Class of 2019 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

My friend Daniel, the editor-in-chief at GAFFA Magazine, often repeats one word as some kind of recurring mantra: context. And he’s right. Music is very much about context. Maybe not in all cases, because there should also be some room for the listener to do their own math, give a song a little afterthought or leave it open for interpretation. Maybe there’s simply not much to tell.

Either way, certain songs admittedly come out in a different light when given some background. Hence the theme of this year-end list, where almost 40 artists once again have been kind enough to share their personal stories behind their songs, both musically and lyrically.  All of them exclusively for the Songs for Whoever Class of 2019 list.

A tradition held since 2013. Let’s keep it going into the new decade, shall we?

N.B. You’ll find the original piece here. I had to create this mirroring site in order to make it linkable on social media due to automatic Facebook filters blocking the links to the original Songs for Whoever site. They claim that some content violates their community rules, when in truth nothing does! Weeks of complaints to their faceless, anonymous support have been relentless. It’s David vs Goliath and Goliath refuses to concede… So feel free to share this but remember there is even more material on songsforwhoever.com

Spotify playlist at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2019 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1


100. Priests ”The Seduction Of Kansas”
(from The Seduction Of Kansas)

99. Mikal Cronin ”Fire”
(from Seeker)

98. Hand Habits ”can’t calm down”
(from placeholder)

97. Boogie ”Silent Ride”
(from Everythings For Sale)

96. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib feat. Yasiin Bey & Black Thought ”Education”
(from Bandana)

95. Tempers ”Peace Of Mind”
(from Private Life)

94. Miguel ”Funeral”
(Single)

93. Drab Majesty ”The Other Side”
(from Modern Mirror)

92. Kindness feat. Robyn ”Cry Everything”
(from Something Like A War)

citattecken ”The song is written about a run in with an old friend who I had a falling out with, and my frustration with the fact that they acted like nothing was wrong…”

 

91. Briston Maroney ”Small Talk”
(from Indiana)

”The song is written about a run in with an old friend who I had a falling out with, and my frustration with the fact that they acted like nothing was wrong. They listed off their achievements, newfound health routines, and peace found in sobriety like it was a competition, and that growth was something that was easy, clean, and fun. It made me pretty mad. Like dumb mad. I went to my friend Lexi’s house and wrote it all down and out came this song.”

– Briston Maroney

citattecken ”People are constantly tied down to money, materialistic things, jobs and more. It was a song that helped me release and realize that it’s okay to not have a job…”

 

90. GRMLN ”Skeleton”
(Single)

”I wrote and recorded ‘Skeleton’ in my garage by myself. It was a song about being free in this life. People are constantly tied down to money, materialistic things, jobs and more. It was a song that helped me release and realize that it’s okay to not have a job, to not make a lot of money. Just as long as you’re happy with yourself.”

– Yoodoo Park

89. Stats ”Lose It”
(from Other People’s Lives)

88. Ex Hex ”Tough Enough”
(from It’s Real)

87. Judah & The Lion feat. Kacey Musgraves ”Pictures”
(from Pep Talk)

86. SOAK ”Knocks Me Off My Feet”
(from Grim Town)

85. Heather Woods Broderick ”White Tail”
(from Invitation)

citattecken ”…it wasn’t really an idea for us to release that first, it wasn’t like we felt this was the best song or anything like that. Lee had an idea to do the video in Algiers because he thought it was best suited…”

 

84. Algiers ”Dispossession”
(Single)

Franklin: ”Music wise it’s more akin to The Underside Of Power, it’s about a year and a half old. Sometimes you get in the zone and want to write a song and this was the result of that. Sonically and how it was recorded, that’s a whole other story.”

Ryan: “It was recorded basically by Franklin and Randall, it wasn’t really the rest of the band. This record is really the first record we’ve done that’s actually been produced in traditional terms where they set the schedule. We brought the songs but they said what they wanted to work on and set the entire sonic framework. Normally we do that. Of course we fed into it, there wasn’t ‘get out of our way’, but it was definitely their plan and that song is most indicative of our limited interaction with it. So it wasn’t really an idea for us to release that first, it wasn’t like we felt this was the best song or anything like that. Lee had an idea to do the video in Algiers because he thought that song was best suited to have a video shot there, and then we ended up switching and doing it in Paris. He was much more interested in the visual accompaniment than anything else about the importance of the song.”

– Franklin James Fisher and Ryan Mahan

83. Pedro The Lion ”Clean Up”
(from Phoenix)

82. Calexico and Iron & Wine ”What Heaven’s Left”
(from Years To Burn)

81. Sheer Mag ”Hardly To Blame”
(from A Distant Call)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

Class of 2018 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

”Don’t you have anything better to do?”, people have been asking me, year in, year out.

Frankly, no, I don’t. Can you dig it?

What could be better than going through all your playlists from 2018 revisiting your own favourites, or digging through this year’s releases mining for lost gems? What’s better than narrowing thousands down to the top 100, feeling anxious about whether you left ones out that you in a month or so will regret were omitted? What’s better than talking to songwriters, trying to get their perspective on a certain track of theirs that you have grown to love?

Well, there you go. Very few things come even close to being better than that.

For the sixth consecutive year, here is the most unique year-end ”best of” list you may come across. The 100 greatest songs of 2018. Out of those, more than 40 of the songwriters tell the story behind their song, a personal insight shared exclusively for this very list.

Please honour them by reading their contributions while listening. Perhaps there’s a new artist waiting to be discovered? Or a track you like that you didn’t know much about? Suffice to say, whatever the approach; if you’re really, really interested in music, this is your goldmine.

Can you dig it?

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2018 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1


100. IDLES ”Never Fight A Man With A Perm”
(from Joy As An Act Of Resistance)

99. TT ”Love Leaks”
(from LoveLaws)

98. Beach House ”Lose Your Smile”
(from 7)

97. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats ”Still Out There Running”
(from Tearing At The Seams)

96. The Vaccines ”Your Love Is My Favourite Band”
(from Combat Sports)

95. Holy Esque ”I Am The Truth”
(from Television / Sweet)

94. NAO ”Drive And Disconnect”
(from Saturn)

93. Courtney Barnett ”Charity”
(from Tell Me How You Really Feel)

92. Parquet Courts ”Total Football”
(from Wide Awake!)

citattecken ”The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era…”

91. Unknown Mortal Orchestra ”American Guilt”
(from Sex & Food)

”That song started in Hanoi. The reason I went to Hanoi was because I wanted to bring guitar back into it a bit more. The first two albums were written on guitar and featured mostly that instrument. On the third album, however, I leaned more on keyboards and piano since I was interested in taking apart old analogue synths and stuff. Because I was obsessed with the insides of the synth I ended up playing them a lot on the record.

On this one I wanted to go back to guitar. I think people who like Unknown Mortal Orchestra missed the guitar a little bit, I felt that was the case. So I was thinking of the most obvious influences, trying to get back to almost what I liked about guitar when I was a teenager. I didn’t play the guitar then but I was a big music fan as a kid. The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era and how I probably heard it all on these TV shows and movies about the Vietnam war.

Maybe if I went to Vietnam that would prompt some kind of inspiration for something heavy and guitar based. That worked better than I thought it would. The moment we arrived in Hanoi I thought it would be more modernized but it actually reminded me of a movie about Vietnam! It was really inspiring, it was the monsoon season, so we didn’t do anything touristy or fun. We rented a place through Airbnb from where we had to walk through a really messy neighbourhood to get to the studio. Each time we arrived there we were drenched in sweat, bedraggled from going through this crazy third world situation, but always inspired from things that we’d seen on the way; fishermen, farmers, stray dogs, people selling food and everything.

Walking home from the studio was a similar thing, but always night, people having picnics everywhere, strange tropical smells, burning incense and stuff. We were constantly talking about how stimulating everything was just to look at, so in the studio we felt that we had a lot to say. American Guilt was one of the things to come out of that. It was just fun to make music with the two other guys who were with me, my brother Cody who plays drums and Jake, the bass player. Often we threw these ridiculous references into the mix. For instance, at one point we were talking about Metallica and Jake was probably thinking that I was crazy, Metallica is normally not relevant when making an Unknown Mortal Orchestra record! But talking about the wrong references is sometimes very useful to me.

To me, the phrase ‘American guilt’ wasn’t me pointing a finger at the Americans, I’ve lived there for nearly ten years myself. If people in Mexico, Canada or wherever are angry at America they can use the song however they want, but the way I thought about it was that the longer I’ve lived there the more I understand it and get implicated myself as I get American. There’s a guilt that comes with it though, for instance all the tax dollars that go into the war machine. The more money I make, the more money I indirectly put into the war machine. At the same time I also feel in debt for all the great music that has come out of that country.”

– Ruban Nielson

citattecken ”I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’…”

90. The Tambourine Girls ”Jeanine”
(from Waiting For Pleasure)

”I guess it’s about love and doubt. I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’. I’m always amazed by people who can say things like that with such certainty. I don’t share her opinions, so I wrote her a love song. Our guitarist Nick[Weaver} came up with that guitar line the first time I took the song to rehearsal.”

– Simon Relf

89. Charles Bradley ”I Feel A Change”
(from Black Velvet)

88. Jonathan Wilson ”Living With Myself”
(from Rare Birds)

87. Thievery Corporation ”Voyage Libre (feat. LouLou Ghelichkhani)”
(from Treasures From The Temple)

86. Thee Oh Sees ”Enrique El Cobrador”
(from Smote Reverser)

85. Courtney Marie Andrews ”May Your Kindness Remain”
(from May Your Kindness Remain)

citattecken ”After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea…”

84. Josh Rouse ”Salton Sea”
(from Love In The Modern Age)
”The idea came to me when we were on tour and we were driving from Phoenix and Los Angeles. We crossed by a sign that gave directions to Salton Sea and I said ‘ooh, that would be a great name for a song!’. I had heard about the place but I didn’t know too much about it so on that drive I watched an hour-long documentary about the Salton Sea on Youtube, narrated by John Waters, the filmmaker. That’s how the title and the song idea came about.

The story is all fiction. After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea, but when they arrive they realize that it’s not what it used to be. Colouring geographical locations sometimes inspire a song. When you’re listening to a song you want to take people to a place sometimes, you set the scene like a movie.

I think I did the music a few years back, I kind of had the melodic idea but no lyrics for it. That’s how songs work sometimes, it just came together that way. With the keyboard it sort of went in a Cure direction. They have a song called ‘A Forest’ that we used to do a cover for and rhythmically it takes its cues from that song.”

– Josh Rouse

citattecken ”I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’…”

83. Lera Lynn ”What Is Love (feat. Dylan LeBlanc)”
(from Plays Well With Others)

”I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’. I’ve been a huge fan ever since. He’s an excellent guitarist and singer and writer and I’m so glad we finally got the chance to write. When we sing together, something really cool happens where you can’t distinguish who’s who. This song is dear to me, as it explores how one cannot love another without first loving themselves, which we all know is a life-long pursuit.”

– Lera Lynn

82. King Tuff ”Psycho Star”
(from The Other)

81. Ought ”Disgraced In America”
(from Room Inside The World)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

Class of 2017 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

Amongst all the nerdy year end lists that have flooded us the past month, this here may possibly be the last  but definitely the nerdiest. A bold statement, perhaps. Nerdy, in this case, equals loving. Noboby puts down this much effort into hunting down the songwriters for a plain old list, if it weren’t for the passionate love of music I have inside. Nobody.

Often, I’m lost for proper adjectives trying to describe the superbness of what I’m hearing. So much so, that I’ve actually invented a new word of my own for occasions when nothing gets even close to adequately doing the job: phantomenal. ‘Fantastic’ and ‘phenomenal’ combined. Phantomenal. Useful, isn’t it?

For the fifth consecutive year, you have at hand one of the most unique year end lists there are. I’ve been on Skype, e-mail, Messenger and telephone. I’ve been backstage interviewing at every venue in town. I’ve been sat down in an empty smalltown hotel lobby with Hannah Aldridge (#25), both of us hungover trying to piece together not only the night before but also the details of how the beautiful title track of her latest album was created. I’ve quite possibly worn out most of my business connections trying to get requests through to those beloved artists whom I’ve sensed had a tale to tell, but hopefully both myself and the good people I’ve harassed have been richly rewarded for every profound narrative that has come in return.

