Love Ain’t Enough- The Barr Brothers
I’m starting this list strong with the dreamiest song to grace my stereo this year. Between the simple, hopeful lyrics and the incredible kazoo-like tone on that solo that starts at 2:20, I can’t stop dancing in my car to this song.
Mama-The Glorious Sons
I had a hard time choosing between this song and my other favorite track from TGS, “White Noise”, but this won out in the end because it completely transports me to hot summers and cold lakes and sitting around a fire with friends.
Somebody’s Talking- The Preatures
We could talk about that zippy bass line that is just so much fun or the way this song makes me shimmy around my kitchen in the morning or the vocals that make me long for 1987 or we could just listen to this damn fine song.
Poor Man’s Son- Noah Gundersen
I had the pleasure of working for Noah a few times this past year and watching the crowd respond to him on stage from my little merch booth in the back was one of the highlights of my musical year. This beautiful song is the opening track on his stellar album ‘Ledges’ and is easily one of my favorite vocal performances I’ve heard in a while. The gang vocals feature his multi talented siblings and the final stanza is truly chilling. I love how raw Noah’s voice gets and how strong his sister Abby’s has to be to compete with all those boys, she truly steps up to the plate and lets her clear song rise above everyone else’s.
Under Pressure- The War on Drugs
This Don Henley/Paul Simon/Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart reminiscent song was my favorite crowd pleaser this year. I asked everyone who listened to it who it sounded like and they all came up with a different answer until I asked my friend Mike who chewed thoughtfully on it for a few verses and then said ‘Good. It just sounds good’.
I forget where we were- Ben Howard
I never thought I could get so emotional over the way someone said ‘green, green grass’, but Ben Howard always proves me wrong. I love the way it builds and how it makes me want to have a first kiss with someone. This haunting, sweet track hasn’t left my most played list since it came out.
The First Time- Donovan Woods
To me the pinnacle of success for a songwriter isn’t just fame or fortune or song plays, but rather trust and integrity. There’s a handful of people in the world (Justin Vernon & Brandon Boyd are the first 2 that come to mind) that could put out an album of just about anything and I would buy it because I deeply love and truly trust them. No matter who they collaborate with or how experimental they get, I will give whatever they put out a whirl because over time they’ve proven to me that I’ll never put on their album and be met with anything trite or silly. Donovan is one of those people, he consistently puts out quality music that is touching and sweet without making me gag. ‘The First Time’ is my favorite thing he put out this year, a simple and relatable song that will make anyone nostalgic.
I had to put a ‘cruising, hands out the window, driving down the highway to somewhere new’ song on the list and this was the clear winner. Put this on the next time you’re driving home late at night with a car full of people.
Speakers (acoustic mixtape version)- Sam Hunt
From the crackling fire in the opening seconds to way he says ‘where the wild things are’ in the last verse, this song makes me deeply reminiscent for my favorite high school hobby: Making out at gull lake. Anything that makes me nostalgic for being young is a good thing, but the gentle banjo in the background and the sweet lyrics really push this song into new territory. Seriously, my hips and shoulders start involuntarily moving as soon as he starts singing.
The Ceiling- The Wild Feathers
These were my favorite boys to come out of Tennessee this year, pay special attention to the way my boy Taylor belts it out at 4:30 and then check out their whole phenomenal debut album.
Hot Dreams- Timber Timbre
This here is the sexiest song on the list, actually the sexiest song of the year. Slow dance in your kitchen or in a bar or in the grocery store to this one and try to keep your legs from turning to jello at the incredible building sax solo at the end; it’s so hot it makes my knees press together.
This 80s pop synth track from Jack Antonoff’s side project Bleachers is perfection and makes me long deeply for a the halls of highschool. I’m still kind of ticked that I’m pushing 30 and no one has held a boombox outside my window yet, but this sweet song makes that reality a touch more bearable.
All I want- Dawn Golden
This here is the ‘heavy thoughts on the couch’ track of my year.
Stay High- Tove Lo (Habits Remix)
This one is for all you kitty cats who prefer tech over traditional instruments. I’ve got such a soft spot for swedish pop tarts and Tove Lo was new on my list this year (my queen Robyn is still in the top spot, never to be dethroned). This sexy and kinda dancey remix of her single was the best thing she put out this year.
Honourable mentions: I wish you would by Taylor Swift, Heavy Bells by J Roddy and The Business, How to dress well by Repeat Pleasure and Seasons by Future Islands (which was the hardest song to leave off this list, particularly the badbadnotgood remix)
Enjoy, Happy New Year kittens, may you find joy and music in this ridiculous world!