I've been regaling/boring my friends with my favorite indie/alternative songs of the year for some time now. As with my past lists, the only rule is that these songs were released in either 2014 or 2013. Some of the songs here may appear on actual critics' lists as well, but any resemblance between them and me is purely coincidental.
21. Thirsty Man by Blitzen Trapper.
"I've been driving all night,
On a road to nowhere.
With the Devil's convoy,
Black smoke upon my tracks."
This band has remade itself from a folk/Americana sound to rock, and now sort of in-between. In whatever iteration they chose, I'm a fan.
22. Unfold by Wouie.
"I could never change the world for you.
But I could teach you how to cheat it.
I could never kill the pain in you.
But I can teach you how to treat it."
A Swedish band singing in perfect English. Not so sure about the American band a little farther on the List's mastery of Swedish, but sounds good to me.
23. Nothing to Lose But Your Head by Augustines.
"Have you ever lost someone?
Screamed Bloody Mary down the hall.
Or cried against a steering wheel,
And hated every mirror you ever saw?"
The only artists with more than one song on this year's list. Would love to see them live, but they've apparently been touring in Europe most of the year.
24. Sacrilege by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
"Fallen for a guy,
fell down from the sky.
Halo 'round his head;
Feathers in a bed.
In our bed;
in our bed."
At first I was off-put by the screaming lyrics, but it turns into something visceral and essential to the song once you give it a chance. And I love how it builds to the climax of a choral climax.
25. Vad Hande Med Dem? by The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
"Inget är rätt, inget är bra, ingenting här är som det ska
Nånting gick fel så långt tillbaks, gick sönder inuti av det vi sa
Men jag hoppas vintern kommer snart och släcker ner hela stan
Snön kommer täcka alltihop, vartenda misstag som vi gjort."
Which, translated from the Swedish (according to Google) is:
"Nothing is right, nothing is good, nothing here is as it should.
Something went wrong so far back, broke inside of what we said.
But I hope winter is coming soon, and turns off the lights all over town.
The snow will cover it all, every mistake we made."
Despite my Swedish heritage, I have no reason not to trust that the translation is accurate. And while many of my choices for this List are lyrically driven, obviously this one is not.
25. Spinners by The Hold Steady.
"Before she figures out what's wrong,
put another record on.
She picks it up and she carries a cross;
Heartbreak hurts but you can dance it off."
Another mythic urban tale from Craig Finn and the band, habitual list denizens. And, yes, references to the crucifix abound. And, yes, there was already a number 25 on the list. I'm too old to count correctly.
26. From Now On by Delta Spirit.
"Your inner compass says you know I'm right.
No more letters, just a will.
All the prophets on the mountaintop.
But no one's hanging on the hill."
Another one of my favorite bands, with their best song in my opinion since the History from Below album. And no, I don't think Craig Finn wrote the lyrics, but kind of sounds like him, doesn't it?
27. Permanent Hesitation by Born Ruffians.
"Is it cheating if I call you sweetheart?
Is it cheating if you call me your man?
I'm retrieving wayward glances with my wandering eye,
and pretending not to know you care."
Sounds a little like Phoenix perhaps? Back when they were good I mean.
28. Gotta Get Away by The Black Keys.
"I went from San Berdoo
Just to get away from you.
I searched far and wide,
hopin' I was wrong.
But maybe all the good women are gone."
Definitely not a love song.
29. Take Me to Church by Hozier.
"No masters or kings when the ritual begins;
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin.
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene:
Only then I am human.
Only then I am clean.
Three different friends/family members who know my musical taste well asked me at different times if I'd heard Hozier and this song and told me that it "sounds like something (I'd) like." Who am I to disagree?
30. Pull Down the Moon by Cattle & Cane.
"Can you hear me scratching at your door?
You say it won't be different
I will sing you all my songs,
I will sing them all day long,
This, on the other hand, is definitely a love song. And a pretty one at that.