The lyrics to this year’s #1, depicting life taking the unthinkable turn, are the most painful and sadly beautiful you’ve probably heard in 2017. Until you’ve read the story behind them, that is.

The themes cover a lot of ground: racism (#36 and #7), precursors to the #metoo movement (#62), money woes (#83), friendships gone sour (#65), existentialism (#86), the now-defunct Welsh coal mining industry (#20) and – naturally – love in every shape or form. Musically, we’re in some cases given the grand tour of studio creativity.

Oh, and before I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, one more thing: if there’s any single song you need for your New Year’s Eve festivities, it has got to be ‘Resolution’ by Desperate Journalist (#35) in which singer Jo Bevan recalls the memorable, to say the least, rollercoaster of a celebration she experienced a couple of years ago.

Now, get on with it and check out all the songs and stories over the next six pages.

They’re nothing less than phantomenal.

To all artists who have contributed with invaluable insight behind the curtains: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Spotify/TIDAL links at the bottom of each page.

100. Frankie Rose ”Red Museum”
(from Cage Tropical)

99. The War On Drugs ”Thinking Of A Place”
(from A Deeper Understanding)

98. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions ”Sleep”
(from Son Of A Lady)

97. Porches ”Find Me”
(single)

96. Penny And Sparrow ”There’s A Lot Of Us In Here”
(from Wendigo)

95. Hurray For The Riff Raff ”Hungry Ghost”
(from The Navigator)

94. Calexico ”End Of The World With You”
(single)

93. The Fresh & Onlys ”Wolf Lie Down”
(fom Wolf Lie Down)

92. Fleet Foxes ”Fool’s Errand”
(from Crack-Up)

91. Beak> ”Sex Music”
(single)

90. King Gizzard And The Wizard Lizard ”Sleep Drifter”
(from Flying Microtonal Banana)

89. Hiss Golden Messenger ”Jenny Of The Roses”
(from Hallelujah Anyhow)

88. Joey Bada$$ feat. Schoolboy Q ”Rockabye Baby”
(from ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$)

87. Obliques ”Instant Pleasure”
(single)

citattecken ”There are things in life, whether it’s a friendship, a street, a time of year, a film, a conversation that touches you. Something that kind of reminds you of what it is to be alive…”

86. Beck ”Colors”
(from Colors)

”Like almost the entire album it was made with Greg Kurstin who is an old friend of mine. He’s played on many of my records and we’ve toured together, so we’re like old bandmates. We got together about four or five years ago in his studio and started to write songs together. This was one of the first ones we worked on and we just spent a number of years building the songs and layering ideas, developing them, experimenting and trying to find a sound and creating an identity for this record. Building the whole musical world around it. This is one of the early songs we did. Dear Life, Dreams and Colors I think were the first ones.

To me, the meaning behind the title Colors is about the things in life that are colourful, that represent life. It could be the simple things, like one of those days you’re walking around and you notice things about the world. I don’t know if you get that feeling, at least I get it, where you’re just glad to be alive. Those moments remind you while you’re in your problems, your struggles and difficulties and whatever is going on. The things that just take you out of everything, you know. So that’s what I wanted the record to represent. There are things in life, whether it’s a friendship, a street, a time of year, a film, a conversation that touches you. Something that kind of reminds you of what it is to be alive. I think it’s that appreciation of being alive after difficulty. In the face of periods where there wasn’t so much hope. Where you can find grace again in the world. So trying to put that into some kind of music. It was something I didn’t know exactly how to articulate what I was putting into the songs.”

– Beck Hansen

citattecken ”Sometimes shamelessly running away from life’s unavoidable mishaps is the first step to processing them and learning how to move on…”

85. Bully ”Running”
(from Losing)

”‘Running’ is about learning to adapt to new situations. Sometimes shamelessly running away from life’s unavoidable mishaps is the first step to processing them and learning how to move on.”

– Alicia Bognanno

citattecken ”…a sort of pep talk delivered from your own personal coach. Its for the times when you want to quit. At the time I wrote it, I was hearing the word ‘No’… a LOT and I needed encouragement…”

84. Jesca Hoop ”Memories Are Now”
(from Memories Are Now)

”For me, ‘Memories Are Now’ is a Go Get it Anthem and a sort of pep talk delivered from your own personal coach. Its for the times when you want to quit. At the time when I wrote it, I was hearing the word ‘No’… A LOT and I needed encouragement. Writing this song was like concocting a tincture for the hard times. A little drop to help reset your mind for hanging in there and riding it through to better times.”

– Jesca Hoop

citattecken ”I think money woes are pretty universal though, and what better place to cryptically harangue about them than in a jaunty punk tune…?”

83. Protomartyr ”Here Is The Thing”
(from Relatives In Descent)

”‘Here Is The Thing’ was one of the last songs we wrote for the album. We all thought the album could use a looser, groove-based one, maybe in the spirit of ”Uncle Mother’s” or ”Tarpeian Rock” from previous albums. Greg has said the guitar line is influenced by The Country Teasers song ”Golden Apples” and I can hear that. Once I knew it would come after ”A Private Understanding”, I felt I could write the lyrics as a sort of continuation of the subject matter in that song, but focus more on the state of Detroit in relation to it. The way the song moves sounded ”jaunty” to me, so I felt it could be more humorous or, at least, be more ridiculously wordy.

One of my biggest fears is not fully understanding how money works: how to get it, keep it, and not have it control my life. The fact that many people in America, including me, have to forgo basic medical care because it’s financially out of reach is truly disgusting. I think money woes are pretty universal though, and what better place to cryptically harangue about them than in a jaunty punk tune?”

– Joe Casey

citattecken ”…we told more lies than we should and generally did more damage than the body should bare in one night, so I guess because of that I always felt like there was a sort of hazy nostalgia…”

82. The Rural Alberta Advantage ”White Lights”
(from The Wild)

Nils: ”I feel like White Lights was the first of the new songs that I started working on for the record. We’re always going back to older ideas and reworking them but the simplicity of the opening chords sort of came out of nowhere as did the first line ”It’s been a while, I swear that I’ve admired the view”.

At the time we’d wrapped up most of the touring for Mended With Gold, and I was missing the pull of being on tour but at the same enjoying falling back into the domestic routines you miss when you’re travelling like weekend coffees and walking the dog, that sort of thing.

While the opening line came quick, the rest of the lyrics came together closer to the actual recording of the song. I remember the weekend before we were about to go into the studio I was hanging out with some close friends of mine, some I hadn’t seen in a while and most of which I’ve known for close to two decades. We stayed up later than we should, told more lies than we should and generally did more damage than the body should bare in one night, so I guess because of that I always felt like there was a sort of hazy nostalgia to the song, like having an intimate conversation to a close friend.”

Paul: ”I think this song came alive when Robin laid down her harmony on the chorus. It’s also really fun to play.”

Robin: ”I remember at practice while we were writing the song, Paul busted out these Keith Moon drums, and it all sort of magically fell together quickly after that. The organs were recorded off my Nord Electro, which was exciting for me because it’s been my main live keyboard for 6 years, so there was sentimental value attached. Our producer Leon Taheny has a really great ear for how accenting certain timbres can totally sculpt a song and even determine how the listener experiences a song. Sonically the bridge and outro make me picture Tom Petty walking into Studio 54 or something; he really made the organs shine. Leon can make something sound very classic without ever seeming uncool.

I love a good rock duet. I think I was thinking about the Neko Case performance of ‘Evangeline’ from the live Sadies record, and the Emmylou Harris part from ‘We Are Nowhere And It’s Now’.”

– Nils Edenloff, Paul Banwatt and Robin Hatch

citattecken ”It really has nothing to do with indie music, which I don’t listen to very much of. To me it’s more new wave/power pop/country sounding. I was thinking of early Nick Lowe and people like that…”

81. Sea Pinks ”How Long Must I Be Denied?”
(from Watercourse)

”This song started life about five or six years ago with a riff. I wasn’t writing riff based songs much at the time. The riffing was like a new connection happening in my guitar playing brain. It kind of stuck out from the start, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I had some dummy words for it. The original chorus was ‘Shake hands, here’s luck and goodbye’ a quote from A.E. Hausman which I read somewhere second hand. It was much slower at this point. The riff and half song kicked around for a couple of years before I tried it out with Sea Pinks. We worked up a version of it for inclusion on Dreaming Tracks (2014) which had lyrics closer to the final version. At that point I was thinking of finishing Sea Pinks and putting out an album under a different name, and this song would have been the first track on that album. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Anyway the version we recorded sounded all wrong.

Finally I dug it up again for Watercourse. We had it down by now, the bass and drum parts were improved from the previous version and it was much faster and leaner sounding. I also finished off the words. The key line is probably ‘never gonna hear me asking you twice’, immediately before the chorus which proceeds to ask twice. The title becomes a rhetorical question because I know it won’t be answered or even heard by the person or people it’s aimed at. Another key line is ‘I don’t wanna know why’ – implying I already know the reasons for this. Then it flips things around, becomes ‘you know you’re wasting your time/ I won’t be waiting in line’. It’s all very over the top of course and meant to be taken with a pinch of salt. But I suppose it’s about defiance apart from anything else, about wanting something you know you can’t have, and turning that emotion to your advantage. It’s about not being defined by that rejection, but subverting it, even being empowered by it.

Watercourse is really like two mini albums in my mind. I put ‘How Long’ at the start of side two as it marks a break from the softer, more dream pop stuff on side one. It really has nothing to do with indie music, which I don’t listen to very much of. To me it’s more new wave/power pop/country sounding. I was thinking of early Nick Lowe and people like that. I’m still not fully satisfied with the sound of it. It’s a little too polite. It’s one of those songs that keeps being redefined when you play it. We’ve never actually played it live though because the guitar line is so slippery to get right and sing at the same time. Some songs you write in ten minutes, some take six years (and counting). I suppose as a writer it keeps things interesting, at least. ”

– Neil Brogan


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON TIDAL HIFI

Class of 2016 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move, couldn’t push him off. As black engulfed me, I thought, ‘This is how I die’…”

Somebody once said that the song stories in this unique year-end list are ”like the printed version of Behind The Music”. These stories are important, to me at least, but hopefully also to both the artist and the listener. Often very informative, an opportunity to have a candid look at Picasso’s sketches. Always ear-opening and sometimes quite humourous. However, they rarely contain sentences as harrowing as the one above.

What’s really behind the music is life. Sadly, sometimes also the opposite. Marie Danielle‘s painful recount of how domestic violence nearly ended hers gives evidence to the true power of music: by what’s told in the time span of three minutes, the trauma of near-death experience gets almost too vivid. In addition to hearing the song, reading the story behind Slave Ships takes you on a journey back to that particular moment and the rocky road that led up to it, so much so that you can feel the tension and horror surrounding its culmination. The first time I heard the song’s chorus my heart took a deep stab right at the centre:

”Please kiss me while my eyes are still open, I’ll be anything you want me to be…”.

It was 3 AM in Stockholm when Marie sent her story from Los Angeles and by coincidence I happened to be awake. As I laid there in the cold light of the cell phone screen reading, it became almost too much to bear. My eyes welled up with tears in no time. It was a very personal moment that I’m so grateful she shared with me, although thousands of miles apart. I hope you’re all able to feel the same.

Not every story is as dark, though. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be behind the wheel of Jeremy Fury‘s imaginary car on his way to see about a girl? Or be a fly on the wall at one of those boring dinner parties Ben Bridwell of Band Of Horses has to attend for the sake of his wife’s social life? Relive the ”fruity dance fight for a girl’s honor” that Sean Tillman (aka Har Mar Superstar) dreamt of, anyone?

This list isn’t one that just lines up who did best this year, nor is it for listening only. It’s a list you take great pleasure reading while listening. Use this rare opportunity to visit the creative minds of your favourite musicians. It’s a world you wouldn’t want to be without, I promise.

Now, dig in and enjoy.

