Monday, December 19, 2016

Favorite Songs of 2016: Songs 12-22

From 75 year-old legends to 15 year-old wunderkinds, from frequent list denizens to first-time members, from Ireland to Iceland and Long Island to Australia, we've got it all covered for you in the second part of the 2016 list.

12. Montauk by Matt Sucich.

"And I don't want to be a writer anymore
Not this way
I may as well have been an actor...
So you can tell me what to say.

Maybe a marionette
So you can move my arms and legs
I may as well drive out to Montauk
On Memorial Day."

Here's Sucich's explanation of the song: "I wrote 'Montauk' after one of the more recent mass shootings hit the news. I can’t remember which one, and that’s clearly part of the problem. We all have this outlet in the palm of our hands, and we have no problem sharing our strongest feelings from the comfort of our bubble. But I wonder how far people will go to stand up for what they believe these days…too often I fear it’s not much further than the screen in front of us. Myself included. I wrote this song as a bit of a cry. If my art is my voice, then this is me saying that we need to go 'all the way' a little more often."

13. Noam Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution by Foy Vance.

"Jean-Paul Sartre if it’s all just so
Dostoevsky if you’re in the know
A bit of scripture for a little light ...
Che Guevara for a full on bar fight
Alexander if you’re feeling great
Charlie Darwin if you’re thinking ‘bout apes

If you’re quiet and you’re sick of institutions, baby
Noam Chomsky is a soft revolution."

I'm not endorsing Mr. Chomsky's views by including this song, but it is a barrel of fun. Vance was on Mountain Stage, but unfortunately the same night I was in Columbia, SC listening to Jason Isbell and Josh Ritter.

14. Homecoming by Josh Ritter.

"Nights are getting colder now
And the air is getting crisp.
I first tasted the universe ...
On a night like this.
A box of wine, an alibi,
And the hunger in her eyes.
In the place where the tree of good and evil still resides.
Still resides."

As just mentioned, I was in attendance watching Ritter perform with Jason Isbell (also on the list) in Columbia this fall.  Unfortunately, he didn't play this song, but I repeat my recommendation from last year's list that featured "Getting Ready to Get Down" - if you have the chance to see Ritter in person, take advantage! That said, this video ought to tide you over until then quite nicely.

15. On My Mind by The Outdoor Type.

"She called me up last night
From some foreign city
Said the people that she's with...
Ya know, they're all so pretty
And she's not coming home
I guess there's too much to see
You know once you get out
It becomes a disease."

The Australian act mentioned above. I like (and can relate to) the whole dynamic of male inertia and female need to explore that drives this song lyrically.

16. Lover Come Back by City and Colour.

"I am warm enough yet I still shiver
I am fed but still I starve
You know me I am the great misgiver...
Always waiting on the clouds to part."

And again I ask, why is it that all the good R&B comes from England these days? Or is it just that the places I listen to for new music consider them "alternative" music when it's from England and something else when from the U.S.?

17. Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance) by Silversun Pickups.

"Another night alone, a temporary dream
I came in through your window sleepwalking
Standing arm and arm, still so out of reach...
Well, there's nowhere left to go
Stay with me, stay with me."

Among a select number of artists to have appeared more than twice on the List. Just love their sound, whether angry, forlorn, or happy. Plus they just have that "California cool" factor.

18. The Funeral by Sammy Brue.

"I've been living in a house of lies
And I'm not happy at all.
So I will make up an excuse not to go to the funeral...
Yes I will make up an excuse not to go to the funeral."

Can't find a video, but you can listen to The Funeral and other songs by Sammy Brue here:

Sammy is a 15 year-old wunderkind and protege of Justin Townes Earl. So he's got that going for him. This song, and particularly its lyrics, certainly reveal his old-soul wisdom.

19. Shine by Mondo Cozmo.

"Stick with me Jesus through the comin' storm
I've come to you in search of something I have lost
Shine down a light on me and show a path...
I promise you I will return if you take me back."

Hard to hear this as anything other than a religious song - the writer mourns for his (and his friends') straying from God and begs Him to take them back. I think he thinks it's gonna be okay. And with that chorus backing him, who could disagree?

20. Way Down We Go by Kaleo.

"Oh 'cause they will run you down
Down to the dark
Yes and they will run you down ...
Down 'til you fall
And they will run you down
Down to your core
Oh 'til you can't crawl no more."

Not so sure these boys from Iceland think it's gonna be okay.

21. Ophelia by The Lumineers.

"I I got a little paycheck
You got
Big plans, you gotta move ...
And I don't feel nothing at all
And you can't feel nothing small."

I'm not positive what exactly it is that The Lumineers are moving on from in this song - could be a woman, could be from the trappings of new found fame. I read something that described The Lumineers as "the American Mumford & Sons." I beg to differ - I find them much more sincere than Mumford.

22. Cool Papa Bell by Paul Simon.

"Have you all heard the news:
Heaven Finally Found
Ok, it’s six trillion light years away ...
But we’re all gonna get there someday
Yes, we’re all gonna get there one day
We all gonna get, we all gonna get, we …
But—but not you
You stay and explain
The suffering and the pain you caused
The thrill you feel when evil dreams come true."

The aforementioned 75 year-old artist. I admit I'm confused by the lyrics (which are definitely NSFW) and the vibe, which places Simon's sometimes bitter, sometimes whimsical words dead in the middle of the best of the sounds from Graceland. Is Paul facing his own mortality? Most definitely. Is he giving up without a fight? Not a chance.

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