30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016 / #101 – #76

best songs of 2016

 

 

 

inifinity

“Lazarus” – David Bowie & “You Want It Darker” – Leonard Cohen

I find it impossible to remove emotion from these two songs. Is each as good as I think? The swan songs from two of our most legendary musical artists, bowing out as only they could — with some of the most emotionally turbulent songs of their storied careers. You cannot distance either of these songs from the death of the artist. Therefore, I’m putting them here — technically outside the countdown — and yet bigger and more important than the countdown itself.

 

100

“Who’s Got You Singing Again” – PREP

The mid-tempo soft-funk burner comes from London’s PREP, who released their debut EP this year. Three words: Sincere. Jazz. Flute. I treat my countdowns like massive mixtapes. “Who’s Got You Singing Again” comes out of those David Bowie/Leonard Cohen tearjerkers with a much needed sense of hope.

 

99

“Mercy” – Eric Bachmann

The doo-wop-wop-wop intro gives way to a songwriter crooning melancholy existentialism, but with a catchy little hook. “Take your idols and fables / trick your mind so you’ll be able / to deal with pain and death and loss of those you love.” Despite all the song’s talk of emptiness and senseless pain, Bachmann makes your heart grow two sizes.

 

98“Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)” – White Denim

Neo-soul begins its global takeover — or at least it’s relative omnipresence of this particular countdown — here. Funky falsetto backed by some Stax-era orchestration encourages random acts of unfortunate sing-along.

 

97
“What’s It Gonna Be” – Shura

Self-assured pop debut that channels Janet Jackson and Madonna at the most pop-forward points in their career. Shura, aka 25yo Alexsandra Denton, strikes right to the heart on this ultimatum song — is it forever or is it never? she asks, nay, she demands in the most danceable way ever.

 

96“Man” – Skepta

U.K grime vet churned out one of the best rap records of the year and earned a Mercury Prize over sentimental favorite David Bowie. “Man” stands out as the highlight. Skepta’s tireless, persistent delivery found a fan in Drake, who pushed the record stateside. Therefore, Skepta’s Konnichiwa is also the best thing Drake’s ever done.

 

95“Doctor Doctor” – Oh Pep!

It’s only an Khan-brand (TM) earworm if it’s not good. Lucky for us all, Australia’s female duo Oh Pep! lives up to their exclamation point. You won’t mind when this bounces around your noggin for a few days.

 

94“Sleaze” – Klangstof

Psych-pop Amsterdam-based band featuring a Norwegian singer and producer weened on Radiohead and Sigar Rós and inspired of late by Alt-J. They fall squarely in between all of those bands to become something else — something immediate, atmospheric and accessible. “Hostage” may have been the more widely accessed cut, but this is the one that represents, in my mind, the band at maximum potency.

 

93“Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” – Tennis 

It’s not because I have the slightest of indirect connections to this band that they keep popping up on my countdowns — lead singer Alaina Moore’s my former and longtime dental hygienist’s younger cousin — it’s that they have an uncanny talent for channeling a lazy, retro, mid-tempo vibe. And that lazy, retro, mid-tempo vibe seems to be my preferred frequency. On this particular track, the lyrics “Tell me what can I give / If all my work is bleak and abstracted / Tried to build a legacy / That will not complicate the future of your own progeny,” feels very now and 2016 necessary.

 

92

“Branches Break” – GoGoPenguin

You may not have noticed but this experimental jazz trio was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize back in 2012. I could have picked a number of songs to represent GoGoPenguin, but I chose “Branches Break” as a fine intersection of classic three-part jazz composition and glitchy experimentation. If you fancy the experimentation more, check out “Protest.” If you fancy classical jazz, give “GBFISHYSIH” a listen.

 

91

“Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow

Stockholm’s Miike Snow’s solidified their place as a reliable indie-pop chart-topper with their 2016 album iii. This, their second single from the record, relies on a slick hook that could have come from a better, more electric version of Maroon 5. It’s pronounced “Mike” Snow, by the way. The two “i” thing helps with Google searches I’d imagine.

 

90

“Degraded (Edit)” – Preoccupations

The Band Formerly Known as Viet Cong. People call this “art-rock” but I have no idea what that means. I’ll call it scuzzy, cynical post-punk. The album version of “Degraded” takes ages to find its groove; this “edit” gets the point, stays there, needles you some more.

