How to choose? I have a really long list, and there’s so much I haven’t had time to really listen to… Anyway, I have had time to listen to these, and I really like them. Ranking them seems impossible, so they’re in no particular order. Look for a post tomorrow with the (long) shortlist.
“Crackers” by Maia Hirasawa. I love the echoing voices (both hers, I think), the joyful prediction of [non]love destined for disaster. Listen here.
“Heart It Races” by Dr. Dog, cover of Architecture in Helsinki. I have to say the AiH version is a little too weird for my taste, but I’m totally in love with the Dr. Dog version… They have an EP with several different artists singing this song — pretty cool idea; Dr. Dog’s is the best, hands down. Listen here.
“Leaves in the River” by Sea Wolf. Beautiful imagery, beautiful melody. Evokes this sort of thing. Unfortunately, I can’t find this particular track available on its own, except for an excerpt of the long instrumental intro on Amazon. You can find some free mp3s at aurgasm, though.
“Breakin’ Up” by Rilo Kiley. Happiest breakup song ever, and my favorite off of their new album. “Here’s to all the pretty words we will never speak / Here’s to all the pretty girls you’re gonna meet.” Listen here, but let it load for a bit first.
“The Chinatown Bus” by Bishop Allen. I’m a sucker for story songs that ramble along just like the bus rides they describe. It was great live, too. Listen to a clip here.
“Radiation Vibe” by Hem, cover of a Fountains of Wayne song — much softer than the original. “Are you alone now / Did you lose the monkey / He gave you backaches / And now you slouch.” Here’s a clip.
“No Bad News” by Patty Griffin. I have to echo Christopher’s love of this song. Such a pretty, uplifting song: “We’ll grow kindness in our hearts for all the strangers among us / Until there are no strangers anymore.” Awesome live — Patty can rock.
“You Might Walk Away” by Jesse Sykes. Great lyrics, a little more upbeat than her usual. Again, great live. Jesse makes me want to grow my hair even longer. And according to December’s Artforum, she’s a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, which adds yet another dimension. One of the most regretful moments of the year was missing her show at Red Rocks because they moved the start time up by a few hours… Listen to her here.
“A Girl in Port” by Okkervil River. Little vignettes of past lovers, followed by this verse: “Well, I’m a weak and lonely sort, though I’m not sailing just for sport. I’ve come to feel, out on the sea, these urgent lives press against me. I’m just a guest, I’m not a part, my tender head, with my easy heart. These several years out on the sea have made me empty, cold, and clear. Pour yourself into me.” Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
“Modern Love” by The Last Town Chorus. I saw this one live, and it took my breath away. Of course I find out later it was on Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a David Bowie cover, and Megan Hickey’s voice is hauntingly gorgeous. I have no idea what that instrument is she’s playing, but I like it.