Preface: I make a mix CD for my Uncle Joe every year as a Christmas present. It includes a lot of my favorite (usually folk-tinged) songs from the year and I always write liner notes for each song. This year I thought it might be fun to post it online. There’s clickable links in every title to hear the songs… Enjoy!
1. “Ramona” by Night Beds
Come on, Ramona, church bells are ringing. Everyone’s singing, why do we feel so alone? Gorgeous, fragile alt-country song about trying to get someone you love to WAKE UP. Love the opening guitar line.
2. “Eavesdrop” by The Civil Wars
It’s just you and the moon on my skin. This duo has the best harmonies in music right now (the last minute is proof).
3. “You Folded My Blanket Like We Were Already Lovers” by Case Studies
You lifted up your skirt and took a piss right in the street. You shook it off your thigh and your eyes said, “I know you’re watching.” And that’s a love song.
4. “Fool To Cry” (Rolling Stones Cover) by Tegan And Sara
You’re a fool to cry and it makes me wonder why. Mick Jagger lyrics sung by a pair of sisters just makes sense.
5. “Step” by Vampire Weekend
Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth. Age is an honor, but it’s still not the truth. This year, Vampire Weekend put out maybe the catchiest albums about death of all time. Love how the vocoders manipulate his vocals.
6. “She Lit A Fire” by Lord Huron
She lit a fire and now she’s in my every thought. Local Philly band that played at our radio station’s festival this summer. Lots of great songs, but this chorus has been my head since the first time I heard it.
7. “The Wire” by HAIM
I know I know I know that you’re gonna be okay anyway. Nothing like a good kiss-off song, especially from a power trio of sisters. HAIM (rhymes with ‘time) mixes R&B with classic rock (which leads to great bass lines).
8. “That Girl” by Justin Timberlake
I’ll put it down like my love’s on wax. One of my generation’s best entertainers put out a Motown record this year.
9. “Heart Out” by The 1975
It’s just you and I tonight, why don’t you figure my heart out? My favorite new band (and album) of 2013, these English gentlemen combine Michael Jackson and rock music in an infectious way. Love that sax solo too.
10. “Break Free” by Patrick Park
The dark is bold, I feel it taking hold and I don’t know if I’ll ever break free. I opened for Patrick at the World Café Live this year. Really great guy and musician…he gave me his newest EP and it’s great.
11. “Dear Marie” by John Mayer
From time to time, I go looking for your photograph online. Some county judge in Ohio’s all I ever find. John continues his walk down folk’s dirt road. Love the way the last minute builds up, and great guitar as usual.
12. “Two Fingers” by Jake Bugg
So I hold two fingers up to yesterday, light a cigarette and smoke it all away. This kid’s 19, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a music legend. Reminds me of The Beatles somehow. Check out his incredible self-titled debut.
13. “Shuggie” by Foxygen
I met your daughter the other day…well that was weird. Psychedelic pop that reminds me of old AM radio. The verse/chorus changes take some getting used to, but they’re infectious when you get them.
14. “The Fall” by Rhye
Make love to me one more time before you go away. LOVE the way this song opens. It’s just so direct, and his voice is gorgeous against those keys. My most-played song of 2013 and the most intimate live show I’ve ever seen.
15. “Just My Luck” by Dawes
Just my luck…I never said “I love you.” The way he sings that song is so wistful. It’s so simple, but it crushes me.
16. “Drinking Champagne” by Myra English
I’m drinking champagne, feeling no pain ‘til early morning. Dining and dancing with every pretty girl I can find. One of my favorite finds of the year—heard it once and spent a full day searching it out online. My go-to late night song of 2013, it perfectly captures the tired yet celebratory feeling of being up late.