Thursday, January 5, 2017

Favorite Songs of 2016: 25-6

Each song links to a video of it when available. Dig in.
Here's the rest if you want: 
Top 5

25\\Gasoline and Mirrors\\by Bibio (ft. Wax Stag)"In the sunlight you shimmer \\ like gasoline stains in the wells of rain"Hard to choose a favorite off of this album, but this wonderfully bubbly number builds to some worthy synth-phoria. (That's right, "synth-phoria." I think that's a good thing.)
24\\Gore\\by Deftones

"We lay in the gore of our vices \\ Oh, we writhe in them"

One of the heavier tracks on the album of the same name. The slow motion churn of that grand finale is one of 2016's more epic moments. Seeing it live was pleasantly cell shattering.

23\\FloriDada\\by Animal Collective

"Oh let's go get lost in the image \\ I made of the everywhere place 
I see the lads from Osaka \\ Died in FloriDada"

A welcome moment of euphoric insanity by some of the dudes that do it best. That's about it.

22\\The Changing Man (pt1) While It Still Beats (pt 2)\\by Ray LaMontagne

"So ends the game, so ends the chase \\ There's only one way to get out of this race"

Technically two tracks, but nobody has any business listening to one without the other. This one two punch is one of the most convincing Zeppelin imitations you'll hear. And that's a good thing. Such a good thing.

21\\29 #Strafford APTS\\by Bon Iver

"Threw the meaning out the door (Now could you be a friend) 
There ain't no meaning anymore (Come and kiss me here again)"

Easily one of the most beautiful things Justin Vernon has put to record. I love the vocal presentation here, digital manipulations juxtaposed with a pretty straight forward acoustic ballad. And of course, a gang of sax players dressing it all up. Can't quite tell if it's happy or sad, but it always seemed to fit no matter my mood.

20\\Doomed User\\by Deftones

"I've been scarred \\ Fucking repulsed by this \\ My only tale is one I can't stand
Now I've become torn and I rot and wilt \\ My heart is black and I will never feel"

My buddy Greg says the big difference in our musical tastes lies in the fact that he has hidden sadness and I have hidden anger. And while I wouldn't say "anger" was a prominent component of my trials this year, it's always just below the surface. It sure did help to have a scorcher like this to ignite my soul and channel it now and then.

19\\I Just Can't Stand You Anymore\\by Sleigh Bells

"Sometimes we come out all wrong \\ Cause I was blind half of the time
Paralyzed, the fault is mine"

Despite what it seems, this song wasn't necessarily a thematic anthem for me as much as I just think its a near perfect pop/rock beast. Alexis Krauss has never sounded better, and Derek Miller's guitars blaze to glory with perfection. They still got it, and that makes me happy.

18\\Are You a Dancer?\\by Mogwai
Another delicately constructed instrumental gem by the band. Found myself closing my eyes in somber meditation quite a bit to this one.

17\\Identikit\\by Radiohead

"When I see you messing me around \\ I don't want to know \\ I don't want to know"

A song I first heard years ago as a live bootleg (and subsequently in concert in 2012), the studio version immediately stood out as an early highlight. It's minimal groove and offbeat tempo is so choice. And Thom's manic wailing of "Broken hearts make it rain" hits home every time.

16\\Chronolorado\\by Mesita

"All the time we spent here doesn't really matter 
All that we went through here has been lost forever"

A beautifully heartbroken tune I related to all too well on occasion. It's that final repeat of the line "Keep on carrying on" that brings it out of hopelessness. For those times you find yourself hanging in there, even when you're not sure you have it in you anymore.

15\\Your Best American Girl\\by Mitski

"Your mother wouldn't approve of how my mother raised me \\ But I do, I finally do"

The best Smashing Pumpkins song to come out since Silversun Pickups "Lazy Eye" (just kidding, Billy, I loved Oceania). A simple but poignant song about trying to overcome different backgrounds and cultures to find love. It doesn't seem to workout in the tune, but half-Japanese singer/songwriter Mitski Miyawaki embraces her roots by eventually admitting she "finally" approves of how her "mother raised her." Your loss, white boy.

14\\Moth Into the Flame\\by Metallica

"Guarantee your name, you go and kill yourself  \\ The vultures feast around you still 
Overdose on shame and insecurity \\ If one won't do, that fistfull will"

This is the kind of song Metallica built their career on. And somehow it doesn't seem like a front for these mega-rich old dudes in one of the biggest bands of all time to light up the fame monster that plagues our American youth culture. These dudes have been around the block, and prove they still got it with this face-melter.

13\\Daydreaming\\by Radiohead

"This goes \\ Beyond me \\ Beyond you"

Is it about a failed relationship? Is it about climate change? Probably both. It's Thom Yorke, so your guess is as good as mine. But this dreary and tired lament hit me right where it needed to. When Thom's warped voice melts into Johnny's haunted strings, you can almost hear the sound of being too tired to fight anymore.

