It’s always refreshing to hear new music. During college I tried to expose myself to new artists on a regular basis. For an unexplainable reason I lost that briefly. This year I’ve reverted in a major way, discovering the likes of Caroline Rose, MorMor and Let’s Eat Grandma.
There’s nothing like hearing a song that makes you feel more alive. It’s usually what I search for as I browse the songs Spotify recommends for me. I want to feel more alive as I drive a repaired Honda Civic, and as I run in gray Nikes. Here are fifteen songs I’ve heard this year that provide that feeling.
The Palace – Father John Misty
Joshua Tillman makes music that deserves to be listened to while driving a car without a real destination in mind. His last album, God’s Favorite Customer, fits the bill. Tillman writes in such a poignant way. The Palace isn’t an exception. The title refers to the hotel where Tillman made the record. Where an artist makes his or her music, like Justin Vernon creating his debut album in the woods, always intrigues me. Tillman puts every ounce of emotion and personal touch into this album, which makes it such a tangible piece of art.
Don’t Miss It – James Blake
Released in May, the song has plenty of sadness attached to it. Blake himself released a statement after Pitchfork labeled him as “still sad” in a tweet promoting their review of the single. The music video shows a presumed Blake typing the song lyrics into iPhone’s notes, which makes for a salient visualization. It tackles mental health. Blake changes his voice throughout the song. He writes about missing out on certain things.
It’s Not Just Me – Let’s Eat Grandma
I’ve written about Let’s Eat Grandma several times, but I never explained the name behind the childhood best friends (Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingsworth) turned pop musicians. It’s an inside joke, and it deals with the importance of grammar. Let’s Eat, Grandma means something entirely different than Let’s Eat Grandma. Two songs from their sophomore album, I’m All Ears, made this list of 15. It’s Not Just Me, produced by Faris Badwan and SOPHIE, takes two meanings, depending on the verse. The first, as Walton explained, deals with a romantic relationship, while the second verse deals with friendship.
Soul No. 5 – Caroline Rose
Caroline Rose makes music that makes you want to dance, especially Soul No. 5. Adam Duritz recommended Rose back in March, and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. Her second album, LONER, did incredibly well with reviews. Lyrically, Rose can be sarcastic. Her ability to sound different with each passing song on the album is an admirable skill, too. Soul No. 5 dives deep into the idea of catcalling. She wrote and rewrote the song five times, which ironically, as Rose described it in an interview with Earmilk as “reminiscent of Mambo No. 5.”
Fallingwater – Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers said the song, that’s powerfully produced by former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, was about “rapid change.” She began writing the song as a demo in 2016, before working with Batmanglij. Rogers recently toured with Haim. At 24, Rogers has had success with Alaska and Dog Years, but it feels like she’ll have a true breakthrough when she eventually releases her next album, as her first two albums were both digital downloads only. Big things appear to be on the horizon.
Lemon Glow – Beach House
Beach House’s 7 ranks near the top of my favorite albums from 2018. I’ll do a full breakdown before the year ends of all my favorites. Lemon Glow, released on Valentine’s Day, was the album’s first single. It’s a peaceful, easy-to-listen-to song.
Scorpio Rising – Soccer Mommy
I wrote about Soccer Mommy last month. She’s great, and this song’s probably my favorite off Clean.
Needle and Thread – Ages and Ages
The Portland, Oregon band released this single in May.
Waiting on the Warmth – MorMor
MorMor released an EP last month, and it’s just tremendous. He’s an incredibly gifted musician, able to balance multiple genres within each passing track.
Forest Green – Big Red Machine
Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner collaborated for Big Red Machine, releasing four singles earlier this year on p-e-o-p-l-e. Just the other day, the singles appeared on streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music. Vernon and Dessner performed about 10 songs to close out Vernon’s annual Eaux Claire festival in Wisconsin July 7. Sooner rather than later an entire album will be released. The world needs that album.
Donnie Darko – Let’s Eat Grandma
The English duo performed this song as earlier as 2016, but Let’s Eat Grandma waited to their sophomore album before releasing a studio version on June 29. It’s a near perfect song, and it’ll most assuredly rank near the top of my favorite songs of 2018. It’s an 11-minute whirlwind of a song with heavy experimentally production. It’s inspired by Jake Gyllenhaal’s enthralling 2001 “Donnie Darko.” The best friends watched the movie while writing their first album where the found parallels.
“Some of the themes match some of ours: [being] a teenager, navigating the world, and things being ambiguous,” Jenny Hollingworth told Band Camp Daily. “Even in terms of the sounds on the album, it just made sense.”
Shortly after five minutes into the song features my favorite part. It has an upbeat, quick rhythm, and it’s more speaking than singing.
“I’ve got bed bug bites up my spine
And my left hand side cooled them down
In the freezer aisle, oh, so sweet, so the night comes by
Now I’m lying flat on the bathroom tiles
Hear the buzz of the hornet fly
Trapped inside of my orchid mind
I’m going batshit crazy
It’s not real life, I can’t be dialing 999
Peel my skin like a clementine
Just reminds me of Auld Lang Syne
But I focus right on the bright, blue light
And hold on tight, hold on tight”
Heat Wave – Snail Mail
Lindsey Jordan, known as Snail Mail, and I share a birthday, which doesn’t meany anything, really, but it’s a fun fact. Jordan released her debut album, Lush, last month, and it’s freaking awesome. Heat Wave deals with summer romance, and the emotion she demonstrates feels so real throughout.
Age of You – Orchards
Your Dog – Soccer Mommy
More of the Same – Caroline Rose