 

89

“Hands of Time” – Margo Price

Every year I seem to champion one “country” artist. This year, the 30Hz Recommended banner hung from the back of Margo Price’s pickup. This Emmylou or Loretta for the 21st century spins short stories through her songs, and this heartbreaking ballad oozes nostalgia for shattered ideals, childhood freedoms and a bygone era of country music.

 

88

“Can’t Let Go, Juno” – Kishi Bashi

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi toured as a violinist for Sondre Lerch, Regina Specter and Of Montreal before going solo under the monicker Kishi Bashi. His 2014 sophomore record Lighght is an eclectic morsel of sonic pop-experimentation and “Can’t Let Go, Juno” picks up where that record left off. If you have a chance to see him on tour, likely opening for someone less talented, do so. And get a front row seat.

 

87

“Kismet Kill” – Haley Bonar

Canadian-born singer/songwriter Haley Bonar unfairly occupies a less visible indie strata than the similarly-styled Aimee Mann but also inspires comparisons to Mazzy Star with intermittent walls of guitar — as on “Kismet Kill,” her standout track from the 2016 album Impossible Dream.

 

86

“Crying in Public” – Chairlift

Just yesterday I learned that after ten years, Caroline and Patrick, the electro-pop duo known as Chairlift, has called it quits. Caroline will begin a solo career, and Patrick plans to focus on producing. That their final record, Moth, may have been their finest, most accomplished collection of music is a bittersweet send off. And this track, this soul-wrenching ballad about unrequited love, also happened to be the very first track I selected — way back on January 23rd — for a spot on this Best of 2016 countdown.

 

85

“Triumph ’73” – The Felice Brothers

These brothers from New York City via the Catskill Mountains channel a raw blend of folk music and Americana and clearly have a thing for Bob Dylan and Uncle Tupelo.

 

84

“Atomic Number” – case/lang/veirs

The indie-folk supergroup of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs sing like angels. Hell, maybe they are actual angels. I wouldn’t be surprised. Their voices envelop you with sweet, sweet comfort indie-folk. Like sitting in a chair of marshmallows drinking a glass of straight whiskey.

 

83

“Silly Me” – Yeasayer

Tossup between “Silly Me” and “I Am Chemistry” for Yeasayer representation on the Best Songs of 2016 countdown. Yeasayer occupies the 201x role of the Talking Heads. Constant experimentation, mid-tempo pop sensibility with an eye towards album construction and identity. Plus they called me out on Twitter when I said I wasn’t entirely sure about their latest record after an first listen. The band told me to be patient with Amen & Goodbye; they were right.

 

82

“I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore” – Lucy Dacus

Singer/songwriter with a streak of punk  — but the punk elements imbue her music with a warmth and relatability. She’s an everygirl, making cutting and purposeful observations about social mores and the burdens of being young, smart and female in the 21st century.

 

81

“Below” – White Lung

An infectious ballad from loud, infamous punk rockers. At face value, “Below” is the most un-White Lung track in their entire catalog. Take another listen to the blistering drums and driving guitar that propel this ersatz “power ballad.” This is punk, melodic and intelligible, but punk rock nonetheless.

 

80

“Gamesofluck” – Parcels

Australia’s new wave disco act calls themselves Parcels and dislikes spaces in their track titles. They haven’t yet released a full LP or even an EP, but they’ve teased us with two excellent, highly danceable daytime disco tracks and I need more. We all need more happy-time.

 

79

“Bum Bum Bum” – Cass McCombs

Low-key guitar, tempered vocals, organ, bits of synth and understated greatness. I’ve never been a big fan of Cass McCombs but this song and his latest album Mangy Love have caused me to re-evaluate all of my old opinions regarding McCombs’ AM-radio sonic thoroughfare. Quite simply — I was grossly mistaken about Cass McCombs.

 

78

“Sun City Creeps” – Woods

Even a lesser Woods record deserves your ears. Wah-wah guitar, psychedelia and a smattering of Ennio Morricone bring out a more melodic side of Woods… and then the guitar solo — a playful, sure-fingered groove that could have only come from this lo-fi Brooklyn indie/freak folk/psych/jam institution.

