Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Ok, now we're getting to the meaty morsels.
This is getting more in depth than I intended, so from here on resides 25-11. Top 10 to come soon.
Don't spoil the fun by reading ahead! Click here for 50-26
25. THE GAME OF LOVE | Daft Punk
Sometimes the best examples of pure production prowess hide within the slow jams. This thing is pure ear candy. Every sonic element clicking with razor sharp precision. And on top of it, for the first time there is a surprising emotional weight to The Robots. Is this a song about a lovesick android? You bet it is.
24. RECOVER | Chvrches
One of the best spritely melodies dancing around this year. I liked it so much I found myself disappointed that the album itself didn't have as many like it. But I sure do adore this one. And it has nothing to do with how adorable Lauren Mayberry is. (Although, let's be honest, it helps.)
23. LATCH | Disclosure
(feat. Sam Smith)
The fact that a song like this is merely #28 on this list is a testament to the sheer quantity of quality tunes that came out this year. Listen to Sam Smith belt the hell out of that chorus! Dayum. DAY-UM.
22. IF I HAD A TAIL | Queens of the Stone Age
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to really soak in the album this hails from. All I know is this here blazer rocks me sideways. Hot damn. The gnarly guitars, Dave Grohl's kit banging... I can't help but do this face listening.
21. OVERGROWN | James Blake
It should be mentioned that one has absolutely no business listening to James Blake without proper bass capabilities in whatever sound system or headphone you are utilizing. Sure, you can appreciate Blake's soulful croon, but if you can't feel that bass...you are missing the point. You need to be better at life.
20. THAT GIRL | Justin Timberlake
JT and the Tennessee Kids bring you some old school soul goodness. Fantastic harmonies, and some of JT's finest vocal work on the album. The larynx acrobatics featured in the second verse make me swoon.
19. INGENUE | Atoms For Peace
That's some nasty synth goin' down. Nothing to hate here. And it sure is fun to watch Thom dance, is it not? It is. Don't forget the incredible (for completely different reasons) live version. Thom, my soul delights in you.
18. SHE FOUND NOW | my bloody valentine
Before you click this link, I hope you turn up your sound as loud as you can comfortably manage. As opening track to the flawless mbv, it was a perfect "welcome back." Fuzzy, dreamy, sexy, PERFECT. I can't help but be reminded of "Sometimes" from Loveless, and that is never a bad thing.
17. IF I COULD CHANGE YOUR MIND | Haim
Haim was able to channel quite a few voices of the past on their debut, lyrically and musically. Amy Grant is the first one to come to mind with this track. One of a handful of perfect pop songs they blessed us with this year.
16. INVADER INVADER | Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
If I haven't converted you up to this point, it's probably safe to say this won't help matters. But take an honest listen to this song (with the video, of course), and just imagine this blasting in a club of some sort. You can't tell me this wouldn't blow your mind. How about that faux-dubstep interlude at 2:25? It's a straight up bar burner. The song is about taking over the world. With beams from her eyes and missles from her ears. It's gonna happen. Deal with it.
15. BRENNISTEINN | Sigur Rós
The title means "brimstone." That alone should give you an idea of what to expect. When that cello bowed guitar roars to life, it could basically double as Smaug's theme song. Bilbo would shite in his suspenders if her heard this song. An unexpected journey, indeed.
14. ROAR | Katy Perry
Yes, you are reading that right. Don't argue with me. This song is pop gold. Katy has never been known for great lyrics, but what she does have is a sense of awareness and some of the best damn melodies on the radio, or anywhere. Plain and simple. Don't hate. Just turn off your radio.
13. 24 HOURS | Sky Ferreira
It's been said everywhere on the blogosphere, but this is the best John Hughes song of the year. Similar to Katy's "Roar," it's a simple pop song with an epic chorus. But what this has that "Roar" doesn't is a little more "hip" and a lot more genuine emotion. Sky is singing her heart out. And it's lovely.
12. MIDDLE SEA | Yuck
I'm going to be completely open with you guys and admit that when I blast this song and sing along, I almost want to cry. It's an anthem. It's "Roar" for a more discerning soul. It sounds like junior high. It sounds like anything is possible. It's got horns. It's so choice.
11. DON'T SAVE ME | Haim
The last three tracks before this have been emotional anthems in different degrees. If we're holding to that small trend for the time being, this is definitely the greatest of that collective. The video shows the Haim sisters holding their own against some ballaz. It's that kind of song. But it also has "Takemeback, take-take-takemeback." And that means it wins.
to be concluded...
my very favorite songs of this year passed. A few things to consider...
