My list continues with some familiar faces from last year and lists farther in the past. And some great new bands as well.
12. Someone New by Hozier.
"There's an art to life's distractions,
To somehow escape the burning weight, the art of scraping through.
Some like to imagine,
The dark caress of someone else, I guess any thrill will do.
The last of the artists on this year's list that also appeared on last year's. The perfect juxtaposition to "Take Me to Church" where he was literally worshipping a woman. And this year, "any thrill will do." My favorite line in the song, and maybe of any single line in any song this year, however, is "love with any stranger, the stranger the better."
13. Light Me Up by Bronze Radio Return.
"And when you feel right
'Cause you light me up
Oh, you light me up.
So tell me how ya feeling tonight
Tell me how ya feeling tonight."
Another one of those songs that doesn't wow you with intellectual lyrics but is just so catchy you want to hear it over and over. And the video matches the song - I can almost hear Kevin Bacon yell "Let's Dance!" near the end.
14. Talking Backwards by Real Estate.
"And I might as well be talking backwards.
Am I making any sense to you?
And the only thing that really matters.
Is the one thing I can't seem to do."
After the <ahem> less than monogamous themes of the previous two songs, a more poignant love song. Or love lost song.
15. Waitress by Hop Along.
"I call you enemy.
'Cause I'm afraid of
What you could call me.
The world's gotten so small and embarrassing."
A song about relationships and social media and awkward chance meetings. Made all the more evocative by Frances Quinlan's tired, sad, frenetic, evocative voice. The last artist this year that you'll hear more from in the next installment of the list.
16. Living the Dream by Sturgill Simpson.
"That old man upstairs always wears a crooked smile.
Staring down at the chaos he created.
Said son if you ain't having fun, just wait a little while
Momma's gonna wash it all away
She thinks mercy's overrated."
Seriously, is that not a ridiculously perfect stanza? The only way it could possibly be improved is by the way Simpson delivers it.
17. Lifted Up (1985) by Passion Pit.
"Oh well, how many years has it been now?
How many days went to waste?
Now the rain and the thunder are clashing.
The Sun's go a smile 'cross the face."
Yes, listening to this song after the last, much like watching the video, could lead you "to potentially experience seizures." I didn't make that up - watch the video - and note the warning.
18. Crying Wolf by Caleb Hawley.
"Well I got no time to talk about it.
I said that I'm sorry
And I'm movin' on.
Just pretend that those words we said never happened.
Let's go back to laughin'
And getting along."
This year's blue-eyed soul entry. Love the Motown sound.
19. 4th and Roebling by The Districts.
"Sunshine, I believe we're headed the right way
But then again, I can't quite tell for sure.
'Cause we're running to the west to let our hands touch down
Where you left me in the dark so long before."
This year's "sounds like The Strokes" song.
20. Mr. Rodriquez by Rayland Baxter.
"Yesterday morning, I was walking around
Me and Mr. Rodriguez on the wrong side of town.
The streets were all empty and the houses all burned down
He reached in his pocket and he pulled out a crown.
And he said:
'You're so much like me, boy
Step outta your dream.
Watch 'em all gather 'round boy,
It's your turn to be king."
Saw him at a great Mountain Stage with Craig Finn, among other fine artists. Rayland rocked the house that night.
|Rayland Baxter at Mountain Stage. Lighting is great for concert-going, |
not so much for cell phones that you're not supposed to use the flash with.
(photo by me)
21. Black Sun by Death Cab for Cutie.
"There is a role of a lifetime;
And there's a song yet to be sung.
And there's a dumpster in the driveway
Of all the plans that came undone."
Kind of like rubbernecking a car wreck with the obvious references to Ben Gibbard's failed relationship, sad and cathartic. But then now-departed guitarist Chris Walla cranks up a fantastic, angry solo and takes it to a different dimension entirely.
Honestly, I had never seen the video when I first wrote the car wreck line.
22. Gone by Jr. Jr.
"I've made up my mind,
over and over.
Keep pressing rewind,
but I'm getting older.
Tried every door,
don't know who I'm looking for.
And I've made up my mind,
over and over."
I had always hope to hear a song by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. that I liked enough to include on the list. I heard this one and thought "this is it!" Then they went and changed the name of the band to just Jr. Jr. Ah well, it's still good enough to make the list.