100 Best Songs of 2018: 21 - 60
21. Over and Over and Over - Jack White
Jack White spent most of “Boarding House Reach” exploring the possibilities of digital production. Which occasionally resulted in flashes of pure genius, and sometimes in White plunging head-first up his own ass. This left many purists longing for the simpler day of old, when Jack and Meg sang sing-song ditties about friendship and heartbreak.
Well, “Over and Over and Over” should be enough to satiate any fan of Jack White who is honest with themselves, regardless of their thoughts on the more experimental side of his most recent album. This is easily the most iconic, pulse-pounding riff White has come up with in his solo career, as the guitarist seems fresh and reinvigorated.
The whacky production experiments (i.e. chopping and screwing the backing vocals, Chipmunk style) are liberating and make the song stand out further from White’s extensive back-catalog of garage rock barn burners. His vocal tenacity matches that of his guitars, and the song sweats attitude out of every pore.
GENRE: Garage Rock, Hard Rock
22. Bridge to Nowhere - Calexico
Calexico’s “Bridge to Nowhere” is what you get when a folk group decides that their favorite album of all time was Radiohead’s “Kid A”. From the multilayered, spacious production chock full of anxiety inducing guitar lines and a vocal line on the verse that’s so obviously indebted to Thom Yorke I’m surprised The Hollies haven’t sued them yet.
But fear not. This is not simply a Radiohead rehash, as the band displays at the 1:51 mark. The band alleviates the tension built over the preceding two minutes with a beautifully rendered, rousing Fleet Foxes-esque folk outro. The result is a lush antidote to the songs prior unease, that makes for an addictive listen.
GENRE: Folk, Americana, Psych-Folk
23. Primary - FACS
Cold and unforgiving, “Primary” feels like the soundtrack to an emergency. I don’t know what the heck the singer is saying, and I don’t care. Do you hear that delicate, brittle guitar? That massive, pummelling low end? The seemingly erratic rhythm of the bass guitar? The way the band builds and releases tension, keeping this droning, cathartic song interesting?
You do hear all that? Okay, good. We are on the same page. This song rocks.
GENRE: Post-Punk, Industrial Rock
24. And Thee - Valley Echo
For me, finding a good, memorable groove is the number one element to writing a good song. If you’re a good lyricist with no rhythm, nobody will care. The groove is the building block of the song, and if your groove is good enough many flaws can be forgiven. That being said, “And Thee” features perhaps my favorite groove of the year, in the purest sense. The drums clobber out a commanding beat, centered around hi-hat flourishes at the beginning of every two measures. Meanwhile the bass sounds big and dark, while it executes some deft slides, emphasizing vocalist/guitarist Gino Tellez’s rhythmic cadence on the verse. The song is dark and moody, and I especially like the vocal melody on the pre-chorus.
After the second chorus, the song gets further tripped out, as it quiets down and displays a scruffy authenticity in the way the different elements fit together. Then we are greeted by a mountainous wall of riffage that hits like a ton of bricks, before the song’s outro mercifully returns to the stellar groove that makes it so addicting.
GENRE: Psychedelic Rock, Garage Rock, Post-Punk
25. The Message - Still Corners
Chris Isaak is really fucking cool. So is David Lynch. Still Corners are some of the foremost artists in the burgeoning Lynch Rock genre that is dominating pop-music right now, from Lana Del Rey to Beach House. Often the genre is bland and boring, substituting reverb and affect for actual substance. Still Corners, however, don’t rest on their sonic laurels, and regularly pump out a couple killer songs per album.
“The Message” is the best late-night driving song of the year. It’s laid-back yet, every time it approaches a point of stagnation, it shifts, or changes, adding new layers to the mix. It’s an excellent example of economy and saturation working together in perfect harmony.