N.B. My deepest gratitude(and apologies for the stalking…) to all the artists and musicians for taking time to contribute the stories told in this list by giving their songs a personal touch, additional dimension and even a new life. You are all number one.

LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST VIA TIDAL HIFI

 

100. The Limiñanas feat. Peter Hook ”Garden Of Love”(from Malamore)

99. Shura ”What’s It Gonna Be?”(from Nothing’s Real)

98. Angel Olsen ”Shut Up Kiss Me”(from My Woman)

97. Kaytranada feat. Syd ”You’re The One”(from 99.9%)

96. Bon Iver ”00000 Million”(from 22, A Million)

95. Sturgill Simpson ”Oh Sarah”(from A Sailor’s Guide To Earth)

94. Chairlift ”Crying In Public”(from Moth)

93. James Blake ”Radio Silence”(from The Colour In Anything)

92. NAO ”Fool To Love”(from For All We Know)

91. Pinegrove ”Cadmium”(from Cardinal)

90. case/lang/veirs ”Best Kept Secret”(from case/lang/veirs)

89. BadBadNotGood feat. Sam Herring ”Time Moves Slow”(from IV)

88. JMSN ”Power”(from It Is.)

87. Tegan And Sara ”U-Turn”(from Love You To Death)

86. Holy Esque ”St.”(from At Hope’s Ravine)

85. dvsn ”Hallucinations”(from Sept 5th)

bandofhorses

citattecken ”It must have been after one of those damn dinner parties where I had to be polite. I guess it was my way of getting through with it. I don’t suspect I’ll be invited to too many more in town after this…”

84. Band Of Horses ”Casual Party”(from Why Are You OK)

”There’s this double-life kind of thing we’re living here. Playing rock music, slightly adored at times. Anything you want is handed to you anytime you want it, you know. It’s a terrible way to live, really, getting exactly what you want all the time. So then the coming home thing, my real life isn’t like that at all. My wife’s making friends and I have to go to some dinner party with people that you don’t know or you do know, but they might be a tough hang. They might be strictly conservative or anti-progressive. You feel like “oh, this is going to be brutal!”, some of that stuff. You have to bite your tongue through some of the topics that come up during conversation, because you’re in someone else’s home. I’m not so blunt myself, I tend to be a bit of a pleaser. I can usually grin and bear it but sometimes better than others. At times people are terrible and you feel like leaving, always knowing you’re soon going to cause an argument. So I try to air on the side of just getting through it for my wife’s sake, at least. There are all kinds of things, like dealing with parents at school events having to endure all kinds of people that are, like, functioning members of the society, not neck tattooed rock’n’rollers. It’s a little bit different. I hate small talk.

A lot of times I’ll get on to a song using weird tunings I once made up. I didn’t know how to play the guitar so I put my hand on the strings and then I detuned the pegs to whatever was comfortable for my hand in that position. Now I’m stuck with these very strange tunings that make no sense to anyone else. I need to get it tattooed on my arm so I can look at it while I tune because it’s kind of hard to remember. And that tuning has been like a cash cow for me, man, it’s given me some of the best songs we have. It lends itself quite well to open strumming and you can be a bit sloppy with it, it’s hard to go wrong with it. I say that now, touch wood! So I could tell that was going to be a bit of an uptempo number, a rock song.

When I was trying to figure out how to sing the chorus to the chords, the only song I could reference it to was one of Guided By Voices’ from Under The Bushes, Under The Stars called No Sky. It’s got this great lift to the chorus but they sound nothing like each other. So I used that as at least a reference for Casual Party, like “that’s how you lift a chorus!”. The rest of it, I don’t know how I got those words. It must have been after one of those damn dinner parties where I had to be polite. I guess it was my way of getting through with it. I don’t suspect I’ll be invited to too many more in town after this, if this one gets popular enough!”

– Ben Bridwell

highhighs

citattecken ”We had a few days off during a tour with Empire of the Sun, so we went in to our friends studio in Sydney to record some of the main elements. Some friends came in to sing the ”ooohs”…”

83. High Highs ”Catch The Wind”(from Cascades)

”Catch the Wind was the first song we wrote after finishing the ‘Open Season’ LP. The verse dates back to January 2013. We slowly assembled the song over the next six months or so playing around with it in soundcheck on tour.

We had a few days off during a tour with Empire of the Sun, so we went in to our friends studio in Sydney to record some of the main elements. Some friends of ours came in to sing the ”ooohs” in the chorus and contribute the handclaps… those sessions felt very natural and open, compared to the insular/intimate nature of the first record.

The overall chordal movement and structure is slightly unusual and exploratory for a High Highs tune. We didn’t really have a drummer playing on the first record – there’s very little percussion on Open Season. Possibly as a response to that, Catch the Wind had a certain swagger – the few days in the studio in Sydney felt like we were stepping in to a bigger space as a band, which really set the tone for writing the rest of the record.

Lyrically the song is a series of abstract questions. The only idea behind it was to carry over a few motifs from the first album, and then let them go, in a way. This song bridges the gap between the first record and the second.”

– Jackson Milas

82. Hope Sandoval And The Warm Inventions ”Liquid Lady”(from Until The Hunter)

81. White Lung ”Below”(from Paradise)

80. Sir Sly ”Expectations”(single)

79. Jack Garratt ”Far Cry”(from Phase)

78. Cass McCombs ”Bum Bum Bum”(from Mangy Love)

77. Laura Mvula ”Phenomenal Woman”(from The Dreaming Room)

76. Daniel Romano ”Valerie Leon”(from Mosey)

allah-las-calico-review-album

citattecken ”…at some point during the day you realize you just have to put that thing down and enjoy the moment. What are these people going to do with all these videos and photos?”

75. Allah-Las ”Famous Phone Figure”(from Calico Review)

”That’s Spencer’s song, the bass player. He wrote it and he sings it. It’s kind of a modern look at the way our generation is looking at social media. The “famous phone figure” is someone who maybe has a lot of likes on Instagram or Facebook, so it’s a little bit of a character study of somebody of that type. Maybe sort of like a Ray Davies kind of character study. In my eyes he’s the master of these character studies, people that you might not know but have an opinion about. The line “Mona Lisa smiles at the Louvre” comes from us touring so much and actually being able to explore these places. These words and phrases get stuck in our heads on tour. That’s one nice thing about touring, it adds more ideas to songwriting. Another thing is all the people taking pictures the whole time with selfie sticks, like when we were in Venice. It was just people taking photos of people taking photos, you just couldn’t get a single shot where there wasn’t somebody in your photo taking a photo! I always travel around with four cameras, Super 8 and everything, and enjoy taking photos but at some point during the day you realize you just have to put that thing down and enjoy the moment. What are these people going to do with all these videos and photos? Unless there’s somebody in that photo to remember it. It’s an interesting time right now. I haven’t really noticed it so much at our shows but when I’ve been to shows I’ve obviously stood behind others doing it. I just hope people get to be in the moment more, be present. I mean, it’s okay to take a couple of shots and then put it away. I’ve seen maybe twice somebody being on their phone recording the whole set which just seems silly to me, but it’s not distracting though. I just wouldn’t look at them.

It’s a song that we’d been experimenting with for a while and then decided to take back into the fold. We’d used mellotron on a couple of other songs to see how it came out. That came out pretty alright and we have friend called Laena who plays in couple of bands in L.A., one of them is called Feels. She’s a great violinist so we asked her to come in and just hang out and see where it led. We had decided that we wanted strings on a couple of tracks and weren’t really sure which ones so we had to experiment a little bit. There’s actually a B-side I wrote which is coming out on one of the singles which also has strings. We tried it on a few songs and some worked, some didn’t. I feel like Famous Phone Figure is meant to have that and to hear our sound evolve. There’s plenty of albums we love that have strings on it and we hadn’t got to a point where we had a song that it would be good for. It’s like finally we’ve been able to use this thing that we have enjoyed so much in songs we’ve heard for so long. I think it works in this song.”

– Matt Correia

stillcorners

citattecken ”I wished I could have helped more but sometimes someone is going to drive that car straight off the cliff and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

74. Still Corners ”Down With Heaven And Hell”(from Dead Blue)

”A song about the battle between good and evil. My friend struggled with it his whole life and eventually lost. It has the lyric: ”it’s a long way down Icarus.” I wished I could have helped more but sometimes someone is going to drive that car straight off the cliff and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s my favorite song on the album.

Recording wise it was done in two stages. We had the main body with the bass and keyboard melody and top line but it needed a third part. The gallop beat after the chorus came a few months later. We knew it needed something more and that fit in really well. The end with the guitar outro was just a place holder to begin with. We tried to better it with other parts but nothing ever stuck and we just ended up preferring that. We did all the vocals on our (new at the time) Manley tube mic which I think is crystal clear but warm, lending a more powerful sounding vocal.”

– Greg Hughes

73. Ulrika Spacek ”Porcelain”(from The Album Paranoia)

72. Julia Jacklin ”Leadlight”(from Don’t Let The Kids Win)

71. Tacocat ”The Internet”(from Lost Time)

70. Holy Ghost! ”Crime Cutz”(from Crime Cutz)

69. Gallant ”Bourbon”(from Ology)

citattecken ”I have a certain complexion, a certain demeanor that for some reason makes cops want to fuck with me. I can’t help it, I’m a polite person for the most part, I’d like to say…”

68. Night Beats ”No Cops”(from Who Sold My Generation)

“That song was actually written when I was locked up for a little bit… I was in jail on three different occasions, none of them longer than 48 hours. The most recent time it was for assaulting a police officer and it was because a police officer got into a fight with me. I didn’t start the fight; they started it for whatever reason. I wasn’t provoking shit. They started to attack me and my crew.

That wasn’t the whole inspiration for the song, though. There was a lot of stuff going on in the United States about police brutality and trigger happy cops. I decided to say something. If you listen to the lyrics they’re pretty literal: ‘Even ‘the cops gonna give me a hard time, I’m not gonna lose my cool, I just gonna find a good line’, that’s to get out of it, you know. Which is pretty much how you get out of trouble for the most part with police. But I have a certain complexion, a certain demeanor that for some reason makes cops want to fuck with me.

I can’t help it, I’m a polite person for the most part, I’d like to say. Generally, I live by the golden rules; treat others like how you want to be treated. There’s been too many times when I’ve not only seen myself but friends of mine being fucked with by the cops. So ‘No Cops’ is pretty bold, but it doesn’t mean that every police man or police woman is a bad person, it just means the institution. I mean no more of the bad ones. We need the police to a certain standard, but at the same time this is a commentary on the way it’s been going on so far and how that can’t continue.

We can’t have unarmed young black men being killed left and right in America for no reason except for the assumption of some wrong doing. That’s a real problem in our country. I guess it’s just my interpretation of how I feel about the whole thing. All I can do is try to instill some sort of idea into people who are down with my music to make sure we’re observant of things and make a change.

It’s got a stompin’ feel to it. My friend Robert Levon Been from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of my closest friends in the world and he helped record that song with me. He did just a lot of great things with it and really understood what I was trying to say, supporting me through and through. Playing it live with the acoustic guitar gives me a so much more visceral experience like the recording.”

– Danny Lee Blackwell

67. School Of Seven Bells ”Ablaze”(from SVIIB)

66. Glass Animals ”Life Itself”(from How To Be A Human Being)

65. Whitney ”No Woman”(from Light Up On The Lake)

64. Mild High Club ”Tesselation”(from Skiptracing)

63. Yeasayer ”I Am Chemistry”(from Amen & Goodbye)

62. Teleman ”Düsseldorf”(from Brilliant Sanity)

61. Catfish And The Bottlemen ”Glasgow”(from The Ride)

60. Eagulls ”Lemontrees”(from Ullages)

59. Futurebirds ”Bad Man”(from Portico I)

harmarsuperstar

citattecken ”Two hours later I woke up from an incredible dream of a fruity dance fight for a girl’s honor on some California pier. I remember the song that was in the dream was really good…”

58. Har Mar Superstar ”It Was Only Dancing (Sex)”(from Best Summer Ever)

”I was trying too hard to write a song one night. I was going in circles and nothing good was happening on paper, guitar, or piano. I really wore myself out trying to write, so I laid down for a quick nap. Two hours later I woke up from an incredible dream of a fruity dance fight for a girl’s honor on some California pier. I remember the song that was in the dream was really good, and I realized I had completely soundtracked my own sleep movie. I wrote down all of the lyrics immediately. I sang all of the melodies into my notepad. It was a complete song in minutes. I think the bridge was the only thing I had to add. The complete melody, lyrics, and even the lead synth part was all there for me in the matter of one nap. I wish it was always like that. Ha! The dream definitely inspired the video too.

