31. “Wakin On A Pretty Day”- Kurt Vile

It’s been said that most Bruce Springsteen songs, and by extension most American folk music, are about home: those who stay rot, and those who leave it lose themselves. Veteran song man Kurt Vile’s “Wakin on a Pretty Day” extends the home metaphor to a dying loved one, but despite the jangly guitars and hushed vocals, this isn’t the workingman sob story we’ve come to expect. “Don’t know why I ever go away/it’s hard to explain/my love in this daze,” he sings softly, allowing his orchestral-like band to wash over you like a backyard sprinkler. And just when one thinks this song is about to get sad, Vile brings the soft haymaker: “don’t worry bout a thing/it’s only dying.” He doesn’t take sides in the death conundrum, whether it’s good, bad, necessary, healthy, tragic…it’s just something one shouldn’t worry about. No explanation is given, and none is needed, because rarely has such a wishy-washy declaration about death ever felt so comforting.

30. “Mute”- Youth Lagoon

Trevor Powers’s project Youth Lagoon’s gorgeous brand of folk-shoegaze (I’ll give it a go: Birkenstockgaze!) gives his hometown San Diego the beautifully dull soundtrack necessary to reflect the true aspects of the city…because have you been to non-Comic-Con San Diego? There isn’t much to talk about…and…GAH…I had the SAME problem last time I wrote about a Youth Lagoon song in 2011…are there seriously no adjectives to describe him?? “Mute” is pretty. I like it. I would like it if you also liked it. I would also welcome descriptive suggestions.

29. “#Beautiful”- Mariah Carey and Miguel

Hey, it’s that Mariah Carey song…but actually this time! You have to admire how Mariah ignored the expiration date on divas singing about how beautiful they are. With a voice like hers, she can straddle motorcycles half naked in her music videos for as long as she wants (while informing Kimye about plagiarism), because Mariah reminds us about how there was a time when singers actually needed to sing well. Regardless of any legendary luster she’s lost (more #1’s than the Beatles, if you needed a reminder), her voice has remained intact: her showing off her three (four?) octave range on the line “Oh, how you thrill me!” may just be her most impressive recorded moment ever. And after letting Miguel sing quite nicely for a minute, the anticipation for Mariah’s warm bravado only builds and builds until the listener is rewarded with one of the greatest voices to ever grace a microphone. In a year where every diva released an album, Mariah lends her experience and spanks all of them back to the studio, Beyoncé included.

28. “Nothing Is”- My Bloody Valentine

YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO EXCUSE THE SHOUTING, MY APOLOGIES! YOU SEE, I WASN’T EVEN BORN YET IN 1991 WHEN MY BLOODY VALENTINE RELEASED LOVELESS, THEIR INSTANT CLASSIC THAT SO OVERWHELMED THE WORLD THAT IT TOOK 22 YEARS FOR THE BAND TO FINALLY RELEASE A FOLLOW UP! MY GUESS IS THAT IT TOOK 22 YEARS FOR THE BAND’S CREATIVE FORCE KEVIN SHIELDS TO FINALL REGAIN HIS HEARING AFTER ORCHESTRATING THE LOUDEST CONCERT TOUR OF ALL TIME! WHAT DID YOU SAY?!? HOW IS THE NEW ALBUM?!?!? I mean, it’s alright, I guess. It’s not Loveless, but there’s a few good tracks. “Nothing Is” stands out the most, as if Shields recorded a few seconds of the greatest sound he ever heard in his life and decided to loop it over, and over, and over, until even the guitars started to sound like they were saying “and over, and over…” But I’m not complaining, because My Bloody Valentine is shoegaze and a titan of noise rock, and “Nothing Is” sounds less like a way to annoy my roommates and more like a koan the more I listen to it. AND AFTER JUST A FEW SECONDS OF LISTENING, I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF YOU ASKED YOURSELF, IS THIS THE LOUDEST TRANCE MUSIC EVER MADE, OR WHAT?!?!?!?’.]-=?!

27. “Goodie Goodies”- Cakes da Killa

Cakes da Killa is a newbie in a crowded New York rap scene with excellent talent but few distinguishing faces. The inevitable Le1f, Mykki Blanco, and Zebra Katz references will pop up due to similar styling and sexual preference, and though it’s a perfectly rational grouping, perhaps it would be in the best interest of music proliferation to point out that Cakes, Le1f, and Mykki are as confident, talented, and raunchy as any rappers out there now or before. “Goodie Goodies” doesn’t hide or wrap anything in a pretty bow: it’s about sex, the type of sex that would make Tipper Gore and the PMRC shake in their boots regardless of whomever practices, and that would make the middle of the country fluctuate from “slightly” to “burn-the-witch-y” on the uncomfortable scale. Songs like “Goodie Goodies” can get lost in the fray as excellent club music when in reality they should be recognized as excellent rap music. I don’t expect Cakes or any of his contemporaries to hit the top 40 success that he and they deserve, but in terms of trailblazing the path for other rappers, we’ll have seminal lines like “Cause my shit come tighter than the drag when she tucked” to thank.


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