Of the 1500+ tracks I digested this year, these are my favorite 50. I rarely do a list this large, but 2013 was just asking for it. There was simply way too much tasty tuneage that rocked my world, and leaving out any of these just felt like a sin. I still had to leave out some scorchers, so it very easily could have been longer.
Also, the usual dilemma when putting together a favorite songs list stands with including multiples of any certain artist/album. Obviously, certain artists had more than one great song this year. Including them all risks sacrificing variety, and is perhaps less interesting. But, not including them is lying to myself. So, while one of my goals is to share good tunes with you, it is not my intent to give you a list of YOUR favorites. These are MY favorites. And my favorites include multiple songs from a handful of artists. So, I figure if anyone has a problem with that, they can suck it.
With that said...here is 50-26 (I'll at least do you the service of breaking it up. You're welcome.) Each track name is linked to a video of the song itself. So, clicky.
50. RAMPAGE | Kavinksy
The appeal of this tune, for me, is 98% nostalgic shock. It's basically no more than a danced-up sample of some Dragonball Z music (Japanese version, of course). Wonder how many people noticed that...?
49. YA HEY | Vampire Weekend
Lotta catchy goodness coming from V-Dubya this year, but this bit of philosophical melancholy was my fav.
48. DANCE APOCALYPTIC | Janelle Monáe
Hard to go wrong with The Electric Lady herself. Doin' her thang all sorts of right on this one. The video really adds to the awesome.
47. HERE COMES THE NIGHT TIME | Arcade Fire
A crushing dub groove, some nasty bass noises, and sharp frustration aimed at self-righteous religious hypocrisy make for some good listening here.
46. BLACK SKINHEAD | Kanye West (Explicit)
It's no secret that I'm no fan of Kanye. But despite that, he manages to hook me with at least a track or two every time he releases an album. This beat is just too tasty. Damn him.
45. SKIPPING | Milosh
Most of his tracks are pretty subtle and understated. But when those synths swirl to life around the 36 second mark, this sucker takes off floating on Milosh's airy vocals all the way home.
44. A DANCING SHELL | Wild Nothing
This funky standout from Wild Nothing's fantastic Empty Estate EP is best heard in context of that release, or while watching the fabulously trippy video. Go ahead. You're welcome.
43. PULL YOU DOWN | Washed Out
My first listen of the breezy Paracosm was through an NPR stream. I enjoyed the album, but it was the final track and it's spacey reggae bounce that really stood out to me. It wasn't until I bought the album myself that I realized it was actually a non-album "bonus track." Go figure!
42. PROOF | Paramore
Lemme tell ya somethin'... Paramore know how to write them a catchy chorus. Just listen to this pop-rockin' gem and try not to nod your head to that cherry groove.
41. À TOUT À L'HEURE | Bibio
This light summertime jam is a bit of an anomaly on a mostly low-key instrumental album. That's probably why it stands out so nicely. I sure do miss warm weather right about now.
40. SUIT & TIE | Justin Timberlake
When JT dropped this, his first single in many a year, the blatant MJ-ness of it was just too much to resist. Even though I could do without HOVA's rap interlude, it's still one sweet bit o' honey.
39. LOSE MY BREATH | Yuck
Yuck really wants us all to remember just how killer the early 90's were. And for those that weren't around, just watch this video and get a full dose of audio-visual nostalgia. Yuck knows where it's at.
38. CALIFORNIA | Mazzy Star
Very 90's in a completely different way, this hypnotic lullabye is nothing much more than acoustic guitar and Hope Sandoval's soothing sigh. I swear I can hear raindrops fall as this song progresses. And that whispering guitar outro...sshhh. Time to sleep.
37. HELP ME LOSE MY MIND | Disclosure
(feat. London Grammar)
More 90's throwback goodness (a lot of that this year). This song reminds me of my favorite movie soundtracks as a kid. The ones that all seemed to have great dance driven power ballads. Makes me wish I paid more attention to London Grammar themselves this year. Maybe I'll do that right now...
36. CHLOROFORM | Phoenix
I kind of thought Bankrupt! was a little light on straight up bangers. The grooves were there, but they just seemed light. Except for "Chloroform." This sucker's beat takes it's time. Phoenix's best songs tend to be emotional chameleons, songs that might be happy or sad depending on your mood. This is no exception.
35. FURISODATION | Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
The 20 year old Japanese pop diva is singing about coming of age in this wonderfully jazzy schizophrenic number. And if the video is any indication, her party was quite the event. This song and the video (like everything she does) is ridiculously contagious. It must be seen to be believed.
