Well, well. It's spring, we're a third of the way through 2012, the schoolkids will be let out for a week of madness soon (if not already) and so: It's time to round up the musical fruits the year has yielded so far. We tried to keep this list heavy on Bay Area artists, and that wasn't hard. We won't make any pronouncements about these being The Best Songs of 2012 or whatever, but there are 20 songs here and they're all pretty fucking good. So listen, enjoy, and let us know how you feel in the comments.
E40, "Function," Feat. YG and IAMSu!
E-40 just released three new albums. Does that seem excessive? With the Bay master still dropping tracks like this, it isn't. After you hear "Function," you'll be walking around all day nodding your head and mumbling to no one in particular, "We out here tryin'a function..."
Chromatics, "Kill For Love"
What, did some big music website give this album a glowing review this week? Yeah, well, after developing our own addiction to this effortlessly moody Italo-pop song, we're not surprised.
Cloud Nothings, "Stay Useless"
Wait till you get to the chorus: Dylan Baldi's apprehensive adolescent thing is annoying until his nasal tone announces that he "needs time to stay useless" in a moment of thrashing abandon.
New Build, "Do You Not Feel Loved?"
Seeing this collaboration between members of Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem was a highlight of our trip to South By Southwest. This is six slowly building minutes of indie dance, or rock-house, or whatever you wanna call it.
Smooth, modern bass-funk from British producer Slugabed that more than suits its title. This version contains a snippet of the original followed by bits of two remixes. We highly encourage you to seek out the original.
The Magnetic Fields, "Andrew in Drag"
The cleverest and saddest song off the Magnetic Fields' new album Love at the Bottom of the Sea was penned one blackout night by Stephin Merrit in an NYC bar. He woke up the following morning with no memory of having written it. The chorus melody is textbook bubblegum, as expected, and even if you can't exactly believe in the lyric, it's still fun to sing along to.
Mati Zundel, "Por El Pueblo"
Found this one while trolling around NPR's website a few weeks back, and this Argentinian artist has subsequently become an addiction. This is futuristic cumbia -- dance-pop with traditional flavors. "Por El Pueblo" is gentler than much of the rest of Zundel's new album, Amazonico Gravitante, and will suit anyone who (like us) had a heavy Manu Chao phase back when.
Allo Darlin, "Capricornia"
These darling Londoners do twee-pop as well as twee-pop can be done in 2012. If you're inclined toward that sort of thing, it's magnificent.
King Tuff, "Bad Thing"
On which the resident Sub Pop badass furthers the case for himself as one of underground rock's best frontmen right now. And yes we mean "men." It'll be obvious why later.
Usher and Diplo, "Climax"
This song doesn't take you to a climax, it assumes you're already there. But its time-halting bubble of warmth, filled with Usher's pristine utterances, is easy enough to get lost in.
10 more great songs (and local ones!) after the jump!