12\\In My Own Way\\by Ray LaMontagne

"All the plans \\ That were made \\ Let them die \\ Let them fade
I'll spend the day in my own way"

One of the few songs that could soothe my tortured soul this year. Doesn't mean I didn't break down listening to it. But it was a quiet reminder to take time for myself and let the troubles fade, however long it takes.

"Well I'll wrap you up \\ And I take it by the touch \\ Darlin', don't a failure fright"

I think I'm on an island with this being my favorite tune on Bon Iver's superb 22, a million. And I get it, definitely not the most digestible morsel on the album. It isn't the prettiest, in fact it may be the ugliest. But I think that's why I like it. The first time I heard it my eyebrows went up and I thought, "Woah..." And that doesn't happen a ton these days. In fact, until that moment, I had almost given up on Justin Vernon (he'd been gone awhile, and the luster of his last album had faded quite a bit for me). But this tune renewed my faith and excitement for the artist, and still puts a little death in my breast (By the way..."Beth/Rest"..."deathbreast".... get it?). Anyway, mad props.

10\\True Love Waits\\by Radiohead

"I'm not living \\ I'm just killing time \\ Your tiny hands \\ your crazy-kitten smile
Just don't leave \\ Don't leave"

This song has already been bringing me to tears for years as a live fan favorite, but its surprise studio resurrection as the melted piano closer of A Moon Shaped Pool was a heart-wrenching godsend, especially with the personal heartbreak Thom brought to the album. The stripped comparison to an already well-known fan favorite solidified the record's aura of exhausted sadness with a quiet sigh. Suddenly an old plea took new meaning, youthful fears became aged reality. I had the chance to see it live just as my own emotions began to unravel this year. I watched in silence, mesmerized and heartbroken, with tears in my eyes once again. Right then, I connected with my favorite musician of all time more than I ever have before.

9\\New Song\\by Warpaint

"You are the sun, you are the sun \\ That leads me babe, to where I belong
Where I come from \\ Because of you, I know where I belong"

Did I mention I had a rough year? Well, it wasn't entirely bad. Out of a lot of pain I was able to explore my place in life with the help of some very special people. In fact, one in particular has gone out of her way to "lead me back to where I belong." And just like that, this righteously groovy tune by Warpaint brought me to tears in some very unexpected ways. It's fun, it's inspiring, it's redemptive. It's a new song, baby.

8\\Vertigo Flowers\\by Nothing

"Watch out for those \\ Who dare to say \\ That everything \\ Will be okay"

A dark melancholy sits above the entirety of Nothing's Tired of Tomorrow, and there's no exception here. Euphoric, fuzzy guitars shoegaze their way through a lyric of discontent: it's a simple song that seems to be about not being satisfied with outside attempts to lift your spirits. Sometimes nothing anyone can say will help, despite the best of intentions. Sometimes the onslaught of flowers makes you dizzy. Sometimes you just want to be left alone with your sadness. And sometimes that's a good thing.

7\\Tongue Tied\\by Shura

"I love that we're different \\ You got something that I'm missing
You keep playing so cool \\ Wish I could be like you"

This is the third year in a row Shura has made my list, as she's been releasing singles for Nothing's Real for a few years now. In fact, that's the only reason two or three more songs of hers didn't appear, because they actually already did. This might be the best of the bunch, though. It's a straight forward pop song about two people overcoming insecurities to connect with each other. The chorus kicks it up a notch with shimmering synths and a plea to "Just say that you want me." It's more out of a fear to admit it herself, rather than a declaration of impatience. As if to say, "I think I like you but... YOU SAY IT FIRST!" By the numbers, pure pop bliss.

6\\Present Tense\\by Radiohead

"As my world \\ Comes crashing down \\ I'll be dancing 
Freaking out \\ Deaf, dumb, and blind"

Radiohead made songs just for me this year. When it hit me just how close to home this was, I was a bit overwhelmed. In fact, I was almost anxious to see it live when I finally did. To me, it's a song of avoidance. Of denial. The disbelief as everything is falling apart right before your eyes. "This dance is like a weapon of self defense against the present tense," Thom sings, recognizing his own inability to sit still and accept fate. "Keep it light, keep it moving, I'm doing no harm," he continues. But there's also the insistence that there's no going back - "I won't turn around when the penny drops, I won't stop now." He knows it has to be this way. This is the present he faces, even if he insists on facing it "deaf, dumb, and blind" just to survive. It's a song that hits me on a level too deep to truly divulge. It's still hard to listen to. But it's also incredible. And that's Radiohead for you.

Top 5

No comments: