Top 50 Songs of 2016: #s 20 – 1

20.  When Sex Was Dirty by Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals

Favorite line: “And everything worth knowing was in a magazine”

Generally, I’m not a fan of Ben Harper and his noodling on guitar, but this one had some catchy lyrics to go with it.

19.  Digging for Windows-  Zach de la Rocha

Favorite line:  “Now they’re riding their portfolios like rodeos”

Welcome back, Mr. de la Rocha.  How i’ve missed you.  Hope to see you again soon.

18.  Lazarus-  David Bowie

Favorite line:  “Look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen”

It’s amazing that Mr. Stardust managed to write one last farewell album to the world, and that it’s as graceful as it is.

17.  My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars-  Mitski

Favorite line:  “My body’s made of crushed little stars/and I’m not doing anything”

The single from the new artist with a cleverly titled album, Puberty 2, which is why i even looked into the album in the first place.

16.  FDT (f. Nipsey Hussle)-  YG

Favorite line:  “Fuck Donald Trump”

Because….weeelll…

15.  You Want It Darker- Leonard Cohen

Favorite line:  “You want it darker/we snuff the flame”

New Moon light in a windowless room black humor from one of the masters of the art form.

14.  Gossamer Thin-  Conner Oberst

Favorite line:  “Her screams sound like pleasure/her moans like despair”

Ruminations is his best album of music since he stopped using the Bright Eyes moniker.  Just him, a piano & a harmonica.

13.  Black Man in a White World-  Michael Kiwanuka

Favorite line:  “And I’ve lost everything I’ve had/I’m not angry & I’m not mad”

I first heard of him when Adele mentioned him as an artist she liked.  His second album features this catchy number.

12.  Aerosol Ball-  The Felice Brothers

Favorite line:  “Her dreams and her thoughts are made by Microsoft”

I mostly love the word play within the lyrics of the song.

11.  Searching for Santa-  Tig Notaro

Favorite line:  “Oh my god it’s Santa!  Do you think he’ll talk to us?’

A hilarious telling of a story from a comedian who’s just happy to be alive.

10.  Nobody Speak-  DJ Shadow (f. Run the Jewels)

Favorite line:  “I don’t work for free/I am barely giving a fuck away”

After two stellar collaborative albums, I’d take anything by Run the Jewels, even a guest spot on a DJ Shadow song.  Not for kids.

9.  Warpaint-  Beach Slang

Favorite line:  “Don’t be afraid to want to be alive”

I picked up their previous album earlier in the year, so when A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings came out, I was all to happy to hear what was next up on the offering.

8.  1000 Times- Hamilton Leithauser f. Rostam Batmanji

Favorite line:  “Those ancient years were black and white”

When the singer from The Walkmen and the guitar player from Vampire Weekend choose to collaborate, the result is a wonderfully written and sung song with a great guitar accompanying.

7.  Cleopatra-  The Lumineers

Favorite line:  “And the only gifts from my lord were a birth and a divorce/but I’ve read the script and the costume fits and so I’ll play my part”
This album was pretty well panned by reviewers when it came out, but there’s something about this song in particular that really took a hold on me.  Maybe because I’ve had a divorce and by the time I’m done with the part I’ve been given, the next person in the role will seem derivative.

6.  World’s Greatest Loser-  Margo Price

Favorite line:  “And all of that, it seems so small/if I lost you, I’d lose it all”

Country music needed something like this coming along in order for me to take attention to a random new artist.  The song is comical, but has a good heart.

5.  Purple Rain (live in Minneapolis 4/21/16)-  Corey Taylor

Favorite line:  “I never wanted to be your weekend lover/I only wanted to be some kind of friend”

Slipknot front man did a straight cover of Purple Rain in Prince’s home town the day he was found dead.  In the club where the song was originally performed more than 30 years ago.

4.  Shut Up Kiss Me-  Angel Olsen

Favorite line:  “If I’m out of sight, take another look around/I’m still out there hoping to be found”

This is probably the song I found myself getting stuck in my head the most this year. I first found Angel Olsen in 2014 and am very glad her followup, My Woman, is garnering attention on national year-end lists.

3.  Freedom- Beyonce (f. Kendrick Lamar)

Favorite line:  “I’ma keep running/’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves”
For some reason, I can’t find the version form the HBO Lemonade special.  Beyonce’s album had so many high points on it, it was hard to pick a single song to represent it on my list, but this one seems to fit.  Other good songs are “Sorry” and “Hold Up”.Bonus:  Even the Dixie Chicks took note of Queen Bey’s album this year:

2.  Burn the Witch-  Radiohead

Favorite line:  “Abandon all reason/avoid all eye contact”

A readily-accessible Radiohead album was a welcome addition to this year’s musical offerings.  This was the first introduction to A Moon Shaped Pool, and it helped that the video was not only claymation, but a retelling of Wicker Man.

