I’ve written about a few of my favorite things (why do I hear Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music singing “these are a few of my favorite things”?), musically speaking, that were released this year. Some of my words were published on PopMatters (Dent May, Bobby Whitlock, Tommy Keene, Robbie Basho, etc.) and some right here on Music To Eat (Lee Ranaldo, My Bloody Valentine, Kevin Hufnagel, The Swimming Pool Q’s).
There were many others I really enjoyed, but didn’t get around to writing about, like The Reivers, who released one of the most undeservedly under the radar albums of the year.
If I had to choose my favorite album, it was probably that Lee Ranaldo one I wrote about, Last Night on Earth. Here’s the centerpiece song: “The Rising Tide“.
Josh Rouse’s The Happiness Waltz comes in a close second for me. It’s just a well-crafted, well-arranged collection of songs. It’s a very adult work, in the sense that there’s very little angst – mostly a mellow contentedness, with songs about appreciating the joys in everyday life. But its far from a fluffy, substance-less collection of middle-aged musings. Here’s the title track, and below is the single, “Julie (Come Out of the Rain)” even though lyrically it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album.
As far as favorite song, I had an addiction to the occasional single released by Say Lou Lou throughout the year as they prepare a full-length release for next year (?). Their music is like a soothing, addictive candy. A candy drug. I’m reminded once again of this quote from psychologist Steven Pinker: “music is a cocktail of recreational drugs that we ingest through the ear to stimulate a mass of pleasure circuits.”
But I also couldn’t get enough of a song recorded back in the mid-1980’s by The Swimming Pool Q’s but only released this year on the rarities disc included with The A&M Years: 1984-1986. “Tears of a Clown” is a Smoky Robinson cover and the band’s reconstruction of the song, with the sheer power of Anne Richmond Boston’s vocals, sends it into a whole other realm, far removed from it’s Motown roots (not that they were bad roots!)
Ah, there’s so many other songs and albums I’d like to share with you, but instead of trying to catch up and do an end of the year round up of what I liked, I thought it would be more interesting to hear what you liked.
Here’s what you said:
[Album] Jack Johnson: From Here to Now
“I love the laid-back positive feeling to this album. I listen to it on the way to work. Some say “if you’ve heard one Jack Johnson song, you’ve heard them all”, which does hold some water, but the thing is….I really like it. I also liked Lorde’s Pure Heroine. I appreciate the songs, the somewhat sparse recordings and her voice.”
[Song] Jim James: “A New Life”
“I love music. From the Beatles to Beethoven, music moves me. That’s why I was drawn to my selection of favorite song of the year. I discovered just recently Jim James and My Morning Jacket. This song features Jim James venturing out as a solo artist singing A New Life. It begins acoustically and simple then builds to a joyous “come to church” gospel-like ending. He’s an interesting amalgam of a long-haired gentle soul and musical/lyrical genius who refuses to play in a particular genre. To show his range, I suggest listening to State of the Art,which has a completely different feel. Jim sings and electrifies on his guitar and navigates the stage with his skate-like glide mixed with Jim Morrison, shaman-type moves.”
[Album] Rush: Vapor Trails Remixed
“The new album cover is way better than the old one. I love the music because I went to the Vapour Trails concert and listening to the album kind of transports me back in time to the soul rocking presence the band had on stage. It. Was. Epic. And always will be.”
[Song] Imagine Dragons: “Demons”
“What I love most about this song is the feeling it gives me. Every time I hear it I immediately shift into a positive state. I am not even sure why… maybe it is the passion in his voice, along with the bursts of intensity in the rhythm… brings me a sense of freedom. Perhaps also because he is admitting to inner demons? Hmmm…”
[Album] Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus
“The duo returned this year with their third full-length of jagged electronica. This time around, they’ve toned down the more abrasive tones and brought the melodies to the fore. Fans of the first two records won’t be disappointed either, however, as there’s enough of the glitch factor to satisfy them. They’ve not gone the full Orb just yet.”
[Album] MOAT (The Church’s Marty Willson-Piper, plus composer/multi-instrumentalist Niko Röhlcke)
[Album] Richard Thompson: Electric
[Album] Basia Bulat: Tall Tall Shadow
[Album] The Avett Brothers: Magpie and the Dandelion