GENRE: Shoegaze, Dream Pop
26. Question of Faith - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
On “Question of Faith” usual bassist Robert Levon Been plays Guitar, while guitarist Peter Hayes covers bass and vocal duties. The swap pays off, as Been rips out a squealing guitar line that puts the chorus over the top. Hayes’ bass line is also excellent, forcefully building tension while remaining relaxed.
And about that chorus. On an album that’s stronger than most in the band’s catalogue, “Question of Faith” has one of the most immediately memorable hooks. The existential pondering of the lyrics is reflected in the contemplative arrangement, as seemingly docile verses erupt into the aforementioned angsty bursts of rhythm and guitar noise, like a cobra coiled in the reverb heavy grass.
GENRE: Rock, Post-Punk, Shoegaze
27. Love Supreme (Work Together!) - Ron Gallo
This funky new wave inspired track is pure rhythmic joy. The verse lick is chunky, danceable and angular, in such a manner to immediately get any head in the immediate vicinity bobbing.
Meanwhile, Ron Gallo displays his wickedly ironic lyrical wit, with a falsetto chorus of “God loves it when we work together”. What’s the message here? Throughout his second album, “Stardust Birthday Party”, Gallo preaches a message of self-reflection and common understanding and empathy (there’s literally a song called “It’s All Gonna Be Okay”). So I don’t think he’s mocking the idea of working together itself, as much as the idea that it needs to be communicated at all. This is reflected in the intro and outro as a robotic voice commands us to “Work. Together.” Gallo is ridiculing the childishness of our present societal situation, while making scores of people dance and have fun. No small feat.
GENRE: New Wave, Garage Rock
28. Shiggy - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Man, I used to love trashing Stephen Malkmus. Mostly cuz it seems like the sort of thing he lives for, shade-thrower that he is known to be. Also, I honestly always thought Pavement was decent but overrated and that The Jicks were “bleh” at best.
Well, I guess it’s time to eat crow, cocky Young-Me. I think “Shiggy” might be the best song I’ve ever heard from Stephen Malkmus. It’s certainly my favorite. That combined with the fact it’s not all that different from all of his other songs is probably proof I need to check out more of his discography.
There’s something liberating about hearing a song this conventionally “indie”, from the basic backbeat to the fuzz bass playing eighth-notes to the yelping vocal tropes Malkmus forged, done so quintessentially well. That backbeat moves baby. The fuzz bass sounds huge. The dumpster fuzz guitars rip through the mix pleasantly, somehow. Malkmus is in top form, snarling nonsensical vitriol with remarkable élan.
Yep, I just used French to describe a song that sounds like a rusted out bus-station catching on fire. One must properly appreciate the classics.
GENRE: Indie Rock, College Rock, Garage Rock
29. Darkhorse - Emma Ruth Rundle
Emma Ruth Rundle’s idiosyncratic and emotive vocal stylings are up front and center on “Darkhorse”, the almost-title track to “On Dark Horses”. Never has the singer sounded as confident in her voice as on this album. Hearing the progression of Rundle as a frontwoman, from the first Marriages album to now is quite remarkable. I didn’t even know Rundle was a woman when I first discovered Marriages, her voice was so heavily processed. Slowly, through the second Marriages album, into her most recent two solo records, Rundle has gone from a guitar player first, reluctant singer last to an expressive and original vocal personality. I love the songwriting, it’s taut and displays an expert grasp of tension and release. But mostly I love Rundles delivery and intonation, it’s completely unique and oozes with sadness.
“Darkhorse” is also notable for its bridge section, a minute long excursion with swelling dynamics where time phenomenologically ceases to exist, before the chorus slams in exhilaratingly. I dare you not to get lost in it.
GENRE: Alternative Rock, Post-Metal
30. Crossings - Forma
A whirlpool of synths, cascading drum machines and a patient, studied approach to dynamics anchor this cosmic outing from Brooklyn minimalist outfit Forma. The track nails the flawless equilibrium between tribal, pounding rhythms and cerebral polyrhythms that, for me, is necessary to make Ambient EDM interesting.
