Sunday, January 3, 2016

50 Favorite Songs of 2015

Hello friends, another year has come and gone and it's time for my annual version of The Tremagazine Favorite Songs of the year. I went about this a little bit differently this year as I setup a playlist back in January and then tried to filter songs into it throughout the year, some made the final cut and others dropped out along the way. Over the last month or so I’ve dug deeper into lists from friends or others I’ve seen online and found some more songs that I may have missed over the year.

With each song posted, I'll list some of my favorite lyrics along with some personal thoughts on the song and/or artist, if I got to see that band this year I'll be sure to mention a note about the show. Once again, I've added a spotify playlist so those of you that use it can just stream the songs in one place.

For those of you that have read through these lists previously, I hope you enjoy as much as before. For the newcomers, I hope you find something in here that you like and will stop by again in 2016. In no particular order, here are my fifty favorite songs of 2015, enjoy.

"Love Like Ghosts" - Lord Huron

Lord Huron's album Strange Trails came out early in the year but I found it in constant rotation right up to 2016. This was definitely one of my favorites of 2015 and hard to narrow down the tracks I loved most. It's rare nowadays to buy an album and let it run through but this is one of those that is enjoyable from start to finish. I got to see them perform at Terminal 5 this year and had a great time at the show. Highly recommend not only this album but their previous work as well.

I don't feel it 'til it hurts sometimes
So go on baby, hurt me tonight.
I want ours to be an endless song.
Baby, in my eyes you do no wrong.

"In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)" - My Morning Jacket

Another favorite album from 2015, My Morning Jacket's The Waterfall had a bunch of songs that could have made this list. I always enjoy MMJ's studio work but their songs take on a new life whenever I see them live. I got the chance to see them a few times this year, both in a club and festival setting and they are one of the few bands that just puts on an "A" show every time I've seen them. The new tracks sounded even better than I would have imagined and this was ones that stood out to me.

Again I stop the waterfall by simply thinking
Again I stop the waterfall before my breathing
Again I stop the waterfall by finally feeling
Again I stop the waterfall by just believing

"New Skin" - Torres

Throughout this list there are many artists that I just heard for the first time this year, Torres would fall into that category. This track was the one that jumped out at me and reminded me of something I listened to back in the 90s. I've yet to see her live but I love this clip of her below, you get a real sense in the passion that's behind her lyrics.

The darkness fears
What darkness knows
But if you’ve never known the darkness
Then you’re the one who fears the most

"No, No, No" - Beirut

I'm a big fan of this band, chances are if they've put out an album in a given year at least one of the songs will find it's way to this list. Lead singer Zach Condon seems to consistently surround himself with talented musicians which was one of the reasons I chose this live clip to share. I've seen Beirut numerous times and highly recommend checking them out if you get the chance.

Don't know the first thing about who you are
My heart is waiting, taken in from the start
If we don't go now, we won't get very far
Don't know the first thing about who you are

"Right On Time" - Dawes

I've written numerous times about Dawes, one of my favorite bands that have come out in recent years. From other lists I've seen, it seems like the song that everyone loves off their latest release is "All Your Favorite Bands" featuring cameos from other artists like Matt Vazquez (Delta Spirit), John McCauley (Deer Tick), Brandon Flowers (The Killers) and My Morning Jacket. It's indeed a good song but "Right On Time" is the standout track that jumped out to me.

If these walls could talk
I'd defer to the furniture
The piano, the table, the bed that we both sleep in
These constant, silent messengers

"S.O.B." - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were simply my favorite discovery of 2015. I first heard S.O.B. driving down at the Jersey shore over the summer and I raced home to find out more about the band. This whole album is incredible, I had to hold myself back from putting about four songs on this list. If I were ranking a top five songs for the year I'd easily have this in there. A few months ago I got to see the band in Brooklyn and was really impressed with the performance. An extremely tight live band, you can tell they've been at it awhile and are completely in sync with one another. One other thing that struck me was how the entire band is involved in vocals, that's not something you see often. Take a look at the video below and you'll get a sense of how good a live show these guys put on.

I'm gonna need someone to help me
I'm gonna need somebody's hand
I'm gonna need someone to hold me down
I'm gonna need someone to care

"I Got You" - The White Buffalo

I wasn't familiar with White Buffalo until earlier this year when a friend pointed me in his direction. Great voice and some strong songs on this album. Fans of the show Sons of Anarchy are probably familiar with him as I understand his music is featured in several episodes of the show.

But I got you
In my veins, in my blood
I got you
Make me insane and boil my blood
Like there ain't no other love
Hearts aren't always red
They're black and blue
But I got you

"Southern Belles" - Langhorne Slim

I think Langhorne Slim says it best in the video below... "This is a bit of a smoother shuffle, you might feel it in your thighs and perhaps your ass. If you feel it in those places, shake it out."

It's been a while since I've been alright
I try to smile but it just don't come off right

"Went Looking for Warren Zevon's Los Angeles" - Lucero

Lucero has been around for quite awhile now but for some reason I never listened to them much. A coworker of mine is a big fan and I dug into them a bit a few months ago and really enjoyed their latest album. Just seeing Warren Zevon's name in the title made me hope that I'd love this song and I can say that it's my favorite from this release.

Fell in love but the love ran out
At Lucy's El Adobe by the Paramount
Margaritas under black palm trees
I've got time, no one is waiting for me

"Mr. E. Mann" - Titus Andronicus

I don't remember when or how exactly I came across this song earlier this year but it's a damn good rock song. Love the vocals from lead singer Patrick Stickles.

