Favorite Songs Found in 2013

Humiliation by The National: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn9W0LfGdtE
The lyrics of this song paint a canvas of dark nights and dinner parties. The humiliation of losing love. Of not being enough. It moves like a drunk who has no bed to sleep in. It is blues music dressed up in a three piece tuxedo. At my worst or at my best, I know, I have had nights, too.

Porno by Arcade Firehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soo9hnLqXqY
One of the best grooves. It’s a chrome flash disguising the breaking heart below. If most of life is denying who we want to be. Then this song perfectly narrates the inverse. To find that one person to build your world with. To find that person you wouldn’t leave. One day. To deliver on that promise.

I Want to See Pulaski at Night by Andrew Birdhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oecHq2neweA
 The sound of starting over. The violin that moves like snow dust across bare tree branches and city pavement. The sound of cups that overflow as we hold each other by the waist under metropolis stars. It’s true. There are nights when my cup overflows. There are stories that never lose their thrill.

Now the Fall by Dinosaur Jrhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgTwdKZavRU
Guitar music. So fresh. If it’s a feeling; I want it again. Spring days with the windows down. The smell of the new grass. The long conversations. The inevitable sidewalk and the good places to talk. I think I’ve known you before.

You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatrahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgFtQPgHyek
Love is the first dream. And then you drift through the years. This song somehow gets it all right. If I was younger, I wouldn’t understand it. But now I’m older. And I have loved and loss. And I have loved. Not to mention, there is that guitar that bites through the speakers. So smooth.

Layman’s Terms by Boomgateshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p_p0-fo_IA
There are codes we speak in. For a while, hiding desire is fun. Playing hard to get can be cool. But, then sometimes we say what we mean. And we say it as slowly as possible. When those screams come in half way through this song. I know what they are screaming for. And, of course, there are those loud guitars.

Anything Could Happen by The Cleanhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tf1wzg4rdE
Probably my favorite song of the year. Even if it came out in 1981. To imagine music like this existed. The definition of ramshackle. Those guitars that twist and shake their hips. The choice is yours. So make it worthwhile.

Get Thy Bearings by Donovanhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyxfCQG1t4w
Once again. I had no idea. A bass played like silhouette footsteps. A saxophone like cigarette smoke. A voice like a paperback novel. The story of late nights and getting together.

Byegone by Volcano Choirhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp127U0EJoI
One of my favorite genres of music: the comeback song. I enjoy the sound of starting over. Of setting sail and climbing to the mountain’s crest.  The guitars of this song keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you know what they are saying: He’s a legend. I’m a legend.

Grown Up by Danny Brownhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOmsU91AxVg
If most of my favorite songs are about the comeback story. Then I love this song simply because it is about delivering on the promise of youth. The coming of age story. This song is pure swagger.

Suki by Unresthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkNj28UZ_GQ
The sound of caffeine. Lyrics edited down to their sharpest point. It’s not having little to say. It’s having one thing to say and saying it until you get it right. It keeps repeating because it deserves to be repeated.

I’m Under your Spell by Mind & Matterhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HMSO_i5gUs
Love songs like this will always be a favorite. No pretense. Just a groove like magic. And flawless harmonies.

Skyscraper by Sea and Cake: (no video)
I don’t even know how to talk about this song. If I were to try I would say that the guitars sprint at the perfect pace. The vocals hiss like steam above the noise. The lyrics sing about wanting the impossible because it’s better. And I agree.

The entire album by The Super Eagles titled Senegambian Sensation
Example song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbCsaRSgxTI
This whole album captivated me without explanation. Everything works together so perfectly. The drums steal the show just as often as the guitar work. There is emotion in the vocals. Nothing boring or tiring about this. Just  a thrill.

Paper Trails by Darkside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZVPHzsRp_o
The sound of a bonfire under mountain stars. Almost cold. Almost sensual. I love the way the guitar is reinvented by Darkside. Equal parts blues and reverb synth sounds. This song mixes in those deep, clove cigarette vocals with enough empty space that every stab at the guitar or arpeggiator feels like a risk. Who didn’t tell you? There is danger and comfort in watching a house burn.

Cadillac Desert by William Tyler http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YszpE1vff0
Again. A guitar sounding purposeful in 2013. Of course it reminds you of John Fahey or Trace Bundy. But there is a nuance to the instrumentation here. Brass and glockenspiel create a sense of distance. And then the guitar does the walking. The sound of returning from exile. But a personal exile. The distance we create for ourselves between us and the world. The distance required to meditate on who we are. And why we are.

Vermeer 65 by the Walkmen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goZZ5Q_eibs
The Walkmen have been recording the sound of victory on their last two albums. This song, with its ever-descending chords and head-held-high chorus seems to wipe the blood off its knuckles with a laugh. On December 31st what else is there to say? Another year and we haven’t said good bye yet. Laughing at the tops of our lungs.

Hannah Hunt by Vampire Weekend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOwFLTwvXHc
Without a doubt. The lyrical triumph of the year. Maybe of a few years. A song that operates like a short story. Employing Hemingway’s theory of the Iceberg. Giving us only the spare details. But, then again, isn’t this all life gives us? A few clues. A couple guesses. Those passing insights into the person we love. We are still guessing. Can we trust those that we love? What is going on behind those eyes of yours, dear? We keep our cool for only so long. As this song explodes into debris and frustration. It’s familiar terrain. The fights we have in the name of love. The various ways that love can leave us speechless.

Too Hard by Kurt Vilehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31qMWqJ1xM8
“There comes a time when a man has to take hold of the matter at hand.” That lyric. It makes sense in the year 2013. I keep reading articles telling me what it means to be a man. How the idea of man has changed. Really. The idea of gender doesn’t mean as much as it once did. But, if I am a man. I know it from my ability to be responsible for what needs to be done. Honor in getting the job done. But this song is about more than just that. It is about doing your personal best. It’s about realizing that the world is “a ball of beauty that makes you wanna just cry.” As I look forward to the new year. It’s true. This world is still better than I ever could have imagined. It still surprises me. And I still surprise myself.

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~ by Vince Bauters on December. 23. 2013.

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