Gather round boys and girls. It's that time of year, when we hear tales of a divine birth, jolly elves, and flying reindeer. And get to listen to what I think is some pretty good music. So much good music that, unlike past lists that were limited to 30 songs, this year's offering includes three bonus tracks!
As in prior years, the list is limited to songs released in 2014 or 2015. And that's about it as far as rules go. You'll hear a variety of songs that could be variously described as alternative, indie, pop, Americana, soul, and maybe even country.
Oh, one disclaimer: while a few of these songs may appear on one critic or the other's "best of" lists, I do not profess to be a critic. Just an appreciator. And I hope you will appreciate at least a few of these offerings.
23. Fool for Love by Lord Huron.
"I stare into the endless sky
And the sordid tale of my life goes by.
I drift into the great unknown
And I really don't know where I'm going."
Missed Lord Huron at Bonnaroo in 2013 (despite E's best effort to the contrary), but caught them live this summer in Columbia, SC. They've made prior lists before, and will again later on this year's.
|Lord Huron at the Music Farm in Columbia, SC. (photo by me)|
24. Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon.
"We were victims of the night.
The chemical, physical, kryptonite.
Helpless to the bass and the fading light.
Oh we were bound to get together,
Bound to get together."
Admittedly a lightweight song lyrically. But so darn catchy. The pop song of the summer of 2015 for me.
25. Cavalry by Kingsley Flood.
"I've been thinking I've been drinking, I've been scraping rust.
I've been keeping clean, the frames that have collected dust.
Monday nights I watch the fights, on Thursdays I play cards.
But maybe just this week, I'll skip out on both."
Thought this was a standard breakup song until I studied the lyrics some more. It's clearly about the protagonist and his family - though I'm not sure if he's leaving home, or just asking them to get their house in order before he does.
26. Perth by Beirut.
"Blood on the sand
Paint on the water.
I skipped around
Asking for you."
Beirut, too, has appeared on past lists and will reappear on this one as well. Their album No No No is one of my favorites of the past year.
27. Waiting for My Time to Come by Colony House.
"I'm just waiting on the seasons to change.
Waiting for the curtain to fall.
I could lose my cool
Like a restless fool.
But I'm waiting for my time to come."
Horns and a big chorus of fresh-faced youngsters - what's not to like? I dare you to watch the video and not be at least a wee bit happier than you were four minutes earlier.
28. Rollercoaster by Bleachers.
"Now I'm running and I won't stop I don't wanna go.
I think about it everyday and night, I can't let go.
And, hey, I'm never the same.
It's a hundred miles an hour on a dirt road running away."
A repeat of sorts as Bleachers' I Wanna Get Better was Number 5 on last year's list. Can't help but hear a little Billy Idol in this one.
29. How'm I Gonna Find You Now by James McMurtry.
"I remember when I met you I's in love in one fell swoop.
You had a blade in your pocket and a rag in your belt loop.
Guys a hoverin' 'round the bar like gulls on the ocean
At the end of your shift just in case you got the notion.
Watch you washin' all the glassware, poetry in motion.
I'd a roped the moon for you.
How'm I gonna find you now?"
A Dylanesque largely spoken word song from a Dylanesque songwriter.
30. What Kind of Man by Florence and The Machine.
"What kind of man loves like this?
To let me dangle
at a cruel angle.
Oh my feet don't touch the floor.
Sometimes you're half in
and then you're half out.
But you never close the door."
I think there are more bands fronted by female singers on this year's list than ever before. And if that's the case, Florence has to be among them, doesn't she?
31. Bullets by Wild Child.
"Oh, I'm so glad, you found a cure.
It was so sad when you weren't sure.
I know you think, we need to talk.
You said, those regrets will burn a hole
In my black and withered soul.
You're gonna think I'm wicked when I walk."
See what I told you about female singers? I've always liked incongruous songs and this is one - a bouncy beat masking some pretty depressing lyrics.
32. Make Me Do It Again by Jim Noir.
"Come through the door,
Tell me more.
Make it up,
Make me feel,
Make me do it again."
Sounds like a Beatles' song to me. Sorry, can't find a link to a video for it.
33. You Must Have Met Little Caroline? by JD McPherson.
"Do you feel like I feel
Half a dozen times a day
When the lights go out
And your thoughts drift away?"
I've seen JD twice in person -- once at Bonnaroo in 2013, then again this year at Mountain Stage. Great rockabilly sound that's even better live. And, yes, I feel I know him well enough now to call him by his first name.