I was crying as I tried to get high
I've been dying all the time to get by
And along came a guy who said "Looking on the bright side's alright
It's alright
It's alright"

"You Don't Care for Me Enough to Cry" - John Moreland

John Moreland is another newcomer to the list this year. If I were to try to narrow down this list to only five songs, this track would have been included. Incredibly powerful song lyrically and one of the most beautiful musically that I heard in 2015. Moreland will head out on tour opening for Jason Isbell overseas early in 2016, that's a hell of a pairing to see live.

And I'm the kind of love it hurts to look at
maybe we should take it as a sign
when I'm strung out on leaving
exhaulting all my demons
and you don't care for me enough to cry

"Palmetto Rose" - Jason Isbell

Speaking of Jason of my favorite albums from 2015, this is the first of two songs that will appear on the list. Over the last few years I've become a huge fan of Jason and especially his live show. I got to see him a couple times in 2015 and was fortunate to make a trip down to Nashville to see him perform in the legendary Ryman Auditorium (if you haven't seen what this place looks like, take a look HERE). Imagine seeing one of your favorite performers in a church, that's the closest I can come to describing it. A phenomenal experience, one of my favorite memories and best shows I saw this year.

At night, after everything closes
I follow my own free will
And I take in my fill
I take in my fill

"River" - Saintseneca

You never quite know how you're going to come across music that appeals to you. I found Saintseneca through a thread on a basketball messageboard that I spend some time on. Liked this song and video a lot and kept it in my rotation most of the year.

"Paul Is Alive" - El Vy

El Vy is a project featuring Matt Berninger from The National with Brent Knopf of Menomena. If you hadn't heard them before but listened to this song, you'd be able to place Berninger's vocals pretty quickly if you are a National fan. This was my favorite track from their 2015 release.

Beatlemania made my mother
Think the way she does
She always said
"Don’t waste your life wishing everything was how it was"

"Hotline Bling" - Drake

One thing you'll find going through this list is that I have a pretty wide range in songs that I listen to. This is one of the catchiest tunes I heard this year, I don't think I've ever skipped it when it comes on my playlist. Drake puts out some absolutely massive hits and Hotline Bling falls into that category.

You should just be yourself
Right now, you're someone else

"The Eye" - Brandi Carlile

One downside to living in a city is that I no longer have my car so I don't get a lot of access to radio. I recently had a rental car for a meeting upstate and got a chance to listen to one of my favorite stations, WFUV. They had a tremendous playlist for my morning drive and one of the songs I heard was this one. I knew some of Brandi Carlile's music but had never heard this one, such a beautiful song. Luckily I was able to find a great live version from WFUV to share with you as well.

I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

"Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas" - Beach Slang

It's too bad that the Grantland website was shutdown earlier this year. I enjoyed reading articles on various subjects and the site introduced me to some writers I've enjoyed following. One of those was Steven Hyden who led me to some great new music this year. Two of the bands that will be featured on this list were his recommendations during the year. I absolutely love this Beach Slang album, reminds me a lot of the last Japandroids album which was a favorite of mine as well. Hoping to see these guys live in 2016.

We are not alone.
We are not mistakes.
Don’t whisper now.
We’re allowed to be loud.

"Ship to Wreck" - Florence + The Machine

I've never gotten the chance to see this band live but every time I see a live video from them it looks like they put on a great show. I love Florence Welch's voice, it's incredible and she has a real knack for being a lead. I love this clip from SNL, we've all seen some poor tv performances as well as some good ones but they knock it out of the park here.

And oh my love remind me, what was it that I did?
Did I drink too much?
Am I losing touch?
Did I build this ship to wreck?

"When You're Smiling and Astride Me" - Father John Misty

I've enjoyed both of Father John Misty's albums to date. Last year I listed "Bored In The USA" as a favorite, which also came off this same album but was released as a single late in 2014. As you can see in the clip below, along with having a great voice, FJM puts on quite the show.

When you're smiling and astride me
I can hardly believe I've found you and I'm terrified by that

"Depreston" - Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett is another newcomer to the list this year. If you've read some other top of 2015 lists, you've probably seen her name mentioned. She seems to be a favorite for many people this year and she's got a great sound. This is my favorite off her album, reminds me of an old Lemonheads song.

If you've got a spare half a million
You could knock it down and start rebuildin'

"Out of the Woods" - Ryan Adams (Taylor Swift cover)

As I'm sure many of you know, earlier this year Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's entire album 1989. I thoroughly enjoyed this whole album, thought there were a bunch of great renditions that Ryan put his hands on. This was the standout track for me and honestly reminded me of something Ryan would have written as an original. The song was co-written by Swift and Jack Antonoff of the band Fun. I thought this was an interesting quote I read on Billboard about what he was aiming for in writing the song: "When I was working on the track, I was thinking a lot about My Morning Jacket," Antonoff continues, "and how everything they do, every sound is louder than the last, and somehow it feels like everything is just fucking massive. And that's the feeling that I went for. It started out big, and then I think the obvious move would have been to do a down chorus, but the idea was to keep pushing."

To move the furniture so we could dance
like we stood a chance
Two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying
Are we out of the woods?

"Pretty Pimpin" - Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is another artist that seems to be popping up on a lot of best of 2015 lists. I've been listening to him for a bit now and his latest album is really good, love this track. One interesting thing about Kurt is that he and Adam Granduciel formed the band The War on Drugs in 2005, both seem to be having quite a bit of success lately, great to see.

