As indicated in the last installment of this year's list, I believe the top 11 (and actually 13) songs this year are particularly strong. As befits both of the previous posts, my favorite song this year is a breakup song, sung by my favorite new (to me) artist of 2018 - Lucy Dacus. I hope you enjoyed this year's list as much as i enjoyed listening, compiling, and bringing it to you!
1. Night Shift by Lucy Dacus.
"You've got a nine to five, so I'll take the night shift
And I'll never see you again, if I can help it
In five years I hope the songs feel like covers
Dedicated to new lovers."
Since I first heard this song early in 2018, it was near the top of my favorites, and ended up perched above all of the others. Great lyrics, perfectly constructed, building to a crescendo of fuzzy noise, which I think is a positive sign - Lucy's ready to move on. I've actually seen Night Shift at or near the top of "real" music critics' best songs of the year lists, but, as always, I assure you that is purely coincidental.
2. Bodys by Car Seat Headrest.
"Everybody's swinging their hips
Everybody's giving the waitress tips
Everybody's dancing all of the dances
Everybody's dancing every dance now (alright)."
Second best concert I saw this year, this one with my spouse and Richmond family. Will Toledo is a genius. But I think I've already told you that.3. Let Me Down Easy by Gang of Youths.
|Car Seat Headrest, Carrboro, NC 9/21/18 (photo by me)|
"Honey, it's no secret that I've been losing my way
In the weirdest of moments and stupidest of ways
But, hey, I'm still young and it's gonna be okay
I've got solipsism, baby, and I brought lemonade."
The lemonade reference works off of an earlier part of the song where frontman David Le'aupepe sings that "not everything is easy as making lemonade." This is the second time in two years that solipsism makes an appearance in lyrics on the list - hope that says more about our current times than me personally.
4. Ben Franklin's Song by The Decemberists.
"I'm the only American the French want to see
They call me a genius, I can't disagree
They have guns, they have funds
They can set us free
Invest in my reputation."
What's not to like about a song co-written by Lin-Manual Miranda and Colin Meloy? Miranda wrote the lyrics for Hamilton, but it didn't make the cut for the show. He gifted them to Meloy, who put them to music and in turn gifted it to us. For a music loving history major, it can't get much better than that.
Big profanity warning on this one, kiddos.
5. Bondurant Women by The Texas Gentlemen.
"There was a genuine act of celebration
On the corner of the freight train station
And the sweating man gave a benediction
Said you're looking for a giant (?) foundation."
Love the percussion in this song. No lyrics that I could find, so I did the best I could. Suggestions are welcomed, particularly with the uncertain word above (maybe "jive" instead of "giant?").
6. Gold Rush by Death Cab for Cutie.
"Digging for gold in my neighborhood
For what they say is the greater good
But all I see is a long goodbye
A requiem for a skyline."
A requiem indeed for Ben Gibbard's Seattle neighborhood. I know, I know, a lot of us in Wild and Wonderful would love to have Ben's problems. But still, gentrification does come with its issues, in a "you kids get off of my lawn!" kind of way that I think he acknowledges as well.
7. How to Socialise and Make Friends by Camp Cope.
"And I heard it from a friend
That he talks to the primary school kids through the fence
Yeah, you shoulda seen his book collection
It was all 'how to socialise and how to make friends'
Yeah I guess we both got our problems
And areas to improve
And I know one of mine is to go a night without sympathising with you."
As you might guess from the spellings, Camp Cope ain't from around here. Australia, to be exact, is their home. But the raw emotion heard in many of their songs, including this one, is universal.
8. Not Abel by Hop Along.
"And yet it was not Abel but Cain who got to hear
The voice that for so long had been a stranger
Not one word of all the time they spent growing up brothers
Even love, yes, even love, yes even lose
Something to lose."
Starts out sounding like many Hop Along songs (which I believe to be a good thing), albeit with a less personal them than most (indeed, the story of Cain and Abel). Then the last minute and a half take it to a whole new, sublime, level, kicked off by a classic rock guitar and bass line.
9. Fast Talk by Houses.
"So maybe heaven is a ghetto with no bad blocks
Shangri-La dealers at the bus stops
And maybe god is just a cop that we can fast talk
So if you're guilty and you know it, put your hands up
'Cause karma's just a different word for bad luck
And what if death is just another pair of handcuffs?
Then we'd better run."
Heard this song first (and repeatedly) while on vacation in late summer with my better half on Sirius. The above lyrics are among my very favorites of the entire year.
10. Born in Love by Horse Feathers.
"So color came from grey
It's gone from worse to good then great
Was it destiny and not fate?"
Yep, an honest-to-goodness love song! Sung by a guy in a Carhartt cap and denim shearling vest, no less.
11. Once in My Life by The Decemberists.
"Oh for once in my
Oh, for once in my life
Could just something go
Could just something go right?"
Very different from most of Mr. Meloy's songs, when I first heard it I thought of it as more of a secular prayer than an ordinary song. I think the video, and Colin's notes about the video, confirm my feelings.
And, yes, we end this year's list with yet another song from The Decemberists. I'm an aged fanboy, what other defense do I have?