Still Trying

I haven’t felt terribly moved to write about anything recently. It took this Nathaniel Rateliff video and how it peeled back some things like onions (and it was definitely onions) to make me want to say anything. Credit to Adam for sharing.

Sometimes the simplest arrangement of music or feelings is the most powerful or moving and this song captures some of that. We can cast stones, whisper wishes to the heavens, or wistfully sigh when different things arise and none of that affects anything, even when we want to believe otherwise.

I had a disconcerting dream last night. It was a nightmare and wish at the same time. It was a terrible dream in that I was dying; it was a wonderful dream because she loved me. It was the hot breath and cold air playing a duet staged by the air. It was the time and distance reinforcing thoughts. It was certainty and uncertainty playing with my mind, wounding me with the hope that it might work, but not seeing it through.

I wish that there was an opportunity to tell her, but those moments escape.

I’m left still trying.

Favorite Albums of 2013

There’s a simple threshold for my favorite albums of the year: did I spend any time obsessing over the album (i.e. repeated listens, telling anyone who would listen that this album is great, etc.)? These are the albums that met that threshold and I made note of.

Three albums stood out more than the rest to me: White Lighter, Tender Madness, and The Bones of What You Believe. Those were my favorites (in that particular order). I think I wrote about a quarter songs of White Lighter individually (including the time I hiked several miles up to a reservoir listening to it), Tender Madness houses 2 of my favorite tracks of the year, and CHVRCHES might be the one with the most tracks I listen to on a regular basis.

Links are to iTunes. Photo credit to Jon Bilous. Enjoy and happy new year.

Favorite Songs of 2013

I think you can group my favorite songs of 2013 into two groups: those for being in your mid-twenties and those for trying to forget you’re that age.

Some general notes: the list is compiled over the course of the year where I literally write down songs that impress me. I peek at lists of a few people I respect but I try to avoid groupthink. The list this year is dominated by indie pop and electropop. There is a smattering of folk, rock, and mainstream country.

I don’t think there were any major shifts this year in music. Pop was dominated by men for the first time in awhile (until the late part of the year). The cult of personality surrounding Beyonce is still strong. Digital is still growing, physical is dying as we’ve known it. The vinyl revival is strengthening. Perhaps the Mumford and Sons/Lumineers influence is waning. I might expand on some of this when I visit my favorite albums of 2013.

With all that said, if I have to pick out a personal favorite out of all the songs that I heard this year, I would pick PAPA’s If You’re My Girl, Then I’m Your Man. There’s Springsteen in there and I’ll make no secret that I love Springsteen.

The list is in alphabetical order. I’ve bolded the songs that are the favorites of the favorites for me. Most of the songs are in the Soundcloud player below (there are exceptions and I recommend that you check the songs not available via Soundcloud out as well). Enjoy.

  • Aloe Blacc – The Man
  • Banks – Before I Ever Met You
  • Blood Cultures – Indian Summer
  • Callahan – Obliv.
  • CHVRCHES – Tether
  • Dierks Bentley – I Hold On
  • ECSTASY – Exhale
  • Eli Young Band – Drunk Last Night
  • Empire of the Sun – Concert Pitch
  • Florida Georgia Line – Get Your Shine On
  • FMLYBND – Electricity
  • Fryars – On Your Own
  • Great Good Fine OK – You’re the One For Me
  • Les Enfants – Celeste
  • Little May – Hide
  • Local Natives – Mt. Washington
  • Lorde – Tennis Court
  • Magic Man – Texas
  • Mikky Ekko – Disappear
  • Nathaniel Rateliff – Still Trying
  • Night Beds – Head For The Hills
  • PAPA – If You’re My Girl, Then I’m Your Man
  • PAPA – Young Rut
  • Phosphorescent – Song For Zula
  • Sacco – Carnival Ghost
  • Scotty McCreery – See You Tonight
  • Step Rockets – Kisser
  • The Colourist – Little Games (St. Lucia Remix)
  • The Fine Machines – Alton Levy
  • The Local Strangers – Uptown
  • The Royal Concept – World on Fire
  • The Youth and Young – Blanket
  • Tyler Lyle – Ithaca
  • Typhoon – Prosthetic Love
  • Volcano Choir – Byegone

Southern – “World Don’t Shine”

2013 may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean there is any lack of good new music coming out. On December 9, a new duo worthy of some serious attention welcomed the official release of their debut self-titled EP. Dubbed as a brother-sister combo “poised to become the next big sibling superstars” by The Guardian’s Paul Lester, Southern is comprised of Thom and Lucy Southern, both of whom contribute vocals and play guitar on their forthcoming self-titled release. Currently based in Liverpool and signed to Marathon Records, Southern are notable for the bluesy riffs and fitting vocal harmonies that stream easily from one track to the next. On “World Don’t Shine,” Southern match irresistible recurring riffs with haunting vocals that recognize when to soar and alternately when to ease away and let the guitar do the talking.

With a music video for “World Don’t Shine” already out and a few final days away from the official release of the EP, Southern is shaping up to be a band to watch in the new year. Check out their music video above and be sure to investigate the band further on their Facebook and SoundCloud pages.