 

77

“Love & Hate” – Michael Kiwanuka

The title track from Michael Kiwanuka’s brilliant second album serves as a testament to the UK neo-soulster’s growing isolation and disillusionment. The son of Ugandan emigrants, Kiwanuka presents sincere retro-styled tracks in the mode of Bill Withers and even Van Morrison. The lyrics will crush you, and the familiar orchestrations will sooth you — leaving you somewhere in the grey purgatory between the lines.

 

76

“Electric” – Brett

For their latest album, the electronic art-pop outfit claims to have been influenced by Jean Luc-Godard’s latest film Goodbye to Language. I don’t know how that informs anyone’s listening experience, but I can say that Brett’s album Mode allows listener identification and proximity whereas their 2014 debut stressed colder, synthetic isolation. I much prefer this direction. Also check out “Dans Un Autre Reve,” another standout track that just barely missed the final cut.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26  /   25 – 1

 

30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016

best songs of 2016

 

In honor the official meme of 2016 — the dumpster fire, I’ve also shifted my Best Songs of 2016 title from Killer Jams to Smokin’ Tracks. (Get it? Because the tracks are on fire!) I’m more than happy to light the fuse on this m’f’er known as 2016 and close the blast doors. As 2016 dealt blow after blow, many of us turned to music for solace. The year produced some of the most amazing music of the last decade. From the opening volleys of January until these last, merciful breaths of December, artists turned out beautiful, meaningful, socially conscious, melodic, energetic, hopeful, angry, militant, soul-affirming music — the soundtrack of 2016, the reminder that all is not lost — that all is never lost as long as there is music steering our ships through the blackest night. As one of hundreds (thousands?) of music writers churning out their “year end” lists, it’s our job as a collective community to make sure that all of this good doesn’t gets consumed by the quaking quagmire.

 

Commence the 30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2016 Countdown

Every year since 2005, my friend Mike at bsidesnarrative.com and I have been compiling our “Best of” lists. It’s a competition without a winner or a loser. It’s a way for us to communicate about music and share our thoughts without being able to chat as much as we’d like anymore. The above link will take you to his list.

2016 could have been known as The Year the Music Died. David Bowie, Glen Frey, Phife Dawg, Merle Haggard, Prince, Guy Clark, Ralph Stanley, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones. The innovative. The inspirational. The poetic. Instead of mourning these legends, let us celebrate the music they gave us and the music they still inspire. Three of these artists appear on Best Songs of 2016 list, but their ongoing influence cannot be measured.

I always use this pre-show countdown to enter a disclaimer about how I consume and sample new music. I see no reason to quit a solid holiday tradition. My preliminary “Hits List” of any track that might fill a final spot on the countdown swelled past 300 this year, a new record… and I’ve been doing this for 11 years now. I obsessively listen to new release lists every single week in order to appear competent while compiling my “Best of” lists. This is serious business. And yes, it stresses me out, especially now, as I’m filling out the final roster with brutal, gut-wrenching cuts to songs that have been with me nearly all year.

Even if I were exhausted from listening to new music every week — and I am — I couldn’t stop. They never stop making new music. I do this because I listen to so many people tell me that “nobody releases good music anymore.” When someone tells me this, I can’t help but shrug and try not to offend. What they’re telling me is that they’re too lazy to do anything but turn on the radio or tell Pandora to play an algorithmically generated (read: soulless) playlist. The music is out there. You just have to look. A little.

Music is as vibrant and creative as its ever been… probably more so due to the unlimited avenues available for independent distribution. Here’s the flipside, however — there’s so much volume that it might be overwhelming. Find a writer or a blog or a bl-gger (ahem) that you trust, whose tastes align with or challenge your own. There are many great blogs out there that filter through the seas of information to pick their favorite tracks. A few times a month I visit Said the Gramophone and My Old Kentucky Blog. I read and consider reviews at Consequence of Sound and mock Pitchfork whenever possible. I write reviews infrequently for the Toronto-based Spill Magazine (as time permits). It’s out there.

Even if all you do is check in at the end of the year for my Best of 2016 list, I’m good with that, too. I put a lot of work into these countdowns and I’m happy you’re stopping by to hear/discover/enjoy music. After all, “Best of” is really just a misnomer. These are the tracks that moved me — a small cross-section of the music that filled my year, unfairly distilled into individual bullet points and rankings.

Commence the countdown. No skipping ahead.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26 /   25 – 1

 

30Hz Top 100 Songs of 2014 (50 to 1)

30Hz Top 100 Songs of 2014 (50 to 1)

Load times on the videos forced me to split this into two posts. Carry on.

best_songs14

Rdio Playlistified:

Spotify Playlistified:

 

50. “Coffee” – Sylvan Esso

My wife and daughter, who will listen to the same song 40 times in a row and not grow weary of it, will not let me play “Coffee” in their presence any more.

49. “Problem” – Ariana Grande (feat. Iggy Azalea)

What song? There’s no Ariana Grande song here. I would not listen to Ariana Grande. Don’t ask me any more questions. (Okay, but there’s some great production going on here that has nothing to do with the artist at all. They’re all just industry puppets anyway.)

48. “Hunter” – Still Parade

I know nothing about this band! I Shazammed this track on one of the music blog shows on XMU.

47. “Weight of Love” – The Black Keys

The Black Keys scale it back for this slow burner after their far more raucous and Top-40-accessible record El Camino. It’s bit of bluesy, guitar-fueled bliss.

46. “Can’t Do Without You” – Caribou

Caribou has a way of turning simplicity into orgiastic electro-pop. Some have argued that “Can’t Do Without You” is the pinnacle of their powers. I’m sticking with “Melody Day” from 2007’s Andorra.

45. “Making Breakfast” – Twin Peaks

Looking at these guys you’d think they were just some stoners that got out of bed one morning, with clearer eyes than usual, and decided to make a record… but this is actually highly competent garage rock featuring a nifty hook. Regarding the band’s name and the potential problems with the new season of the TV show Twin Peaks, frontman Cadien James said, “Luckily, no one’s talking shit about us right now, so that’s chill. I’m pretty stoked for this show. I’m actually not feeling too nervous. I got some trust for my boy D. Lynch.” You know what? I take it back. These guys are just stoners who decided to make a record one day.

44. “West Coast” – Lana Del Ray

I read some quote from Lana Del Ray wherein she made fun of hipsters. Listen, Lana, I’m no friend of hipsters, but you making fun of them has probably opened up some space-time paradox and you’re putting us all at risk of being sucked into a parallel dimension where everyone cures their own meats and wears t-shirts with cereal logos from the 1980’s.

43. “The Hollies” – Patsy Matheson

Nifty vocal harmonies and varied instrumentalism elevate Patsy Matheson above the surging hordes of female singer/songwriters. “The Hollies” doesn’t necessarily reflect her larger body of work, which is more like thoughtful gut punches. But “The Hollies” stayed with me all year, a standout on her second album Domino Girls. For a more representative track listen to “No Contract.”

42. “Mother & Father” – Broods

This New Zealand electro-pop act teased us with a 2013 EP and followed it up with a strong full length that showcases their command melody. I never thought much about Georgia Nott’s vocals until hearing her isolated on the video below without any production. The girl can sing, yo.

41. “Black Moon Spell” – King Tuff

King Tuff (Kyle Thomas) does not prevaricate around the bush. He’s going to play you some guitar and anything else that happens is just gravy.

40. “Kelly” – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Has any indie-pop band been as consistent as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart? Sung by Jen Goma from A Sunny Day in Glasgow, “Kelly” is the indie-pop ideal. Sweet without being saccharine and melodic without falling in love with its own whimsy — or worse — perceived importance.

39. “On the Rocks” – The Rural Alberta Advantage

I’m still not sold on the advantage of rural Alberta, but as long as this band wants to try to convince me, I’ll allow it.

38. “Alexandra” – Hamilton Leithauser

The frontman for the Walkmen goes full crooner, because you should never go half crooner.

37. “Violent Shiver” – Benjamin Booker

This New Orleans guitarist cites The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T. Rex as influences. He just might be better than all of them. A tremendous blues guitar talent with the ability to crossover into the indie and mainstream.

36. “Queen” – Perfume Genius

This is a ballsy performance from one of the most exciting emerging artists. Perfume Genius wears his heart on his sleeve and challenges us with every disjointed chord.

35. “Sun Went Black” – Springtime Carnivore

A springtime carnivore gets the young, tender meat. Springtime Carnivore (aka Greta Morgan) is far less menacing but proves with this track that she’s got some teeth to go with the pop-sensibility.

34. “After the Disco” – Broken Bells

The album just laid there and died, limp and unwanted… except for this killer jam.