1.  Left Handed Kisses-  Andrew Bird (f. Fiona Apple)

Favorite line:  “If you really loved me/you’d risk more than a few fifty cent words on your backhanded love song”

 A fantastic hate-fuck of a song.  Two people telling each other that they hate and love the other.  Plus, I learned about the Sargasso Sea, which is used as a metaphor for the state of their love in the song.  In a year where no song jumped out at me and made itself clear to be my favorite of the year, this is the one I found to be the most welcome and the most clever.

Top 50 Songs of 2016: #s 50 – 21

50.   Fickle Sun (iii) I’m Set Free-  Brian Eno

A lot was made prior to the release of The Ship that it would feature the return of Brian Eno to having words in his music.  What I didn’t expect was that the return would be a Velvet Underground cover.

49.  End of Reel-  The Hotelier

The most engaging song on an adventurous album, down to the fact that it features a nudist colony on the cover.

48.  Guns-  Nice as Fuck

Jenny Lewis’ new band doing an anti-gun song…see, Candlebox, this is how guns are supposed to be handled in recorded music in this day and age.

47.  Night Swimming-  Tacocat

The band that brought you “Crimson Wave” in 2014, returns with a similarly goofy song about skinny-dipping at night.  Won me over for the line “you can bring your boombox/but you can’t play REM”…because, you know, they also have a song called “Nightswimming”.

46.  Emotions and Math-  Margaret Glaspy

One of the better free downloads I was given all year.  Giving discussion to the fact that our lives are ruled by emotions and logic, the song tells of missing a loved one while they are away.

45.  Three Packs a Day-  Courtney Barnett

About Ramen noodles…what did you think it was about??

44.  We the People…-  A Tribe Called Quest

The most recent addition to my list, the first single from the final A Tribe Called Quest album is a furious take on the political troubles of our times.  Also with a reference to ramen noodle…

43.  History Now-  Mavis Staples

Another take on our current political climate, this time from somebody who lived through the 60s and saw what happened then.

42.  To Be Loved (live)-  Bryde

I joined Bryde’s email distribution list a couple of years ago, and this is one of the offerings she sent out in 2016.  Solo vocals and guitar about how sometimes it can be difficult to accept feeling loved.

41.  Lonesome Low-  Al Scorch

Another free track I received this year, this time representing the country genre.  Features a haunting line about seeing a body swinging from a tree.

40.  Work-  Rihanna (f. Drake)

A little too repetitive for my taste, but a decent pop track about how hard it can sometimes be to put the effort into a relationship.

39.  Hurt Me-  Lapsley

The track is good, but I’m more than a little thrown off by the extraneous high-pitched vocal beats happening during the chorus.

38.  Drink You Gone-  Ingrid Michaelson

An excellent send off to a spurned love.

37.  What We Have (To Change)-  Lucius

Another excellent sent off to a spurned love.  This one talking about trying to patch up a relationship on the rocks.

36.  Holy Hell-  Father John Misty

Father John Misty offered the first piece of catharsis after the 2016 presidential elections.  Looking forward to hearing what more he has to offer next year.

35.  Kiss Me When I Bleed-  White Lung

A bit of loud, brach alternative rock.  Exactly what one might think it would be about…

34.  The Gospel-  Alicia Keys

I’m glad this song was picked as a single from the album, but I discovered it by accident.  Best line, “now we doin’ life like Eddie Murphy & Martin”.

33.  Surrender Under Protest-  Drive-by Truckers

A protest song, about protesting, from an album that feels like a send off to the current state of America.

32.  Silence:  The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing (part 2)-  Silence

https://silencepgh.bandcamp.com/releases

I have it on good authority that the crowd pleaser is Part 1, but I found the lyrics about the most important voices being drowned out by the pablum to be my favorite part.  Seeing the at The Kraken was one of my musical highlights of the year.

31.  Die Like a Rich Boy-  Frightened Rabbit

A song about trying to live up to unachievable expectations, both of your own and of those around you.

30.  Prophets of Rage (Public Enemy cover)-  Prophets of Rage

Make way for the Prophets of Rage!  The best thing going during the run up to the 2016 RNC & DNC.  Here’s to hoping they continue Making America Rage Again!

29.  I Decide-  The Julie Ruin

Welcome back, Kathleen Hanna!  A girl power anthem for a year in which I hoped there would be more than there ended up being…

28.  Tungs-  The Frights

A pop-punk blast which features a callout to Wreckless Eric and maybe one of the best lyrics of the year “Have you seen my shoes/’cause they’ve been ripped to shit from walking the world for you”.  Sorry, the only version with actual activity i could find was the acoustic version.

27.  No Fat Burger-  Descendants

A middle-aged follow up to their “I Like Food” blast from nearly 20 years ago.  Sadly, and awesomely, the best punk song of the year, by my estimation.