I definitely wanted the song to sound like 80s soundtracks especially Romancing the Stone/ Jewel of the Nile era. I love that zone. I think those early soundtracks in my life are what introduced me to such a wide variety of music that still informs my wiring today. Back in when Loggins was king.”

– Sean Tillman

exmagician

citattecken ”…played around with a couple of chords that sound like they’re sawing and chopping their way through the whole song. A stomping garage rock number.”

57. exmagician ”Job Done”(from Scan The Blue)

”I started collecting field recordings of sounds in and around Belfast and managed to capture a great clip from a guy playing bagpipes. Tuned the guitar down to the pitch of the pipes and played around with a couple of chords that sound like they’re sawing and chopping their way through the whole song. A stomping garage rock number. A song about begging for forgiveness”.

– Daniel Todd

nightschool

citattecken ”It’s a look into the dark side of when relationships go wrong and people treat each other badly, either intentionally or unintentionally.”

56. Night School ”Last Disaster”(from Blush)

”‘Last Disaster’ is a song written from the perspective of someone in a dysfunctional relationship/breakup, the lyrics are fictional. I wrote this song based on the idea of how people’s thinking tends to becomes distorted when they’re going through heart break from the loss of a relationship. It’s a look into the dark side of when relationships go wrong and people treat each other badly, either intentionally or unintentionally. The song was written in pieces over a matter of 6 months or so. I wrote the lyrics, vocals, guitars/song structure,then Baylie added in her drum parts and Cheyenne contributed to the writing of the bass. Cheyenne, our bassist, sings harmonies when we perform this song live. It’s one of my favorites from the record Blush.”

– Alexandra Morte

badwaveartworks-000173780992-l8wylw-t500x500

citattecken ”…it gave me an idea to go into a sorta trippy “5AM” section at the end, Remix-To-Ignition-style. I’d been messing around with some new tempo/pitch manipulation tricks in Logic…”

55. Bad Wave ”3AM”(single)

Patrick: ”So the way Tucker and I usually write songs is I’ll make a track, get it maybe 80-90% done, and send it to him. He writes lyrics and melody and records his vocal parts, sends it back, we exchange notes, and then I’ll mix. (Yes we are neighbors, and yes we do this over the internet.)”

Tucker: ”We finished 3AM and then Patrick said he had an idea for an ending. Except it wasn’t an ending but a whole other section to the song with a new tempo and a new key and would require a whole new set of lyrics. At first I fought him on it because I thought it was too weird for the song to shift like that, and I was lazy and just wanted the song to be finished. But Pat was relentless and we ended up with a track that I’m very very proud of. And that’s why I’m in a band with him. Like iron sharpens iron, man sharpens man.”

Patrick: ”Aw thanks! I wasn’t that into the track at first, but I really liked Tucker’s contribution, and it gave me an idea to go into a sorta trippy “5AM” section at the end, Remix-To-Ignition-style. I’d been messing around with some new tempo/pitch manipulation tricks in Logic, and they worked really well for this. In my head this section was going to be really dark, like the worst time you’ve ever had at 5AM, but his lyrics totally caught me off guard, and reminded me instead of those nights that go in weird and hilarious directions. We had to do more tweaking than usual on this one, if I remember correctly, trimming the length down a lot and dialing up the reggae. Man-sharpening.”

– Patrick Hart & Tucker Tota

54. Roosevelt ”Colours”(from Roosevelt)

53. Hiss Golden Messenger ”Biloxi”(from Heart Like A Levee)

52. Cymbals Eat Guitars ”Have A Heart”(from Pretty Years)

51. Ladyhawke ”Let It Roll”(from Wild Things)

LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST VIA TIDAL HIFI

50. Heron Oblivion ”Sudden Lament”(from Heron Oblivion)

49. D.D. Dumbo ”Satan”(from Utopia Defeated)

48. Lucy Dacus ”Strange Torpedo”(from No Burden)

wemovepackshot

citattecken ”I had to figure out what to do. Do you really need to wake up in the morning, start drinking and heading to a venue with my friends, doing nothing all day long?”

47. James Vincent McMorrow ”One Thousand Times”(from We Move)

”The other songs on the record seem to be more of standouts on than that one. I think it’s got to do with the tempo. It throws people where they don’t listen to the lyrics that much. The whole album on a general level was based on the last three or four years including the process of making my second record. Around that time, I wasn’t necessarily talking about the things that was happening while I was making it, and with this album I was sort of going back to that period and even before as well, thinking about certain things.

When my first record came out and started to do really well, I was someone that wasn’t really used to being in the public eye or on stage, it wasn’t an easy thing for me. When you’re on tour with your friends on a bus, things tend to go upside down, you wake up in a venue and don’t know where you are. Everything becomes a bit disjointed and then you’re having too much fun but the fun quickly descends into something horrible. During that period I was questioning what I was doing there. In my relation with everyone, everything kind of fell apart for six or seven months. I wasn’t really talking to anybody, a bit self-destructive. I wasn’t reconciling the two halves of myself; me as a person and me as a musician. I had to figure out what to do. Do you really need to wake up in the morning, start drinking and heading to a venue with my friends, doing nothing all day long? Or is it some cliché hoisted upon you?

I wouldn’t call my personality addictive, but at the same time there are crutches. Like if you’re shy or introverted, just drinking on the day was a way of getting up on stage and doing it, then I got to a point around 2012 when I realized I had never been on stage without having a drink for my nerves. That song documents that period, at least for me, when I listen to it. It was the highest moment and the lowest moment of my career at that point.

There’s no bass in the verses, no. I grew up on The Neptunes and they led me to Prince to a degree. When you listen to “Like I Love You” by Justin Timberlake, the bass is almost non-existent in the mix. It’s impact, isn’t it? My love of music is based around impactful moments. My favourite records are all quite melodic, even though I listen to some more hardcore stuff and some hip-hop. Everything has a melodic thread that runs through it. It’s all about dynamic to me, like “When Doves Cry” has no bass at all. That’s quite a common thing if you listen to “Starfish and Coffee” there’s no bass on it and the drums… There’s a regular drum pattern in there and there’s a weird stereo sucking noise coming across the mix. It’s really odd and you think at some point he’ll sync it up and it never does. If you want things to stand the test of time you have to think bolder and braver than the orthodox arrangements, like muting off a bassline and having just one piano.

If someone hears that and thinks it sounds different, they don’t necessarily know what it is, thinking ”Why is that chorus hitting me harder than it should do?”. Those tricks, I guess, have always compelled me. How do you make a chorus hit without ramming vocals down someone’s throat? It’s a reductive method, isn’t it? You know, I’m a big Kanye West fan and I like a lot of the conversations that he had around the Yeezus album. The important role Rick Rubin played, where it almost was saying ”Reduced by Rick Rubin” instead of ”Produced”. How do you say the things you want to by using the least amount of parts?”

– James Vincent McMorrow

beachslang

citattecken ”I like the symbolism of a couple of punks going into a disco bar and having the greatest night of their lives. There’s something really cool in that. ”

46. Beach Slang ”Punks In a Disco Bar”(from A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings)

”When I first started writing it I came up with that riff and I was just trying to rip off Cheap Trick, all those Rick Nielsen kind of things. In my dreams we’re a power pop band. Anyway, so I had that little thing and was in the headspace of two sorts of things coming together that seemingly don’t belong and then they surge each other forward. The work becomes better, everything benefits from these two things that aren’t supposed to collide. I like the symbolism of a couple of punks going into a disco bar and having the greatest night of their lives. There’s something really cool in that. I refuse to believe that we all don’t belong, because we do. We just have to have the moxy to believe in it. Then I just wanted to nod at The Replacements with the little scream at the end, ‘I’m a bastard but I ain’t no one’s son’.”

– James Alex

mattkivel

citattecken ”…I was obsessed with watching true crime documentaries like The Staircase and Paradise Lost. I was very interested in creating a narrative culled from that dark, dark area of life…”

45. Matt Kivel ”Violets”(from Janus)

”That song was written in the basement of my old house in Angeleno Heights. My brother had just lent me this Roland drum machine and I was messing around with the presets a bit and, very quickly, I wrote two songs, ‘Violets’ and ‘Velveteen’. I used ‘Violets’ on Janus and saved ‘Velveteen’ for Fires on the Plain.

The lyrics for ‘Violets’ were written at a time when I was obsessed with watching true crime documentaries like The Staircase and Paradise Lost. I was very interested in creating a narrative culled from that dark, dark area of life we tend to experience second-hand, via the news media or movies or books. It’s real, but to an unconnected observer, feels hyper unreal at the same time. For the song, I wanted to write a little miniature portrait of a relationship torn apart by violence both extreme and subtle. It’s a simple tune and I like how the chorus is just a guitar line instead of a vocal melody.”

– Matt Kivel

kevinmorby

citattecken ”…a song of reflection on my life at large as a traveling musician, and named after my guitar – Dorothy…”

44. Kevin Morby ”Dorothy”(from Singing Saw)

”This is a song of reflection on my life at large as a traveling musician, and named after my guitar – Dorothy, who is named after my grandmother on my dads side. Being a musician, when you find yourself at home and off of tour – all the people, places and things you encountered on tour seem like some wild dream. Dorothy, my guitar, represents the people I’ve encountered and experiences I’ve had over the past 7 years of touring – for Dorothy has always been there with me.”

– Kevin Morby

trailsandways

citattecken ”I thought it was all silly scratch takes at the time and I sent it to Ian, thinking he’d say, ”good start, but needs work.” But he said, I love it, it’s nearly done.”

43. Trails And Ways ”Happiness”(from Own It)

”‘Happiness’ was made a totally new way from how we normally made a song. Usually, I start writing a song on guitar or synth, then vocals, and then we figure out a beat; I had already written (and we’d mostly tracked) 9 tracks of our new album that way. But Ian (drummer/co-producer) had been wanting forever to send me beat ideas, and have me write on top of those. So he went to our practice space and tracked 30 different 8-bar loops of drums and sent me all of them. Happiness was beat #30, and it just gelled for me fast; in a single hour or so I tracked the three layers of guitar on a telecaster, and then sang out scratch lyrics for the chorus and first verse, trying to channel a stupid amount of punk sass and slyness into it, for fun. I thought it was all silly scratch takes at the time and I sent it to Ian, thinking he’d say, ”good start, but needs work.” But he said, I love it, it’s nearly done.”

So what you hear in the released version includes every layer I tracked that first afternoon. (FYI, we made ”The Answer”, last track on the new album, through this same beat-first process.) Then Madeline (Kenney) came and did the back-and-forth vocals that added lots of force and tension, and Rebecca (Drawing Water, Soar, Coherence) and Ian did more vocals, and Max (Miller-Loran) and I layered on some sugary synths. I wanted a sound that had a lot of surface buoyancy and brightness but with some overdriven, spiky edges and sparse moments where it all falls apart uneasily; I think we got that pretty right.

The song is about whether happiness is impossible if you have to try to get there. Is it fake happiness if you’re trying and choosing to be happy? That’s what a close friend of mine always insinuated; it was a core conflict for us. It wasn’t totally fair of me, but on one hand I saw that as her defending her own unhappiness–at least she had a hip and genuine depression!–and on my side I felt pretty harshly judged in those conversations, since I always felt like I had to try to be happy to get anywhere close. When I wrote this song it was at the end of a rough year that had broken down a lot of the ways I’d defended and fooled myself (and friends) I was doing fine when I wasn’t. So now trying to get honestly happy felt stupidly harder; a true happiness seemed to require intense honesty with myself as a foundation. But through my work to find that honesty, I started to find a kind of rocknroll confidence in owning my problems and everything else; there was a bold, merry, punky feeling that was coming up. ”Happiness” is my try to embody that spirit and respond to my friend: if you choose to get honestly happier, you’re gonna find that’s the hardest, riskiest inner path of all–and for me there’s no question it’s worth it.”