33. “Rather Be” – Clean Bandit (feat. Jess Glynne)

I found this track on somebody else’s Best of 2014 list. If you want to know more about Clean Bandit or Jess Glynne, there’s a search bar right up there in the top right corner your browser.

32. “Beggin For Thread” – Banks

Banks >>> Lorde.

31. “Algiers” – The Afghan Whigs

I remember you guys.

30. “Dripping Down” – East India Youth

The best track on electro-artist William Doyle’s Total Strife Forever is a complex and emotional little ditty that shot up my charts toward the year’s end. I really want to call him “East India Yute” as per Joe Pesci’s character in My Cousin Vinny.

29. “Busy Earnin'” – Jungle

I’ve had an itch for some new “Daytime Disco” since the last Poolside record. Jungle is doing some heavy scratching and hitting all the right goddamn spots.

28. “Small Window” – Luluc

Slow, sad and seductive. Luluc takes some sweet ass time getting where it’s going, but once they get there… it’s heavenly. Dive into the record and just let it wash over you.

27. “Two Weeks” – FKA Twigs

Wait. I know this one.

It’s been two weeks since you looked at me / Cocked your head to the side / and said I’m angry.

Also something about a Chinese chicken.

28. “Somebody’s Talking” – The Preatures

Hey 30Hz, this one should be higher. Jerk. Damn catchy tune.

I’m sorry. I thought I should knock it down a few pegs since The Preatures made a surprise Top 10 appearance last year.

That’s dumb.

You’re dumb.

It’s my list. I can be as f’ing arbitrary as I want.

25. “The Natural World” – The Cymbals

Early in ’14 Cymbals released The Age of Fracture to little fanfare before that album then disappeared from the rader entirely. Opens with a lazy bit of melodic synth that could have been the centerpiece of a Pet Shop Boys jam before escalating into catchy hook that sounds like some lost Dogs Die In Hot Cars. Speaking of disappearing entirely, what the hell happened to Dogs Die In Hot Cars? That was a great record. Don’t let The Cymbals disappear like Dogs Die In Hot Cars.

24. “Maidenhead” – Protomartyr

“Maidenhead” christens Protomartyr’s Under Color of Official Right like a shattered bottle of champagne. A earwormy bass line surrenders to a wall of guitar and droning vocals from frontman Joe Casey. This post-punk band from Detroit borrows from Joy Division and Nick Cave and delivered a timeless slice of Motor City garage rock.

23. “I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” – Bret McKenzie

We may never see any new music from The Flight of the Conchords (though Bret and Jemaine are planning a return to HBO in some form) and Bret’s ode to Lite AM/Lionel Richie/Michael McDonald for the Muppets: Most Wanted only makes me pine for their return even more. Damn you, Bret.

22. “The Wheel” – Sohn

Sohn, aka Christopher Taylor, Viennese-based English ambient/electro artists made a name for himself by working with Lana Del Ray, BANKS and Rhye. That’s gravy, except his 2014 record Tremors might be better than any of them.

21. “Chandelier” – Sia

The song details “the demoralisation and rationalisation of alcoholism through the typical thought process of a ‘party girl’.” Works for me. I dig it because Sia just destroys the vocals in the chorus.

20. “Fiona Coyne” – Saint Pepsi

“Oh darling, won’t you believe me? I’ll love you till the record stops… the record stops.”

A sunny electro/disco jingle with nothing but happy vibes and the above bit of creative lyricism from Ryan DeRobertis.

19. “Class Historian” – Broncho

Elton John playing a sweet ass toy piano made of chickens.

18. “River” – together PANGEA

I’d never heard of these Los Angeles-based garage rockers until I discovered this track two weeks ago. You’ll have to excuse me because I’ve got three together PANGEA records to dig into.

17. “Repeat Pleasure” – How to Dress Well

2012’s Total Loss was a near perfect record. What is This Heart? proves that success was no fluke. Some of the best neo-soul music over the last handful of years has been produced by twentysomething solo white guys. How to Dress Well. Autre Ne Veut. The world confuses me sometimes.

16. “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” – Chromeo

I’m hesitant to call this a “club banger” because I don’t go to “clubs” and the only “bangers” I really know are Irish sausages.

15. “I’m Not Part of Me” – Cloud Nothings

Part of me just wants to hand Cloud Nothings the banner for Greatest Garage Band in the History of Evar. Can we get that made up? What’s that cost at Kinko’s nowadays?

