1. Caravels, “Primera Sangre” (Hunt Things EP) This biting battle anthem should be mandatory listening for troops headed into combat.
2. The Bleachers, “Build an Army” (Conjure) In our musical fantasyland, this portentous-yet-pleasant cut was a No. 1 hit.
3. Dreaming of Lions, “The Pillows Don’t Talk” (This Same River split EP) Siblings Chris Leland and Mary Curler intertwine voices to create the year’s most bewitching ballad.
4. Yeller Bellies, “Gutter Dogs” (Boys Will Be Boys) Strip away the excess, and you’re left with the raw power of Rob Bell’s bar-bred foot-stompers.
5. Afghan Raiders, “Future Thinkers” (Future Thinkers/Solid Gold EP) The electro duo’s live showstopper hits pretty hard through headphones, too. Badass lyric: “The enemy is closing in/They’re coming through the television.”
6. Hungry Cloud, “(Oh Oh) I Feel Much Better Now” (Hungry Cloud) Simply put, the best local track we’ve heard in years. Perhaps most amazing, the rest of Mike Weller’s debut isn’t far behind.
7. Ian Shane Tyler, “What’s Wrong With Me?” (Through a Telescope) No doubt about it, the kid knows how to craft a pop-rock hook. (We can still call him a kid at 20, right?)
8. Anthems, “All Over” (Still Living EP) Who would have guessed the track title would prove more prophetic for the promising, and now defunct, hardcore outfit than the title of its debut EP?
9. Mother McKenzie, “Tattoo Song” (Cloudless) Pick a lyric, any lyric (our favorite: “Baby I wanted you/And you just wanted everyone”), and you get a sense of Wyatt McKenzie’s bright musical future.
10. The Lazystars, “Still Remember” (All of the Difference EP) Dave Hawkins proves himself ready for prime time with the Chris Martin-esque three-part harmony at the end of this lighter-ready number.