20 Songs I Geeked on in 2011

The following list is by no means a comprehensive gathering of my favorite songs from this past year.  Nor could I say with certainty that it represents my “top 20”.  In fact, some of the songs on this list probably aren’t even the best songs on the albums they represent!  But, at some point during the year, I completely geeked on these songs.  Something about them struck me in such a way that I became absolutely absorbed in them.  If you know what I’m talking about, welcome to The Meeting.  If you don’t, you are still welcome to stay.  Go check out the songs listed below and enjoy.

And now, in playlist order rather than rank, I present 20 songs I geeked on in 2011.

1.  “Let There Be” by Gungor – This anthem of praise for God’s creation builds to a chills enducing good crescendo.  Simple and strong,  It makes me feel like I am actually standing face to face with the creator, eyes wide open and unable to move.  It also serves as a great introduction to their latest album, Ghosts Upon the Earth.

2.  “Time Spent In Los Angeles” by Dawes – I first heard this while driving home from wine country with Natalie earlier this year.  Traffic was moving slow (gigantic understatement) and this came on the radio.  I completely forgot about any frustration I was feeling.  I think Natalie was sleeping, which was hard because I wanted to share my geek out moment with her (even thought I know she will likely just nod politely and say something like “Yeah, that’s a good song” just to make me feel good).  There is a great lyrical hook: “You’ve got the special kind of sadness, you’ve got that tragic set of charms that only comes from time spent in Los Angeles.  It makes me want to wrap you in my arms.”  Awesome.

3.  “Waste” by Foster The People – I geeked on most of the Torches album by Foster the People, but I love the simple and sweet encouragement of the hook.  If you want to waste the day away in bed, or wake up, or if you want to make some change…it doesn’t matter.  Do whatever you want.  I’m all in because I just really want to be with you (total paraphrase on my part, but that’s what I get out of it).  And the music makes me want to simultaneously dance and pump my fist.

4.  “Blue Jeans” by Lan Del Rey – I don’t really know where this songstress came from, but I’m glad she showed up.  She released a two song ep this year that garnered most of its attention for the song “Video Games” (which really is great), but for me it was “Blue Jeans” that kept me coming back for more listens.  Haven’t figured out yet if this girl is more creation or artist, but right now I don’t care.

5.  “Back In The Crowd” by Tom Waits – Wow.  This is really beautiful.  Tom Waits is an absolutely acquired (and often not acquired) taste.  Truthfully, I’ve not liked him more than liked him over the years.  But his Bad As Me album, and this song in particular, are really great.  It’s like hearing your weird Uncle get up at the family gathering, grab a guitar, and blow you away with one of the most strangely beautiful and sad songs you’ve ever heard.

6.  “Junk of the Heart (Happy)” by The Kooks – The parenthetical title of this song communicates all you need to know here.  This.  Song.  Is.  HAPPY!  And it wants to make you happy!  Really!  Go listen to it right now!  You will be happy you did!  Seriously!!!  I’m happy just telling you to do it!  Please, let me make you happy!

7.   “Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)” by Stewart Francke – Truthfully, I had never heard of this guys and would likely never have heard this song if Springsteen didn’t make a guest appearance on it.  But I’m glad he did, because this is a completely infectious, hypnotic, and subtly fist-pumping good song.  And also sad!  The soldier here, while happy to be doing his duty, doesn’t make it home in the end (Um, spoiler alert?).

8.  “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab For Cutie –  A wonderful ode to growing old gracefully and full of life, no matter circumstances the world throws at you.  A simple and lovely little waltz.

9.  “The Show” by Kerris Dorsey – This song was a minor hit for Lenka a couple of years ago.  At face value, this version might not seem like much, but if you’ve seen the movie “Moneyball”, you get why it sticks.  This was a powerful moment in the film when Billy Beane starts to realize what is really important to him.

10.  “It’s Your Amazing Grace” by Glen Campbell – There are so many strong songs on Campbell’s Ghost on the Canvas album, but I keep getting drawn back to this one.  Maybe it’s the concept of grace, given and received, that resonates.  And knowing Campbell wrote this in the wake of his Alzheimer diagnosis makes it that much more poignant.

