Until Matt posted his list, the three of us were banging our heads together and trying to create some new tunes for all of you. All we ended up with were bruises on our foreheads and awful migraines. These songs helped make the ringing in my ears stop though. Here’s a non-best-songs-of-the-year mix for you!
Download these songs separately in the Jukebox widget to your right, or get the whole bunch together here!
1. “Tin Man” By Future Islands (From In Evening Air, out now on Thrill Jockey Records) – I will admit that what drew me to this song initially was the fantastic video that supports it (check it out among our uploaded videos to your right). But Future Islands — a synthpop outfit from Baltimore — employs steel-drum samples, jungle drums and Sam Herring’s growling, passionate vocals to perfection in this tune about finding the heart to forgive.
2. “Hello, Dali” By Morningbell (From Sincerely, Severely, out now on Orange Records) – The dramatic swells of strings that begin this ditty from Morningbell, a psychadelic rock band from Gainesville, Florida, are a bit misleading. The Prince-like falsetto are yet another element that takes this song from point A to point B on a very crooked line. But somehow, it’s all wonderfully cohesive.
3. “What To Say” By Born Ruffians (From Say It, out June 1 on Warp Limited Records) – Born Ruffians slow things down on this soulful track from their forthcoming sophomore album. It’s so funky, just get lost in it. Plus, I love these lines that begin the song: “When I wake up I’m speaking slow. When I get drunk I’m speaking more. Get too drunk and I don’t speak at all. Get too close to you and I don’t know…” guess the rest.
4. “Ghost Pressure” By Wolf Parade (From Expo 86, out June 29 on Sub Pop) – I’m fairly certain why Wolf Parade’s new record, dropping this summer, is called Expo 86. Because if it contains songs like this one, it will be fairly akin to taking a time machine back to the decade of Regan, oil spills and A Flock of Seagulls. With it’s synthbeats and fuzzed out guitar creating drama, this one has me excited for a ride in the band’s musical Delorean this summer.
5. “Hurricane J” By The Hold Steady (From Heaven Is Whenever, out now on Vagrant Records) – What happens when you cover a “garage-rock” band in a warm blanket of studio production? Sure, you lose some of the edge that made The Hold Steady so compelling, but you also get bigger, brighter songs that sound like they could be played in that fancy three-car garage your suburbanite friend’s parents own. That’s a compliment…
6. “Fresh” By Devo (From Something For Everybody, out June 15 on Warner) – Am I the only one that’s excited for Mark Mothersbaugh and the gang’s return to post-“Whip It” relevance? This song makes me nostalgic for a time I don’t even remember all that well (see reference to the 80’s from earlier in this post for evidence).
7. “Pow Pow” By LCD Soundsystem (From This Is Happening, out May 18 on DFA) – The two things that have always separated James Murphy’s brand of dance-rock from everyone else’s are A) Attitude and B) Heart. This song has plenty to spare from column A and the beats combined with the spacier elements give me all I need from column B. It’s 8 minutes and 25 seconds of cool. It’ll make you laugh, too.
8. “Next Girl” By The Black Keys (From Brothers, out May 18 0n Nonesuch Records) – If the song I first heard from The Black Keys new record (“Everlasting Light,” as heard on our kickass radio show) and this one are any indication, Brothers will be a magical return to form for this Akron duo.
9. “Party With Children” By Ratatat (From LP4, out June 8 on XL) – One of the best instrumental bands around tries some new things out. Still unmistakably Ratatat, however. Listen to hear what I mean. Got that?
10. “Lowiza” By The Lovely Feathers (From Fantasy of the Lot, out now on Love Your Diary Records) – I first heard The Lovely Feathers when they were geekily screaming about Pope John Paul II being from Krakow, Poland way back in 2006. Since then, they’ve discovered song structure and written lyrics about — as best I can tell — poor sexual performance. Both have only made this quirky band better.
11. “Sea Song” By A Mourning Rain (From Neither He Who Plants Nor He Who Waters Is Anything, out now, self-released) – It’s always nice when you get to meet people who make music you like. Such was the case when I met Corey Wood from A Mourning Rain after the band’s recent performance at a benefit in Columbus, OH. The group is from Louisville, and they seem to me to be very cool people. Check out this little sea-faring ditty.
12. “Red, Red” By Doug Burr (From O Ye Devastator, out now on Velvet Blue Music/Spune) – Doug Burr is a gifted folk singer/songwriter, and this is the first single from his newest album. Think Iron & Wine, or The Low Anthem, or Bright Eyes. This song is really beautiful, and you should check it out.
13. “Little Beam” By You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown (From You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown, out now, self-released) – I don’t know a whole lot about You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown. They’re from Portugal, and I randomly stumbled across their self-titled EP and pictured myself at a concert tapping my toes and swaying along to the clacking drumbeat and whistling keyboards. You know, if I could afford to travel overseas.
14. “Albert” By Indianola (From Two Day, out now on Trailer Fire Records) – I posted this song awhile back and admitted that the duo who make up this band — John Atzberger and Patrick Bourland — are friends of mine from high school. Haven’t spoken to either of them in quite awhile, but I know they made some kickass tunes together. John is now a solo act, known as Olentangy John, and he recently played at the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, OH. Mandolin and guitar and fun for the whole family. I love this song.
15. “Take Me To A Higher Plane” By Kate Nash (From My Best Friend Is You, out now on Polydor Ltd.) – I’m a sucker for the girlie cuteness, the violins and the jangly guitar contained in this song.
16. “Tall Shoulders” By Lille (From Tall Shoulders EP, out June 22 on Whaleheart) – Grace Bellury is 18, she’s from Atlanta, and she’s releasing an EP later this summer. She strums the mandolin and sings like the wind on top of a sparse piano melody here.
17. “The Last Beat of My Heart” By DeVotchka (From Curse Your Little Heart, out now on Ace Fu Records) – Once I heard DeVotchka’s compositions for the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack, I backtracked through Nick Urata and co’s previous work. Curse Your Little Heart is an EP composed mainly of covers, such as this one. It’s a stirring and beautiful take on a song of the same name by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
18. “Belly of June” By Horse Feathers (From Thistled Spring, out now on Kill Rock Stars) – Matt and I saw Horse Feathers play some stuff from their new album at a show a couple of months back. I don’t remember this song being part of the setlist, but it’s got the same pretty guitar, orchestral touches and softly-sung vocals that have become the band’s spectabulous trademark (Trying that word out).