Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Favorite Songs of 2015 - Songs 1-11

Some years I go back-and-forth between my top five or ten songs and this year was no different -- as it should be I suppose as my "favorites" change as I hear new songs throughout the year. The top three songs this year have been there for quite some time however, although their order changed at one point or the other.

In the end, though, I couldn't escape the fact that one song, however unusual the lyrics, or occasionally (how to say this politely?) screechy (okay, that's not polite) the singing, is my favorite of 2015. And it's this one:

1. Sister Cities by Hop Along.

"In the hospital,
You talked about thumbing down that
truck ride for the first time ...
And the false friend
kept his back turned,
that’s when you learned
The fierceness of man,
How long it took to reach the sister cities.
And then somehow make it back
Just to tell me
'Yeah, I guess I’m still
pretty mad.'"

It's hard to explain why exactly this is my favorite song. The lyrics are sad and disturbing, the vocals lovely at times, grating at others. And yet it's still there. Over and over in my head, on my playlist, on my list. Maybe it's the xylophone ...

2. Until the Night Turns by Lord Huron.

"I had a vision tonight that the world was ending.
Yeah the sky was falling and time was bending.
We spent our last night in the moonlight...
Baby it's so bright we'll be up all night.
I got a helluva view for the end of the world.
I've got a bottle of booze and a beautiful girl.
If I'm going to die I'm gonna go in style."

The second best concert I saw in 2015. And the second best song of 2015 by my estimation. Don't know what is with me and apocalyptic songs ...

3. A Beginning Song by The Decemberists.

"And I am waiting
Should I be waiting?
And I am wanting...
Should I be wanting?
When all around me
When all around me ..."

 Perhaps the sweetest, most hopeful song ever written by the "hyperliterate" (I read that somewhere and thought it suits him) Colin Meloy. Saw them with brother and son in Charlotte the day after my birthday this year. One of the five best concerts I've ever seen.

Colin Meloy at The Filmore in Charlotte. (photo from me)

4. Jackson by The Pollies.

"Wake up mama we got a little
We got a little to do.
Get the children they gonna...
Wanna hear it too.
Six Hundred Strong across that
Edmund Pettus Bridge.
We won't stop for the lawman
'Til it gets fixed."

A soaring song of tragedy and perseverance about a forgotten hero of the Civil Rights movement, Jimmie Lee Jackson. By four white guys from Alabama. Sounds like progress to me.

5. Seventeen by Sjowgren.

"If you want a second to breathe,
I'll give you all of my love,
I'll give you all that you need....
Don't worry,
I'm not in a hurry.
Not going nowhere,
I'm not going nowhere."

No, I don't even know how to pronounce the band's name. But this song is completely addictive from the first piano chords to the crescendo. More please!

6. Getting Ready to Get Down by Josh Ritter.

"Momma got a look at you and got a little worried.
Papa got a look at you and got a little worried.
Pastor got a look and said 'y'all had better hurry...
Send her off to a little Bible college in Missouri.'
And now you come back sayin' you know a little bit about
Every little thing they hoped you'd never figure out.
The Red Sea
The Dead Sea
The Sermon on the Mount.
If you want to see a miracle watch me get down!"

Almost another spoken word song, but mostly because there are so many words ... Saw him live at Mountain Stage recently -- the only other artist I can ever remember being so genuinely happy to perform was Bruce Hornsby. If Ritter is performing live somewhere near you, go see him!

7. Pretty Pimpin' by Kurt Vile.

"But I couldn’t tell you what the hell it was supposed to mean.
Because it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, no Wednesday, Thursday, Friday ...
Then Saturday came around and I said “Who’s this stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?”...
But he was sporting all my clothes;
I gotta say
Pretty pimpin'."

A song with really clever lyrics but if you just listen to the lyrics, you'll miss how beautiful, and complex, the music is.

8. No No No by Beirut.

"Don't know the first thing about who you are.
My heart is waiting, taken in from the start.
If we don't go now, we won't get very far....
Don't know the first thing about who you are."

I love Beirut's sound, although I'm hard pressed to describe it.

9. All Your Favorite Bands by Dawes.

"I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be.
I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever.
I hope the world sees the same person that you always were to me....
And may all your favorite bands stay together."

I missed them at their latest Mountain Stage appearance and am the poorer for it, but saw them on what I believe to be their first time on the show. A great song of love lost, but remembered, and appreciated.

10. Depreston by Courtney Barnett.

"You said we should look out further;
I guess it wouldn't hurt us.
We don't have to be around all these coffee shops....
Now we've got that percolator,
Never made a latte greater.
I'm saving
Twenty-three dollars a week."

A song with great lyrics that make the banal interesting and the unknown sad. Really doesn't do it justice to only post some of the lyrics. Great album title as well ("Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit").

11. Rock & Roll is Cold by Matthew E. White.

"You said you found the soul of rock and roll
You said you found the soul of rock and roll
Hey hey, rock and roll it don't have no soul...
Everybody knows that
Everyone knows.
Everyone knows that rock and roll is cold."

Great gospel/blues sound here. Plus my love of choruses singing things like "ooo la la la la ooo la la" is well documented.

Hope you enjoyed this year's list -- see you next November!

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