It’s a hard trick to pull off, and with “Crossings” Forma have made one of my favorite songs of it’s kind to come out this decade.
GENRE: Electronic, Neo-Kraut, Ambient Electronic
31. Can’t Ask Why - Ryley Walker
GENRE: Lo-Fi, Folk Rock, Experimental
32. August 10 - Khruangbin
This instrumental three-piece can ride a groove like no other. Their music has a bob and flow, an oceanic vibe if you will. Close your eyes while listening to “August 10” and you’ll see yourself on a beach in Thailand, with a cocktail firmly in hand.
I’m mostly just waiting for some smart rapper to get ahold of this track and spit fire over it.
GENRE: Deep Funk, Fusion, World Music
33. It Might Get Dark - White Denim
White Denim specializes in a brand of country-fried neo-psychedelia that screams “Austin!” so loudly you don’t even have to use google to know whether band does indeed hail from the Texas music mecca.
I think. I’m going to refrain from googling it. Perhaps one of you readers can fact check my intuition.
“It Might Get Dark” is a leap forward for the band, with it’s swirling, kinetic production that utilizes the stereo space in a highly creative way. It’s a method steeped in classic rock, yet is executed in a uniquely modern manner (read: punchy) that can only be done via the magic of protools. This may be the best song the Steve Miller Band never wrote.
GENRE: Psychedelic Rock, Jam Rock, Southern Rock
34. Indies or Paradise - Anna Calvi
At this point in her career, Anna Calvi has an enjoyably melodramatic sound carved out for herself. Every song sounds like Sharon Van Etten mixed with Nick Cave plus a dash of New York noise rock.
“Indies or Paradise” may be the best song yet in Calvi’s career. It’s certainly the best song since “Blackout” back in 2011. The song ebbs and flows with loads of atmospheric detail and clanging instruments, all backing Calvi’s signature wail.
The central groove is instantly attention grabbing. With it’s slinking bass and glistening synths, it sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a scene in Ridley Scott’s cinematic disaster “1492: Conquest of Paradise”, in which Gerard Depardieu (a Frenchman inexplicably playing an Italian) slow motion runs across a beach in the so-called West Indies. Rarely does a song so effectively paint the picture it’s title insinuates.
The tense verse then opens up, giving way to a bombastic chorus. A blistering solo in the bridge is also worthy of mention. Calvi utilizes noise, parsimony and a unique tone to create one of the most memorable guitar solos of the year.
GENRE: Alternative Rock, Art Rock
35. Throwback - Jim James
I think I mostly like this song for the times when My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James’ voice cracks. Mostly I’m talking about thirty seconds in and at the end of the final verse. It conveys an authenticity and ruggedness that matches the songs densely lo-fi aesthetic.
It sounds to me like “Throwback” was recorded in a Wisconsin cabin, straight to tape. Then whoever mixed it said “Hey guy, gain is super cool. Let’s overload it on literally everything”. It gives the track weight and warmth, and distinguishes it from James’ ouvre with My Morning Jacket.
GENRE: Garage Rock, Southern Rock
36. Doom - Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally is a grunge band through and through. This imposes limitations, as do most bands that adhere strictly to genre conventions. But if one finds a way to work within those limitations, they can craft a really nifty song or two.
“Doom” is nifty as fuck. The title stems from the songs largo tempo, as a churning dissonant riff imbues the listener with vertigo. It’s not actually a Doom Metal song mind you, but it does borrow from the genre, and more importantly it conveys a sense of unease and intensity, aided by a raw and melodic vocal performance.
GENRE: Neo-Grunge, Alternative Rock
37. Rare Birds - Jonathan Wilson
The title track from Jonathan Wilson’s latest album is also easily the strongest of the bunch. Solid, memorable vocal melodies (okay so one of ‘em is a complete lift of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, but that level of homage is to be expected from Wilson), a gutsy beat and some really strong production all work together on this song, which comes closer to reaching the album’s grand ambitions than anything else on it.
