After a full year of absolutely NO music writing whatsoever (WEEP!), I’m crawling out of semi-retirement as a music journalist/blogger to uphold an annual tradition: posting my list of favorite songs from the past year.
This year’s mix is a slow burner. It starts off with a triple header of neo-shoegaze anthems before diving into the sublime (Spoon, in an uncharacteristic turn, and Angel Olsen’s subtle update of old country torch songs). It sort of reaches its nadir with Sharon Van Etten’s instant breakup classic (which may double as a lament for the addicted) before starting to pick up and get a little more positive with Beck’s ode to morning time and Temples’ impeccable reconstruction of Mark Bolan-era British glam and psychedelia. Ty Segall’s remarkable “Feel” marks the crest of the hill (imagine Aladdin Sane-era Bowie covering early Sabbath), and you’ll feel the wind in your hair the rest of the way down until the whole things glides gracefully to a stop via the back-half trifecta of Hamilton Leithauser (RIP: The Walkmen), Real Estate, and Sweden’s First Aid Kit.
You can listen along with this free Spotify playlist, or watch some of the performances and incredible music videos for most of these songs via the YouTube playlist below.
- I decided to use the official video for Warpaint’s “Keep It Healthy,” which is actually a double-header with “Disco/Very” (also from the same album); I thought the entire video was so interesting, and such a distinct snapshot of that band, its aesthetic, and LA, that the whole thing was worth viewing. “Disco/Very” is a great song too, so everyone’s the richer, I suppose.
- Defying all sense and reason (or maybe just reflecting the artist’s desire to get paid an adequate royalty), the Ty Segall song “Feel” is unavailable on Spotify, so I’ve substituted with Swans’ brain-burning “A Little God in My Hands,” maybe the most uncharacteristic song in that band’s 30-year catalog and one of the most subtly incendiary songs of the year. You’re well rewarded for listening in either case.
- I’ve also had to swap slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark’s “No Pity Party” for “I Know, Didn’t I” from the same album on YouTube for similar reasons, and with similarly excellent results.
- I could have plugged a YouTube recording of the BADBADGOOD remix of Future Islands’ “Seasons” into that mix, but the band is so incredibly compelling in live performance that I decided it deserved a showcase for those talents. You should absolutely NOT skip that remix, though.
- Warpaint: Keep It Healthy
- Honeyblood: (I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here
- Dum Dum Girls: Lost Boys and Girls Club
- London Grammar: Hey Now
- Spoon: Inside Out
- Angel Olsen: Lights Out
- Sharon Van Etten: Your Love Is Killing Me
- Beck: Waiting Light
- Temples: Colours To Life
- The War on Drugs: An Ocean In Between The Waves
- Ty Segall: Feel / Swans: A Little God In My Hands
- The Budos Band: The Sticks
- Benjamin Booker: Violent Shiver
- Eagulls: Yellow Eyes
- The Horrors: So Now You Know
- Zero 7: Simple Science
- The Juan Maclean: A Simple Design
- Aphex Twin: minipops 67 [120.2] (source field edit)
- Sylvan Esso: Coffee
- Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark: No Pity Party / I Know, Didn’t I
- Cibo Matto: MFN
- Future Islands: Seasons (Waiting On You) [BADBADNOTGOOD Reinterpretation]
- Hamilton Leithauser: 11 O’Clock Friday Night
- Real Estate: Had To Hear
- First Aid Kit: Silver Lining