– Keith Brower Brown

thecactusblossoms

citattecken ”I had just started dating this gal and I was going completely crazy for her… I knew when I played it for her she would either run away or let me stay.”

42. The Cactus Blossoms ”Queen Of Them All”(from You’re Dreaming)

”I never thought I would write a song like Queen Of Them All. I didn’t know that I could fall in love like that until it happened. I heard the melody in my head on a summer day while I was drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette and daydreaming in my brother’s front yard. I went up to the house, grabbed my guitar and sang it through a couple times to see if it was any good.

I had more coffee then food that morning and the idea I was coming up with was making me a little nervous. Some times simple songs can cut to the core and be so direct, which kind of scared me with this one. I had just started dating this gal and I was going completely crazy for her… I knew when I played it for her she would either run away or let me stay. It’s been a few years since then and she still hasn’t run away. I’m a big fan of love songs.”

– Jack Torrey

psychicills

citattecken ”I’m a big fan of simple sad songs, even sappy ones. I’m a sucker for that stuff. I could listen to ‘tear in my beer’ style country songs all night.”

41. Psychic Ills ”Another Change”(from Inner Journey Out)

”I borrowed the lyric from Don Nix, who was in some ways was a big influence on this record from a stylistic stand-point. I like the gospel element in his music. Anyway, he’s got a song called ‘Goin’ Thru Another Change,’ it’s nothing like ours but an inspiration nonetheless. Lyrically the meaning isn’t very veiled, it’s just asking yourself if you’re ready for what you’re getting yourself into. I’m a big fan of simple sad songs, even sappy ones. I’m a sucker for that stuff. I could listen to ‘tear in my beer’ style country songs all night. That’s not exactly what this is, but maybe it’s a cousin to that.

Musically it came together pretty quickly. It was based on a demo I had recorded at home at 3 o’clock in the morning. I think we had to cut it a couple different times because we’d do one that seemed too fast, then we do a slow version, and on and on like that. They all seemed like they could work but they weren’t exactly right until about the third time we went back in and tracked it. It was one of the first songs that I knew was going to have gospel back up singers at the time I was writing it. I heard it in my head…”

– Tres Warren

nzcalines

citattecken ”If you look at it musically, the synth melody doesn’t work over that first chord – it doesn’t make musical sense. If you play it on a piano, it sounds wrong. But it felt good to inject something fresh…”

40. NZCA Lines ”Two Hearts”(from Infinite Summer)

”Some tracks just come right out pretty fully formed – the production might change, but the basic song is identifiably there from start to finish. That was not the case with ‘Two Hearts’. If anything, this song for me is a testament to the fact that, if you believe something is good and you keep returning to it, you’ll get there in the end.

Some of the key elements of the track were there from the start – the bassline has always been the same, and the space-y chords that come after the first chorus were there in the first demo (with a very different sound, though). The initial demo was much slower – around 100bpm – before I realised it needed to be more of a ‘dance’ tempo. The biggest changes, though, were in the vocals. I must have gone through three or four whole different sets of lyrics and melodies for this track! I went a long way down the wormhole and had to claw myself back. There were periods when I just abandoned the track for months, then tried to return to it fresh. Charlie March (who produced the record) really helped shape the sounds, and also pushed me to approach the track in different ways. I did a version using only vocoder, a version using electric bass and real drums.. we even did a Timbaland-inspired version (which I listened to again a while back – it was pretty good).

Of course, the final version ended up coming full circle to elements of the initial demo. Whilst I was on tour with Metronomy in 2014 I carried around a microphone and some other studio bits, so I could set up in hotel rooms to work on my music. I remember having a day off in the city of Graz in Austria, and digging out the last version of the track – at that point still called ‘envelope’, because of the sound I used on my Prophet 600 on the first demo – and finally putting down some vocals that seemed to reflect the spirit of the music. In this way, the music informed the theme of the song. Infinite Summer is a concept album, about a far-future Earth in which the sun is dying and everyone loses themselves into a hedonistic oblivion. This track felt like it belonged to the city – a place called Cairo-Athens – and always suggested some kind of late-night melancholia. Crying on the dancefloor, if you will. The lyrics are about just wanting a lover to stay, even though what took place between you might now be over. So, this was the first stage of finishing the song – getting a vocal and lyrics I felt happy with. Once I was back in London, I added the synth part under the bridge – ”if there’s a part of you” – for which I managed to get the filter on my Prophet modulating in time with the track. This was total fluke, and I didn’t actually save the sound at the time, so what you hear on the track is the first take! I then got together with Charlie and we replaced some of the sounds using his Rhodes Chroma (an amazing, complicated ‘status’ synthesiser). He figured out some cool sounds to make the track more atmospheric – notably the burbling sound in the second verse, which is then running through a Quantec reverb unit. We also decided that the chorus was too boring, harmonically, as the chords just continued from the verse – this kind of minor thing, which I was very attached to, and had to let go of. It’s difficult to see an alternative when you’ve lived with something for so long, but I went home and messed around with some distorted chords, ending up with this slightly discordant ‘major’ chord at the start of the chorus. If you look at it musically, the synth melody doesn’t work over that first chord – it doesn’t make musical sense. If you play it on a piano, it sounds wrong. But it felt good to inject something fresh into the track. We then replaced the chords with a stack of sounds on the Chroma, which is such a huge sounding synth.

The final element which really helped the song, I think, was having Sarah (Jones, NZCA drummer) singing on it. We’d just started working together at that point, and I was getting her to sing all over the album as she has such an amazing voice. I liked it so much that I sent the label a version with just her vocal singing the whole thing, which I thought would be really cool. They weren’t so into the idea, so unfortunately my lead vocal went back in … We’re actually both singing in the chorus, but something about the frequencies in her voice just totally cancel out my falsetto.

I actually did a Future Music video in which I go through the different versions of the song, if you’re interested in hearing the journey! It’s about 40 minutes long though, so clear some time in your schedule for it.”

– Michael Lovett

39. Fruit Bats ”From A Soon-To-Be Ghost Town”(from Absolute Loser)

38. Kristin Kontrol ”X-Communicate”(from X-Communicate)

37. Kendra Morris ”Le Snitch”(from Babble)

36. Minor Victories ”Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)”(from Minor Victories)

grapell

citattecken ”…that demo stayed with us for a while. People who heard it seemed to like it and I didn’t grow tired of it, which is unusual.”

35. Grapell ”Don’t Turn Into A Memory”(from Love Chamber)

”Like most of the songs I write that are actually completed and released, I wrote this song very quickly. I recorded a demo right away and that demo stayed with us for a while. People who heard it seemed to like it and I didn’t grow tired of it (which is unusual).

As time passed new songs, which had a lot in common with this one, popped up and the song had found its context. After quite some time we recorded it with the whole band and it now feels like a natural part of our EP Love Chamber.

To me the song is nostalgic but at the same time rational. It is holding on to something that it also knows that it will have to let go of soon. That is what created the vibe, I think.”

– Emil Erstrand

publicaccesstv

citattecken ”We did probably 25 different versions of this song… At first it was slow, then super fast, eventually it just hit the groove we were looking for.”

34. Public Access TV ”On Location”(from Never Enough)

”We did probably 25 different versions of this song… At first it was slow, then super fast, eventually it just hit the groove we were looking for. I’m really psyched on how it turned out. We also recorded it in probably 10 different studios. In the end we recorded it with friends and that was the missing element.”

– John Eatherly

bleached

citattecken ”That song definitely has the most complicated arrangement of all our songs. I love how Jessie’s guitar stays on one note and all the instruments change around it.”

33. Bleached ”Keep On Keeping On”(from Welcome The Worms)

”We went out to the desert (Joshua Tree) to write for a weekend in this little cabin. It was all very stressful and kinda funny getting there. My car got stuck in the dirt and we had this local desert dude pull my car out with his belt and truck. Anyhow we finally got settled in the cabin and started jamming together. The next morning we really liked what we had come up with as the verse and I added a chorus that I had written prior. It worked really well. I didn’t really do the vocals till I got back to LA. I wanted to be alone so I could do whatever with my voice and no one listening. I was kind of experimenting with melodies and range, styles I wasn’t used to singing. We finished the demo and it ended up being Joe Chiccarelli’s favorite song. We experimented with a lot of arrangements. That song definitely has the most complicated arrangement of all our songs. I love how Jessie’s guitar stays on one note and all the instruments change around it.

For the lyrics I was thinking no matter what happens in life the world keeps spinning and we all keep moving on. Don’t dwell in the past and don’t stress out over the future but work for it. Similar to the title of the album ”Welcome the Worms” it means life is full of good and bad and we have to accept it all as a package and that is beautiful.”

– Jennifer Clavin

marissanadler

citattecken ”The song is a study in contrasts, as I observed her delight with everything set against my own depression.”

32. Marissa Nadler ”Janie In Love”(from Strangers)

”When I began writing Janie In Love, I was writing with imagery that was inspired by books about natural disasters and the end of the world. At the same time, I was spending time with a friend of mine who was continuously falling in love to the extreme heights of ecstasy. I had become quite disillusioned with many parts of my life and was feeling isolated and lonely at the time of writing Strangers, and slightly agoraphobic as well. The song is a study in contrasts, as I observed her delight with everything set against my own depression. I was also writing with a band in mind as I wanted Strangers to be very different from July, both sonically and in terms of subject matter. There’s only so many songs that you can write about relationships and heartbreak.

When I came in with songs about the world ending, the producer of Strangers and July, Randall Dunn, said to me, ” I don’t think this album is about the end of the world. I think it’s about the end of your world.”

– Marissa Nadler

31. Field Music ”Disappointed”(from Commontime)

30. Nada Surf ”Cold To See Clear”(from You Know Who You Are)

29. MSTRKRFT ”Runaway”(from Operator)

28. Kishi Bashi ”Hey Big Star”(from Sonderlust)

27. Wild Nothing ”Life Of Pause”(from Life Of Pause)

26. Gang Of Youths ”Native Tongue”(from Let Me Be Clear)

metronomy

citattecken ”…I’d been pondering why the 16 beat wasn’t so prevalent in pop music these days. There was a period when it was everywhere, but I guess that was in the 80’s and early 90’s.”

25. Metronomy ”16 Beat”(from Summer 08)

”The song 16 beat began life as a relatively complicated 16 beat that I was practicing. I think for a few days previous I’d been pondering why the 16 beat wasn’t so prevalent in pop music these days. There was a period when it was everywhere, but I guess that was in the 80’s and early 90’s. In any case I was deriving a huge amount of pleasure from playing it, so figured I should build a song around it. The next thing that came along would have been the bass line, it wrote itself really. I think there are certain rhythms that just naturally lend themselves to quite catchy bass riffs, 16 beats seems to be one of them.

Now, around about this point, the song hit a wall, I hit a wall…whatever. I probably had a few melody ideas, but I had no idea what to actually write the song about. So, me and the song entered a kind of stale mate for a few weeks. This is actually quite common (for me at least) and the cooling off period gives you some time to think about what you really want.

I came to the conclusion that the whole reason for the song existing was because of that beat, so why not write a song about the beat?
And so, that’s what I did. I guess that’s a quite simplified version of things, obviously the way it was recorded and mixed played their own important roles. But, at it’s heart its just a simple song about a drum rhythm.”

– Joseph Mount

charliehilton

citattecken ”Even with all the love in the world, there is so much uncertainty when you say goodbye. It’s unsettling and difficult and, in the end, too simple a word.”

24. Charlie Hilton ”Long Goodbye”(from Palana)

”I wrote ‘Long Goodbye’ for my husband, a man called Todd Fulscher. I was about to leave for Blouse’s first long tour, and Todd and I had never been apart for over a month. Before I left, I wanted him to feel loved beyond belief.

