Top 50 Austin Songs of 2012: #30-21


30. Serafia Jane - "Touching My Soul"

As lucrative as a career as a jazz singer must be, Serafia recently changed directions with her sound. “Touching My Soul” is the opening salvo in what will likely be a very successful career as a contemporary R&B singer. The music here is entirely synthesized, but Jane’s voice humanizes the track. Her voice is sultry but natural, and she never resorts to the sorts of vocal histrionics that can characterize some modern R&B. With its Euro/techno influences, “Touching My Soul” carves its own niche.

Serafia Jane - 'Touching My Soul'

 1 Up  0 Down

29. The Gorgeous Hands - "Swear to Me (That You'll Stay)"

The Gorgeous Hands used to be known as the Magnificent Snails. The reason for the new moniker is still a bit unclear, but it’s undeniable that they have drastically improved on their songwriting process. Where the Magnificent Snails were driven by their 60s pop influences, the Gorgeous Hands craft their own style while keeping those same sensibilities. “Swear to Me” is a breath of fresh air filled with vocal harmonies, upbeat melodies and foot-tapping rhythms, and the band keeps the arrangement different from verse to verse so that it continues to be just as sweet after multiple listens.

The Gorgeous Hands - 'Swear to Me (That You'll Stay)'

 8 Up  0 Down

28. Crooks - "Bar Stool"

You think you don’t like country music? You clearly haven’t listened to Crooks yet. The swung reverberating riff that opens “Bar Stool” may be off-putting to rock fans but the song quickly settles into a groove that eschews the Southern rock posing of many modern country groups for a more authentic Texas swing style. With a tale of drunken desperation, “Bar Stool” delivers one of the best choruses of the year – no matter the style – and is the perfect accompaniment to your next Friday night bender.

 3 Up  0 Down

27. Whitman - "NW Thurman"

On “NW Thurman,” Whitman get vulnerable. They talk about heartbreak and mortality, with just the faintest hint of regret. Yet, listening to this music you would hardly know it. The raucous, bouncy music turns what could be a dour affair into a life-affirming celebration of young love. The backing vocals, handclaps and keyboard solo could all have been incredibly cheesy, but the band’s conviction that they are having the time of their lives sells this song as an earnest, but complicated, jam.

Whitman - 'NW Thurman'

 5 Up  0 Down

26. Burgess Meredith - "Me As in You"

There are two factors elevating “Me As in You” beyond the rest of the 60s indie pop you might hear out there. One is the team behind the boards. Both Danny Reisch and Erik Wofford had their hands in this track, and those are two of the best producers/engineers in Austin. It shows in how smooth this track sounds, whether it’s the wash of backing vocals, the clear separation of the instruments, or the perfectly calibrated keyboard swells. But none of that would matter without it being an amazing song. Listening to this one is a pure joy every single time.

Burgess Meredith - 'Me As in You'

 7 Up  1 Down

25. The Couch - "Ghost"

We could have picked any number of Couch songs to be on this list; they are just that good at producing top notch rock n’ roll singles. But “Ghost” stands out as the best example of their two vocalists working together. Taylor Wilkins and Sara Houser are each great talents in their own right, but when they combine forces on this track, the result is sublime. When the full band is on in this chorus, you know you’re listening to one of the best up-and-coming rock bands around, and the dance-rock coda is just the icing on the cake.

The Couch - 'Ghost'

 5 Up  0 Down

24. The Boxing Lesson - "Health is the New Drug"

On last year’s Muerta EP, the Boxing Lesson explored their space-rock side, employing various guitar and synthesizer effects in drawn out jams that created crazy sonic landscapes. With “Health is the New Drug” (and to a lesser extent “Better Daze” – their only two songs of 2012), they have married those space-rock inclinations to a killer song. It’s a driving blues with lyrics satirizing the extreme health consciousness of a place like Austin, but with TBL’s specific spacy stylings, making for an original, catchy and fun track.

The Boxing Lesson - 'Health is the New Drug'

 6 Up  0 Down

23. The Soldier Thread - "No Parachute"

The mark of a great song is when you can strip away all the flair, play it on an acoustic guitar, and still be gripped. At a Wine Down Wednesday this May, we saw the Soldier Thread do just that and “No Parachute” turned into an aching ballad. On this studio version, the sense of free fall is almost palpable thanks to pulsing keyboards and ringing guitars. When Patricia Lynn gives in to her predicament – “Whatever happens is alright” – it doesn’t sound resigned; instead, it’s freeing, like the best pop music always is.

The Soldier Thread - 'No Parachute'

 3 Up  0 Down

22. The Shears - "Octo"

Despite releasing a solid EP early in the year that continued their development as a more traditional pop group, the Shears went into hibernation over the second half of the year to develop a new sound. They’ve emerged with their pop proclivities intact, but more of a digital dance sound. Of their stretch of late-year singles released on Soundcloud, “Octo” is far and away their best. It’s catchy, danceable, and much edgier than their earlier material. It’s as good an omen for their new direction as you could ask for.

The Shears - 'Octo'

 17 Up  2 Down

21. The League of Extraordinary Gz ft/ Rittz - "Yes He Is (Rebirth)"

We’re still new to the LOEGz here at OVRLD, but that doesn’t prevent us from loving the shit out of this track. Here’s the background: Esbe da 6th Street Bully was one of the founding members of this 8-member ATX rap collective, and he passed away last October due to health complications. This year, as part of honoring their fallen family member, the League released this remix of a 2011 track that showcases some of Esbe’s finest verbal dexterity. The two original verses from other League members are either scrapped or modified to pay tribute to Esbe, and Atlanta fire-spitter Rittz is brought in to deliver a brand new Esbe-centered verse, as well. The result is a heartfelt song that also displays incredible skills and a sick beat. What better tribute could there be?

The League of Extraordinary Gz ft/ Rittz - 'Yes He Is (Rebirth)'

 1 Up  0 Down

-Ovrld Team