Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Favorite Songs of 2018: Songs 12-22

And the list rolls on, with the often (unfairly) overlooked middle kids (which happens to include the band Middle Kids ... ). And, unsurprisingly, The Decemberists.

Colin Meloy and The Decemberists in concert (photo by me)

12.  Nonbeliever by Lucy Dacus.

"You deal an unspoken debt
No kindness without wanting something back
What do I owe you? What did I forget?
Are we even after all of that?"

Nonbeliever in God? In a (human) relationship? In self-worth? I'm not exactly sure. But I'm not a nonbeliever in Lucy; she has a beautiful voice, can construct a great song, and can play a mean guitar.

13.  The Heart Is a Muscle by Gang of Youths.

"I wanna be loved, I wanna be whole again
So tuck my hair behind my ears and touch my soul again
The window is wide, the post unfulfilled
And I just ask you to be patient if you'll have me still."

Every year my list contains an invisible dividing line between the songs I like and those I really, really like. This year that line starts here. Songs 13-2 are, in my humble opinion, exceedingly good and pretty much interchangeable (number 1 has been number 1 since early in 2018 and has budged since). Gang of Youths was recently in D.C., and I'm very sorry I missed them. The video will give you a good idea as to why.

14.  Easy Enough by Pinegrove.

"All my limits have held me back
I hold my head and I let it ask
I'm altogether down
And when will it end now?

Back after a year-long, self-imposed hiatus (you can read the long, strange story here) the kids from Jersey are back with a new record. Thank goodness for that.

15.  High Beam by Sjowgren.

"And I don't wanna spend a lifetime
Worried about the sidelines
What other people are say about me
About me
About me."

Their second appearance on this year's list (and the fourth overall, I believe) as the mystery band from San Fran has stepped up what seemed to be a slow drip of their great music.

16.  Dancing's Not a Crime by Panic!At the Disco.

"Dancing, dancing, dancing's not a crime
Unless you do it without me
Unless you do it without me."

Go ahead, laugh, I can take the heat. And do repeatedly from family and friends for my fondness for this band (which roughly places me 45 years pre-my current age and seemingly forced to defend the "!" in its name). I dare you to listen and not bebop just a little while you do.

17.   Mistake by Middle Kids.

"You're standing out in the rain, tonight
Like you got something to say, to God
And you got a debt to pay back
For something you did way back
You wanna make it okay."

These Kids made last year's list as well (as did Cold War Kids, absent this year). I believe the title of the song is exactly what it's about - a mistake that someone made, maybe a long time ago. I'm okay with that (the straightforwardness, not necessarily the mistake).

18.  We All Die Young by The Decemberists.

"And in this dream, Bill Tecumseh Sherman
Glowered at the foot of my bed
He was long and lean, he spoke in perfect German
And I recorded all that he said
Yeah, I recorded all that he said

And he said:
'We all die young
We all die young
We all die young
We all die young."

More lyrical magic from the "hyper-literate" Colin Meloy and his band. While I'm including a "live" recording of the song here, check out the studio version as well. Definitely a touch of Pink Floyd in the children joining in on the chorus.

19.  In a River by Rostam.

"We are swimming with no clothes on
In a river in the dark
And I am holding on to you, boy
In the faint light of the stars."

One of several songs on this year's list either recommended by or heard for the first time with my comely spouse. I love the music in this song, which borders on orchestral.

20.  How Simple by Hop Along.

"Don't worry we will both find out
Just not together."

One of my favorite couplets (if that term can apply to two, non-rhyming verses) of the year. Matched by the year's best album name "Bark Your Head Off, Dog."

21.  Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers.

"I'm on the outside looking through
You're throwing rocks around your room
And while you're bleeding on your back in the glass
I'll be glad that I made it out
And sorry that all went down like it did."

I love the imagery of "emotional motion sickness."

22.  Causing Trouble by Saint Sister.

"But honey I know you
We dance to Elvis in the kitchen
At least we used to
And honey you know me
We danced from Belfast to the Basin
When you sang And it Stoned Me
Well, it stoned me.'

A harp, two beautiful voices, and a Van Morrison reference? Yes, please.

Stay tuned for my Top 11 songs, coming soon!

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