I woke up this morning
Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror
Then I laughed and I said, “Oh silly me, that’s just me”

"Fire Away" - Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton has written numerous hits for other artists but finally put out his own album this year. Both Chris and his album have been nominated for numerous awards and rightfully so, this is an excellent album. I had a hard time picking a favorite here, there are several really good songs featured on the album. Not only a talented songwriter, Chris has a fantastic voice. I found a great live clip to share with you, worth giving this one a listen.

Well, I wish I could say
That I’ve never been here before
But you know and I know
That I’ll always come back for more
Your love might be my damnation
But I’ll cry to my grave

"No Room In Frame" - Death Cab For Cutie

I think I've been listening to Death Cab for close to fifteen years but what can I say, they continue to put out good music. Chance are if they put out an album in a given year, I'm going to find at least a few songs I really enjoy.

And how can I stay
In the sun
When the rain flows
All through my veins

"Death with Dignity" - Sufjan Stevens

This might be the most beautiful song I hear all year. Sad, but beautiful.

I forgive you, mother, I can hear you,
And I long to be near you
But every road leads to an end
Yes, every road leads to an end

"My Baby Don't Understand Me" - Natalie Prass

I found out about Natalie Prass earlier this year when she was opening some shows for Ryan Adams. This is another beautiful song, she really has a great voice. Love this stripped down clip I found, so simple and showcases her voice.

He don't understand me anymore
Oh no, my baby don't understand me anymore
Oh, what do you do when that happens?
Where do you go when the only home that you know is with a stranger?

"For No One" - Houndmouth

Houndmouth is a band I've gotten to see a couple times and I've enjoyed their sets. They've got a few songs that I absolutely love and this was my favorite from their latest album.

I'd do it all for you
But I do it for no one
I'd sing a song for you
But I sing for no one

"Take My Love" - The Lone Bellow

A couple of my friends like this band a lot but this was the first time I dove into listening to them. I enjoy the harmonies in this one.

When you told me you can't sleep
Count your sins instead of sheep
Count the ways that you feel weak
But that is not what I see

"Dream Lover" - Destroyer

I had seen Destroyer's name mentioned several times throughout the year with positive things continually written but he was just one of those artists that slipped through the cracks for me. One of my friends had him listed on is favorite songs of 2015 and I gave his album a listen. I was blown away how good this song was. Love the upbeat tempo and use of horns on this track.

Dream lover, I know
Someone's idea of fun
You and me thought in some city
Lovers on the run, lovers on the run

"Here" - Alessia Cara

I first heard this song over the summer, I believe it was on a clip from Jimmy Fallon's show. I was so impressed with her stage presence and confidence.... and then I found out she's only nineteen. Amazing, hell of a voice, I think she's going to be around a long time.

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here oh oh oh
I ask myself what am I doing here?
Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here
And I can't wait till we can break up outta here

"Ansel" - Modest Mouse

Similar to Death Cab, Modest Mouse is a band I've been listening to for years. This track could have come out ten years ago, a classic sound that you'd identify as Modest Mouse on first listen.

I made a mess of myself and the trip on the whole;
My father stayed patient with me, why? I don't know.
You can't know; well, you can't ever really know:
That's the last time I've seen my brother, Ansel.

"Fool For Love" - Lord Huron

Another track from the latest album from Lord Huron, this was probably my favorite track on Strange Trails.

I stare into the endless sky
And I saw a tale of my life go by
I drift into the great unknown
I really don't know where I'm going

"Emily" - San Fermin

San Fermin was another late discovery for me this year. I thought this song was fantastic, reminds me a lot of The National.

And I'm running on empty
Three four five on the steps we arrive
Down down down the rabbithole
Gotta get out of my head tonight

"Homecoming" - Josh Ritter

I have some friends that love Josh Ritter's work but I just started listening to him this year. I found this song about a month ago and added it to my list. It's probably gotten as much play as any song I've added recently. Love the lyrics in this one.

When the oracle spoke to me she was like a roadside song, (Don't go away now)
Do unto others as you would have them do,
Even if in turn they do you wrong, (Hey now)
This town right here is my everything,
Though I've been torn away, (Don't go away now)
It has my heart

"Believe (Nobody Knows)" - My Morning Jacket

Another one from My Morning Jacket's The Waterfall, this is the opening track on the album. Immediately kicks it into high gear right from the opening notes.

Time to roll
The answer floats on by
The farthest shore
Of the mind
Roll the dice that sail the ship
And all the world will open
All in it's time

"A Wonderful Life" - Brian Fallon

This new release is from Brian Fallon, lead singer of the Gaslight Anthem. I've often heard Bruce Springsteen referenced as a major influence to Gaslight and I think you can clearly hear that in this song.

Don't you want a life like we saw on the picture show?
So come on, give me something, come on, keep me up all night

"Church" - Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. is a great talent, I've gotten to see him perform at a couple festivals and thought he was excellent. Usually when I think of his music, I think of a guitar driven song which is why I went with something a little different with this choice. I didn't expect this kind of sound from him but I thought this song was so damn good, actually reminded me a bit of some of Ben Harper's work in the 90s.

