Friday, January 11, 2019

Top 20 Songs of 2018, Part 2

I'm so excited to be posting my lists this early! OK, let's do this thing. Yesterday, I posted Part 1 of my Top 20 Songs of 2018 list. Here, in reverse order, is Part 2:

10. Johnny Marr - "Hi Hello" Johnny Marr - Hi Hello

I'll be honest - it's not that Morrissey hasn't written some good songs as a solo artist, but Johnny Marr's solo career really reminds me that Morrissey mostly only wrote the lyrics for The Smiths' songs -- it was Marr who wrote most of the music. The man has an ear for catchy-yet-intelligent pop. And this is just the latest example.

9. MGMT - "She Works Out Too Much" MGMT - She Works Out Too Much

Speaking of clever ... some people have glossed over this funny little track that opens the Little Dark Age LP on the way to singles like "Me and Michael" and the album's title song, but this cunning little number won me over right from the first listen. The back-and-forth interplay between lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden and the workout instructor is delightful throughout, as he declares that "She works out to much," and she laments that "The only reason we never worked out is/He didn't work out." Brilliant!

8. When We Land - "Wait" When We Land - Wait

I had never heard of this Minneapolis indie rock band before this year, but their debut album, Introvert's Plight is actually quite good. And the opening track, "Wait",  is particularly tasty. It's a mid-tempo number with a sense of longing, maybe even a desperation, to it. Good stuff.

7. Red Lama - "Perfect Strangers" Red Lama - Perfect Stangers

I found myself in the mood for a lot of psychedelic rock this year, and this Danish band's second LP, Motions, was the best of it. They're a seven-piece with a killer lead singer named Johannes Havemann Kissov Linnet. The keyboards and bongos made me feel like I was back in the sixties. "Perfect Strangers" is the first, and best, track from the album.

6. Of Montreal - "Paranoic Intervals/Body Dysmorphia" Of Montreal - Paranoic Intervals/Body Dysmorphia 

This was the year I first discovered this strange but excellent Athens, Georgia band, although they've been around since the late nineties. Their latest album, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood does this weird thing where every track on the album is actually two different songs run together. I was first drawn to this track because of the first part, "Paranoic Intervals", wherein lead singer Kevin Barnes tries to convince his paramour of the benefits of monogamy. After a while, however, I began to enjoy the "Body Dysmorphia" part of the track as much or more. They're both trippy little numbers.

5. Jaguwar - "Lunatic" Jaguwar - Lunatic

Jaguwar is a 3-piece noisepop band from Berlin and Dresden, Germany. They combine dreamy vocals that are reminiscent of bands such as Lush, with a fairly boisterous musical background. (In some ways, the remind me a little of The Joy Formidable). The contrast between soft vocals and hard music makes them kind of interesting. This is my favorite track from their album, Ringthing.

4. They Might Be Giants - "When the Lights Come On" They Might Be Giants - When the Lights Come On

This is another one of those bizarre tracks from this band where you don't know quite what's going on, but whatever it is, it's weird, kind of funny and somewhat horrifying. It's hard to determine just what's happening there in the dark, but whatever it is, the song's protagonist is now missing a kidney and part of his left hand. Nevertheless, he's pretty optimistic that it's all going to work out when the lights come on, even though he has a concussion from someone (or some thing) throwing him down a staircase. God, I love these guys!

3. Tonight Alive - "Crack My Heart" Tonight Alive - Crack My Heart

This isn't the first time this Australian band has made one of my year-end lists, thanks in large part to the talents of lead vocalist Jenna McDougall. This is just a good old hook-laden driving alternative rock song. It's from their latest album, Underworld.

2. Snail Mail - "Pristine" Snail Mail - Pristine

Snail Mail is the solo project of singer/songwriter Lindsey Jordan. I'll admit I didn't like her debut album Lush as much as a lot of the critics did, but I do love this track (in spite the fact that it's a classic example of what my daughter derisively refers to as "chicks singing about their feelings"). The style is folk-based indie rock.

1. Alvvays - "Plimsoll Punks" Alvvays - Plimsoll Punks

Alvvays (pronounced "Always") is a Toronto-based female-fronted indie-pop band. The song recounts a belligerent encounter with someone who is probably a boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend). It has a sound that's part sixties girls' groups and part nineties Britpop.

So that's it for my Best Of lists for (mostly) 2018. I hope you enjoyed them, and that maybe you discovered some new music.

I expect to be getting back to some album reviews soon enough, with a write-up of The Buggles' Adventures in Modern Recording. I'll also be doing the fourth part of my My Favorite Artists series, this time covering prog-rockers extraordinaire Yes. And I'll be attending my first concert of the year next week, so I'll have that to write about as well.

Onwards to 2019!