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Widge’s Favorite Music of 2012, Part 3A: The Songs

Regina Spektor

So, not too bad then. Here we are with Part 3 of my ongoing experiment in listening to more music than any one individual should. But what can I say? I said I was addicted; I never said it was a problem. To clarify: these aren’t songs so much as individual songs that were not released as singles. They were either on a single or an album and stood out to me over the rest of the album. I’m sure you might have a differing opinion of some of these, but it’s a big Internet. These are mine. As before, we have worthy contenders in alphabetical order followed by, in the next post, my personal Top 10. Enjoy.

Acre YawnHesitation Win

A wonderfully stark, beautifully sung summary of why so many relationships just never happen. Now, granted, that can be a good thing…and considering how much of life is driven by coupling, probably where the notion of the Many Worlds Theory originated, to be honest (“oh, if only I had asked her out, perhaps in another world…”). All of the uncertainty, impatience and misunderstanding all in one lovely little song. It’s from the Texas-based duo’s EP Ours and Other Museums, available from their Bandcamp page.

Avett BrothersI Never Knew You

Hmmm, perhaps a pattern. I have an appreciation not only for sad songs but for songs that either sound happy but aren’t or songs that are sort of gleefully sad. The idea at the heart of the song–that in retrospect you didn’t even know someone you had previously been in love with…well, that’s pretty goddamn sad if you stop to think about it. But the song doesn’t, instead just rocks and bops along as it’s healthy to do. The Avett Brothers are from North Carolina and this track is from their album The Carpenter

Band of HorsesEverything’s Gonna Be Undone

So here we have the South Carolina-based Band of Horses and, again, the song handles its subject matter with such a light touch, it seems almost offensive to come right out and say that it appears to be dealing directly with the slow and inevitable churn towards entropy and the ultimate heat death of the universe but on a scale that’s somewhat undefined despite the repetition of the “Everything” in the title…so I wouldn’t dream of doing so. Still, sometimes I think too much. And the concept of the small apocalypse appeals to me greatly…because I can’t afford the therapy I probably need. Regardless, this is available on their album Mirage Rock.

BattlesRolls Bayce (Hudson Mohawke Remix)

And now we come to Dross Glop, the remix album of Battles’ 2011 release, Gloss Drop (natch). Hudson Mohawke is a Scottish DJ and Battles hail from New York City. And in trying to reflect upon why I thought this song worked so well, I could only come up with the fact that it sounds like a demented carnival that’s been dropped into the middle of a dance club. The song cut from the rock musical version of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I know, it made more sense in my head. The album is available from Amazon

Andrew BirdIf I Needed You

Andrew Bird had a busy 2012, releasing Break It Yourself in March and then in October, the album this track is from: Hands of Glory. There’s just something simple and pure about a trio of musicians getting around a mic and singing a song such as this. And I’ve always been a sucker for strings anyway. If you can find a live version of this on YouTube (I couldn’t find one with good enough sound), then by all means watch it. The album is available from Amazon.

Datsik & DownlinkSyndrome

Again, I’m a sucker for any manner of strings…and after Rob introduced me to dubstep, it was a genre that became like Land of the Dead‘s sky flowers–when I truly needed to get work done, there was enough going on sonically for it to keep the useless bits of my brain occupied while the rest of me actually tried to be productive. I realize that not everybody can appreciate this stuff, but it sort of meshes with how screwed up my brain is. This is from Canadian producer Datsik’s debut album Vitamin D, which is available from Amazon.

Charlie Hunter & Scott AmendolaNot Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead

There’s not a lot of jazz on any of these lists. Part of that is because, with a few exceptions, I found a lot of what I heard to be…well, decent…but nothing special. In other words, it was nice to listen through once, but not really anything I’d like to permanently add to my collection. Because it all sounded pretty much the same. One exception to the rule was the title track of Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola’s release, which is first up, a great title, and second, just a nice, funky tune that pleases and keeps on doing so. I could only find a live version to share with you. The full album is available from Amazon.

Knife PartyBonfire

In my role as the Angel of Death for bands–the moment I discover them, it’s almost certain they will break up–I found Pendulum right after their (to date) last album, Immersion…and learned they had broken up. One good thing to come out of this was two members of the band becoming Knife Party, since I found them while running around looking for more dubstep mayhem to give myself a productivity soundtrack. This is from the EP Rage Valley, which sports excellent songs…but this one seemed the most energetic and most likely to get you off your ass. The EP is available from Amazon

John MayerWalt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967

Admittedly, this begins with horns–and I’m a sucker for horns. But then it becomes a subject that I’m an even bigger sucker for: a guy everybody thinks is crazy but he does whatever the hell it is he’s set his mind to anyway. “‘Cause when you’re done with this world, you know the next is up to you.” Just a brilliant metaphor for going forward with change and what happens next and what you leave behind. It’s from his album Born and Raised, available from Amazon.

MGMTFuture Games

Yes, I know: it’s strange…but I think that’s the point. A Fleetwood Mac cover that sounds like it was performed by Johnny Five after slugging back a few shots of whiskey. Re-listening to the original, it’s not as far off as it first sounds. And I believe that’s what drew me to it, it’s a chunky distorted bit of electronoise, which fits in the appropriate slots in my brain. Let that worry you accordingly. It’s from the Fleetwood Mac tribute album, Just Tell Me That You Want Me, which is available from Amazon. Also on the album are covers by the likes of Marianne Faithfull, The New Pornographers and Tame Impala.

Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft OrchestraInstituionalized

Speaking of cover albums, A Tribute to Repo Man came out in 2012. And while most of the tracks on there didn’t crank my tractor, the Amanda Palmer cover of Suicidal Tendencies is…pretty much what I would have experienced in medication form if I had been born a bit later. So it probably speaks to me more than most. Although, based on what I know about you, our loving audience, this probably will speak to you as well. It’s jazzy, it’s angsty and it’s screamy. It’s a worthy cover. The album is available from Amazon.

Regina SpektorSmall Town Moon

I’ve been a fan of Spektor’s since Soviet Kitsch and her sweet, strong voice delivers slightly askew lyrics like nobody else. “‘Cause we’re gonna get real old real soon. Today we’re younger than we ever gonna be.” These are words that really resonate with me during my period of increasing decrepitude. Also, just like the Mayer song above, this song speaks to me about change as well. Anyone from a small town knows the struggle with leaving…and it if it’s your mind, well, that just makes things even more difficult. It’s from her album What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, of which the non-deluxe version appears to be free for Amazon prime members.

Okay, that’s enough music and embeds for one post. Back in a bit with the next round.

I listen to too much damn music.