I bet you have no idea who these guys are…but you should! (Twenty-One Pilots)
Another year, come & gone. And MAN was there a LOT of music!!! I spent a lot of time and a LOT of money on the iTunes, downloading and loving all the new music that is available these days. I remember when I would have to spend hours at the local record store, scouring albums, CD’s or cassettes (dating myself there, ain’t I?), frantically looking for the hottest new tunes. Nowadays, it’s as simple as a mouse click. Unfortunately, it’s also that easy to SPEND a lot of money…dammit. Anyway, without further adieu, here are MY personal favorites from the past year. Are they the HOTTEST SONGS according to Billboard? No. Did they sell a gazillion copies? Uh…no. But these are the songs that found themselves in constant rotation on my iPhone, iPad, Mac and whatever other freakin’ Apple product I got laying around…
40. Until The Ribbon Breaks – “Pressure”
“There’s a riot in the town, a wolf at the door.
Pressure, pressure, poison at the core.
Quick storm coming, god save the queen.
Wake up from your dream.
There’s a riot in the town, smoke in your lungs,
Pressure, pressure, blocking out the sun.
Send me down a rope, lost out to sea
Trouble now coming, coming for me.”
39. Blue October – “Sway”
“I only wanna dance with you
Every time I try
We only get an hour or so
It’s time to get personal
We’ve got these times of our lives
Lets take this time to let it show
these are ours.”
(Other featured tracks off the album “Sway”: Bleed Out, Things We Don’t Know About)
38. Keith Urban – “Somewhere In My Car”
With country music you usually get 2 types of songs…ones that deal with love and those that deal with heartbreak. This one is a heartbreaker. But Urban is a pretty damn good guitarist in his own right and this one has moments where it really rocks. And I like the visuals that go with this one. We’ve all been there and this brings back some painful memories…“So, I’ve been sleeping til noon in the same bedroom
Where I once held you and its breaking my heart
I should take down all those pictures from my wall
Promises we made won’t fill this empty space.”
(Other featured tracks off the album “Fuse”: Cop Car, Lucky Charm, Even The Stars Fall 4 U)
37. Kings Of Leon – “Wait For Me”
I have to admit, I wasn’t all that impressed with the Kings latest outing, “Mechanical Bull.” But their last 2 or 3 albums have been SO DAMN GOOD that they were due for a slight letdown. That being said, I loved this track as an early release and I still find myself swaying to it whenever it finds its way into my ears…
36. U2 – “Ordinary Love”
It’s about time! It’s been 3 long years since the end of the 360 Tour and Bono & Co. have given us nothing but memories from that great show! Now…I want more! And finally it happened. Featured on the “Mandela – Long Walk To Freedom” soundtrack, this isn’t their best song but it IS very much a U2 song. Bono’s vocals, The Edge’s guitar work. It’s all in place here and I love it!
35. OneRepublic – “Counting Stars”
Despite the fact that pop radio has worn this one out, I found it WAY before it was being abused and loved it from the beginning. Now? I’m tired of it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that in a couple of years, whenever I hear it on the radio, I’ll turn it up and love it all over again.
34. AWOLNATION – “Burn It Down”
With an album called “Megalithic Symphony,” you expect bombastic rock and this song gives you that in spades! A great workout song that will keep ya moving til your legs give out!
33. Washed Out – “All I Know”
This song is all glittery and soft, it makes you wanna take a nap. And then, in your dreams, you will dream about kittens and clouds and pretty rainbows. And then when you wake? You’ll be refreshed and ready to start your day. Weird? Maybe. But it’s oh so good….
32. Sky Ferreira – “24 Hours”
“If this is new
Just can deal with it
In a way you could say
I was always the same
Hopeful for a while,
Lost in denial
I wish this could last forever.”
31. Thomas Rhett – “It Goes Like This”
Another country song? Well…when my daughter tells me she loves a song and I listen to it over & over again, I tend to start to appreciate what she likes about it. Although this song isn’t anything different than most songs that Nashville is putting out these days, it gets an added boost for a pretty good hook and it gets Ava’s thumbs up so….for those 2 reasons….it makes the list!
30. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Let The Day Begin”
“Here’s to the babies in a brand new world
Here’s to the beauty of the stars
Here’s to the travellers on the open road
Here’s to the dreamers in the bars
Here’s to the teachers in the crowded rooms
Here’s to the workers in the fields
Here’s to the preachers of the sacred words
Here’s to the drivers at the wheel
Here’s to you my little love
Let the day begin
Here’s to you my little love with blessings from above
Let the day begin”
29. Atlas Genius – “Symptoms”
Straight outta south Australia, this alt-pop band knows a good hook when it plays it! I like how simple this song is and it sports some great lyrics as well!
“So we soldier on, with burning feet we run.
And here our bodies lay with our own road so far away.
Water cool these bones down, it’s so hot.
Waves can break these feelings like they’re not.”
28. Serengeti – “Directions”
A friend recommended this and I was hooked! A rapper out of Chicago, he dabbles in all sorts of musical genres and has said that he considers most modern rap to be depressing. So…he gives us his album “Kenny Dennis LP” this year. This is a pretty good track but the lyrics get a little nonsensical at the end…LOL
“You go right, you go right
You go left, you go right
You go right, you go right
You go left, you go right
Go right, go left
Go right, go right
You go right, you go left
You go left, you go right
You go left, you go right
You go right, you go left
You go up, you go down
You go left, you go right
You go left, you go up
And then down, and then left, a left………”
(Other featured tracks off the album: Laser Tag, Bang Em)
27. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young”
A bouncy, noisy jaunt of a song with so many twists and turns it’s like riding a roller coaster. Rolling Stone picked the album “Modern Vampires Of The City” as their album of the year. I don’t think it’s as good as their previous albums but…whatever. THIS track IS awesome!
“Nobody knows what the future holds
And it’s bad enough just getting old
Live my life in self-defense
You know I love the past, ’cause I hate suspense…
If Diane Young won’t change your mind,
Baby, baby, baby, baby right on time”
26. Bad Suns – “Salt”
I can’t deny it…I’m a pop music junky. I’ve tried to get away from it but I was raised on it so…I gotta go with what feels good. And this song just FEELS good! It’s infectious with its beat and bounce and I’ve been listening to it for a couple days now (released December 17).
25. The 1975 – “Girls”
Yeah, yeah…I know…ANOTHER pop nugget? Geez…MAN UP! But…it’s just…SO DAMN GOOD! I crank this song when it’s on in my car! It’s amazing to me that I haven’t heard this on the radio. Seriously…why do we have to suffer through the same 12 songs over & over when there is such good pop tunes out there these days? I don’t get it…
Better do what they tell ya.
24. Pearl Jam – “Mind Your Manners”
Oh yeah…the BOYS ARE BACK! With another outstanding release, this was the first initial track that was put out there and DAMN! It rocks!!! And these lyrics? A+.
“I caught myself believin’
That I needed God
And if it’s hard for some
We sure could use it now
Try my patience
My patience tried
This world’s no longer good enough
That makes me wanna cry.”
23. White Lies – “Goldmine”
Remember the 1980’s? Yeah…so do I. And so does Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown. Who are they, you ask? They ARE White Lies. Hailing from Ealing, London, this band regularly makes an appearance in my favorites of the year. They’re very much a throwback to Depeche Mode and some of the great bands of that era!
22. Clutch – “Cyborg Betty”
Straight out rock. There’s no other way to describe it. Loud, bluesy and rockin’. Oh…and the lyrics kick ass!