I was taught
To be patient
And I was taught
To be kind
But I unwind

Lord, my Lord
I need your helpin' hand

"Noisy Heaven" - Beach Slang

One more from the Beach Slang album I mentioned earlier in the list. There are so many good songs on this album but you can rip through the whole thing in about 45 minutes. No fluff, just great rock songs.

Our heads are blurry
Our hearts are sharp things
I bet on you
To make me nervous
To stay dangerous
Good love is not safe

The night is alive, it's loud, and I'm drunk

"Smooth Sailin" - Leon Bridges

Another favorite discovery in 2015, what a great year Leon Bridges had capped off by a recent appearance as the musical guest on SNL. I saw him very early in the year opening a show in Brooklyn for Sharon Van Etten (great show by the way). This is a fantastic album, absolutely worth a listen if you like the way this one sounds. Bridges has a throwback sound and I can assure you he sounds just as good live as on the recorded versions, probably better.

Said I like the way (like the way)
Said I like the way (like the way)
You sail your ship down
Let me be your cargo

I won't wear you down
No honey I won't

Wear you down

"Tiger By The Tail" - Matthew Good

I've been a fan of Matthew Good's work since the late 90s, he's written some of my favorite songs of all-time. This track is from his latest album released this year.

Hurt flying high
you know how this ends
we just fall away

"Friends" - City & Colour

Dalla Green probably has one of the greatest voices in music today. I'm always excited to hear his latest work and I thought this was a beautiful song from his current album, both lyrically and musically.

Still I wait for all the words of happiness
Still I wait for all the words of jubilation
I will hope for just an ounce of confidence
To offer myself some sort of congratulations

"I've Been Failing" - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

One more from the Rateliff album, I can't recommend listening to this album in it's entirety strongly enough. The first time I heard this song the only thing that came to my mind was: Van Morrison. Couldn't this have been a Morrison song released on Moondance or Astral Weeks?

Now that all seems dark and light has gone away
I’ve been out there bending in the wind
Now I’m standing here to be beside you
And for all I know and all I care

I said don’t you weep and don’t you worry

"Something Soon" - Car Seat Headrest

This was another recommendation from Steven Hyden (who I mentioned earlier in the Beach Slang writeup). Probably the strangest video I'll post in this list but the song is great.

I was referring to the present in past tense
it was the only way that I could survive it
I want to close my head in the car door
I want to sing this song like I'm dying

"Hudson Commodore" - Jason Isbell

One more from Jason Isbell's 2015 release, another solid album from start to finish, recommend picking this one up.

She just wanted to ride in a Delahaye 135
She just wanted to ride in a Hudson Commodore
No need to worry anymore

"This Must Be The Place" - Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell

Earlier this year, Sam Beam (I&W) and Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) put out this great album of covers. I haven't seen it listed on one list but I thought it had some excellent takes on some classic songs. Sam and Ben's voices blended together perfectly, these songs sound great. I love the original version by the Talking Heads and I thought this was fantastic as well. Here's a great clip from Newport Folk Festival.

Ah, We got plenty of time
Ah, You got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money, always for love
Cover up and say goodnight, say goodnight

"How Much Light" - Ryan Adams

Throughout the year, Ryan Adams is known to release EPs that are easy to miss if you're not paying attention. He issued a few this year and I thought this was one of the better songs he put out in 2015.

All my life i've been searching for someone and
I could never get it right
I could never get it right
I've never seen so much light

"Shock Me" - Baroness

This album was released very late in the year so most Best of 2015 lists didn't feature anything from Baroness. This is why in my opinion it's worth waiting until December wraps up, this is one of my favorite songs on the whole list. A little heavier than most stuff I've listed above but this album is awesome, one of the better ones put out this year.

But good fortune never was shinning on me
The way it shone on you
Shock me, I needed a surprise
Shock me, I needed a surprise

"Don't Wanna Fight" - Alabama Shakes

The Shakes continue to put out good music, Brittany Howard's voice sounds as good as ever here. Love seeing these guys live when I get the chance, a great show.

Take from my hand
Put in your hands
The fruit of all my grief
Lying down ain't easy when
Everyone is pleasing
I can't get no relief

"Lights On" - Big Grams

Big Grams is a collaboration of Big Boi (Outkast) and Phantogram. This album has some really catchy songs, this was the one that I kept coming back to.

When the bars say stop, when the bars all start to close
And it gets dark outside and I can't find my way home
I hope you keep your lights on for me
I hope you keep your lights on for me

"I Love You All The Time" - My Morning Jacket (Eagles of Death Metal cover)

This is the only song I intentionally placed on this list, I wanted this to close. This is an Eagles of Death Metal song that the band asked other bands to perform in honor of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris. Several bands have followed that request, but My Morning Jacket was one of the first... and I happened to be at the show where they performed it. This was the fourth night at the Beacon Theatre just after Thanksgiving and Jim James explained what they were going to do, what the song was and why they were playing it. He also asked for a moment of silence which lasted about ten seconds and was a really powerful moment as you could hear a pin drop in the theatre during that time.

As someone who loves music and live music especially, that attack hit me in a profound way. I've spent hundreds of nights in music clubs throughout the country and I fully realize that the attack in Paris could have easily happened in New York as well as any other city. We come together to celebrate live music, we love it and it's our sanctuary. It's beyond upsetting to think about the events that night but I'm glad so many bands are speaking about it and honoring the victims. Thought this would be a fitting way to wrap up the list this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

50 Favorite Songs of 2014

Hello friends, another year has come and gone and it's time for my annual version of The Tremagazine Favorite Songs of the year. I spent about two months compiling this list, starting a bit earlier than I usually do as I had a lot of material to review and wanted to share the best that I could find.