14. “Left Hand Free” – Alt-J

Though the new Alt-J record disappointed me a bit… two singles, surrounded by filler… this track confounded me with flurries of cryptic, nonsensical lyrics and a slick little backbeat and I kinda love it.

13. “Happy Idiot” – TV On the Radio

This song was almost too perfect so I docked it a few points. C’mon TV on the Radio, you can do worse than this.

12. “OOO AAA” – The Cathedrals

Hey, I just heard this great song on XMU.

What’s it called?

OOO AAA.

Ooooh aaah?

No. OOO AAA.

Well, that’s stupid.

So it goes.

11. “Champions of Red Wine” – The New Pornographers

I am pro-red wine. That means I’m a champion of red wine, and therefore this song is about me. Brill Bruisers is also the best New Pornographers record since Electric Version.

10. “Pools” – Glass Animals

When I first listened to this record it made a sound akin to the air deflating from a latex balloon and then I heard “Pools” and it still sounded like pfpfpfpfftttttttttttttt…… except now I can’t delete it from my iTunes and it’ll continue to take up space because “Pools” is excellent and I’m obsessive about keeping full albums in my collections. Even digital.

9. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp & Robyn

Play “Do It Again” again, Sam.

8. “There’s a Revolution” and “Did We Live Too Fast?” – Got A Girl

You can’t make me pick. Don’t make me choose. I wrote about Got A Girl already so you might as well just read that instead because Dan the Automator retweeted it.

7. “Past Life” – Lost in Trees

Certain songs transfix and paralyze. Whenever I hear “Past Life” I tend to stop what I’m doing and listen, as if for the first time. All productivity slows to a halt. Lost in Trees has been good in the past, but this is the best Lost in Trees has ever been.

6. “Lazaretto” – Jack White

On “Lazaretto” Jack White should be the villain in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because he f’ing shreds.

Get it? Because the antagonist in TMNT is Shredder.

5. “Archie, Marry Me” – Alvvays

“Archie, Marry Me” found its way into a Ben Gibbard live set at the Seattle Arts Festival. If this isn’t the seal of indie-approval, I don’t know what is. The Death Cab frontman sat solo at the piano and played a stunning down-tempo version that showcased Alvvays talent for lyricism. Sadly, only a short clip exists on the Interwebs, but that it happened at all must have been the capper on Alvvays’ breakout year.

4. “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” – Run the Jewels

The second collaboration between El-P and Killer Mike dropped from the heavens, a momentary defibrillator reviving ballsy, old school hip hop. The album also boasts my favorite rap song of the year – “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Zack De La Rocha. There really wasn’t another rap record that came close to Run the Jewels in 2014.

3. “Go” – Grimes (feat. Blood Diamond)

Grimes wrote “Go” for Rihanna to sing. Rihanna turned her down. Indisputable proof that Rihanna is a dunce, but a brilliant dunce; Grimes doesn’t need any other cooks in the kitchen.

2. “Red Eyes” – The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs dresses down perfection with natural simplicity and grungy minor chords. They’re still channeling the Boss on their own terms, twisting Springsteen’s version of Americana into a reflection of our misbegotten new millennium.

1. “Seasons (Waiting On You) – Future Islands

Despite previously delivering two brilliant records, Future Islands failed to achieve any crossover notoriety. Their fans remained of the indie variety – devout and vocal, but lacking that mainstream megaphone and soapbox. 2014 proved to be the year that put Future Islands on the map. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” immediately dominated the blogosphere and independent and alt-rock radio outlets such as XMU, KEXP, etc. And then they appeared on David Letterman where frontman Samuel T. Herring dropped a legendary performance on an unsuspecting studio audience, prowling the stage like a jungle cat and growling the refrain. As of December 15th, the video of that performance had garnered over 3 million views. This isn’t Taylor Swift territory, but we can’t all be Taylor Swift. Fans of this “new” band should do themselves a favor and give Future Islands’ 2010 record In Evening Air a listen. I’m still shocked it didn’t get more play upon its release. There’s always time to make amends.

A radio staple for months and remixed dozens of times… yet I’m still not done with this song. The catchy hook, soulful warbling and synthy introducation made this one a keeper. Make sure to track down the reinterpretation of “Seasons” from the experimental jazz group BadBadNotGood who isolated Herring’s soulful warbling and transformed Future Islands into pitch-perfect 1970’s soul.