You done me
Wrong for the last time
I got a new girl
The latest model
And she’s mine oh mine
21. The Neighborhood – “Sweater Weather”
Straight up, the sexiest song of this past year. You can list all the R. Kelly crap that you want, but the imagery in this track is as sexy as ANYTHING that came out. It got a little radio play here in Cincinnati but not what it deserved…
“And if I may just take your breath away
I don’t mind if there’s not much to say
Sometimes the silence guides our minds
So move to a place so far away
The goose bumps start to raise
The minute that my left hand meets your waist
And then I watch your face
Put my finger on your tongue
‘Cause you love to taste, yeah”
20. Boston – “Life, Love & Hope”
Remember the little story I told up at the top of me sorting through albums and CD’s and cassettes? yeah…THIS band takes me back to those days. Unfortunately the voice of the band, Brad Delp, passed away in 2007. Fortunately for us, he DID sing some tracks on the latest album. This song is the best on the album and reminds me of Boston in their heyday. A classic band with a classic sound. I love it!
19. Justin Timberlake – “Drink You Away”
I dunno about you…but I’m a JT fan. That being said, this year was a little much. How can you have too much Justin Timberlake? Well…release 2 albums of music that include several songs that clock in over 8 minutes each, plaster your face all over television, star in a couple of movies, and have several of your songs played non-stop all year long on pop radio. There were some high points though: the MTV VMA’s were pretty cool, I hear “Inside Llewyn Davis” is excellent and then there was THIS song. Not saying I didn’t like his other stuff but…maybe next time he will hire some producers that know how to show some restraint. A 4 minute song CAN be just as good as one that rambles on for 9. Just sayin’…
(Other tracks to sample off either of his 2 albums: Suit & Tie, Blue Ocean Floor, True Blood, Only When I Walk Away)
18. Rick Springfield featuring Dave Grohl & others – “The Man That Never Was”
If you haven’t seen “Sound City” yet…you should. And if you haven’t listened to the last album by Rick Springfield called “Songs For The End Of The World,” you should. And if you’ve never heard this track featuring Dave Grohl and several other rockers? Shame on you.
17. Santigold – “Shooting Arrows At The Sky”
Featured on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack, this is a diamond in the rough for me. I’ve always appreciated Santigold but this is the first track by her that I think really connected for me. Not sure why but it is what it is and this is a great song!
16. Ha Ha Tonka – “Colorful Kids”
I find this song to be depressing…but in a really good way. It’s got a pop sensibility to it but the lyrics? Well…YOU decide…
“That’s just the way it is
Even the colorful kids eventually will fade
Into the black and white come out
The other side the early shade of grey.
I see me as I was, you as you were
Me as I was, you as you were
Before the color began to bleed out of us.”
15. Lydia – “The Exit”
Straight outta the desert heat, this band from Gilbert, AZ has been together since high school and have developed a fan base mostly from their appearances at Vans Warped Tour and The Bamboozle Festival. This song is super smooth with Leighton Antelman’s cool vocals and a tinge of 90’s retro. I dig this track a lot!
14. The Student Teachers – “Channel 13”
Ok, ok…The Student Teachers aren’t really a modern band. They were actually around in the late 70’s that played in clubs like CBGB and opened for Blondie, Iggy Pop & The Jerks. So you can probably imagine the sound of this short-lived band. Although I bought the entire album, this is the song I keep coming back to. It could have easily been featured in a John Hughes film! Most of the tracks have only been released on vinyl so there is a simplicity to their sound that I find refreshing…
13. Phantogram – “Fall In Love”
Ya know that simplicity that I liked about The Student Teachers? Yeah…well it’s exactly the opposite in regards to Phantogram. Layer upon layer in this particular track with overdubs & underdubs galore! But damn it sounds sweet!!
12. Bear Hands – “Giants”
Pick up the perfect card
Slip into smiling wildly
After the rest have gone
We become beyond timeless
Give you everything that I have ever owned
Soon I will have bought us up a house and home
Up on the seventh floor
I know you love me, I am loving you more
11. Tegan & Sara – “Love They Say”
I know…I know…”Closer” was the pick hit off this excellent new album by everyone’s favorite sister duo…but I don’t care. If there is anything that can be said about this track, it’s that it is a perfectly concocted pop song. And I love me a good pop song. It’s about love. And it’s sweet and classy and I love it!