As I typically do, I'll list some of my favorite lyrics along with some personal thoughts on the song and/or artist. I was fortunate enough to see several of these acts live and I'll include some thoughts on those experiences as well. One thing I tried to incorporate this year was finding as many live versions of the songs that I could share. Many of these artists & groups are excellent performers so I wanted to capture that best I could. Additionally, I've added a spotify playlist so those of you that use it can just stream the songs in one place.

I enjoyed putting this together and I hope you can find some new favorites that you may have missed during the year. As always, I appreciate any feedback and thoughts regarding the list by either commenting here or shooting me an email. A lot of the fun in putting this list together is getting the chance to share it with all of you. Without further ado, in no particular order, here's my fifty favorite songs of 2014..... hope you enjoy!

"Slow Coming" - Benjamin Booker (from the album, Benjamin Booker)

I've seen this album show up on a couple "best of 2014" lists but I still think overall it deserves to be on more. I spent many hours listening to this record during the year and it only grew on me with every listen. I was able to see Benjamin Booker a couple times in different settings, first at Austin City Limits (my first trip, which was amazing by the way) and then at Mercury Lounge in NYC. Completely different venues but both performances were met with a ton of energy and passion from Benjamin and his band mates. This is the first of two songs that made my list but I could have easily included a few more, wonderful debut album.

How can I be calm right now?
To tell you the truth,
I ain't been sleepin' too well

"My Favourite Faded Fantasy" - Damien Rice (from the album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy)

After a long hiatus, Damien Rice reappeared recently with his first album in years. Damien writes some of the most beautiful, heartbreaking music you'll lend your ears to, going all the way back to his 2003 release, O. Recommendation, keep the tissues nearby. Hoping to see him perform in 2015 although tickets for his shows have sold out almost immediately for each show announced around the country.

You could be my favourite place
I’ve ever been
I got lost in your willingness
To dream within the dream

You could be my favourite faded fantasy
I’ve hung my happiness upon what it all could be

"Patriarch" - Delta Spirit (from the album, Into The Wide)

Delta Spirit is a band that I've followed for awhile now and I've only become a bigger fan over the last few years following their live performances which seem to get better and better. This was my favorite album of the year and I think this is one of the best songs of the year as well.

Juliet and her friend stood at the edge
Juliet jumped without restraint
Her friend fell back, lost faith
Without a God to blame

"Kansas City" - The New Basement Tapes (from the album, Lost On The River)

This project has to be one of the cooler collection of artists to come together in some time. On this track alone you've got Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes), Jim James and even some guest appearances from Johnny Depp (yes, that Johnny Depp) and the Haim sisters. Most of whom you can see in the video clip below.

And you call me to come, then I do
And you say you made some mistake
You invite me into your house
Then you say you gotta pay for what you break
I’m going back to Kansas City

"Do You" - Spoon (from the album, They Want My Soul)

Spoon's latest work has appeared on many "best of 2014" lists and rightfully so, this is an excellent album. I'm a relatively new fan of the band as I don't have most of their older material but I've really enjoyed the music they put out this year.

Do you want to get understood?
Do you want one thing or are you looking for sainthood?

"Gold" - James Vincent McMorrow (from the album, Post Tropical)

Here's an artist that writes some absolutely beautiful music. I've been listening to him for a few years now and love his previous work, especially 2010's Early In The Morning.

I hope my contour charts show up via river
Out to the only ocean
There's something peaceful that goes out via river
Out to the ocean
I was peaceful standing, I was open

"Only Lies" - Robert Ellis (from the album, The Lights From The Chemical Plant)

I first heard Robert Ellis when he opened one of the famous Deer Tick Newport Folk Festival after-shows a few years back. I immediately loved his sound and he capped off his performance with a few Paul Simon covers that captivated the crowd. I've been able to see him perform a few times since that night, including sets this past year at Webster Hall and Austin City Limits and have always come away impressed. His latest album has some fantastic tracks, this is the first of two that you'll find on this list.

Only lies can comfort you
Only lies will see you through
Just because a thing's convenient
Well, that doesn't make it true
Only lies can comfort you

"Dearly Departed" - Shakey Graves feat. Esme Patterson (from the album, And the War Came)

This past summer I was up at the wonderful Newport Folk Festival, what I like to call a music lover's paradise. In the middle of the Saturday schedule, the lineup featured a great run on one of the stages featuring J Roddy Walston & The Business > Shakey Graves > Lucius. Both J Roddy and Lucius had nice size bands but I don't know if anyone was prepared for how big the crowd was for Shakey Graves. Probably the largest crowd I've seen to date on that stage and I've seen many acts there over the last few years. Sometimes schedules get put together early for festivals and then the bands just kind of explode in popularity, which I think is what we saw here. Anyways, it's well deserved as Shakey Graves is a great live act and it's fun seeing that many people rally around an up and coming artist.

I love the video I found to share with you below, these two have incredible chemistry. I bet Johnny and June Carter Cash would be proud of this performance.

Even when one is dead and gone
It still takes two to make a house a home
Well I'm as lonesome as the catacombs
I hear you call my name but no one is there
Except a feeling in the air

"An Ocean In Between The Waves" - The War On Drugs (from the album, Lost In The Dream)

It's pretty amazing to me how popular this band has gotten. I've been listening to them for years and wrote a bit about seeing them at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn back in 2011. I've seen this album named on numerous "best of 2014" lists and I think the praise is warranted, just an excellent album. I'm glad to see these guys getting some serious recognition. Another band that will show up twice on this list, here's my first selection...

