J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Playlists, podcasts and music from WQFS Greensboro's J's Indie/Rock Mayhem - alternate Friday mornings 10 AM - 12 PM EST at 90.9 FM!

Friday, December 13, 2013

J's Indie/Rock Mayhem - 11th December 2013
The Top Singles of 2013


[Here we are, folks. The first of my two favorite shows of each year - the Top Singles of the Year. I was lucky enough to snag an extra hour and still wasn't able to play all of the singles I thought were really worth hearing this year. But this is a rundown of some of them and then, in the last hour, the annual Top 15 Singles of the Year. It's a great list and it's well worth hearing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

So there's no confusion, since the first hour did not take place during my normal showtime, I did not play my theme song to start things off - you'll hear it at the start of the 2nd hour of the podcast which was the usual 6 PM EST start time. You can think of the show as evolving from the 'lesser' best singles in the first hour to the next best singles in the 2nd and finally the top 15 in the third hour.

Next week is the 12th annual Top 25 Albums of the Year show. The album format is far from dead, and 2013 was great proof of that. We'll really get into it next week.

Now, let's go. Onward.]

J's Indie/Rock Podcast: Top Singles of 2013 show

Queens of the Stone Age - "Smooth Sailin'" [from ...like clockwork. a great song from a really tremendous record. we might hear them again next week. maybe.]
California X - "Pond Rot" [from their self-titled debut. not a bad little record - but we'll see where they take it.]
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Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - "Aubergine" [from ripley pine. this is an example of an overwhelmingly great single from a great record that normally would be lauded for its album qualities, not its singles, but this is just a tremendous song.]
Chris Stamey - "You n Me n XTC" [from lovesick blues. probably the only song i will ever go out of my way to listen to again on this album, but it's good.]
Marnie Stern - "You Don't Turn Down" [from the chronicles of marnia. quality guitar work here.]
Hayden - "Blurry Nights" [from us alone. it's been awhile since hayden has shown up on my singles show in any capacity, but this is a quality song.]
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the Veils - "Train With No Name" [from time stays, we go. love the robert herrick reference in the chorus.]
Telekinesis - "Wires" [from dormarion. always good to hear new music from this guy.]
Holopaw - "Infidels" [from academy songs, volume 1. i didn't think i'd end up pulling singles from this relatively atmostpheric record, but here's one. and it's good.]
Mount Moriah - "Rosemary" [from miracle temple. i play this song a lot, people. a lot. like, at home. it's a good song.]
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the Avett Brothers - "Another is Waiting" [from the dandelion and the magpie. i have been lukewarm on the avett's major label releases, but this single was undeniable. just a powerhouse two-minute pop song.]
Bleeding Rainbow - "Waking Dream" [from yeah right. big fuzzy pop. that's how i like it.]
Killer Mike and El-P - "Sea Legs" [from run the jewels. i like this record a lot - i wish i liked it as much as i did r.a.p. music, but i just didn't. but these guys can keep making records because they make awesome ones.]
Wooden Wand - "Supermoon (The Sounding Line)" [from blood oaths of the new blues. a stellar record and a great single that i heard a lot on WQFS.]
Mark Mulcahy - "He's a Magnet" [from mark j. mulcahy i love you. mulcahy  makes great music and that's important.]

[Here's where the first hour ends and then we roll into the main show.]

Theme Song - Peaches - "Rock Show"
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King Khan and the Shrines - "Born to Die" [from idle no more. this is a pretty raucous song and could've squeezed onto my top 15 given a few other things.]
Summer Cannibals - "Wear Me Out" [from no make up. just stupid good.]
Yo La Tengo - "Ohm" [from fade. maybe the sleeper record of the year from an established artist? this song - though they cut it down for the video - was a great choice for a single.]
Sky Ferreira - "I Blame Myself" [from night time, my time. i couldn't help myself. i know this was on my show last week, but it's such a great song - lyrically and musically.]
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Primal Scream - "Invisible City" [from more light. god, this record is good. and this song.]
Travis - "On My Wall" [from where you stand. maybe the first travis album since the man who that i really genuinely liked. good to hear them back.]
Futurebirds - "Virginia Slims" [from baba yaga. great album and this was a great single and video.]
Josh Rouse - "Julie (Come Out of the Rain)" [from the happiness waltz. another return to form from an established artist who i had checked out on a bit. i like josh rouse.]
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Yuck - "Middle Sea" [from glow & behold. really amazing how good this record is despite everything the band went through.]
Waxahatchee - "Coast to Coast" [from cerulean salt. just a great power pop single.]
Wire - "Re-invent Your Second Wheel" [from change becomes us. this was a really great wire album and this song sounds like something off of the atmospheric 154. just great.]
Guided by Voices - "Islands (She Talks in Rainbows)" [from english little league. tobin sprout, seriously, man.]
Frightened Rabbit - "Backyard Skulls" [from pedestrian verse. i struggled between this and "state hospital," as both are great songs, but this is just a touch catchier.]

[And here's where the top 15 countdown begins. I'm not going to denote voice breaks here - rather just list and comment on the top 15. Enjoy.]