Still angry after all these years…
10. Eminem – “Berzerk” OR “Love Game”
Okay…once again I’m changing the rules. Here’s the deal…I really dig the new Marshall Mathers album and so there are PLENTY of great tracks here. That being said…”Berzerk” is the only one that I have that isn’t littered with vulgarity and some pretty angry lyrics. So I am going to go with BOTH of these songs simply because I equally dig “Love Game,” with its “Game Of Love” sample and Kendrick Lamar highlight!
9. The Colourist – “Fix This”
I’ll be curious to see what this band does in the future. Right now they’re on a whirlwind tour with anybody from Metric to Panic At The Disco but they managed to squeeze out a 4 song EP this past summer and every song was worthy of a listen! This song is my favorite of them all though…
8. They Might Be Giants – “You’re On Fire”
One funky jam. What it means? I have no idea…
Hi, I forgot your name
My point is
Hi, your head’s on fire Oh damn, you must’ve got one of them
I read an article all about them You’re on fire
You’re on fire
I won’t lie
You’re on fire
7. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know”
It was only a matter of time until this English alt-rock band caught an audience and got a hit. And this was it! A slow, methodical backbeat that slowly works its way into your head. This one is a classic!
(Other featured tracks off the album “AM”: Download the whole thing. It’s great!)
6. Reliant K – “Gloria”
One of my favorite albums this year was from this band from northern Ohio. Despite being around a while, I have never really bothered listening to Reliant K until I stumbled across their new album back in July and it was stuck on repeat through most of the fall. “Gloria” is my favorite track but there are several to choose from!
(Other featured tracks off the album”Collapsible Lung”: Boomarang, PTL, Can’t Complain)
5. Victory – “Play It”
Featured in a car commercial last winter, I was instantly taken in by the catchy beat and the lyrics! My favorite pure pop song of the year! And ya gotta love the 80’s throwback video that goes with it! LOL
4. HAIM – “If I Could Change Your Mind”
Speaking of the 80’s, I played this track from this all-sister band from Los Angeles for my wife and she said…”It sounds like it’s from the 80’s.” So….there ya go. Once again my love for all things 80’s strikes. This one sounds like a Fleetwood Mac track from their 1987 album “Tango In The Night.” 1987 is also the year I graduated from high school. So…there ya go.
3. The Boxer Rebellion – “Keep Moving”
Initially I fell in love with their song “Diamonds.” Then, after they released their album “Promises,” I couldn’t help but be moved by the lyrics of this song along with it’s soaring vocals a la U2.
(Other featured tracks off the album “Promises”: Diamonds, Take Me Back)
2. Boy & Bear – “Southern Sun”
Do ya like Gordon Lightfoot? Ok…how about a cross between Lightfoot & The Shins? Well…that’s what this song kind of reminds me of. Anyway…Wikipedia lists them as indie rock-folk music. I’ll go along with that. Here’s a sampling of the lyrics…
In all you’ve seen
Was it that came down on me that night
A conjuring, I held on to that moment and lie
Just to make it aliveI stood out there in the covering
In the baskings of a holy night
Oh I was lucid and conscious
And hovering like a firefly
My mind stretched out on the canopy
It put its arms out slow
I heard the whispers of silence
Floating down from the radio
1. Twenty-One Pilots – “Holding Onto You”
Not even gonna bother with a favorite albums post this year because there wasn’t anything close to “Vessel”, Twenty-One Pilots’ awesome initial release with Atlantic Records. Despite having a couple other albums and an EP, this album from this Columbus band was exactly what I was needing this year. It’s a cross of rap and rock, thought-provoking lyrics and lots of energy. So many great songs on this album but this was the one that grabbed me initially and so I’m gonna stick with it. However I will say, there’s a case to be made for “Migraine,” “Guns For hands” & “Screen.” Anyway…this song was a big hit on alternative radio and it is the reason I bought the album. It is my favorite album of 2013 and this song is Twenty-One Pilots at their best!