‘Tis (’twas, I guess?) the season of best-of list-making, and having always been one for bandwagons, I’m jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve been stupid lucky to enjoy a lot of great new music this year, much of it live, and it’s a nice year-end activity to reflect on what songs hit me hardest. Because I’m not a real music person and don’t pay attention to things like release dates, this is not intended to be a list of the best songs that came out in 2011; rather, it’s a list of the songs I couldn’t stop listening to last year. And with that, in alphabetical order…
ON REPEAT, ALL YEAR
The stars wash over me, so far away that I can barely breathe from where I lay
I could have chosen a number of songs from Blind Pilot’s We Are The Tide (“We Are the Tide” and “New York” were contenders), but this one stands out. Start to finish, it highlights Israel Nebeker’s gorgeous voice and makes me happy and sad in all the best ways.
Let’s begin at the end of a bad year / With bad things at my back
Eric Anderson of Cataldo puts together perfect short songs that say a hell of a lot with every line. I love the way this one builds up such that by the second verse, you can’t not dance in your seat. Maracas of all sorts, they get me every time.
Dawes, “A Little Bit of Everything”
It’s not some message written in the dark / Or some truth that no one’s seen / It’s a little bit of everything
The each-verse-tells-a-story style of this song could be trite, except that it’s not. It’s holy-shit powerful, and for me, pretty nicely sums up what this life thing is all about. I’ve loved this song from first listen, but loved it even more after hearing it live. Dawes sounds like an entirely different band when you’re watching them in a quiet room from a few yards away, and if you get the chance to see them in 2012, you should.
Raise your glasses, here’s to living out our dreams
This song IS summer. So joyful, so fun. Makes me want to go skinny dipping then drink whiskey at a beach bar.
The Head and the Heart, “Rivers and Roads”
Nothing is as it has been / And I miss your face like hell / And I guess it’s just as well / But I miss your face like hell
A lot of people I know have loved this song for a while, and though I’ve been a huge fan of THATH for the better part of the year (and the name of my Tumblr is inspired by one of their concerts), I was late in learning to love this song. Maybe it was the bare bones nature of it; maybe it was that I didn’t listen hard enough to the lyrics. Either way, I’m glad I learned to love it, because it speaks so accurately about this exact time in my life.
So this is what the volume knob’s for…
This song choice is kind of a cop out. I fell hard for the Mountain Goats this year (way later than everyone else) and I could have picked almost any of their songs. This one wins because for me, it sums up why we need music. And John Darnielle.
But I am fine with where I am now / This home is home and all that I need
I know I love a song when I consider it a running song even though no one else would. Meaning: though not necessarily pump-up-y, the song transfixes me such that I forgot about how much I hate running, which is no easy feat. This song is one of those songs.
I wish I was a little more delicate
Dude, violins and kick-ass female singers and those little brush-like things that people use to play the drums? I’m so into them.
Then the suffering, one way or another, it will go away
Typhoon is a big band to begin with, and when you add in an entire cello group, the effect could be sloppy and overwhelming. Instead, this song becomes bigger and better with the addition of the Portland Cello Project, making you want to listen to it on repeat for weeks, which is exactly what you do.
We got no money, but we got heart
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about music videos, but videos like this one make me hope bands keep making ‘em. This one-shot video captures the sentiment of the song perfectly, and it just looks like so damn much fun. Plus, lead singer Nick Petricca’s dance moves? Can’t be beat.
Here’s to a lot more of this goodness in 2012. Happy New Year, kids!
[Posted by Mallory]