Yes, it does seem a bit silly to talk about 2013 in music when it’s only halfway done and dusted, but already I’ve heard some really excellent tunes. We’ve got a sturdy Top 10 this time, in no particular order, of all the songs that have excited me the most.
“Comatose” – Ryan Johnson and The Dreams
Remember how in Alphabet Soup I’d always go on about the fantastic covers Ryan would play? Well, my friend is indeed an outstanding musician in his own right, and here he is with drummers Evin Mitchell and Josh Wilkinson, playing one of his own. The trio started out calling themselves Ghost in Stereo, but have since switched to Ryan Johnson and The Dreams in advance of their EP release on July 13th.
Well I have you under my skin
Where I let you
Let you creep in
â€œComatoseâ€ is one of my favorite songs he’s written, and it hovers between the musical neighborhoods of Ryan Adams and Bon Iver. Sunday night, I sat in on the guitar and vocals recording for this song, and I cannot wait to foist the finished product upon you all. Even if I did not know these three musicians, believe me when I say that I would enthusiastically listen to anything they release together.
“I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)” – Glasvegas
And now for something on the opposite end of the romantic spectrum â€¦ Glasvegas’ third album does not come out until September, but they recently released this single, backed with the B-side demo, â€œAll I Want is My Baby.â€
The piano is beautiful, and the sound is just different enough from the previous two releases that I’m really curious about how this third, Later â€¦ When the TV Turns to Static, will play out. Singer James Allan is fond of the spoken word pieces inserted into songs or used as standalone tracks, and â€œI’d Rather Be Dead (Than Be With You)â€ feels as though it is setting up a larger story. You can bet I’ll be pre-ordering it as soon as I can.
“Upstarts” – Johnny Marr
I don’t even know how to begin telling you how excellent Johnny Marr’s The Messenger is. Every single song on the album feels essential, and â€œUpstartsâ€ is one of the more fun among them, despite being a tale of hubris. Listening to it, you can tell that not only does Johnny Marr feel completely comfortable in who he is, but that he was flat-out born to play music. (For more on his experience of leaving school to be a full-time musician, also listen to â€œNew Town Velocity.â€)
The underground is overground
The overground will pull you down
It’s how it goes in these times
Finally, I must tell you that when I saw Johnny Marr play in Portland earlier this year, I became even more smitten, and not just because he also played some of his Smiths songs. I could have been quite satisfied with that experience alone, but then – Then! – I had the good fortune of meeting him, and it is a story I will happily tell again and again.
“Second Bite of The Apple” – Beady Eye
And speaking of die-hard musical love, here we have a song from Liam Gallagher and company’s second album, BE. It’s not really fair anymore to say that Beady Eye are merely â€œOasis-minus-Noel,â€ even if band member-wise that’s technically true. They’ve grown into their own sound, and while I did really like their first album, BE is even better. I had a hard time picking which song to feature here.
â€œSecond Bite of The Appleâ€ is psychedelic and massive, and I love the use of horns. The horns appear throughout the album, and they’ve talked about bringing them on tour, which would be such a great addition to the live experience. I hope they tour near me, but if they come to the US, I imagine it won’t be until late this year.
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” – David Bowie
Spirit Animal! You have returned! 10 years since his last album, David Bowie came out of nowhere with The Next Day. It’s full of Bowie-style storytelling, interesting sounds, and playful nods to his own history. I really, really dig it.
We will never be rid of these stars…
â€œThe Stars (Are Out Tonight)â€ is the second single, and the video features arty-alienesque badass Tilda Swinton. SWINTON! I love his commitment, and how he always has a clear vision for his work, and how he always seems to do exactly what he wants. The likelihood of me ever seeing him in person is probably low, but oh, I can dream.
“I’m Waiting Here” – David Lynch and Lykke Li
I love that David Lynch has branched out into a music career. I haven’t heard a lot of what he’s released, but this song with Lykke Li from his forthcoming album, The Big Dream, definitely caught my attention. Lykke Li is one of my favorites, and â€œI’m Waiting Hereâ€ is woozy and ethereal and lovely.
“Master Hunter” – Laura Marling
Again, I ask myself: Why do I not own everything Laura Marling has released? Once I Was An Eagle just came out at the end of May, and â€œMaster Hunterâ€ is a fantastic single. The video reminds me of both The Jam’s â€œThat’s Entertainmentâ€ and Kate Bush’s â€œRunning Up That Hill.â€
Musicallyâ€¦ Well, what can I say? Just listen.
“I Was A Fool” – Tegan and Sara
I am so pleased for Tegan and Sara’s more recent widespread success. Good on them. This song is sort of their version of an ’80s power ballad, and the video features Mae Whitman, who plays Amber on Parenthood.
â€œI was a fool for love…â€ – I think we can all say that about some point in our lives.
“Call Off Your Ghost” – Dessa
Dessa’s new album, Parts of Speech, is out today and my husband has been anxiously awaiting its arrival in the mail. She’s smart, talented, beautiful, and drinks whiskey – of course he has a massive crush on her.
I think she lives around here
I see her almost daily
All I can do to stop myself
from saying something crazy
I don’t think badly of her
I hope she makes you happy
It’s just a lot to ask
to watch your future walking past me
You want to study some interesting lyric writing? Get your mitts on some Dessa tunes.
“Get Lucky” – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams)
Finally, let’s close out with a dance party, as is my wont. â€œGet Luckyâ€ is so disco and fun; I love it.
Think this is the end of 30 Years of Music? Nope! Next week, we will have a bonus round of tunes, when I’ll bring it all the way back to 1982.
First though, remind yourself of what’s out this year, then tell me your favorites so far, and what you are eagerly anticipating.