The song is made up of four verses, almost like four sturdy walls, or a fortress of comfort. The professions of love are big and matter-of-fact. But in the chorus, there’s hesitation, a question mark–there is no roof on the fortress. Even with all the love in the world, there is so much uncertainty when you say goodbye. It’s unsettling and difficult and, in the end, too simple a word. So the song has some serious tension, a longing, a reaching for something that’s getting further and further away from safety.

Because of all that longing, it always felt like a sad song to me, something that would sound really quiet and heavy. But in the studio, we decided to lighten it with hand claps, synths, a woodblock. The production is really steady and relaxing, which I think makes the lyrics feel like they’re a million miles away. Maybe they’re just a memory of something sad, something that already happened and then got all tidied up and resolved. I have the record’s producer, Jacob Portrait, to thank for that. I always like when a song ends up with that kind of contrast, a sad song that sounds happy. It gives the listener some room to feel however they’d like.”

– Charlie Hilton

23. Frightened Rabbit ”I Wish I Was Sober”(from Painting Of A Panic Attack)

22. Lera Lynn ”Shape Shifter”(from Resistor)

king_creosote_-_astronaut_meets_appleman

citattecken ”…it’s this claustrophobic, one-sided relationship where one person has all the power and yet the person who has the power tends to be the needy one. I have sometimes been that person…”

21. King Creosote ”You Just Want”(from Astronaut Meets Appleman)

”It was written the year we released From Scotland With Love. When I have a new record out I find it difficult to listen to any music by my peers. It either makes me paranoid about what we’ve just done or if there’s music that is way more successful than ours. I find myself tuning into Radio 3 or where they play things like drone or even A-Ha, classic pop and amazing songwriters. I was driving from Fife when I heard a program about choral music, reinterpretations of unrecorded music they found manuscripts of in monasteries. They played a madrigal, religious piece that was slowly building up with melody and vocals and I thought it was incredible. I couldn’t figure out the time signature. It was a loop but I couldn’t tell how many bars.

So when I got home from the drive I tried to get a similar thing out from my memory, came up with the chords and had a line I wanted to use which happened to be nine bars long. A lot of reviews of the album have asked if I’m into sadomasochism in this song. Silly, really. If you listen to it you can hear that it’s this claustrophobic, one-sided relationship where one person has all the power and yet the person who has the power tends to be the needy one. I have sometimes been that person who pushes it to the limit and then gets absolutely devastated when the other one’s gone! I think everyone has that desire in them to be in jail and then be the one who broke out. Like people who are in jail for a long time and when they are released the want to get back in again. People condition themselves to be either the doormat or the one who’s constantly wiping their nose on it. It’s very rare that two people are on the exact same page and end up in a very equal partnership.

Last year we started our live shows with ‘You Just Want’ as just a three-piece and afterwards people would come up and ask what that song was. We recorded it as a stripped back version which was about two minutes shorter than the album version. Since we recorded it live, the tempo of the song goes up the further into it we got and I had this idea that we would take out the middle section and loop it. Andy and I started in a skiffle/bluegrass band where every instrument got a chance of their own up at the microphone. I thought it would be a great album opener if we let everybody show themselves except for the bagpipes.

The ‘ah-ah-ah-ah’ bit, an old Laurie Anderson trick, usually has got three or four vocals live, but our backing singer didn’t show up, so on the record it only has a single vocal from Hannah who is the violinist. But it turned out good, now it has that boy-girl feel to it. My vocal part consists of two takes chopped up and put together. The pattern in Pro Tools looks like a knitted sweater!

When my manager heard the song he said it was commercial suicide but I knew that Domino would fall over themselves for it. I’ve done this trick once before on an album called Flick The Vs, I took the song that was the biggest shock and shoved it up front. Domino love that shit!

There are only four lines of lyrics on it. The two first are best and are repeated at the end where I felt it needed to get back to that mesmeric feeling again after the middle section. Reinforce the S&M mindset on people! The difficult part when playing it live is to know how long it should go on, because nobody keeps track of how many rounds it’s run!

The lyric could be seen both as being in the present but also as what will be in the future. It can be meant just as much as a promise. Like the line ‘When you need someone to cry on in the depths of despair, I shall be elsewhere’. I will be elsewhere. It could be read in two ways. Is he nice or a total arse? I like that duality. Is the subject the doormat or not? Then it’s confirmed in the last couplet that it is the doormat. There’s lot in those four lines!”

– Kenny Anderson

frankiecosmos

citattecken ”I had kinda forgotten about the song and was surprised that of all the demos, that one stood out to him, but I thought we’d give it a shot.”

20. Frankie Cosmos ”Sinister”(from Next Thing)

”I was at Hunter Davidsohn’s studio in Binghamton NY recording with Porches, and Cameron Wisch was doing drum takes. I was on my computer doing homework and I ended up having an idea and typing up some lyrics. Then, while they were recording, I went into the hallway of the studio with a little keyboard of Hunter’s and wrote the melody and chords to Sinister. I recorded it as a video on Photo Booth. Later, when I got home, I recorded a better demo of the song on guitar, and I edited out a verse. I sent it with a bunch of other demos to my friend and then-bandmate Gabby, but I kinda thought I would scrap the song. Later, Gabby told me that her boyfriend Oliver really liked that demo and thought we should play it in the band. I had kinda forgotten about the song and was surprised that of all the demos, that one stood out to him, but I thought we’d give it a shot. When I brought it into the band, we arranged it and added a small keyboard + guitar solo in, and it became the version of Sinister which ended up on our record.”

– Greta Kline

JPKS_LP_Cover

citattecken ”In the choruses I took a stab at the Everly’s close harmony. I’ve always been a gut level fan of that style of harmony and seem to always fumble my way back to emulating it.”

19. Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster ”Laid Low”(from Constant Stranger)

”In hindsight I’m pretty sure ”Laid Low” is essentially my poor and half-conscious attempt to write an Everly Brothers song. Structurally and as far as the arrangement it’s very simple in that old way, just super basic guitar, bass and drums. In the choruses I took a stab at the Everly’s close harmony. I’ve always been a gut level fan of that style of harmony and seem to always fumble my way back to emulating it.

As far as content, again it’s very much an attempt on my part to take a simple, known, and helpfully alliterate phrase and spin from it a story that includes those old themes of deep sudden romance, distance, choices, and wishful thinking. And to do so in three and a half minutes, which actually is even longer than the Everlys would have done but still. I tried!”

– Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

theposies

citattecken ”It observes what you’re doing. So if you were to have the wrong opinion at some point it could be possible to manipulate those things. And what would you do? It’s all already in place.”

18. The Posies ”Squirrel Vs. Snake”(from Solid State)

”It’s political in a broad sense. Basically like “Where do we fit in?”, “Where do I fit in the grand scheme of things?”. In a sense it’s more of an existential song. The way things work now there are many places we brush up against existential concerns. This is going to start sounding a bit far out, but there’s a technology that’s out there. Phones and all manner of devices that we’re constantly being observed and tracked and right now it’s all a little bit open and easy. You don’t feel pushed around too much, but this can change in a heartbeat. So that’s an existential question.

If I mean it in a George Orwell kind of way? A Big Brother syndrome? Yeah, it could definitely happen! Stuff they’re implementing right now are really far out. It’s so far out that people don’t even believe that it would work. The stuff that’s happening with this oncept they call The Internet Of Things, where your microwave, your refrigerator, your alarm, your door lock, everything communicates to a central grid. It’s not only just one way, it’s all two way communication. It observes what you’re doing.

So if you were to have the wrong opinion at some point it could be possible to manipulate those things. And what would you do? It’s all already in place. I mean, we enjoy a lot of freedom in general as humans in most countries, in some countries they don’t enjoy freedom at all. Here, we generally do but it’s very tenuous, you know. It’s like everything that’s put in place is trying to push it the other way. Lots of laws, like counter-terrorism has had a great way to move in. They changed the constitution in France like two days after the attacks in the Bataclan. That’s quite something and it’s always going a little bit in favour of less freedom of movement.

They’ve done this in the States. You know, there was the shootings in California with that couple and the government wanted to unlock their phone and Apple said no. Personally, I think it’s total bullshit. I think there’s total collusion at all levels at all time and I think that was a big show. But that’s just my personal opinion. You know, I get up in the morning, I go to school with my daughter, I do my things with my music, I travel around. I do what I feel like doing. In this song I’m going “that is a very pleasant illusion I’m allowed to participate in”. Am I going to run into a wall or are we all going to hit a wall with that and end up very unhappy with the result?”

– Ken Stringfellow

17. Daughter ”The End”(single)

16. Warpaint ”New Song”(from Heads Up)

king

citattecken ”…the greatness of Muhammad Ali; we wanted to pay homage not only to his excellent athleticism but also his dedication to social equality and contribution to the anti-war movement.”

15. KING ”The Greatest”(from We Are KING)

”‘The Greatest’ is a song inspired by the greatness of Muhammad Ali; we wanted to pay homage not only to his excellent athleticism but also his dedication to social equality and contribution to the anti-war movement. It was written about a year before his passing, and it was an incredible and sobering moment to have paid a timely tribute to someone we honor so much.

Texturally, we were imagining a retro theme that captured all of the essence of the things we loved growing up in the 80s and early 90s- the synthesizers, the vibe of the music, the energy; and we were thrilled to specifically honor the gaming tradition by creating an Atari-style 8-bit music video.

The song was recorded at our home studio, was written by the three of us and produced by Paris- it went through many evolutions to become the version that made it on the album. We spent time exploring different rhythmic concepts and kept the background textures very creative- it was a great process to bring the energy and drive out of a piece where the vocals are cool and laid back, but the lyrics tell a story. Our hope was to inspire every listener to embrace their own greatness.”

– Amber Strother, Paris Strother & Anita Bias

hamiltonrostam

citattecken ”The first 9 had come steadily, but for some reason we started running into walls when going for a 10th…and we both agreed the album needed one more song.”

14. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam ”The Morning Stars”(from I Had A Dream That You Were Mine)

”It took about 2 years to make our record. We wrote, recorded and mixed as we went along. In the first year we wrote 9 songs, and in the 2nd year we wrote “The Morning Stars”. The first 9 had come steadily, but for some reason we started running into walls when going for a 10th…and we both agreed the album needed one more song. We were both in DC over the holidays (we both grew up there) and one late December night we wrote The Morning Stars in just a few hours in Rostam’s childhood bedroom. It came together really fast. Then we got this incredible pedal steel player to play on it once we were back in LA. I actually ended up playing some of the drums on this track eventually too.”

– Hamilton Leithauser

weyes

citattecken ”I fell in love with a trouble maker, a real wild creature of the night. But I was totally crazy about him, even if it wasn’t good.”

13. Weyes Blood ”Do You Need My Love”(from Front Row Seat To Earth)

”The story is such: I fell in love with a trouble maker, a real wild creature of the night. But I was totally crazy about him, even if it wasn’t good. To me the value was that he restored a sense of feeling to me, of passion and longing. Its like a fuel you can live off of when your heart swells with love for another person. I wrote it in a few months, but the words changed a bit overtime. ” Do you need me the way I need you ” came about when I realized the love was mutual.”

– Natalie Mering

suuns

citattecken ”As we recorded it on record after record, and scrapped it on each one, we found an excellent coupling for this extreme minimalism in 1970’s German music, and reworked the song…”

12. SUUNS ”Translate”(from Hold/Still)

”Translate” is the exhumed and reanimated corpse of one of the first songs that our band ever wrote a good nine years ago; it represents a specific field of the band’s influences as we found our sound; and it suggests possibilities of things to come in the future. It references our early approach in that the rhythm section paves on one note and one note alone (when we started we thought of ourselves as extreme minimalists). As we recorded it on record after record, and scrapped it on each one, we found an excellent coupling for this extreme minimalism in 1970’s German music, and reworked the song accordingly.

There are the single note delays on a monophonic keyboard, from Kraftwerk, the boxy funk of the drums from Can, the linear guitar line, unrelenting and hypnotic. And then the middle section of the song: more serene and open, representative of the approach we discovered on songs like ”Edie’s Dream” or ”Infinity”, as we had digested Krautrock and were ready for other things, maybe something more like SUUNS than a collection of our influences. The song has also proved to be a malleable and unpredictable aspect of our live show, which qualities have been the lifeblood of SUUNS from the beginning. Sometimes I think the longer you incubate a song, the deeper the fermentation, and when it is born it has strong, fast legs. It’s good to have healthy songs like this that run away on you – they keep you spry, in pursuit.”

