LIZ PELLY, assistant music editor, The Phoenix; new music assistant,

1. Merchandise "Become What You Are" (from Children of Desire)

2. Cloud Nothings "No Sentiment" (from Attack on Memory)

3. Waxahatchee "Be Good" (from American Weekend)

4. Waxahatchee "Noccaluca" (from American Weekend)

5. Fiona Apple - "Left Alone" (from The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do)

6. Swearin' - "Just" (from Swearin')

7. Allo Darlin' - "Still Young" (from Europe) 8. Allo Darlin' - Tallulah (from Europe)

9. Japandroids - "Continuous Thunder" (from Celebration Rock)

10. Maria Minerva - "I Don't Wanna Be Discovered (Will Happiness Find Me?)" (from Will Happiness Find Me?)

It's frustrating thinking about the extent to which the internet has sped up the processes of making, recording, releasing, considering, and connecting with music. I've had this conversation so many times this year, about what a strange phenomenon it is to feel bogged down by the speed of things. It's especially true with music writing: we're forced to have ideas about music the day it comes out, before we can really even absorb it and have experiences with it. If there's one thing I was reminded in 2012 by the musicians who inspire me the most, it's that being selfish with art is a way to center yourself in a world that's moving faster than ever. A lot of this music is self-centered in a way, whether it's the singer's intricate dissection of what's going on inside her own head -- or the band's decision to abandon a previous aesthetic in favor of what makes them more personally fulfilled. (No nostalgia / no sentiment.) It's easy to get torn up in the big-picture conversations when considering what art is most valuable: what is this saying about the world today? is this pushing music culture? But to get to any real sort of answer, we just have to get inside our own heads and think about the music is the most personally gratifying and interesting to us as individuals.

122812_spotify-logo GET THE SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: Phoenix/'s Top Tracks of 2012

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