Happy Friday! Listen to demo version of "Serpents" by Sharon Van Etten

Spotify posted the deluxe edition of Sharon Van Etten‘s excellent album Tramp from last year. The album has both remastered original versions and demo versions of all 12 songs (with one bonus demo).  Demos are demos for a reason, but “Serpents” was always my favorite track from the original album and the demo is heartbreaking and raw.  Check it out below. 

Best Songs of 2012: Part 1

Here is part 1 of my list of best songs of the year.  It was complied throughout the year by way of a Spotify playlist.

“Serpents” – Sharon Van Etten (from Tramp
This album was on the “Best of” list for many blogs, but personally, I think this is the one of the few strong tracks on this mostly uneven album. Sharon has a lot of talent and “Serpents” displays that.  Her voice roars through the scathing lyrics. This song is definitely one of the top of the year.
“King of the World” – First Aid Kit (from The Lion’s Roar)
These two Swedish sisters are one of my favorite bands of the year.  Their dreamy vocals have a country twinge.  This song is the last track off their incredible album.  It features vocals by Conor Oberst and really highlights the strong voices of both sisters. Its the perfect summer outdoor party track. 
“Give it Away” – Andrew Bird (from Break It Yourself)
Andrew Bird releases consistently great albums.  No one plays the violin like he does. No one’s voice is quite like his.   Violin picking notes usher in smooth melodies, followed by a musical pause and Bird’s words. His music is accessible yet complicated.  This song is quite a gem.  
“Man on Fire” – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (from Here
As a whole, this album is weaker than their 2009 breakthough self-titled album. But this song makes an impression. It starts off with simple guitar strumming and singular vocals. After some humming and snapping, the harmonies slowly ease their way into the foreground.  Then it becomes an all-out sing along.  The drums are soft and deliberate.  There is a call-and-answer aspect to one of the choruses. If this song is an indication of what this band can do, there is always hope of more great songs to come. 
“Balcony” – Craig Finn (from Clear Hearts, Full Eyes)
When I heard about this album because I love the Hold Steady and mostly everything Craig Finn has ever done.  When it was released, I downloaded immediately only to be disappointed by what seemed to be an album of improvised lyrics. Either way, this track is one of my favorite of the year. It tells the story of a night out where the narrator sees one that he/she used to love.  With a faster tempo, this could easily be one of my favorite Hold Steady songs (if the full band was involved). 
Subscribe to my playlist (link via twitter) for all the tracks.