What was I listening to this year? Well, every December it’s a struggle to pare down a long list of possible favorites to just 20 or so. But this go around was tougher than usual, and it was hard to select even these 13 songs for 2013.
Bad year for music? Not if you read the music blogs; they all say it was one of the best. Guess I was too busy doing other things instead of listening to music (God forbid!), or my ears just don’t agree with the new sounds the kids are laying down these days. Anyway, enough of my rant. Have a listen and see what you think. And as always, I hope I introduce you to one or more songs that you might’ve missed this year. Happy holidays!
I’ve removed the MP3 files but left the track listings below.
1. “Ramona” :: Night Beds
“The brainchild of Rocky Mountain-reared, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Winston Yellen, Night Beds occupies roughly the same lonesome and lamp-lit/earthy and expansive musical campsite as contemporaries like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes” (Allmusic.com). This cut comes off their first full-length studio album. Here’s hoping for more releases down the road.
2. “Ain’t That the Way” :: Divine Fits
Released as a single in June – a full 10 months after last year’s debut – Britt Daniel channels his inner Spoon for this rocking cut that must’ve been deemed too good to make the album. That makes 2 years in a row for the DFits (no one calls them that…I just made it up…not sure it’s gonna catch on).
3. “Bright Stars Burning” :: Hey Marseilles
First appearing in my 2010 collection, these Death Cab for Cutie sound-alikes from Seattle released their 2nd album last March under the radar. I’m a sucker for this kind of music, but it’s getting harder and harder to find. Makes the discoveries all the sweeter, I guess.
4. “From a Window Seat” :: Dawes
One of my favorite bands out there now, these Jackson Browne and CSNY inspired crooners know how to make good old fashioned pop/rock music with a little country twang. One of the better albums I listened to this year.
5. “Nancy from Now On” :: Father John Misty
Officially released back in April of last year, this track off Father John Misty’s “Fear Fun” album somehow eluded my ears till the early part of 2013, so it makes the cut. Hey, it’s my blog, so my rules! Allmusic.com loves the “legitimate yacht rock chorus,” which just about nails it for me.
6. “Pompeii” :: Bastille
Dead asleep on the couch after a Red Sox playoff game, Fox jarred me awake when they used this song in a video montage to celebrate Boston’s victory. Reminds me of the opening “ooga-shaka” chants at the beginning of the ‘70s classic “Hooked on a Feeling.” Also sounds like 3rd Eye Blind “if you close your eyes.”
7. “Her Favorite Song” :: Mayer Hawthorne
I always thought Mayer Hawthorne was Mr. Mellow, but this track (and the rest of the album) has a soulful groove that caught me off guard. A very pleasant surprise. I also like the Sergio Mendes-sounding female backup singer (Jessie Ware).
8. “Open Your Eyes” :: John Legend
Oh, that voice. I mean how can you not love John Legend’s sound? This cover of an old Bobby Caldwell track is a bit repetitive, but who cares. Just turn up the volume and listen to the man sing!
10. “Coming Clean” :: Little Radar
A random find from this 4-piece band out of Austin. Not sure how I came across this drums-driven, guitar-drenched number. I probably stumbled upon it reading one of the many music blogs I follow and thought it was pretty dope. Yep, even us old guys can say “dope.”
11. “Running for Cover” :: Ivan & Alyosha
Taking their name from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary began playing together back in 2007. “Although based in Seattle, Ivan & Alyosha create a sound that’s distinctly Californian, with acoustic instrumentation and bright vocal harmonies that evoke the West Coast’s summery, Southern locales” (Allmusic.com). Off their debut album after a series of EP releases.
12. “6am” :: Fitz & The Tantrums
Fitz and company burst onto the scene (and into my year-end collection) back in 2011. They returned this year with new stuff that didn’t disappoint. “Six in the morning and I’m still awake…” Yeah, no wonder Fitz, you’re too busy churning out danceable, blue-eyed soul.
13. “Always Alright” :: Alabama Shakes
From the “Silver Linings Playbook” soundtrack, I discovered this gem last winter and always wondered how it was left off their debut album that had just been released 6 months earlier. Sorry for the swear word in the first minute, but I couldn’t find a “clean” version. Deal with it. 🙂