In some ways, I see this album as Jonathan Wilson tackling the War on Drugs/Kurt Vile market, with big punchy, regimented drum beats, chintzy retro synths, and a denser, rougher sound overall. “Rare Birds” is as good as it is partially because it transcends the comparison, which is somewhat forced on you much of the time (especially on songs like “Over the Midnight”). It’s an unstoppable beat, with some stellar guitar work and textures that remind the world that Jonathan Wilson is still one of the best music producer’s alive.
GENRE: Retro Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Prog Rock
38. And, Goodnight - Ty Segall
I like to call the genre I’d assign* to Ty Segall’s “And, Goodnight” Tomahawk Rock. Tomahawk Rock is a genre essentially invented by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. But also strongly influenced by “The End” by The Doors, “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds and other eastern-influenced 60s rock.
Tomahawk Rock songs are psychedelic. They have zesty riffs; gain-laden guitars with lots of bends. Long, extended jam passages abound.
“And, Goodnight” is a 12:03 Tomahawk Jam, baby. Also it features maybe the strongest vocal performance Segall has ever delivered.
*(not that I’d ever presume to assume genre. I understand genre is fluid.)^
^(just so I don’t get in trouble, that is a joke for anyone who didn’t notice)
GENRE: Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Tomahawk Rock
39. Say Hello - Wye Oak
A groovy little pop ditty from Wye Oak. Honestly there isn’t much to say, other than the melodies and production speak for themselves. Man, that chorus is affective. Wye Oak are one of the best electro-rock outfit working today.
GENRE: Electronic, Pop, Chillwave
40. Don’t Get Too Comfortable - The Sword
The Sword dropped the best album of their career this year. Purists will decry me for endorsing the shiny, radio-ready production. I say bring it on, The Sword sound better than ever. Case in point: “Don’t Get Too Comfortable”.
The guitars whiz about, with some truly idiosyncratic guitar tones. When called for, the band busts out their trademark Black Sabbath riffs, but generally “Don’t Get Too Comfortable” is more groove based, as The Sword transitions from proto-metal worshipping traditionalists (read: boring) to a seasoned stoner rock band that’s got a bright future.
GENRE: Stoner Rock, Metal
41. A Love Song (Set Me Straight) - Josh T. Pearson
Josh T. Pearson brings on the massive, bleeding wall of guitar feedback that first gained him notice in Lift to Experience. Unlike many songs where Pearson overbears his melodies with noise, here he utilizes it to emphasize dynamics, and as a counterpoint to some truly excellent, clean production on the quieter portions.
Early in his career, Pearson was hailed as the next Jeff Buckley. It’s easy to see why on this slow burning track, which borrows heavily from the 1950s in it’s conceit. Perhaps this contrast is what lends the climactic portions of the song so much weight. The modern flourishes emphasize the timelessness of the song, while Pearson’s multiple vocal parts chaotically compete for attention. It sounds like Charlie Rich took too many barbiturates before performing in a Manhattan parking garage.
GENRE: Noise Country, Singer-Songwriter
42. Out in Control - Little Galaxies
I happen to have some inside information, having seen Little Galaxies live. That synth line? It’s a guitar.
That instantaneously makes this song like... ten times cooler than it should be. And not just because I have some weird boner for guitar effects. It demonstrates an attention to detail and textures that rivals and draws from electronic music, while maintaining the feel of a live band.
This enables the track to break into a folk rock chorus featuring some sexy rhythm guitar and a whompy bass line. All of a sudden I’m reminded of California folk rock, California 90s alternative rock. Really just California, baby. That’s the sound.
GENRE: Electronic Rock, Dream Pop, Indie Rock
43. Everybody Needs You - Laura Viers
With “Everybody Needs You”, Laura Viers synthesizes her folky, singer-songwriter leanings with bright, slick electro-indie production from her husband Tucker Martine (one of the best in the game right now).