15. Janelle Monae - "Dance Apocalyptic" : It was about time for Cindi Mayweather to return, and she did so in really fantastic style this year. This lead single from the album was everything a fun dance song ought to be while still blowing up ideas of what it should be as well. From The Electric Lady.

14. Perhapst - "Sorrow & Shame" : John Moen, drummer for the Decemberists, was holding out on us and the proof is this immaculate slice of power pop. That riff just winds into your head and doesn't leave. Exorcise it daily - it's worth it. From Revise Your Maps.

13. Ex Cops - "James" : Longtime (or even short time) listeners to the show know fuzzy power pop is a weakness of mine. Here's another example from a really solid album. It's hard to say much beyond just how good it is. From True Hallucinations.

12. The History of Apple Pie - "Mallory" : I struggled with whether this or the overwhelmingly awesome "Tug" should be on my list, but the fact remains that this is one of the sharpest power-pop debut albums I've heard in awhile. And from Britain to boot - please tell me they can keep this up. From Out of View.

11. Superchunk - "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo" : When the veteran North Carolina rockers came back with their first album in ten years a couple of years ago, it was a godsend. Their second record back, even more so - especially thanks to this moving and hooky-as-hell look at how those devoted to music eventually learn it's like anything else. And not at all. From I Hate Music.

10. Foxygen - "San Francisco" : There's not a single other song on this record like "San Francisco," but it's such a perfect time-period ape, and the rest of the record so good, it's hard not to recommend it even if it is a touch misleading. It's too good. From We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.

9. Blood Orange - "Uncle ACE" : This song is good - until it reaches its back third - then it becomes amazing. The sped up and down guitar riffs that seem to alter the pitch of the song, the horns and other elements that surge in transform a good song into a great one. From Cupid Deluxe.

8. Frank Turner - "Recovery" : I wasn't always sold on this record fully, but I was sold on this song from moment one. When the narrator suggests that maybe they avoid the fuss and just tell people "that we met in jail," and that's the better option, you know this is a song worth paying attention to. It's endlessly upbeat, celebratory, raucous and catchy. From Tape Deck Heart.

7. Bleached - "Dreaming Without You" : Wanting an ex to stay away because you've finally cleared that hurdle (or maybe you haven't) is something a lot of people can identify with, but by using the title phrase to emphasize just how tied up our narrator had been with her ex - that she's just now "dreaming without you" - it becomes a smart and thoughtful pop song. Rare. From Ride Your Heart.

6. Phosphorescent - "Song for Zula" : For a song from an album this good to stand out, it needs something. That it was the longest song on the top 15 is unquestionable - and yet it keeps you rapt the entire time. It's a gorgeous, painful song about love and people and everything else. From Muchacho.

5. Veronica Falls - "Teenage" : "Driving late at night / I let you listen to the music you like / then I drive you / home." It's the quintessential pop song about late-night drives and cranking the stereo and being in love and just life, man. It's a great pop song. It doesn't have to mean anything much more. From Waiting for Something to Happen.

4. Night Beds - "Ramona" : One day I'd like to make a compilation of songs with women's names as titles as they create small biographies of women in various states of life. This one would be on the list - it's the quiet chorus that gets me - and the mournful, ethereal exit. They make this just a winning song. From Country Sleep.

3. Beady Eye - "Iz Rite" : The second Beady Eye record was a step up and the proof is that there isn't a single song on their debut as good as this one. "When you call my name / it takes away my pain / and only love remains / say it again, say it again," sings Liam Gallagher on the chorus. Yeah, it's a touch simple, lyrically - but there's something so honest about it that it gives me goosebumps every time. In the hands of someone else, it'd be pap - with Beady Eye, it's majestic pop. From BE.

2. Caitlin Rose - "I Was Cruel" : This song takes the usual 'baby, I was bad' trope and goes deeper, pulling out how even the narrator didn't think he was capable of such cruelty. "I would've warned you if I'd known," she sings. I think Rose missed one chance here - by using the song's masculine pronoun for the narrator, she played into the sterotypical 'men as wrong-doers' in pop music relationships. She gives our narrator some serious depth - not merely writing him off as a ne'er-do-well - but had she made our narrator female, it would've gone a long way to broadening the pallette of how women could be depicted in pop music. Regardless, it's a tremendously smart and engaging song. From The Stand-In.

1. Jason Isbell - "Elephant" : For Jason Isbell to wow me says something. Isbell is a songwriter's songwriter. And "Elephant" may be the finest thing he's ever written. There's not a bum lyrical note in the whole thing - it's perfectly worded and perfectly sung, perfectly structured and perfectly, completely heartbreaking. It's one of the saddest and most real songs I've ever had the pleasure of playing on my show and there just wasn't a single song this year that came close to touching its pathos. "Elephant" is a monumental song that will be guaranteed to pull tears and quiet sing-alongs out of people for years and years to come. And it is the best song of 2013. From Southeastern.

That'll do it for this week. Tune in next week for the 12th annual Top 25 Albums of the Year. Until then, take care.

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