Halfway through the year it’s nice to take an inventory of music that has rocked my world, meant something to me, and caused me to hit repeat 1, sustaining a single track for what seems like hours. This year has been full of stellar tracks, as good as any year, with little much falter to be had. With this list, and with any musical list, I treat these songs as friends; they speak to me, I speak to them by singing, and I spend time with them as often as I can. In a way, that’s what music is, they’re friends. Friends provide a lot, they bring out the best in us, they’re there for us, most of all they never let us down. As such, here are some of my best friends, new to me this year.
“Groan Man, Don’t Cry” by Zammuto
We were all sad when The Books decided to call it quits, but as a trade off we got a stellar album from Nick Zammuto. With “Groan Man, Don’t Cry” he’s created one of the most fun, six minute songs you’ve ever heard. The synth work doesn’t detract from the song, like it can for many artists, his play with vocal effects are a joy from beginning to end, and the guitar work is so simple, but yet so melodic that it makes up the melody for a majority of the song. Basically, this is the best six minutes of your life, in song, this year.
4. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” by Father John Misty
If anybody, for a second, doubted Joshua Tillman’s ability outside of Fleet Foxes, well you haven’t been paying very good attention. After years of solo work, his return to it has produced one of the best albums of his career. “Hollywood” is greatly about death, loss, and love, but the protagonists’ muse is tough to pin down. Is she alive? Is she dead? Tough to say, but the main characters resolve for her is unmatched. The melody is slow and simple, powerful and resolute. This is a song that may be my number one by the end of the year.
3. “XYZ” by Jack and White
Whenever I hear this song I think of Craig Thompson’s Blankets graphic novel. The melody fits so well with the tone and imagery of the comic as well as it’s theme. This is my favorite Jack and White song; it’s a beautiful song about life, it’s unfairness, also the resolve of the human condition, to make it through anyway. Jack Matranga’s guitar is haunting while Brooke White’s vocals are comforting. Whenever I’m feeling down, I throw this track on and it helps make the day a little bit better.
2. “Boobie Miles” by Big K.R.I.T.
Though K.R.I.T.’s major label debut didn’t totally live up to the hype, his 4evaNaDay mix tape surpassed all expectations he could have ever set forth, and this track from it is an instant classic. The title references the individual that inspired Friday Night Lights and in a way it serves as a lesson for those who wish to achieve goals in life. This is done through a series of various sports metaphors. The sample is in the same vein as many of his past samples, relying on the sounds of the 70’s and slow jazz to serve his purpose. I still gush about that subtle horn.
1. “We Used to Sing” by Sci-Fi Romance
Since I first heard this song, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s the one song I’ve listened to more than any, according to my iTunes counter (35). It’s a more complicated song than it may seem on a first listen; it’s protagonist, John Henry, laments not being able to sing old slave songs and ballads the way he used to, love having changed that. The melody, driven by a cello and bass, provide some of the most uplifting, dichotomous music I’ve heard so far this year, and so far in my young life. I’ve already declared The Ghost of John Henry my album of the year, this is one of 10 reasons why.