released in a given week, were the most popular with the tens of thousands of people from across the country and around the world.

Each week, we put together posts featuring new releases from a variety of artists and bands, from some of the most popular bands to obscure DIY artists. We use website analytics to determine which songs were the most listened to and downloaded in order to create a weekly Top 10 Songs list*.  This is the first volume of the best songs of 2012, featuring the No. 1 songs for each week of January through March of 2012, as determined by IRC listeners.


January 2012 – No. 1 Songs

Altogether, there will be four volumes highlighting the Best Songs of 2012 (each volume covers three months of the year), all of which were No. 1 songs of the week during 2012.  The four Best Songs of 2012 playlists to be posted during the next few weeks will ultimately determine the final Top 25 songs of 2012, which will be announced in February. The first No. 1 song of 2012 went to the lead single, “She Got Bit,” from the DIY album release by Brooklyn lo-fi band The Sanctuaries, who originally appeared in the Best New Releases post for the week of January 9th. In addition to their obvious talents as musicians, the band recorded Annette under the direction of producer Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney).

Cloud Nothings as a full band in 2012. Photo by MTV Hive

The following week, newly reunited indie rock veterans, Guided By Voices, topped the charts with “The Unsinkable Fats Domino,” the lead single from GBV’s first album in eight years, Let’s Go Eat the Factory. For the last full week of January 2012, previous IRC Artist to Watch (2010), Dylan Baldi – a Cleveland musician better known as Cloud Nothings – graced the top of the charts with his new single, “No Future/No Fast,” from the album, Attack on Memory, an accomplished follow-up to his 2011 self-titled debut. View the very creepy, dark and strange official music video for the track.

“She Got Bit” – The Sanctuaries from Annette – Top Ten Songs for the week of Jan. 9, 2012

“The Unsinkable Fats Domino”Guided By Voices from Let’s Go Eat the Factory – Top Ten Songs for the week of Jan. 16, 2012

“No Future/No Past “ – Cloud Nothings from Attack on MemoryTop Ten Songs for the week of Jan. 23, 2012

The Top 10 Songs for all three weeks are based on preferences of IRC’s loyal readers and visitors from around the world. Since Tuesday, Jan. 30th, falls at the end of the month, and most of the releases on that date will be reviewed by people during the first five days of February, the last Top Ten Songs playlist for January is folded in with the first week of February.


February 2012

The first week of February 2012 kicked off (albeit officially on Tuesday, Jan. 31st) with a diverse Top 10 Songs playlist, with “Runaway” from Imperial Teen clinching the No. 1 song of the week’s Best New Releases (View details about how the Top 10 Songs are determined each week at the end of this post.).
Since the last Tuesday (the day most new albums are officially released) of the month fell on the last day of the month, Jan. 31st, we decided to use Wednesday, Feb. 1st as the beginning of the week since the following six days represent the first week of February.

“Runaway” – Imperial Teen from Feel the Sound – Top Ten Songs for the Week of Feb. 1st

“That Old Back Hole” – Dr. Dog from Be The Void – Top Ten Songs for the Week of Feb. 7th

“You As You Were” – Shearwater from Animal Joy – Top Ten Songs for the Week of Feb. 14th

“We Are Young” – Fun (featuring Janelle Monáe) from Some Nights – Top Ten Songs for the Week of Feb. 21st

March 2012

Songwriter and musician PT Walkley topped the Top 10 Songs chart for the first week of March with his multi-dimensional single, “The Way That You Are” from his latest album, Thriller. The breezy, sunny single is like a sonic collage – complete with clips of rushing water, three second psych guitar jams and sci-fi sound effects, oozing la-la choruses, a melodic acoustic strum, joyous whistling, and dreamy, whispery vocals that portend whimsical lyrics, like: “Maybe you feel strange/is cause you are strange/and if you are strange/please don’t change.”

But despite the enjoyment of the track, and a few others on Thriller, there are obvious issues as well, aside from the fact that the album is a mere 21 minutes long, featuring a number of tracks that are nothing more than some instrumentation and a few lines of lyrics. Another issue is naming the album, Thriller, knowing full-well that the real one and only album, Thriller, by Michael Jackson, changed the face of pop music for decades, and remains the all-time biggest-selling album ever. Another issue is the terrible, and lazily conceived, album artwork (see for yourself).

As anyone who has followed the ‘indie,’ or otherwise alternative, music scene in the past decade (especially during the past five years) knows well how much the quality of album artwork has suffered in recent years. But that’s another issue for another post. Still, with his newest LP, Walkley’s talents as a witty songwriter and experimental musician, are re-affirmed, and IRC readers listened to, downloaded and Liked his single over all others of the week – including great songs from Memoryhouse, Geographer, Plants and Animals and Elliott Brood.