Just wanna lay in the moonlight
See the light shine in, see you in the outline
It never gets too dark to find
Anybody at anytime

"Crown the Pines" - S. Carey (from the album, Range of Light)

For all the success that Bon Iver has had (and I love that band), it's almost amazing how little you may hear about S. Carey's solo work. Having seen Bon Iver live several times, I realized how talented an assembly of musicians this band was but then I saw THIS VIDEO. Incredible. Beautiful. Literally one of my favorite things on the internet, these guys are phenomenal. I've enjoyed S Carey's work and I think this is another wonderful track. Let's raise a glass to an integral piece of Bon Iver not named Justin Vernon.

One note on the video below, I love the way these guys use percussion in their music. So much more than just a basic drum set, they've always got multiple layers of percussion in their songs. I think you can get a good idea of that here.

I am in love with this place
But I fear for its grace

"Blockbuster Night Part 1" - Run The Jewels (from the album, Run The Jewels 2)

One of my favorite albums of the year, both lyrically and musically. They just played back to back nights in NYC and I'm pissed I missed it. Hoping to catch them live ASAP. The sound quality on the video below isn't the best but I wanted to find something that displayed the energy of the show and I think this clip does a good job of that.

No hocus pocus, you simple suckers been served a notice
Top of the morning, my fist to your face is fucking Folgers

"Goshen '97" - Strand of Oaks(from the album, HEAL)

Here's an album I got into a few months back, this was the standout track for me. Related... I'm going to assume that these guys are good people as well, they're playing the Shine A Light Music Benefit on Sat. Feb. 7 in Rockville Centre, NY which is a very cool event.

I was lonely, I was having fun
I was lonely, but I was having fun

I don't want to start over again

"My Wrecking Ball" - Ryan Adams(from the album, Ryan Adams)

One of my favorite songwriters of all time, another classic here. I believe the first time (or close to first time) this was played live was at this year's Newport Folk Festival. I've included a video from that performance because it was something wonderful to hear in person and just gets better and better with each listen.

Driving through the streets tonight
It's hot, I’ve got the windows down
I wish I could call you, I wish you were still around

"Kathleen" - Catfish and the Bottlemen (from the album, Kathleen and the Other Three)

I honestly had never even heard of this band until I was down in Austin for ACL. I was headed to Stubbs BBQ for the J Roddy Walston & The Business when my friend Lindsay texted me to make sure I got their for the opener.... these guys. Stubbs has two venues, both an indoor and outdoor space, this was downstairs in the indoor space which is extremely small (maybe a few hundred people packed in?). I thought these guys were AWESOME. It's rare that you find a new band that really impresses you without knowing any of their material. From what I've read since I returned home, I think they have a big following overseas but their full album will come out in the US early this year. I've included a couple of their songs on this list so you'll see another down the line.

And Yes, I know
That I’ll never work out exactly how you’re thinking
But, Let me know when I’m needed home

"You and Me" - You + Me (from the album, Rose Ave.)

I've been a fan of Dallas Green and his work in City & Colour for awhile now. He has one of the best pure voices of anyone I've ever seen in concert. Years ago after one of his shows I compared him at times to Jeff Buckley, he just has phenomenal range. I've always thought Pink was talented but I can't say that I listened to much of her material. A couple years ago I was searching some clips on line and found one from 2011 where they performed City & Colour's "What Makes A Man" (listen to that HERE). Since that day, I've thought how great it would be if they ever recorded together..... and here you have it.....

They say everything it happens for a reason
You can be flawed enough, but perfect for a person
Someone who will be there for you when you fall apart
Guiding your direction when you're riding through the dark

Oh that's you and me

"Blue Moon" - Beck (from the album, Morning Phase)

Beck has such a skill to write great songs in a variety of styles. This is probably one of my favorites from him, love this live performance below too.

Oh don't leave me on my own
Left me standing all alone

"Slow Train" - Streets of Laredo (from the album, Volume I&II)

Here's a pretty cool band that's album was just recently released towards the end of the year. They opened for Delta Spirit at the Bowery Ballroom show and I'm sure will be putting together a tour for 2015. This is probably my favorite song from the album but they've got several good ones on there. Look out for these guys making some noise next year.

Like A Feeling
Things are getting Better... Slow Train....

"Your Love Is Killing Me" - Sharon Van Etten (from the album, Are We There)

Sharon Van Etten is another artist I first heard live opening for Deer Tick at the Newport Folk After-shows. Such a strong performer and her music just basically rips your heart out of your body. This song is incredibly intense but so powerful.

We've been through better days
And you've tasted all my pain

"From Eden" - Hozier (from the album, Hozier)

Well Hozier certainly exploded onto the scene in 2014, didn't he? "Take Me To Church" has literally been heard just about everywhere (don't think it's in a Geico commercial yet but stay tuned). That said, the guy writes some great music and this was a favorite of mine from the album. I think I like the version posted below a bit better than the recorded version, reminds me so much of Van Morrison.

Babe, there's something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don't you agree?

"Milly's Garden" - Steve Gunn (from the album, Way Out Weather)

Steve Gunn was formerly in Kurt Vile's band, the Violators. Kurt Vile was also one of the founding members of the War on Drugs. All sorts of tie-ins throughout this list!!!

