I enjoy a straight-ahead pop-rock song with slightly off-kilter lyrics, so that probably explains this song’s placement this high on the list. Maybe I’ve got a bad sense of humor—a little rough around the edges.
Bastille are an interesting pop band, an extension of what was initially a solo project for Dan Smith. The rest of their album has hooks, but the historical tie-in to “Pompeii” pushes it past the rest. Not that the hook on “Pompeii” is lacking—it only takes a few seconds to draw you in.
Thanks to the release of Wolf’s Law early in 2013, “Cholla” was one of my most-played songs of the year. It’s no “Whirring,” but this Welsh band now have two nice rock albums and a handful of solid singles to their credit. The double-kick on the bass drum through the chorus gets me tapping every time. I think this is a generally tighter song than the lead single “This Ladder Is Ours,” which didn’t make my cut. If you haven’t seen them perform “Whirring,” check that out too.
“Slumville Sunrise” is another good example of why I like Shangri La better than Bugg’s 2012 debut album. Rock is more my style, and he lets it fly with a nice solo on this song about his roots. The video is pretty ridiculous, though.
This band is a Southern/garage rock throwback who sound a bit out of place in today’s music landscape, but in a good way. While not truly spectacular as a whole, White Denim fill a nice role in this year’s list as one of just a handful of bands on the alt-rock fringes who feature some genuinely talented instrumentalists. “Pretty Green” and its closing solo are among the album’s highlights. Also perhaps the weirdest video on the list.
While not lyrically groundbreaking, this is a fun pop-rock song that deservedly received a lot of alternative airplay in the latter part of the year. Although this is yet another band that has fallen into the perhaps necessary trend of SEO (search engine optimization) naming—note the British ‘u’ despite the band’s California roots—I think it’s kind of cool that they don’t follow the female-backup-singer-slash-keyboard-player convention. Maya Tuttle is a capable drummer and rounds out the chorus nicely, even if she’s not exactly singing a harmony in this song. That’s two female drummers so far, if you’re counting (San Cisco’s Scarlett Stevens being the other).
This song contains maybe the best sing-along chorus of the year. The band have entirely too many singers and a superfluous apostrophe in their name, seemingly just to annoy me, but I can put that aside for a catchy song. Do you feel the love? I feel the love.
Franz Ferdinand’s songs always seem to border on the absurd, and this album is no different. The creative lyrics and solid rhythm section are still holding my interest eleven years after “Take Me Out.” The realization I get from this song is that good intentions should be followed by action, and the lyrics are playfully dismissive of that idea ever being realized. “This time, same as before, I’ll love you forever.” The line containing the song and album title is incredibly catchy, but it may be the repeating three-beat bass line that sticks most in my mind every time I hear it.
12. Foals “Inhaler”
Album: Holy Fire
Videos: Live version, don’t bother with the official video
Yannis Philippakis is not my favorite vocalist on the list, but this is a fine rock song. You could say he really explores the “space” provided by the interesting guitars/synth/bass lines. I’m also a sucker for a prog-ish ending like this one that shows off the band’s instrumental talent.
Yeah, so, um, wait a second—this is a pretty good song as long as the singer stays on pitch. He doesn’t in several online live versions I’ve seen (the best I’ve found is linked), but it’s still a neat tune., a lyrically and rhythmically strong call to action. I love the image of “that eureka moment [hitting] you like a cop car.”
Next up: Songs #10–1