26.  Mourning Song-  Shovels & Rope.

A delightful return to form for Shovels & Rope, after the out of character Busted Jukebox album.  Features lyrics about two lovers passing the days away.

25.  Divorce Separation Blues-  The Avett Brothers

A throw-back style stereotypical country song from a thoroughly modern alt-country outfit.

24.  Stealing Bread- Micah Bournes

Dropping some free-form poetry on our collective asses!  Oh god I loved this track for the truth Mr, Bournes spits.

23.  7 Years- Lukas Graham

I first heard this song on a radio station playing at a Subway restaurant.  Talk about random discovery.  Lyrically, its about remembering significant points in your life.

22.  George RR Martin vs. JRR Tolkien-  Epic Rap Battles of History

A fantasy throw-down across the ages.  “It’s supposed to be fantasy, you myopic manatee”.  “Got my children making millions off my Silmarillions”. Classic.

21.  Jon Stewart talks about the 2016 elections

To those Republicans who want to “take their country back”.  “IT’S NOT YOURS, YOU DON’T OWN IT!!!” 🙂

Top 5 Albums of 2016

5.  The Lumineers-  Cleopatra

This album was maligned in reviews when it came out, but I honestly think it’s because it didn’t have anything as catchy as “Ho Hey” on it.  For me, this album was one of the first ones this year that sounded like a cohesive piece of work.

4.  Drive by Truckers – American Band

I got this album the week of the presidential election.  It sounded exactly like the album I needed to hear at that time.  A protest album against America being a superpower and not always for the right reasons.

3.  David Bowie – Blackstar

I got this album, sound unheard, the day Bowie died.  The next morning, when i’m listening to “Lazarus” my first thought was…”son of a bitch, you knew you were going to die”.  A final masterwork from a true innovator of music.

2.  Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead continue their streak of making albums that are strikingly beautiful and like nothing else in the music business.  It was at least a little weird to hear a studio version of “True Love Waits”.  Beautiful as ever.

1.  Beyonce – Lemonade

Nothing else this year felt like a musical event quite like Beyonce releasing Lemonade.  When it came out on HBO, the gf and I had a Beyonce-day and watched the special 3 times that day.  The songs are cohesive in their anger.  So many great lines in the album, it was one of the only albums for which I had a hard time choosing a favorite.  Nobody can review the album better than Evalyn from the Internets, though…

Worst song of 2016

There was really nothing else in the running this year.  This is the only song I heard for which I made note that it must be included on my “worst song” list.  Sure, other songs were bad, but this one actively angered me.

Candlebox, why in an era of mass shootings and police brutality, why in the fuck would you make a song about being tougher BECAUSE you have a gun???

I wanted to like your new album, but this one threw that want right out the window.

Now, I’m an anti-gun carrying person.  I have never shot a gun, and I have no intention of doing so, but this brazenly insensitive take on carrying around a gun “for protection” struck the wrong chord with me and has stuck in my craw ever sense.

Now, to cleanse my palate, here’s some of their fine work from the 90s:

Best videos of 2016

I could watch Serena shake her ass any time…

OK Go have made a name for themselves by having amazingly complex videos.

Because Rihanna is hot.

I never grew out of the Muppets, and seeing Electric Mayhem perform a “live” show was one of my highlights of the year, even if I only saw it on Youtube

It ends today

Back at the end of last year, I made a playlist consisting of every song from the date I got Itunes through mid-October 2015.  I took out every duplicate I could find, including songs with varying names (Tehran vs. Baghdad by The Offspring), demos, live versions for which I had the studio version, etc.  In the end, I made a list of 19,306 songs.  I then divided up the playlist into 12 parts approximately equal in time.

December’s playlist was 1533 songs between “Underground” by Harvey Danger and “Zoot Suit Riot” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

Today, as of 6:30AM, there are 43 songs left on the list.   Below is the biggest fish left in that sea….

I can hardly wait to be done with these playlists.  January’s playlist will be my 1800 favorite songs.

Welcome back, Old 97’s!

The first song released from their next album, Graveyard Whistling, out February 27.  The song features Brandi Carlile as God.  I’m very much looking forward to hearing what they of my favorite song and album of 2014 have to offer the next time out.

Norwegian Wood in Punjabi

I was reading the November 2nd issue of Rolling Stone today, where they had an interview with Tim Kaine (oh to long for the days when he was still the potential next Vice-President).  They spoke of some of his favorite bands and one he mentioned was Cornershop.

I saw Cornershop open for Oasis in 1997.  Their song, “Brimful of Asha” had already been a hit on the alternative radio station, so I was familiar with their sound.  What I never knew before reading this interview, however, was that they had covered “Norwegian Wood” in Punjabi.

And for good measure…

And some education about Mohammed Rafi: