1. Jessy Bulbo- “Maldito”
Jessy Bulbo was one of my favorite takeaways from a series of summer concerts and festivals. She played to a pumped crowd at Ruido Fest this year, and there were no dull moments in her set. On a side note, it was at her show that I felt great joy while watching someone attempt to take a selfie with an iPad, as if bringing an iPad to a music festival were the most normal thing to do in the world (and not a mini, but a full-sized iPad).
2. Simon & Garfunkel- “He Was My Brother”
Forget about what any S&G critics have to say. After what must be well over a hundred full listens through Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., the harmonies that this duo achieve still strike me as among the most clear and beautiful in western (non-classical) music. Even songs that I hate in any other context—“Go Tell it on the Mountain” comes to mind—are irresistible coming from these guys. This track is one of the sadder songs from the album.
3. King Tuff- “Black Moon Spell”
King Tuff is the kind of band that I’ll listen to way too much for way too long, totally burn out on, and then come back to after a couple of months thinking, “How could I ever stop listening to this stuff?” “Black Moon Spell” is the title track from their most recent album. When the chorus starts to stale, they recover with a basic, but completely kickass fuzzy guitar solo.
4. Madonna- “Material Girl”
Madonna is like the Pepé Le Pew of pop music. On paper, she seems annoying and a little nasty, but her art (yes, I refer to her work as art) is still loveable. Frankly, I’m tired of getting in heated debates about her relevance, her image, and the trajectory of her career. If you can’t acknowledge that she was at some point a brilliant performer, worthy of at least an ounce of recognition, then I am not interested arguing with or even talking to you. For the non-haters, enjoy this throwback.
5. Destroyer- “Dream Lover”
Here is a song from Destroyer’s new album, the jazzy, happy, and complexly-orchestrated Poison Season. It has been a joy to watch Dan Bejar evolve as a musician and songwriter, and this most recent release succeeded in meeting my continually-rising expectations for his work.
6. The Staples Singers- “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”
There are tons of versions of this song out in the musical ether, but the Staples Singers’ take on the classic has always been my favorite. The combination of Pops’ singular guitar style, and the harmonies created by his children gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
7 & 8. Devendra Banhart- “See Saw” & “Tit Smoking In The Temple Of Artesan Mimicry”
I’ve lost count of how many times I have included Devendra Banhart in these mixes, and I realize that most of those songs have come from his masterpiece Rejoicing in the Hands. But his music, especially these earlier songs, rings so hauntingly beautiful that I have no problem shamelessly repeating myself and encouraging people to check this guy out.
9. Titus Andronicus- “I Lost My Mind (+@)”
A little over a month ago, Titus Andronicus released the ambitious The Most Lamentable Tragedy, an operatic album stretching over an hour and a half. These twenty-nine tracks, as a whole, may not appeal to the lighthearted, but anyone with an existing interest in Titus will likely appreciate this sizeable addition to their catalog. This song is one of the lovely new pieces from these masterful cynics.
10. Coolio- “Rollin’ With My Homies”
Ok, stay with me for a minute on this one. I started this semester by reading Jane Austen’s incomparable Emma for one of my classes (shout out to my ENGL 435 classmates). By now, it is no secret that the classic ‘90s flick Clueless is based on Austen’s novel. Reading the novel has brought out in me some heavy nostalgia for the movie. Anyone who has seen the movie as many times as I have should recognize this groovy tune from the ridiculous party scene. To spread the Emma/Clueless love, I’ll make cookies for anyone who reads this entry and comes up to me making the “Rollin’ With My Homies” arm motion (deadline: one week from today).
11. The New Pornographers- “You Tell Me Where”
Somehow, I ended up seeing New Porn three times on their current Brill Bruisers tour. Like any Case/Newman/Calder/Bejar-obessed music fan, I enjoyed the album during the first listen. However, seeing the band multiple times in such a short time-span has massively impacted my enjoyment of the album, in a positive way. Brill Bruisers may or may not stand the test of time, but it already feels like I have been enjoying it for a decade.