11.  “MoneyGrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums – I’d love to tell you about how this song is so much fun in spite of its bitter lyrics, but I can’t right now because I have to go jump and down like a gleeful idiot while listening to it.

12.  “Gathering Mercury” by Colin Hay – The former frontman for Men At Work has actually had a very creative solo career.  Unfortunately, not many are aware of this.  This title track from his 2011 album is quite lovely.  Following the death of a friend, Hay ponders what he’s made of his life and what waits for him when he “crosses over”.  Gorgeous.

13.  “No Worries, Mija” by Dave Alvin – Speaking of frontmen from 80’s bands…The Blaster’s Dave Alvin as also carved out a strong, loyal following with his catchy brand of Americana.  This is my favorite track from his 2011 album Eleven Eleven.  This is an endearing tale of an outlaw father reassuring his daughter before heading out for “to make us some money”.  So bittersweet I want to bake cookie with it.

14.  “Book of James” by We Are Augustines – I just recently discovered this song and haven’t been able to stop listening to it.  Written about the lead singer’s mentally ill brother who committed suicide, this song remains unflinchingly hopeful despite the subject matter.  Recorded painfully over three days in Canada with producer Dave Newfeld, the song would end up becoming the centerpiece of the bands Rise Ye Sunken Ships album.

15.   “The Rise” by Okkervil River – This is a case where I’m not sure it’s the best song on the album, but I just can’t stop listening to it.  Closing out their I Am Very Far album,  this song gives the feel of moving unavoidable towards the end of something.  The discordant ending is hypnotic.  “I don’t want to go down, or I don’t want to go down there alone”…I love this line at the lyrical end of the song.  The unknown is more easily faced in community with someone.

16.  “Money” by The Drums – This sounds like it could have been released around 1983.  I’m good with that.  What I’m amazed about with this song is how well a repetitive lyric as simple as “I want to buy you something but I don’t have any money” works brilliantly.  Haven’t we all felt that in our lives?

17.  “One Sunday Morning” by Wilco – This is twelve minutes of back deck chill awesomeness.  It puts me in a trance.  I just want to sit on my adarandak chair on a chilly winter afternoon, sipping a beer, feeling the breeze, and listening to this song.  And yes, it has to be a beer.  Even thought it’s cold.  That’s the vibe.  Don’t mess with it.  Lyrically, this songs seems to be about someone in spiritual crisis.  It’s not clear what put him there, but he has grown to love the burden he carries around with him.

18.  “Abducted” by Cults – Clanging and noisy, this song tells the story the moment that two people come to two different realizations; she has fallen completely in love with him, he will never be able to love her.  Her heart has been abducted.  The trade-off between male and female voice in this song makes it that much more effective.

19.  “Time Travel” by Never Shout Never – Admittedly, I kind of like the idea of God telling me “Kid, you don’t know s*it.”  We all need a little tough love sometimes.  This song soars and sails through a sea of swirling synths and sounds and even gets a little proggy at times (where my Stone Trek people at?).  Amidst all of the confusion about life direction, the singer here decides ultimately to sell his soul to rock and roll.  I don’t think it ends well for him.

20.  “Movin Away” by My Morning Jacket – Nothing like a little melancholy to wrap things up.  This song certainly helped fuel my back deck chill fascination this year.  Starting new, leaving behind people loved and not loved, while anchoring a sense of home to loves heartbeat, is the theme of this song.  It waltzes along slowly, never striving to build pace.  And it’s perfectly lovely.  Again, not necessarily the best song the album, but plenty geek-worthy.

 

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~ by themattmorrisshow on December 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “20 Songs I Geeked on in 2011”

  1. Hey Matt, Great right up to these songs. Your descriptions of songs/music always entices me to check them out and often buy them. Hope you are doing well.

  2. I love that I know all of these songs, and believe me, I know them only because of your love for discovering new music and weaving it into the fabric of our family’s life. Here’s to another great year of discovery – can’t wait to read 2012’s list! 🙂

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