“The Way That You Are” – PT Walkley from Thriller – Top Ten Songs for the Week of Feb. 28th to March 6th


Number One Songs from Andrew Bird, The Ting Tings and Poor Moon

The amazing and prolific talent of Andrew Bird shone through once again with yet another album (Break It Yourself) of fantastically experimental, memorable songs featuring ethereal instrumentation and terrific lyrics, including the No. 1 song for the week of March 7th, “Eyeoneye.” The indie band The Ting Tings raised their credibility score with music lovers in 2012 with the release of their sophomore LP, Sounds from Nowheresville, from which the lead single, “Soul Killing,” was the most popular song for the week of March 14th to March 20th. Up next, easily one of the best albums of 2012, The Shins’ Port of Morrow, charted each single (three in total) for the Top 10 Songs during the week of March 21st, followed by the week of March 28th to April 3rd, during which time the No. 1 song was Poor Moon‘s for “People in Her Mind,” from the band’s latest album, Illusion. The track also overlapped partially into the first few days of April because it was released near the end of March.

“Eyeoneye” – Andrew Bird from Break It Yourself via Mom + Pop – Top Ten Songs for Week of March 7th

“Soul Killing” – The Ting Tings from Sounds From Nowheresville – Top Ten Songs for Week of March 14th


“It’s Only Life” – The Shins from Port of Morrow – Top Ten Songs for Week of March 21st

“People in Her Mind” – Poor Moon from Illusion on Sub Pop  – Top Ten Songs for Week of March 28th

Volume Two of the Best Songs of 2012 is already in the works and when it is completed and posted within the next week, will cover the No. 1 songs for the months of April through the end of June. As with this first volume of the top indie songs of 2012, it will contain approximately a dozen stellar singles from acclaimed albums by a diverse group of both signed and unsigned artists, ranging in popularity from some of the world’s most admired bands to DIY artists that almost no one had heard of until they were featured on IRC. Additionally, we have all kinds of ‘Best of 2012’ playlists and posts in the works right now that will be published over the next few weeks – you won’t want to miss out on any of those, so if you forget to visit the site, or get too busy with your overly busy lives, you can also sign up for the RSS or email feeds, follow IRC on Twitter or stay in touch by visiting IRC’s growing Facebook following.

View the Top 10 Songs playlists for 2011, Best Indie Rock Songs of 2010 and 2009. Note: Some song links are no longer active, but most are still accessible for either streaming or downloading.

How The Top Ten Weekly Songs Playlists are Determined

All number one songs, as is the case for the entire Top 10 weekly playlist, are determined by the number of times the song is streamed and downloaded. While singles are sometimes dropped weeks before the official release date for the album they appear on, most of the songs in the Top 10 reflect a single’s popularity during the week the album itself was dropped. Exceptions to this rule include popular songs featured in band profiles, the Fresh Tracks series, and other posts published during the week of the Top 10. However, we do not include in the Top 10 songs posted in special playlists that are not tied to a new or recent release. We debated whether to include this involved explanation of how the Top 10 Songs for a given week are determined for fear of confusing people, so hopefully we were able to break it down in a way that is easily comprehensible. Afterall, the Top 10 Songs playlists are determined by what all of you listen to and download the most, so it seems only sensible to explain the full details of the process.

Usually the Top 10 Songs for a given week will be posted to the Top 10 Songs playlist page a week or two after the singles themselves were featured on IRC; it takes some time to go through the web stats to determine which songs were the most popular of the dozens of tracks IRC posts each week.

* Some important notes: Because there were no significant releases for the first week of January (which is typical in the first week of the year), there were only three number one songs for the first month of 2012.  Since Tuesday is the usual release date for new albums (even if the singles from those albums were released prior to the album drop date) , there are some months that will have five number one songs because of overlapping Tuesdays.   To view the other nine songs in the Top Ten Songs playlist for any of the weeks of January through March, simply click the corresponding week listed after each No. 1 Song.

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  1. Great list, guys! You forgot the Research Turtles, especially since Tom Petty has covered one of their songs this year. Other than that one omission, I cannot disagree.

  2. He named himself shit because that’s what he has made of his life with his negativity. If you don’t like it go find something that you do. There’s plenty of options out there!

  3. All of these songs are shit and so is the person that put this list together… You’ve got to be kiddin me. I thought I found something here, only to be punched in the face with a big sweaty dick. Quit wastin your time assholes

      1. these songs are great and these bands can actually make music. They preform like gods and put the rest of the music industry to shame. They have intelligent lyrics and don’t make music to please money. Their music is anything but a sweaty dick to the face.

    1. There’s no trailblazing music on the list, but it’s called Indierock Cafe, so what do you expect?
      And what are your favourite songs of 2012?

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