– Liam O’Neill

theanchoress

citattecken ”We had to EQ out the squeak on the sustain pedal as it was a really dry, hot day and no amount of WD40 would stop the pedal from squeaking!”

11. The Anchoress ”Bury Me”(from Confessions Of A Romance Novelist)

”‘The agony is exquisite is it not? A broken heart. You think you will die but you just keep on living, day after terrible day.’ – Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

This is one of the oldest songs that I recorded for the album and was always intended to be part of a 3-song suite, in the vein of Kate Bush’s The Ninth Wave, with ”Intermission (Notes to the Editor)” and ”Waiting To Breathe” forming the book-ends on the album sequence. We recorded the main piano in my front room on my 1960s Challen baby grand, completely free-form, with no click track – which was a nightmare for editing later on. We also had to EQ out the squeak on the sustain pedal as it was a really dry, hot day and no amount of WD40 would stop the pedal from squeaking! The finished production sticks pretty closely to my original multitrack demo of the song and we actually ended up importing a fair amount of the original audio and I felt I didn’t want to try and recreate some of the more improvised moments of my original recording. I actually started writing the song on the guitar before shifting the whole thing over to a piano instrumental I’d been developing. It’s really difficult to play live as not one of the sections repeats itself and it’s structurally much more like a classical piece than a pop song.”

– Catherine Anne Davies

meet-the-humans

citattecken ”After the film we came out of the cinema and I remember looking up, punching my arms into the sky. I really believed I was going to take off, but I didn’t, obviously.”

10. Steve Mason ”Planet Sizes”(från Meet The Humans)

”The lyrics were written by me, as well as most of the song when I took it to Iain Archer who helped me out on the chorus.

Do you remember the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve? It came out around 1977 and I was about six or seven years old when my dad took me to see it. I thought it was amazing. After the film we came out of the cinema and I remember looking up, punching my arms into the sky. I really believed I was going to take off, but I didn’t, obviously. So my heart was kind of broken and I’ve never gotten over it, really. A lot of things like that happen to you when you’re a kid. Since society hasn’t told you, you think that anything’s possible. Unfortunately flying is out of the question for human beings. That’s what Planet Sizes is about, trying to keep alive your imagination, the wonder and beauty that you had when you were a kid and thought anything was possible. Looking at the stars and just being in awe of the heavens. Someone saying that every star you see is a sun and that it has planets around them and that universe is just full of life. Then scientists say “no, no, no, no”, the only thing that has living things on it is planet Earth. Then they find traces of living things on Mars and you realize they have no bloody idea. But it’s also about being indoctrinated into a way of fitting into a kind of very dull, very narrow spectrum of living where you’re just taught to be a capitalist. To work, to earn money, to buy crap. Is that what living really is about? I don’t think so.

There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, having imagination and stepping aside to the prevailing way of thinking. Society is very difficult to live in for most people. All the pressure to just try and survive. Try to keep that child inside you alive. Being an adult is really fucking boring…

I worked out the best way of playing it with my drummer and my bass player, recorded guitar, bass and drums first and laid everything else on top of that. Very straight-forward really, layering things. It had this magical quality to it which I really, really love. Originally we had the chorus in full time but it just didn’t work. We worked hard and suddenly it just became something else. You just have to try things and see what happens.”

– Steve Mason

jeremy

citattecken ”The driving theme of the song is a bit funny being that I don’t own a car and no one really drives here in NYC besides Ubers and cabs. The driving theme more so came from the pulsating rhythmic guitar.”

9. Jeremy And The Harlequins ”Into The Night”(from Into The Night)

”I started writing ‘Into the Night’ in my apartment in Manhattan late one night about two years ago. It’s about being apart from the one you love and desperately wanting to get to them. Even though I wrote it about my girlfriend at the time (who was Swedish coincidentally), I think it’s really about pushing through the dark times in order to make it into the light.

The driving theme of the song is a bit funny being that I don’t own a car and no one really drives here in NYC besides Ubers and cabs. The driving theme more so came from the pulsating rhythmic guitar line.  We recorded the tune early on in the recording process for the album and were really pleased with how it came out. It seemed like the perfect introduction to the album… so much so that we ended up calling the album ‘Into the Night.'”

– Jeremy Fury

haley

citattecken ”…its description of ‘when I was beautiful’ or ‘we’re the kids who got kids at parties’ are relative to societal judgements of age, especially for women and the loss of freedom with parenthood”

8. Haley Bonar ”Kismet Kill”(from Impossible Dream)

”Kismet Kill started as a ballad. More than that, it started as a strand of melody with no words years ago… and every once in a while it would surface and I would try and figure out what to say with it and pack it away again. Finally, one day, something clicked, and the story became entwined around the melody. I believe it’s important to put pictures to words, and in songs, the instrumentation and melody serve that purpose.

The story revolves loosely around the subject of two young lovers who are spirited away until a pregnancy occurs. The reality sets in, with no money and having to let go of certain aspirations one often has upon finishing high school. However, the story is not hopeless. It is also playful in its description of ”when I was beautiful” or ”we’re the kids who got kids at parties”, because these ideas are all relative to societal judgements of age, especially for women, and the loss of freedom with parenthood. It scans, rather than participates in, these measures of youth, beauty, and freedom being given up- because we all know someone who has been a young parent, and not all of them bury their dreams of running.

The nature of love being ”kismet”- fate- is something that I cannot deny, whether the relationship works out or not. All people that we come across in our lives will teach us something about ourselves, and in that regard, there really can be no mistakes. We fight this idea throughout our lives, despite the lessons that we are given. Some love dies a cruel death, others are ghosts that we can still see in our present relationships, and some, as is the case in ”Kismet Kill”, will bind you to one another, literally, for life- ie, if you create a child.

Though the words sound disparaging to the idea of ”fated love”, I really just love the way they sounded together, the way they antagonize one another. Kismet isn’t always what it seems, and sometimes killing it opens up the doors to the eye of the self, a reward rather than a price to pay for following your own heart.”

– Haley Bonar

benjamin

citattecken ”The song is about temptation. Someone begging you to come with them to their idea of heaven, you knowing that you can’t really go there ‘cause, you know… ‘I’ve got enough to lose…’.”

7. Benjamin Francis Leftwich ”Mayflies”(from After The Rain)

”I wrote and produced that song with my friend Joe Janiak. We were on tour together in the UK at the end of 2013. Living in the tour bus together we became friends. My dad was ill at the time and me and Joe set up a studio in my dad’s living room so I could work from home. The song is about temptation. Someone begging you to come with them to their idea of heaven, you knowing that you can’t really go there ‘cause, you know… ‘I’ve got enough to lose…’. So it’s about temptation and self-reflection. Mayflies are animals who after they mate, they die. I made the opening sample on the (Akai) MPC. I just woke up one morning and it was there, a result of messing around making sounds and I just loved that one, so we built the track from it.

I remember thinking about a lady I’d met called Carolyn who became a really close friend of mine. She’s actually from Denmark, I think. We met at a show in America outside of Los Angeles somewhere a couple of years ago. It turned out she lived just five minutes from our house in York. She was in the back of my mind when I wrote the song, she’s someone I’ve felt really close to although I’ve never spent much time with her. I think the spark for a song always comes from a personal place.”

– Benjamin Francis Leftwich

nitejewelalbum-cover

citattecken ”…the lyric that came to mind of someone just sitting there, crying in a corner (or in a closet) about something they did not have enough courage to do was: boo hoo.”

6. Nite Jewel ”Boo Hoo”(from Liquid Cool)

”As detailed elsewhere, I recorded Liquid Cool in a couple walk-in closets in LA. ‘Boo Hoo’ was recorded in the first one. I remember it clearly because I remember sitting down in my small space, closing the sliding door and thinking, ‘let’s start with a really simple beat’. I wanted something that could sound somewhat upbeat but the underlying tone would be one of yearning or sadness. There was this real pathetic desire ingrained in the lyrics I initially wrote; in particular considering oneself a ‘devoted lover’ of someone who does not care or think about you. And a person so timid in their ability to confess their love yet so confessional, the lyric that came to mind of someone just sitting there, crying in a corner (or in a closet) about something they did not have enough courage to do was: boo hoo. Once I heard that in my head, the song unlocked itself.”

– Ramona Gonzalez

andersonpaak

citattecken ”I was listening to Otis, Sam Cooke and Bobby Womack, these people I really felt like I could identify with and we were pulling from those inspirations so it just came out really funky, man.”

5. Anderson .Paak ”Put Me Throu”(from Malibu)

”I think that I have a habit of being a glutton for punishment in regards to some of the women I’ve liked and dated in the past. Some of the women that I’m attracted to are sometimes detrimental and bad for my health. Then there’s the whole thing that I was going through with being a musician, being someone who chooses to live life outside of the norm. You have to be a little bit crazy sometimes or masochistic to be that in order to go through some of the themes willingly as you do as an artist. I mean, once I was in the situation where we’d go traveling to play these long hours, put all this time in but didn’t get compensated and we got treated like trash. I don’t know, we just loved it still. Sometimes it felt like life or women, either literally or in my art, couldn’t care less for me but I still needed to have it. I think that’s what the song is about, essentially.

Initially I wanted to make the song a blues, like Heartbreak Hotel, that type of tune. I wanted something like that for myself. My boy Kelsey Gonzalez who’s been playing with me for years took out that bassline and the progression. I wrote on keys when I was going through different eras that I really liked in music and settled on the sixties. I was listening to people like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and stuff. You know, Otis, Sam and Bobby Womack, these people I really felt like I could identify with and we were pulling from those inspirations so it just came out really funky, man. We spent some time on the hook. I remember the hook was different, the chorus had a different feel to it. When you hear it now it opens up to this driving thing but it wasn’t like that at first, we had to find it. It’s one of my favourite tunes.”

– Anderson .Paak

keaton

citattecken ”…you don’t know whether you want to keep putting yourself through pain or want to find someone whose company you enjoy, which is also difficult for me because I really enjoy my own.”

4. Keaton Henson ”Comfortable Love”(from Kindly Now)

”I had to write a description of all the songs and I was kind of stuck on that one! It may be to do with my age but you get to a point where you’re starting to see a lot of people finding that kind of comfortable love, a kind of co-existence that means you just don’t have to be lonely again. That song is me railing against that, I guess. I’m thinking “Is that the best thing? Do you want to find the comfortable thing or is the painful thing the real thing?”. Wondering what love would be and what it’s there for.

I’ve been in a lot of relationships which are explosive and it’s kind of addictive, isn’t it? If it’s laced with danger or pain and I think it can be quite damaging. I think that song is quite confused for me, I’m at a point where you don’t know whether you want to keep putting yourself through pain or whether you want to find someone whose company you enjoy, which is also difficult for me because I really enjoy my own company. There’s almost an envy of people who seem so comfortable and content but there’s also a feeling of “Do I want that? Is that vibrant enough?”

As on Birthdays, I feel that the quiet moments in an album aren’t as powerful if it’s just them and to have a quiet moment really means something and it’s nice to have something loud before it. Also, people tend to fall asleep to my albums and I felt like I should have something loud just in case…”

– Keaton Henson

justice

citattecken ”Is the song title a double entendre for ”horny”? Well, everybody puts his own things into it… Maybe that was the state you were in when you were listening…”

3. Justice “Randy”(from Woman)

”One of the funny things is that the singer, Morgan Phalen, lives in Stockholm! He used to live in the US, he’s originally from Mexico but was raised in San Francisco and then lived in New York and Los Angeles. When we met him he lived over there but then moved to Europe which made everything much more easy to work with him.

