Hi, my name is Matt. And thank you for looking at my list.
I’m the staff member that tends to lean towards the atmospheric, embellished, vastly over-extravagant kinds of songs. I like to get lost/lose myself to the music. Over the next sequence of 20 songs, you’ll be delivered to far off places where the floor is large and all dance moves are acceptable…nay your dance moves, THEY ARE APPLAUDED, like each one is a battle-born hero returned after the long journey.
You are most welcome there. Let’s go.
20. Grimes: “Genesis”
The gal born as Claire Boucher sings like a digital cherub as Grimes; no where more than on Visions‘ wandering lead (full) track, “Genesis”.
19. Young Man: “Fate”
A lengthy one, but “Fate” never stays the same for long; going through four different dye jobs through the course of its multi-colored strut.
18. Vacationer: “Good As New”
I am still full of joy due to the fact that Vacationer’s vocalist is the guy from The Starting Line, and when in cahoots with “Good As New’s” vintage string and ivory work, my heart sings along.
17. Rudimental ft. John Newman: “Feel The Love”
I not only feel the love, I love the love that I feel, and I want to share the love with everyone via my sweet, sweet neck gyrations (back and forth, side to side now).
16. Clock Opera: “Once And For All”
I can sing this whole song in falsetto, and if you dare me to do it, I’ll proudly perform in front of a couple thousand people, with hand gestures and facial expressions and obvious passion and everything.
15. Kario Key: “Ghettoblaster”
I can’t tell you how un-categorically cool this song is to me, since that would involve charades and plenty of smiles, but using words, I will describe it as a Panther ride into a cosmic rift leading to a (albeit) brief visit to a land of white-chocolate milk and super powers.
14. Little Comets: “Jennifer”
Besides using the word “taciturn” (pretty sure), using exploding choruses and harmonies, and vocal “doo bee dows” over tropical guitar riffs, this song by the Little Comets wants to have kids and is very responsible with money.
13. Fossil Collective: “Let It Go”
If you pay very close attention to the insightful lyrics, you’ll hear them just before you get wrapped up in the harmonies like a big fashionable Snuggie, and cease to care about technicalities.
12. Lee Fields and The Expressions: “You’re The Kind Of Girl”
After learning this wonderful, wonderful song (keyboard solo) is from the two-thousands, you might be led to believe that your parents have been right about music all along, and maybe you should go record diving in their attic again.
11. The Tallest Man On Earth: “1904”
10. Ane Brun: “Tunnels” (Arcade Fire Cover)
When my favorite Norwegian takes my favorite Arcade Fire song and does a lyrically-spotlighting/heart-jabbing performance, I feel like I did at the end of Jack Frost when Batman went to heaven, but also like I did at the end of Mighty Ducks when Peter Bishop goes back in time and scores the game winning goal.
9. Alabama Shakes: “Heartbreaker”
Though Brittany Howard is amazing all over the Boys & Girls record, I hear it most on “Heartbreaker”, where the sound of her post-mortem soul is being descriptively re-torn.
8. Shearwater: “You As You Were”
The band that started as Okkervil River’s side project for the “quieter songs”, has become something quite different with Jonathan Meiburg leading on vocals that constantly leave delicious shockwaves in your brain; and “You As You Were” is by far the best song I’ve heard from Shearwater yet.
7. Japandroids: “The House That Heaven Built”
It only took a couple of “OH OH’s” from the Japandroids barn-burner for me to sign on for a three year voyage with the two guys I only discovered a couple weeks ago (gather your stones).
6. Plants And Animals: “The End Of That”
THE LYRICS, and the way they’re delivered, “like some fucked up bumblebee headed for the potpourri” (i just spelled potpourri correctly…man card), are what gets me dropping them out of my mouth like lead bullets every time I hear it.
5. Michael Kiwanuka: “I’m Getting Ready”
This tiny, understated song that could get lost in the sound of oncoming traffic, reminds and transports me back to everything I love about 70’s singer-songwriters; like Kiwanuka is some sort of unblemished Richie Havens and James Taylor singing for the joy of it in a field off the beaten track.
4. Cold Specks: “Winter Solstice”
Though her voice never changes, the song around Al Spx (pseudonym) does; building and gaining footfall percussion, bracing piano, and retired Gregorian choir singers to give “Winter Solstice” a truly magical feeling as the last word: “die”, ranges off into the night.
3. Dry The River: “Weights And Measures”
If I could only choose one song from Dry The River’s Shallow Bed record, it would be the one that tells the story of a man who was willing to give everything to someone, but in haunting lyrical metaphors, sky-reaching instrumental body blows, lung-stretching vocals, and a song drop at the 4.02 mark that kills me every time; I would choose that one.
2. M. Ward: “The First Time I Ran Away”
I don’t know how, but Matthew Ward makes consistently beautiful songs in the veritable key of shaded mystery; “The First Time I Ran Away” tells the story of just how much a person can anchor an otherwise lost-to-the-world soul, but he does it with the most serene harmony and delicate guitar and string work I’ve heard this year or in several past.
1. Here We Go Magic: “How Do I Know”
“How Do I Know” is in its periphery, an infectiously patterned tune that builds and elevates, offering you the best things a song ever can: a wonderful chorus, pacing instrumental accompaniment, and a simple melody. What I love about this song is although it contains so many indications of a love song, it is actually quite insane; the narration of a person either a) stalking someone from afar, or b) irrefutably insecure with themselves.
The (deep breath) dichotomy between the two is fascinating to me, and together with the periphery, it makes “How Do I Know” my favorite song to listen to this year (so far).
And if you’ll permit me an even more blasphemous fourth sentence, the Sean Pecknold (brother to Fleet Foxes brother Robin Pecknold) directed video is a seperately wonderful thing too, inspiring me to dance in the California desert as soon as possible, and regaling me with a secret metaphor of an Oreo cookie: where we don’t have to choose between chocolate and vanilla…they fit quite well together (see what I did there? because there’s two gals in the video? and one is….I’m going to hell.)
If you’ve made if this far, might as well go all the way and listen to all of the songs that were up for the running. ‘Cause you’re thorough like that.