I don’t honestly know what the song is about lyrically. I’m not sure it matters. The song is so aurally lush and musically well executed in each of its many layers. It’s a reminder that I used to find this genre much more sonically interesting and full of potential.
GENRE: Indie Pop, Electronic
44. Hares On The Mountain - All Them Witches
Oddly, All Them Witches’ second song on this list isn’t from their 2018 self-titled effort. Rather, it’s a B-Side from last year’s “Sleeping Through the War” and it could be seen as tribute to the importance of Allan Van Cleave on keys. Van Cleave left the band, and was replaced by some guy on the new record. Now I’m not saying I won’t give Some Guy a chance, but I am saying he’s got big shoes to fill.
The song is essentially a six-minute drone with sparse instrumentation beyond the humming, swelling keys. Singer MIchael Parks Jr. brings a solemn, primeval vocal melody to the proceedings. It’s haunting and beautiful, and shows the incredible range of one of the best bands working today.
GENRE: Drone Folk, Experimental
45. Benson se Convirtio Completamente Furiosa - The Amazing
“I’m sick of what I’ve got” croons Christoffer Gunrup, over a lazy groove from the masters of dream rock, The Amazing. Yes, with “In Transit”, The Amazing somehow topped their 2016 effort “Ambulance”, which was a veritable clinic in production aesthetic, as well as “how to make dream pop musically interesting”.
Meandering and heavily relying on improvisation, the band locks in better than any reverb rock band since My Morning Jacket. Three guitars wispily wind around each-other, serpentine and ornate in their textures. Over the first three acts of this ten-minute opus, the band takes you on a pensive ride through a hypnagogic wonderland of lush tones and circular rhythms.
It seems the band is always just a hair’s breadth away from losing control of the reigns, as they somehow steer away from conspicuous self-indulgence. It almost seems impossible, when the song glides to a halt.
Enter a doom laden, garage proto-metal outro! It’s a perfect, and genuinely surprising coda to what is one hell of a song.
GENRE: Shoegaze, Psychedelic Rock
46. BB - Nathan Salsburg
A lush piece featuring some beautiful finger picking from folk guitarist Nathan Salsburg. I honestly don’t know enough about music theory or technical guitar playing to accurately put into words what makes this specific track work, but it really does.
Sit out on your patio, on a rocking chair with a nice glass of lemonade and listen to this song. Trust me.
GENRE: Roots Instrumental, Bluegrass
47. The Things We Do To Each Other - Cowboy Junkies
A gentle examination on human nature and pain, “The Things We Do To Each Other” manages to avoid being saccharine or cloying. Instead it is affirming and soothing. Each musical element is perfectly restrained in it’s execution, as different instruments work their way into the song in new ways throughout its running time.
This is the sort of song I like to play at 4am while driving home on a lonesome road. It’s reflective and thought provoking, yet it’s rhythms are so tranquil and refined they balance out the weighty subject matter.
GENRE: Indie Folk, Alt-Country
48. Beginner’s Luck - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
My second favorite MGMT song of the year.
GENRE: Psych-Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
49. Durlin - Chris Carter
Chris Carter, one of the founders of Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle, has a knack for finding unique tones. His official role in Throbbing Gristle was “synthesist” and on “Durlin” he lives up to that title.
Clocking in at just under three minutes, “Durlin” doesn’t waste time on a now-traditional build/drop format. Rather it just gives you an instantly arresting beat and layers on all the necessary luster. It gets to the point quickly and finishes quickly, like a classic Chemical Brothers track. The song has a dark aura to it, with synth tones that communicate impending doom. Throw this on in the club or on a thriller movie soundtrack, it’ll be well received either way.
GENRE: Electronic, IDM, Techno
50. Strange Man - First Fire
I’m not sure if First Fire singer/guitarist Eric Davis appreciates the inevitable comparisons to Jeff Buckley that his music summons. But it’s certainly not bad to be compared to arguably the greatest singer of all time. Regardless, Davis isn’t some Buckley clone. He’s like a more distraught, unhinged Buckley, with a bit of added roughness around the edges.