34. THE FALL | Rhye
Sometimes there is just too much sultry goodness in one song. This is one such song. Mike Milosh has such a wonderfully androgynous voice and that rolling piano groove is so silky smoov. Is it legal to have this much sexy in one song? Don't know. Don't care.
33. IT IS WHAT IT IS | Blood Orange
Dev Hynes, you saucy minx. There are a handful of similarly juicy tracks on Cupid Delux that could've fit on this list somewhere, but that lovely chorus sung by Samantha Urbani puts this one on a pedestal. And Dev's "Time Will Tell" reprise that closes the album gives this track a bit more weight in the grand scheme of things.
32. BYGONE | Volcano Choir
This is a builder. It just builds. Until suddenly guitars chime and Justin Vernon shouts "SET SAAAAIL!" I have no idea what the rest of lyrics mean. But belting "set sail" just works. With the wind and the sky and everything. Ahoy.
31. FUTURE WARRIOR | Palms
Chino Moreno is no stranger to sexy metal. And it would seem that teaming with some of the Isis fellows was a good idea. Hence, this lush little ditty. Not sure I dig the fireball eyes at the end of the video...but I guess the perdy lady he's creepin' on was just too much woman for him to handle.
30. DOIN' IT RIGHT | Daft Punk
(feat. Panda Bear)
You almost forget Random Access Memories was made after 1981 until suddenly a song like this pops up. Panda Bear sounds as amazing as he ever has riding a light hip-hop groove alongside The Robots Daft. What a sound. My mom said it's her favorite.
29. FASHION MONSTER | Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
I actually heard this one last year, long before the album's official release. It almost made an appearance on my 2012 list, but a little simmering and some album context shot it up my list for this year. Melodically infectious, and completely absurd. Check out the rabbit man and his keytar.
28. A TOOTH FOR AN EYE | The Knife
The Knife were being difficult on purpose this year. But it didn't stop them from pumping out this tribal chunk of audio candy. When Karin Dreijer screaches "I'm telling stories trust meeeeeeeeeeee," you know it's official. Trust is all you can do.
27. WHO SEES YOU | my bloody valentine
Eight beats of the drum, and suddenly a tidal wave of guitar envelopes you. No use fighting the tide, just ride it home. There is no band in the world that sounds like this, try as they may. Listen to that chord progression. Rarely does anything sound so soothing and loud at the same time. Could this be how babies feel in the womb?
26. HOW'S IT WRONG | Toro y Moi
There's some old school fusion going on here. Somehow those synths remind me of Warren G mixed with Sonic the Hedgehog. And that imagery is just too magical. What else is there to say?
to be continued...
Monday, February 11, 2013
I have recently joined forces with the good people over at The Radio Cure and shall be a regular contributor henceforth. As a bit of a kick off (and as a remedy to those confused Grammy folk), we have finally begun the listing of our favorite albums of 2012. So head on over to The Radio Cure and bask.
I do intend to post my own personal things of randomness here still, so if you are one of maybe two people that care, keep caring.
Here's my LIST.
Do let us know what you think.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The year hath ended.
I have displayed my favorite songs of the year.
And here for your tasting is the final mix of 2012 goodness that was.
I think it's deliciously psychedelic. And long.
It also houses some of the grittier bands that tickled my fancy this year.
Better learn to love it, because I have a feeling trends are getting heavier.
Better learn to love it, because I have a feeling trends are getting heavier.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Well ok, kids! Here are my favorite nuggets of music this past 2012. Twas an exceptional year for some decent songs, with quite a wide range of genres. That's about all I need to say. Click the song title for a link to the song on Youtube. I attached the official video where appropriate, unless the video was crappy and distracts from the actual tune (ahem...the top two.) Most people only care about the top ten, so we'll brush through 30-11 lightly. You're welcome. But be sure to read my blurbs, cuz I spent time on those, damnit.
by Crystal Castles
by David Byrne & St. Vincent
28. SHOW ME LOVE
by School of Seven Bells
by Wild Nothing
25. FATHER TIME
by Animal Collective
24. LOSING YOU
23. PETR PARLER
21. THE CHIMERA
by Smashing Pumpkins
20. CITY OF DREAMS
19. DO YA THING
by Gorillaz featuring Andre 3000 and James Murphy
18. SILENT SONG
by Daniel Rossen
by Smashing Pumpkins
14. SPEAK IN ROUNDS
by Grizzly Bear
13. GOON SQUAD
12. PUTTY BOY STRUT
by Flying Lotus
11. TEAR IT UP
by Delta Spirit
It's too bad including Deftones on a list like this still seems to require a disclaimer. But, if you know me well, you know I have shamelessly enjoyed this band for a good 15 years or so (the elder classmen of this top ten by a good margin). They are one of only a handful of bands that survived beyond my adolescent 90's tastes and pushed through the great cleansing brought on by Radiohead's Kid A. In fact, I probably enjoy them more now then I ever have. With monstrous, sexy epics such as Rosemary, is it any wonder? I don't think it's even fair to consider songs like this as "metal," especially if you insist on tagging a horribly misused "nu" in front of it. These guys don't bother trying to melt your face with a 12 minute solo. And they certainly don't tempt your inner douchebag with backwards-cap frat raps. They simply pull you in with the gravity of their gigantic soundscapes. The deep and driving riff drudges on over hypnotic synth atmospherics while Chino Moreno's quietly loud voice box beautifies what's left. No, this isn't metal. This is aggressive dream-pop bliss.
9. YOU LOST ME
by Sleigh Bells
Alexis Krauss is the singer, but Derek Edward Miller is the star of this track. To be honest, I couldn't even recite a majority of the tune's lyrics, because I am too busy absorbing the layers of somewhat-gently weeping guitar. Deliciously melancholy and incredibly Monster Ballad-ish. The late 80's/early 90's would be so proud. And yet, it's very much a modern sound all their own. I'm not kidding, I start forgetting that there is a vocal track on it. Don't get me wrong, Alexis is struttin' her stuff to adequate perfection. It wouldn't be the same without her low-key melody riding the wave. But sometimes, no matter how good a surfer is, all you can do is stare at the force of nature beneath them in awe. Such a great, sexy track. I was pretty sad they didn't play it live when I saw them.
by Sigur Rós
Immediately the standout track on what I initially considered a somewhat bland Sigur Ros album, it wasn't until I saw one of the video submissions for their Valtari video project that I was truly mesmerized (see linked clip). Knowing that the title translates to "warning" or "caution," the clip sent chills down my spine (in a good way). It's like looking at old photographs of people long deceased, with the added dread of an unseen terror on the horizon (no, seriously, in a good way). Oddly enough, it's somehow an audio-visual equivalent to the nightmares I had as a child. Rarely was it a monster or ghost that haunted my dreams back then, but the tangible fear of a yet unseen sadness or doom. And for some reason, all these subjectively "unpleasant" attributes have made me love the track even more. It's the kind of intense emotional response that separates the "great" from the "just ok." Evoking epic beauty from nostalgic fear like only Sigur Ros can.
by Beach House
Ok, I'm gonna let you know right here that this is the first of three Beach House tracks to wiggle their way amongst this top ten. They obviously aren't worried about giving other artists some room with songs like this, so why should I be? Listening to Wishes is like witnessing a master pastry chef building the ultimate sugar puff, layer upon layer, until it has formed into one sweet morsel of delicious perfection. And just as the grandiosity of its creation dawns upon you, POOF! It's gone. Devoured. The abruptness of its ending made all the more painful by the sheer joy leading up to it. All that remains is the desire to experience it all over again. And again. And again.
by Frank Ocean
Some raw emotion going on here. So very refreshing for the genre. Songs like this are the reason this guy is everywhere this year. It perfectly embodies what nearly everyone seems to be loving. There is the emotional honesty, but just when it starts to get real, he offsets it with some oddball humor. "No, I don't like you/ I just thought you were cool enough to kick it/Got a beach house I could sell you in Idaho," he sings, as if he can't quite bring himself to pour his heart out without diffusing the tension just a little bit. "Since you think I don't love you/I just thought you were cute, that's why I kissed you/Got a fighter jet I don't get to fly it though/I'm lying down thinkin' bout you." It's a defense mechanism I relate to all too well. And then there's that gorgeous minimalist beat, backed by some soft string and synth arrangements. Oh yeah, and that heavenly chorus, of course. Here's hoping this one wins them Grammy's. Good job, Frank.
It was a back-and-forth battle deciding which melancholy, minimalist R&B jam deserved the five spot. They're both pretty similar, actually. Frank's definitely has a little more substance to it, musically and thematically. But when I first stumbled upon this gem, (I found it on H&M's youtube channel while looking for something I heard in their store...) I was somewhat floored. I couldn't get it out of my head. The stripped bare production creates a brilliant intimacy with its contemplative sadness. The lyrics speak about the end of the world, the end of life, the end of youth. Those are fairly universal fears, but it all struck home pretty deeply as I rounded 30 this year...the year the world was supposed to end. I just found it to be very appropriate. And I'll be damned if the kid doesn't sing like a bird on it. Like an Asian Michael Jackson bird.
4. 绿の少女 (Midori no Shoujo)
by indigo la End
Finally, I have stumbled upon a phenomenal track from my (not-so) native land of the Rising Sun that is worthy of my top ten. It's been a good decade or so since such a feat has been accomplished. That's probably more to do with my laziness in searching out such quality from yonder than it is an actual lack of the goods. Regardless, here we are. And what a find! The title translates to "Green Girl", and it's a wonderfully unpretentious love song. (Slightly-inaccurate-but-good-enough lyrics tanslation here.) I'd use the word cute, except I don't use the word cute. It was first shown to me by a friend on Facebook fairy recently (ども, Sean Blake) , but despite starting the race late has caught up to the frontrunners. That rolling bass line, those jangle-happy guitars, that soaring voice! Soon as I heard this guy put his voice to the ceiling in the blissful chorus, I was a believer. It's as if all of a sudden Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny peaked around the corner and with a wink and a nod slyly confirmed that anything is possible. Their debut LP is officially one of the most anticipated albums of the coming year for this guy. Two bad their cute bassist isn't in the band anymore... (Did I just say "cute" again?)
by Beach House
Here they go again. This was the first taste I got of the ridiculously wonderful Bloom. It's all...>tsh-tsh-DING-tsh-tsh-tsh-DING-tsh< and then angels massage my soul with one of the most beautiful guitar lines I've ever heard. Simple, elegant, and incredible. You may think I'm bustin' your chops with hyperbole, but I ain't. Most songs wish they had at least that goin' for them, but Beach House adds another secret weapon: Victoria Legrand. I imagine a few people may be off-put by her psychedelic Joni Mitchell impressions (in fact, my kid brother listened to this album a few times before realizing it was actually a girl singing). I happen to find it irresistibly bewitching. One of my favorite voices in modern music. When she enters that chorus, I feel like I understand what all them ladies were feeling when Frank Sinatra croons. And there's something about the way she let's out the line "...or let the ashes fly" towards the end that gives me goosebumps. A perfect way to start off a perfect album.
First impressions are important. If I had looked up Grimes by watching interviews of her running her mouth or maybe started by seeing the somewhat wretched video for this very song, I probably would've moved on. Fortunately, what I did see first was a pretty decent live version, which intrigued me enough to look up the studio version from soon-to-be-released Visions. And when my ears finally got a hold of that, it was over. I took the bait soon as that synth-tastic intro rolled by. Not a whole lot was going to convince me this girl wasn't someone I needed to pay attention to after that. I got a little nervous when I did eventually listen to her being interviewed. It made me worry, like, Visions would have a track called "Like, The Song" in which she, like, sang "like" every other word. She is adorably obnoxious. Obnoxious, but extremely talented. So, she gets a pass. And it's called Genesis.
by Beach House
Ok, let me tell you what it was about this'n. On first listen, I knew I didn't have time to sit and take in the whole album, but I wanted a taste. Maybe a song or two. I had just finished Myth, which I already knew and loved. Then without missing a beat, track two rushes in and explodes. And then it happened. What sealed the deal was that three note lick just after the first line. You know what I'm talking about...
"My mother said to me, that I would get in trouble," >durn DURN durn<
Oh...oh my goodness.
I was in a hurry to go somewhere and had to leave right then, barely a minute into it. I don't even remember now what I left to do, but I fully recall my mind swirling with that first minute of gloriousness. I kept hearing the pure sound of what I would eventually call "The Karate Kid Lick." I can't tell you what about it made me think of The Karate Kid. I just kept seeing this image of Daniel Larusso bouncing his soccer ball on the beach. I eventually got back home and went back to the song. The Karate Kid Lick would resurface a couple times in the second verse as well, and the glory just kept on rolling. This was the best song I had heard in a long time. I didn't think a song could hit me that hard these days. I thought I'd become old and jaded and that my days of being completely floored were over. Victoria and Alex proved me wrong. Oh so very wrong. I couldn't finish the album right there. I listened to Wild again, and promptly decided this was going to be a magical album that needed a proper setting. So, with that, I decided to take my listening party elsewhere. And off to my parents trampoline with headphones and a blanket I went. Soaking it all in under the stars of a cool spring night.