It took me a while to check out Cults’ self-titled record. Mostly because I illegally downloaded a shitty copy and couldn’t be bothered to search for a good one. Eventually I did. (Disclaimer: I thought I wouldn’t like it, which was why I didn’t want to pay for it. It’s no excuse until I buy a ticket to the show in April.) On the whole, I’m not totally crazy over the record, however, there are some excellent, excellent tracks. “Go Outside” is one of those. For the most part, I lean towards singer/songwriters, however, once in a while a track will grab me for its sound above anything else. “Go Outside” is that kind of song. It’s superbly catchy and really, that counts for a lot. If I want to dance around in my room in my underwear while putting away my laundry, “Go Outside” is one of the first tracks I’d play. Check out my #14 below.
From Baltimore, Wye Oak’s “Holy Holy” comes in at #13 on my year-end list. There’s something about this track that really evokes 90s indie rock. Not necessarily in its sound, aside from the grungy guitars. More in the “If My So Called Life” were on air today, “Holy Holy” could have replaced Buffalo Tom in this scene (though Buffalo Tom is perfect and I’d never change a thing. That is, by the way, one of my all-time favourite TV moments.) Anyway, you get my drift. It’s throwback, but not in a deliberate kind of way. There’s something really dirty and sexy about this track too. It’s almost like Jenn Wasner’s vocals are teasing and flirting with the guitars. There’s a great back and forth happening here.
The Dears’ Degeneration Street is my favourite Dears record. I think it’s the most accessible album they’ve recorded. “Thrones,” sitting at #12, is by far the stand-out for me. The hook is so, so strong. It seems heavily influenced by 90s Brit pop, which is always okay with me. This album should have made the Polaris short list. It’s a shame it didn’t. Maybe there’s Dears fatigue here in Canada by now, but they’re one of this countries most underrated bands that were deserving of commercial success on this last album. “Thrones” should have received heavy air play on new rock radio stations, if we actually had any of those in this country.
Florence + The Machine’s “Shake It Out” is #11. I have to say, I had a sincere, visceral, physical reaction to this song the first time I heard it. I was a huge fan of Flo’s debut, but “Shake It Out” is by far her best thing she’s released yet. Rarely, does a song make you feel joy. I can truly say that I can’t help but smile every time I listen to this song. It really is a musical expression of pure joy, as far as I’m concerned.
And here we head into my top-10. I’m going to call this one a tie. To be honest, Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” has been on #10 on my list for weeks, however today I found a song that I’ve listened to repeat most of the day, so I’m going to throw it in here too.
So, anyone who knows me, knows I’ve always had an affinity for 80s pop, synthesizer and heavy beats. “Nightcall” has all of that. I know it’s from Drive, but if I throw this on while I’m driving to work, my shitty sentra feels like a European sports car, for about 10 seconds. It’s another one of those tracks that wins me over on sound alone – there’s really nothing to the lyrics, though the dreamy vocals are a definite highlight.
If forced, I’ll admit that I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m foolishly searching for those Cameron Crowe and John Hughes moments. Admittedly, many of my favourite songs are songs that could soundtrack some personal epic movie moment, if I’m ever lucky enough to have one. My own personal soundtrack includes Robert Ellis’ “Friend’s Like Those,” even though I’ve only known this song for less than 12 hours. I love this song so much, I’ve not been able to make it past track 3 on Photographs. The lyrics are truly simple and sincere. I love the traditional country twang in his voice too. It sounds like a James Taylor song, if James Taylor cut is teeth in smokey bars in Nashville and Texas. Sometimes songs find you at that exact perfect moment where they make so much sense to you personally. Just so happens I’m (trying) to let go of someone who has been a huge part of my life, directly and indirectly, for the last 3 years or so and I’m sure I’ll always think of that person when I hear this song. It will always make me smile.
I can’t find a full-band live video, so click here for the track instead.