“Strange Man” is a striking track, and an outstanding way to open up 2018’s “Proof”. A classic folk melody features on the verses, before the band explodes into powerful rhythmic blasts that punctuate the songs big moments. At the end of each intensifying passage, Davis moans some of the best lyrics of the year: “I’m just the strange man that your mother brought home.”
GENRE: Singer-Songwriter, Alternative Rock
51. I Am That - The Fratellis
Perhaps the most experimental track The Fratellis have ever bothered to produce, “I Am That” is the sort of song that The Verve or Oasis might have hazily stumbled upon during a moment of introspection. Working again with producer Tony Hoffer (one of the best in the game), songwriter Jon Fratelli puts forth some of his most openly reflective lyrics, ruminating on his career and the losses he’s dealt with.
Rarely does a Fratellis song wander off into a transcendental musical passage, usually preferring a cookie cutter guitar solo, but that’s exactly what happens on “I Am That”. The song cinematically unfolds and builds to a cathartic end over its almost seven minute running time. One of the most talented songwriters alive finally challenged himself, and boy am I glad he did.
GENRE: Drone Rock, Britpop, Alternative Rock
52. American Guilt - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
“American Guilt” is a stomping, rollicking good time of an electro-rock song. Unknown Mortal Orchestra loves producing their music to sound alien and digitally artifacted, and “American Guilt” is one of their best efforts so far. The production hits hard, and merges their idiosyncratic lo-fi with hi-fi techniques that add a pulsing richness to the band’s sound.
But most importantly, the song is built around a rockin’ blueprint following the jittery verse into a heaving pre-chorus, finally exploding with a blistering chorus: “Oh No! Here comes the American Guilt” Few songs this year will appeal equally to rock fans and electronic fans as much as this one does.
GENRE: Electronic Rock, Lo-Fi, Garage Rock
53. A Quality of Mercy - RVG
Imagine if the singer from Men Without Hats decided to make a song with The Go-Betweeners. Rickenbacker’s jangle over classic college rock while vocalist Romy Vager showcases their lyrical skill. Vager takes the perspective of someone about to be executed wrongly, and quotes letters to the newspaper condemning the accused. It’s a stirring and human portrait, that demands repeat listening.
Oh, most reviews of RVG I’ve read have brought more attention to the fact that RVG’s singer is in fact a trans-woman than to the music itself. So I should probably say something. Bluntly, I’m glad that this song is so good it transcends identity, because it really doesn’t matter what the singer is. The song is fucking great, and it deserves to be commended on its own terms.
GENRE: Post-Punk, College Rock
54. The Truth Is So Hard To Believe - Aaron Lee Tasjan
Old school, Lennon-esque songwriting is the forte of Aaron Lee Tasjan, whose debut album came out this year on New West records. His sound is reminiscent of many other similar artists going for the same retro-market. It’s an oversaturated market, but that means songcraft is the key factor in setting oneself apart.
Something about “The Truth Is So Hard To Believe” feels incredibly professional. There’s a nice 80s vibe to the vocal production, a 60s sentiment to the songwriting and vocals, and modern sounding guitars, all mixed in the exact right place. Rarely have I meant the word “workmanlike” to be as high of a compliment as I do here.
GENRE: Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
55. In The Middle Of The Night - Still Corners
On “In the Middle of the Night” Still Corners refines the pulsing, doo-wop on acid side of their sound to its finest iteration so far. This isn’t really anything new from the shoegaze mainstays, and I don’t expect anything new from a shoegaze band anyway.
But the stuttering groove that propels the song forward is pretty damn sexy. The production is stellar as always. There are a lot of bands that play “reverb rock” right now, and few do it as well as Still Corners.
GENRE: Dream Pop, Shoegaze
56. God - The Gitas
“I don’t love God because God does no wrong/But I do” intones Sasha Chemerov on the chorus of this absolute ripper of a song. Buzz Osbourne once said something about how a lot of early grunge was a competition to see who could be the stupidest, because rock itself is inherently kind of stupid.