Your faith is savage
And your mind is damaged
You're more than half way there

"So Much Wine, Merry Christmas" - Andrew Bird (from the album, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of)

Andrew Bird's take on Handsome Family's "So Much Wine"

Listen to me, butterfly
There's only so much wine
That you can drink one life,
but it will never be enough,
To save you from the bottom of your glass

"Chandelier" - Sia (from the album, 1000 Forms Of Fear)

A really catchy tune and a damn good video, one of the better ones this year.

Sun is up, I'm a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

"Transgender Dysphoria Blues" - Against Me(from the album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues)

Huge fan of Laura Jane Grace and her band, Against Me. I started listening to them about seven years ago but finally got to see them live this year in Brooklyn. The show was on a Sunday night, started at 1am and I went alone. The crowd was awesome. Work at 7am the next day was not. One of the best nights I had this year. This video I took hopefully can express how much fun it was.

Rough surf on the coast,
I wish I could've spent the whole day alone
With you
With you

"The Wreck" - Delta Spirit (from the album, Into The Wide)

The second Delta Spirit song on my list, this one is really heavy lyrically.

You don't expect apologies
You always see the best in me
I'm the lucky fool that you married
And when we're out on the run
Drive into the setting sun
My heart beats for only you, my heart beats for only you...

"Long Distance" - The Districts (from the album, Districts)

A friend of mine has been following this band in Philly the last couple of years and I got to see them at Brooklyn Bowl opening for Houndmouth. Very cool show and they're an excellent live band. Didn't know a lot of their material going into the show but loved this song.

Talking through a tin can
i can see your face in the sun with your eyes closed
stare outside now
watch the dreams, they slide

"Bored In The USA" - Father John Misty (from the album, Bored In The USA)

Father John Misty's album will be out early in 2015 but this is the first single. I love the use of a built-in laugh track. Perfect.

They gave me useless education
And a sub-prime loan on a craftsman home
Keep my prescriptions filled
And now I can’t get off but I can kind of deal

"Safety In Numbers" - We Were Promised Jetpacks (from the album, Unravelling)

Probably one of the most high-energy bands you'll see live, they've always got some really catchy songs on their releases. Even in the clip below you can feel how into it they are.

There was a time
When I wasn't brave
Something about this planet
Just didn't align

"Micheline" - Sun Kil Moon (from the album, Benji)

This is really an excellent album. I enjoy a lot of Mark Kozelek's work (other than his feud with the War on Drugs) but this song stood out to me lyrically. I chose a few lines that really stood out to me and related with.

My grandma, my grandma, my grandma, my grandma, my grandma, my grandma.
Before she passed away we'd go and visit her at my aunt's house when I was small.
I couldn't bear the shape she was in so at the top of the driveway I'd sit in the car

"Cruel City" - Augustines (from the album, Augustines)

Let me say... LOVE THIS BAND. Talk about energy, good lord. Please watch the video below and if you have the chance, see this band live. You will not be disappointed in the least. I absolutely loved their debut album and some great tracks on their latest as well.

Hey don't hide your eyes
I'll still reach for you in the dark
Hey I miss your skin
I’ll still reach for you in the dark

"Movin On" - Spanish Gold (from the album, South of Nowhere)

This band features Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket and honestly reminds me of a Black Keys song. Cool tune.

"i" - Kendrick Lamar (from the single, i)

I think Kendrick is extremely talented, both lyrically and performance-wise. I don't think there's many artists that could pull of what he does in the video below.

Dreams of reality's peace
Blow steam in the face of the beast
The sky could fall down, the wind could cry now
The strong in me, I still smile

"Houston" - Robert Ellis (from the album, Songs From The Chemical Plant)

Another good one from Robert Ellis. I couldn't make this performance as I had a conflict that night but happy this was recorded, excellent version.

When I came here I was a boy
And now I'm leaving a man
When I came here I was lost
But now I know who I am

"Head Underwater" - Jenny Lewis (from the album, The Voyager)

Jenny Lewis played on the main stage during the day at the Newport Folk Festival and I got to watch her entire set, great stuff. Love this song off her latest album.

I put my head underwater baby,
I held my breath until it passed
Crossed my fingers and concentrated
I closed my eyes and I was free at last

"It Kills" - Afghan Whigs (from the album, Do To The Beast)

This band has been making great music for many, many years. I was surprised how much I liked this album but they're still going strong.

Over and over I get to know myself.
Over and over there ain't nobody else
Imperceptible the lines I draw to you.
It kills to watch you love another

"I Thought I Heard You Screaming" - Benjamin Booker (from the album, Benjamin Booker)

This song kills me. Fell in love with it the first time it hit my ears.

Set yourself on fire so high so high
I could feel your heart was speeding
Did you love me or was it the drugs?

And the life we’re living now will surely bury me

"Would You Fight For My Love" - Jack White (from the album, Lazaretto)

Confession, I've never been a huge White Stripes fan. I was never negative on them, just never clicked for me. Jack White headlined Newport Folk this year on the second night and man, he was phenomenal. I really, really enjoyed his set. Super talented guy and great backing band. I've written a bit about how Newport is such a special and unique festival and if you haven't seen it, I think you should watch THIS VIDEO. From what I've read and heard, this festival had really strong impact on him and I think you can see that in his eyes towards the end of the song.... almost brought to tears. Call me a fan, I will certainly be seeing him again.

But I'm afraid of being hurt that's true
But not afraid of any physical pain
Just as I am always scared of water
But not afraid of standing out in the rain

"Wild Animals" - Trampled By Turtles (from the album, Wild Animals)

I've seen this band at a couple festivals and I've really enjoyed their live performances. They put out a really solid studio album in 2014 and I think this is one of the better tracks.

I see the better part of you
I see the better part of you
But I'm a monster just like you
Wild animals it's true

"Break The Cycle" - You+Me (from the album, Rose Ave.)

Since this album was in my rotation most of the year I decided to include a second track.

Circles and cycles and seasons
For everything there's always reason
But it's never good
Never turns out as it should

"Stayin Out All Night" - Wiz Khalifa (from the album, Blacc Hollywood)

I completely dig Wiz Khalifa, I like most of his material. I think the performance below is really unique.

You work hard for what you got
they could never take it from you
All you need is a little patience
let me demonstrate

"Fever" - The Black Keys (from the album, Turn Blue)

Talk about a band that's exploded, unbelievable. I cannot believe how big these guys are now. I sat in the upper deck at the Barclays Center a few months back looking around in disbelief at a packed stadium. Just a great live band.

Now if the cold pale light in your eyes
Reaches those horizon lines
You know not to leave her

Read more: The Black Keys - Fever Lyrics | MetroLyrics

"Burning" - The War On Drugs (from the album, Lost In The Dream)

Another great one from the war on drugs, this performance is really cool.

Wide awake
I rearrange the way I listen in the dark
Dreaming, starting up again

"Bad Self Portraits" - Lake Street Dive (from the album, Bad Self Portraits)

How great is Rachel Price's voice? Listen to that video and tell me it doesn't knock you on your ass? Amazing.

I've spent my life
so lost on lovin'
I could have been a painter or a president
But after 25 years
I should be good at something
Gone are the days of me being so innocent

"Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)" - Run The Jewels feat. Zack De La Rocha (from the album, Run The Jewels 2)

Run the Jewels AND Zack De La Rocha?!?!? I am a huge fan of Rage Against The Machine. Saw them many times back in the day, one of the greatest live bands ever assembled. Again not the best sound quality in the video below but a chance to see Zack on stage sold me on it.

It's De La on the cut,liftin' 6 on your snitchin' crew
I'm miles ahead of you, you can sip my bitches brew
My battle status is burnin' mansions from Dallas to Malibu
Check my résumé, your residence is residue

"Stars" - Angel Olsen (from the album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness)

This was one of my last entries into the list but really a beautiful song. I love the title of her album too, phenomenal.

To scream the stars out of our universe
To scream at all back into nothingness
To scream the feeling til there's nothing left

"Take Shelter" - Delta Spirit (from the album, Into The Wide)

The only band that had three songs on my list but it was my favorite album of 2014 so I felt it was worth it.

Hold your head up to the light, wait till it's over now.
Take my hand and hold it tight, wait till it's over now.
Everything will be alright, wait till it's over now.

"White Gardenias" - Justin Townes Earle (from the album, Single Mothers)

With every Justin Townes Earle release, you're guaranteed to find at least one gem within the track listing. This was the song for me, stunning.

So if you see her out tonight,
Yeah just look her in the eyes
You might not know it now,
But you'll know it when you see her

White dress, white shoes, and white gardenias

"When I Get My Hands On You" - The New Basement Tapes (from the album, Lost On The River)

Second entry from this collection of musicians. Very sweet & sentimental lyrically.

When I come home to you
Gonna take you down to the riverside
When I come home to you
Hold you in my arms all night

"XO" - John Mayer (from the single, XO)

Obviously a cover of the Beyonce hit but I thought it was a really unique take on a popular song that almost sounds like an original.

In the darkest night hour (in the darkest night hour)
I'll search through the crowd (I'll search through the crowd)
Your face is all that I see
I'll give you everything

"Homesick" - Catfish & The Bottlemen (from the album, Kathleen and the Other Three)

One more from Catfish & The Bottlemen... I'm pretty sure we'll be hearing more about these guys in 2015.

I got misled, mistook, discard
Anything that I said
See I'm not the type to call you up drunk
But I've got some lies to tell

"Betray My Heart" - D'Angelo and The Vanguard (from the album, Black Messiah)

The last entry into the list! Just made it in by the surprise 2014 release of this album. Somebody had to get bumped but it's worth it for a song this good. Welcome back, D'Angelo.

Like the breeze that blows in June
I will steady keep you cool
This I swear with all that's true
I'll take nothing in place of you

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SOTD: "My Place" - Young Buffalo

Oxford, Mississippi-based band Young Buffalo have just released “My Place” off their upcoming debut album, House. The band is in NYC this week for the CMJ Festival, catch them at the following shows.

Catch Them Live This Week at CMJ

10/24 – New York, NY – The Living Room @ 9 pm
10/25 – New York, NY – Arlene’s Grocery @ 8:30pm

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SOTD: "Break the Cycle" - You & Me

Here's the new single from You & Me (Dallas Green & Pink)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

SOTD: "Slow Train" - Streets of Laredo

Streets Of Laredo will be performing with Delta Spirit at their upcoming Bowery Ballroom show on Weds. 10/1. This will be the band's first date on their fall tour in support of their first full-length album, Volume I & II on Dine Alone Records, out October 7th. For more on the band, including other upcoming tour dates, please visit their website HERE.