Sunday, December 4, 2016

Favorite songs of 2016: Songs 23-33

If there was any doubt that I was going to reprise my annual list here, they were erased by the generous words of my friend R, who posted about it in her GrongarBlog and is telling us what she's listening to this month as a result. As in years past, these are my favorite songs that I've heard over the past year from one source or another, culled from hundreds that I've listened to (in some cases, only for a few seconds). As in only last year (and the first when I listed only 20), there are 33 songs on this year's list because ... well, just because. 

23. Babylon by Jesiah.

"You've got the best type of defense
You tell the joke just to distract them
I thought we both grew up in Babylon...
We speak the language, no one understands us."

C first suggested that this sounds like Vampire Weekend, which after reflection I agree is spot-on. From the artist himself: "Babylon is a story about two souls defending their love in the face of adversity.”

24. White Flag by Joseph.

"I could surrender but I'd
Just be pretending, no I'd
Rather be dead than live a lie...
Burn the white flag
Burn the white flag."

No Josephs, Richards, or Thomases to be seen in this band, fronted by the three Closner sisters, who just happen to be from Joseph, Oregon. Love the defiant vocals that match the "never surrender" lyrics of this song. The album title, "I'm Alone, No You're Not" is excellent as well.

25. Brazil by Declan McKenna.

"I wanna play the beautiful game while I'm in Brazil
Cause everybody plays the beautiful game while in Brazil
It's all you've ever wanted, and it's all that you want still...
Don't you wanna play the beautiful game out in Brazil?"

I'm guessing I don't have to explain to most who read this why I would like a song about soccer in general, and FIFA's corruption in particular. But if the lyrics were about hopscotch instead it would probably still be on the list given its hooky Britpop sound and McKenna's unique voice.

26. Coastal California 1985 by Math and Physics Club.

"Coastal California
Like a picture postcard
Your wind-swept hair and...
Pasted on smile
Remind me how the years have come and gone
And never seem to linger very long."

One of many songs about California released this past year (including one further up the list), almost all of which make its residents seem pretty darn happy currently.

27. This Is Your Life by Augustines.

"Maybe we'll pull ourselves together
Burn forever in some fading summer night
But you got to find sometimes for anything in this life...
Just forgot it in yourself, but you're alright
You're alright
Hey you're alright."

The first of several repeat artists from past lists - some below, some farther up. What can I say -- I know what I like and Augustines, with their big anthemic sound, is something I definitely like. "Knock me down my friend, I'll just get back up again."

28. Turn Up by The Heavy.

"There ain't nothing more I want
For you my love
If that's what you really want...
Must be what you really want
If that's what you really want
My love
I said you better
Turn, (Up!)"

Most of my favorite songs are lyrically driven. Not (obviously) this one. Why does it seem that all the best funk/R&B bands these days are English? And, yes, The Heavy have been here before.

29. Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering) by Hey Rosetta!

"Under the pitch and pull of the moon
Sweet silver medicine swim in my temples
Bring in the shadows to cover our wounds...
When the pain is gone and the rest is
Coming on."

The song's title alone makes it list-worthy let alone the evocative lyrics. At least the second appearance by Hey Rosetta! on one of my lists as well.

30. 24 Frames by Jason Isbell.

"You thought God was an architect
Now you know
He's something like a pipe bomb ...
Ready to blow
And everything that you've built
That's all for show
Goes up in flames
In twenty-four frames."

Better late than never with this song which should have been on last year's list. A brilliant song from a brilliant artist. One of, I believe, only two artists on this year's list that I saw live this past year.

image from
31. The Diving Bell by Gang of Youths.

"And I dreamed the voices they were calling
Out to you
Come alive, come alive and the firings...
Where everything is true."

A haunting song - maybe a Ferguson reference, maybe something more personal. A sufficiently obscure track that I can't find a link to an MP3, let alone a video. If you do find it somewhere (try Spotify) this is your language warning.

32. True Sadness by The Avett Brothers.

"I cannot go on with this evil inside me
I step outside my front door and I feel it surround me
Just know the kingdom of God is within you...
Even though the battle is bound to continue."

A song whose dark lyrics belie its mostly upbeat melody. I don't think the boys have given up hope - they'll continue to fight the good fight.

33. I Need Never Get Old by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.

"I know that some will say
It matters but little babe
Oh but come on and mean it to me...
I need it so bad."

I think I first saw this song on AXS TV live from some festival this late spring. These guys look like they pour everything they have into every minute on stage.

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