Well, The Gitas exemplify that maxim to a tee. The sound of “God” is lumbering and rude. Yet The Gitas don’t revel in classic rock tropes and tones. They slam you in the gut with futuristic, biting guitars and fat, massive bass tones that are unique enough to avoid the trappings of most post-grunge, which generally sounds like processed garbage. Plus the instrumentation is anything but generic. The chemistry between Chemerov and bassist Sal Ramazzini is palpable, and I can’t wait to hear what they do next now that they’ve added drummer Bruno Ragalia (formerly of Rosechild, who cracked my 2017 list).
Hearing a male-fronted neo-grunge band that doesn’t suck is kind of refreshing, don’t you think?
GENRE: Hard Rock, Grunge
57. Planetarium - Slothrust
A punk blast of energy on an album that sorely needed energy, “Planetarium” is basically a better, more evolved incarnation of the mosh pit ready punk sound displayed on last year’s B-Side “Milking the Snake”.
The best part of “Planetarium” is the rhythm section, which is absurdly tight. Drummer Will Gorin pounds away on gargantuan sounding drums (kudos to Garbage producer Billy Bush), while bassist Kyle Bann rips away on some nasty, cleanly articulated runs after the second chorus. The rhythm section collectively drives this song forward breathlessly to the finish line. Singer Leah Wellbaum gets a couple zingers in there as well, and both her and Gorin get solo moments to match Bann’s bass extravaganza. It’s good to hear a genuine punk song executed with this level of skill and musicianship.
GENRE: Punk Rock
58. Long Wave - Bonny Doon
Slacker Rock done right. On “Long Wave”, Detroit band Bonny Doon encapsulates the sound of swaying in a hammock on a balmy summer day where everything feels just peachy. “That’s just one thing I know for sure” murmurs singer Bill Lennox, while a stoned bass part plods forward and lazy meandering guitars intertwine. Sway hammock, sway.
GENRE: Folk Rock, Slacker Rock
59. My Dad - The Gooms
“My Dad” is a song that captures the zeitgeist in a manner few artists manage these days. Tackling a hot-button issue, yet not being corny, condescending or preachy, The Gooms’ singer/guitarist and songwriter Chase Klitzner toes the line perfectly. Instead of getting bogged down in politics, the song simply addresses the emotional reality of the situation at hand.
And what is the situation? Well, as it’s gloriously belted, the narrator’s dad “changed his name to Grace”. The lyrics on the song are masterful. Not a one of them rings false, and not a one of them is obvious. They are vague and universal, yet well chosen and specific. Following these lyrics “My dad is a little bit insane/My dad can be really fuckin’ difficult” the final verse closes with the proclamation “My dad and me are so the fucking same!”
And then (!) The Gooms have the gall to close the song with a joke, highlighting the humanity of the situation. Let’s not forget, humor and pushing the envelope are important steps for healing and understanding.
Included here is the earlier version of this song, released as a single. I like this version far better than the newer version on their recent EP “Friends”. The production on this incarnation is less gain-y, yet is nasty and muscular. The bass is a bit meaner and raw in this take. The vocals are simultaneously wetter and more crisp. In a weird way, it cleanly showcases the grittiness of the band’s sound. Also, this version has a longer guitar solo, which flows better and is miles ahead of the solo on the newer incarnation. Regardless, it’s a very well written song and I suggest you seek out both versions and decide for yourself.
GENRE: Lo-Fi, Garage Rock
60. A Certain Kind of Memory - Kacy & Clayton
Canadian folk duo Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum mine familiar territory with their country-roots duets. Fortunately, Kacy Anderson sounds like a less maudlin Ashley Monroe, and she’s the star of this wistful track.
Also Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco, produced this shit. And man, oh man, does it sound good.
GENRE: Folk, Country
Photo at the top of the article is by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash.