I'm a bad Think Kit-er. I've only posted once so far this December and now I'm grabbing a lifeline- Top 10 Tracks.
2013 has been a strong year for music. These 10 songs all come from great albums so I encourage you to check them out in their entirety. Also, a couple are from 2012 but I didn't discover them until 2013 so I'm including them here. Let's break it down!
Spotify playlist below
1. "Song For Zula" by Phosphorescent. This is the track I keep coming back to. Although my list isn't by rank I did want to put this one first, it is my favorite song this year. An amazing landscape of a song. "I will not open myself up this way again". We've all felt that way. A great song to get lost in. A rough sketch that seems to fill in with each listen.
2. "Hey Ya" by Vampire Weekend. Probably the weirdest track here, what's up with those alien voices?, but I just can't deny it, or the album "Modern Vampires of the City", which is my favorite album of the year. No other album has endured as well for me, it has breadth and depth. My family listened to it all summer as we swam in the pool and grilled out. It is that rare album that appeals to kids and adults. It is a marvelous, deep piece of work. If you have bias against the band please discard and give them another chance.
3. "Are You With Me Now?" by Cate Le Bon. Ms. Le Bon was one of my favorite finds this year and this track just pushes every button. I love how it sounds. The thin guitars, the plucky bass, the tight and flat drums. I love the simple but powerful lyrics- "I see no reason to run, are you with me now?"
4. "Dreaming" by Mac Demarco. Oh man, I love this guy. Technically a 2012 release but only came to my attention in early 2013. I bet he's a weird, awkward dude that lives in his own world. At least that's my image of him, please don't tell me otherwise. Like the Le Bon song, we have thin guitars and plucky bass with great song writing. The whole "2" album is stellar. He's one to watch. Hopefully just getting going.
5. "The Sirens Of Your Toxic Spirit" by Of Montreal. It's so great to have this band back on top, doing great work. The last few albums seemed like a never ending descent into some pyscho-sexual nightmare. This song is perfect on all levels. The music and lyrics seem built for each other in a way few other songs ever achieve. And the lyrics, like many on the album, are just brutal- "All your addictions and shifty-ness, inherited from your father, I know you struggle to keep them in check, but at this point, why even bother?" Ouch.
6. "I Need My Girl" by The National. This band has been putting out consistently great music for the last decade. If I have any beef with them it's that it all starts to sound the same after a while. But if one is going to fall into a sonic rut it should be, as Kurt Cobain put it, a "Leonard Cohen afterlife, so I can sigh, eternally". Also, as a man that lives with 4 "girls" this song really speaks to me.
7. "No Destruction" by Foxygen. This band became known almost much for their drama as their music. Social Media flare ups, fights, etc. Yawn... Underneath it all there is their excellent album "We Are The 21st Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic" produced by wunder-producer/collaborator Richard Swift. Not to downplay the talent of the Foxygen guys but I doubt this album would be half of what it is without Swift. He is probably the one to watch here. In the meantime, enjoy a nice 60s Stones/Dylan tromp.
8. "Heart Beat" by Chris Cohen. Another 2012 import. This dreamy album just kept finding it's way to my turntable all year. Many nights I listened to it while stoking a winter's fire. As a whole album it can be a bit much but each side works really well as a piece of music. This song starts side two. "Beginning time is through, and the younger tears are too, drying up slow"- that really resonates with me in many ways.
9. "Water Wheel" by Steve Gunn. I was turned on to this record by Rob Peoni, an intern for Musical Family Tree, and I fell hard and fast. Only 6 songs, 3 a side, it has a wonder symmetry to the album and each song has its own internal symmetry as well. To me, the guitar parts are logic statements, speaking to the meaning of the song as much as the lyrics. It sounds like a water wheel, doesn't it?
10. "A Girl Called Alex" by Kurt Vile. There isn't much to this song lyrically but for some reason it really works for me. "I recall a girl named Alex, she and Mark were happily wed, hey, at least in my head, I think about them all the time." It reminds me of that Hemingway one-sentence short story "for sale, baby shoes, never worn". That's Mr Vile's strength, painting a vibrant picture with a few strokes.
Ok, that's it! What are your top ten tracks or albums for 2013?