There are always a couple of tracks on each album where, instead of making it by the two of us playing piano and bass in a traditional way, we start them by just trying things with sounds and electronics and based on how they react, the response of the sound. “Randy” is one of those songs. Our first idea when we made it was to play it sort of industrial, EBM. So we had all these loops that were generated by software and we were sequencing them in different ways. Then we started playing on top of that and found this chord sequence that worked on it. We immediately felt that it could go in a much more interesting direction having this almost R&B cruising music blended with these very cold electronic sequences. The first session of writing this song was one afternoon and we had almost everything, but we felt the chorus was not good enough. That’s when we called Morgan and he flew to Paris where we began writing lyrics and different options for choruses. The three of us found the chorus while just playing something to which he was singing whatever it was. The difficult part comes when you have to replace those gibberish words you sing when you find the lines to replace with lyrics. We sat for maybe two or three days to write the lyrics. It was really fun working with him, we’d know him for eight years now since he worked with us on the previous album. We don’t let a lot of outside people participate in our records. For us, it’s really a weapon to have a guy like this that we know we can spend fun time with.

Is the song title a double entendre for ”horny”? Well, everybody puts his own things into it… Maybe that was the state you were in when you were listening to it, or maybe this song was making you randy and you started imagining it… Personally, we never thought of that, never ever…”

– Xavier de Rosnay

mariedanielle

citattecken ”He was all rage and bluster for an eternity wrapped in a month. Then he went suddenly calm. Standing in front of me as I sat on the sofa. Then, his hands were around my neck.”

2. Marie Danielle ”Slave Ships”(from Hustler)

”I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean. The enormous power and beauty of waves crashing on the beach, fury and rhythm, hypnotizing in their ferocity. The wind whipping you with the scent of salt air. You dip your toe at the lip, the mouth threatening to swallow you whole.

It’s this same sort of pull that has lured me to the type of darkly brooding man to whom I’ve always been attracted, their wounds so thinly veiled, simmering just below the surface. It was no different with Ian. We had grown up together in a sad suburb of a broken-down rust belt city. We were cut from the same cloth so we recognized the thread of each other’s making, and all the flaws within.

The beginning was enchanted, it was a lightning strike in the night sky. Countless hours in glistening barrooms, silent evenings spent watching Los Angeles glimmer from high atop the Hollywood Hills. Days lingering in the haze next to the ocean as we settled into oblivion. Back to that ocean – chaos and order, hand in hand, just like us. I’m always trying to reorder things, glue the pieces back together in a tattered approximation of their original shape. And Ian was shattered, I wanted to repair him, to rein in his chaos. Maybe my own as well. But, there’s no fixing anything: it is what it is.

Ultimately, the light gave way to the darkness we kept inside. Everything unraveled. Squabbles bloomed to all-out war. Pleasure lost its appeal. So, we looked for the softest parts of each other in which to press the blade, blood needed to be spilt. Chaos broke the shackles, hands turned to fists.

All I remember from that last day is the quiet. He was all rage and bluster for an eternity wrapped in a month. Then he went suddenly calm. Standing in front of me as I sat on the sofa. Then, his hands were around my neck. He pushed me into the fabric of the lush, brown couch. The place where we had lain entwined in softer times. I was submerged. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move, couldn’t push him off. As black engulfed me, I thought, ‘This is how I die.’ At the last moment, he let go. Stood up, then sat down, then laid down next to me on the couch. I caught my breath and ran out of the house.

The part that came between that day and the writing of Slave Ships was the hard part. A part I won’t revisit now, or likely, ever. That was the final battleground that led me to write the song in question. It was all that warring that made me see relationships of this kind as servitude, each person enslaved to the other, slaves to the bottle, slaves to anything that could maybe save us. That’s the ultimate shackle. The belief that anyone can liberate us. Freedom comes only from within.”

– Marie Danielle

mitski

1. Mitski ”Your Best American Girl”(from Puberty 2)

(Mitski was approached with a request to share her story behind ”Your Best American Girl” but she was unfortunately unavailable due to travelling and other commitments.)

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Class of 2015 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

Once asked in pre-school about my favourite Christmas tradition, the first thing I came to think about was how we always stopped for burgers at a certain restaurant half way into our snowy 10 hour drives up north for the holidays. Maybe not the most logical answer coming from my seven-year-old self considering how long the wishlist posted to Santa Claus was, but obviously what goes on in the mind of a child isn’t always what you expect. These days, much as I still won’t turn down a juicy burger when offered one, I’ve moved on somewhat although my favourite traditions may still be at odds with those of other people. The compiling of the year end list has the past few years slowly grown to become my favourite Christmas tradition. The ever-changing shortlist. The twisting and turning of the running order. The hunt for variation. The risk of leaving something out. Most of all, though, reading what really went on there when magic was made.

Back in the late nineties, when I plowed through Ian MacDonald’s extensive account of The Beatles’ every recorded song, little did I know it would spark this near-obsessive interest in getting acquainted with the way my favourite songs came to be. When I decided to start writing about music some years ago it was clear to me that I needed some sort of input from artists and musicians, not least for the list including the very best songs from the past year. So here we are, closing 2015 before our eyes begin to look forward to 2016. I’m sure we’ll be looking forward to closing 2016 just as much as we loved it this time.

Below you have the 100 songs I just couldn’t get enough of the past 12 months. More than 40 of these performers have been kind enough to exclusively for you and Songs for Whoever tell the tale of how they did it. How they brought to life what tickled my most tender spots. So let yourself sink deeply into their personal accounts of how their songs were created while you listen carefully to the tracks. Don’t rush things, because you’ve got a lot of exciting reading and listening to joyfully combine here. All you have to do is just give in and let it all tickle your tender spots too.

N.B. My deepest gratitude(and apologies for the stalking…) to all the artists and musicians for taking time to contribute the stories told in this list by giving their songs a personal touch, additional dimension and even a new life. You are all number one.

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100. Julia Holter ”Sea Calls Me Home”(from Have You In My Wilderness)

99. Blood Orange ”Sandra’s Smile”(single)

98. Chromatics ”I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around”(single)

97. NAO ”Bad Blood”(single)

96. Disclosure feat. Lorde ”Magnets”(from Caracal)

travellanes

citattecken ”I swear the first verse happened as soon as he picked up the guitar. The song is in G and the rest is history.”

95. Travel Lanes ”Little Outta Love”(from Let’s Begin To Start Again)

”I was listening to a whole bunch of tunes a friend had sent. His name is Gerry McGoldrick (Napalm Sunday, Solid For Sixty). The majority of them were great and complete. But, he had this one tune that seemed to be in need of a chorus and lyrics. The only thing I could make out was ‘Felt a Little Outta Love’. I told him that I wanted to work on it. It came really easy……the lyrics, the chorus, the bridge. I was really happy with it. I played it to Gerry and he didn’t share my enthusiasm. He had other plans for it……which I truly understand. And yet, I wanted it for the record. It seemed effortless, and I generally go with those kinds of songs.

Recording it was a whole lotta fun. We recorded the basic track for the song as a three piece (John Bicer, Mitch Cojocairu) at Mitch‘s house with no idea who would be playing lead on it. Our guitarist, Derek Feinberg, was on leave and we weren’t sure when, or if, he was coming back. Surprise, surprise, he did come back. And his guitar playing was among the most natural on the record. I swear the first verse happened as soon as he picked up the guitar. The song is in G and the rest is history.”

Frank Brown

94. MONEY ”I’ll Be The Night”(single)

93. ANOHNI ”4 Degrees”(single)

92. John Grant feat. Tracey Thorn ”Disappointing”(from Grey Tickles, Black Pressure)

91. Mikal Cronin ”iii) Control”(from MCIII)

90. Courtney Barnett ”Pedestrian At Best”(from Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit)

89. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats ”I Need Never Get Old”(from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats)

88. The Tallest Man On Earth ”Little Nowhere Towns”(from Dark Bird Is Home)

87. CHVRCHES ”Clearest Blue”(from Every Open Eye)

86. Tobias Jesso Jr. ”Without You”(from Goon)

citattecken ”Getting Samantha involved is a pretty simple task for Small Houses. She sings with me whenever we get the chance.”

85. Small Houses feat. Samantha Crain ”Seventeen in Roselore”(from Still Talk; Second City)

”A fun thing I like to tell people about this song cites the 3rd verse. ‘Now the ferry way back 88, while John sang Crain and Hearst’. The ‘Ferry’ is in reference to my car, The Cripple Creek Ferry, which comes from a Neil Young song. 88 is a highway that cuts through Illinois. John Davey, a fella that sings on my record, is humming along with songs by Samantha Crain and Cary Ann Hearst (Shovels & Rope). Sort of a loaded couple of lines!

I wrote the song in the wake of moving out of a town in Michigan called Kalamazoo. There are references to places around the area like Water St., and Scio county. Getting Samantha involved is a pretty simple task for Small Houses. She sings with me whenever we get the chance. When we were still recording, Samantha was on her way overseas to do a string of shows with Neutral Milk Hotel. I told her to make sure her layover was in Atlanta so we could fit in a day of catching up. I picked her up from the airport, we went straight to the studio, sang some songs, and within a few hours I was driving back towards the plane.”

Jeremy Quentin

briana

citattecken ”There was something with the Casio keyboard beat that I liked.”

84. Briana Marela ”Take Care Of Me”(from All Around Us)

”I started out that song with just the chorus, ‘you take care of me like I’m the only one’. I had written the first verse for it, then I felt that I wanted a song with a beat and I had a little Casio keyboard with beats on it. I’d recorded different beats and put them in a computer, then I panned one left and the other right before I put them together and slowed it down a bit. There was something with the beat that I liked. From there I just recorded the vocals I had over it and then started writing chords. There was an earlier demo version that was on a cassette compilation in a magazine called The Believer, a very early version of the song when I just had recorded it. This guy Calvin Johnson from K Records had asked me to put it on the compilation, and I was like ‘okay, it’s not really done yet but I’ll put it out”.

I wrote it about the person I was dating at the time. I’ve really only had two big relationships in my life, I’m kind of flick, I don’t really date people that much. I’m kind of shy and weird. So it was my second big relationship and it was a lot different than my first where I felt like I was the one nurturing the other person a lot, trying to help take care of him. Making sure things were okay for him, he was an artist and kind of unstable. Then the second was almost the opposite, I was the unstable one, frantic and weird and he was always helping me. I felt it was so nice to be helped and have someone who made things right when you were just feeling helpless and distraught.”

– Briana Marela

83. Låpsley ”Brownlow”(from Understudy EP)

82. Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge feat. Vince Staples ”Get The Money”(from Twelve Reasons To Die II)

81. Ezra Furman ”Restless Year”(from Perpetual Motion People)

80. Beach House ”10:37″(from Depression Cherry)

79. Father John Misty ”Strange Encounter”(from I Love You, Honeybear)

78. Protomartyr ”Pontiac 87″(from The Agent Intellect)

77. Two Gallants ”Some Trouble”(from We Are Undone)

76. The White Buffalo ”Last Call To Heaven”(from Love And The Death Of Damnation)

75. Drenge ”We Can Do What We Want”(from Undertow)

74. Metric ”The Shade”(from Pagans In Vegas)

73. Lady Lamb ”Billions Of Eyes”(from After)

72. Ghostpoet feat. Nadine Shah ”X Marks The Spot”(from Shedding Skin)

71. Years & Years ”King”(from Communion)

70. SOAK ”Sea Creatures”(from Before We Forgot How To Dream)

69. Vetiver ”Loose Ends”(from Complete Strangers)

68. Novo Amor ”Anchor”(single)

67. Empress Of ”Water Water”(from Me)

66. Petite Noir ”Just Breathe”(from La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Beautiful)

65. Peace ”Lost On Me”(from Happy People)

big data

citattecken ”We envisioned a character that becomes fed up with all the technology that consumes his life, and his ‘perfect holiday’ is to disconnect completely…”

64. Big Data feat. Twin Shadow ”Perfect Holiday”(from 2.0)

”With ‘Perfect Holiday’, as with most of my songs, I wrote the instrumental parts first before getting together with George (Twin Shadow) to work on the vocals. I started with the bassline first, and then built the track around it. Musically, I wanted it to feel menacing but also trancelike in its repetition, and I wanted the drums to punch as hard as possible. Lyrically, we wrote the song around the idea of unplugging. We envisioned a character that becomes fed up with all the technology that consumes his life, and his ‘perfect holiday’ is to disconnect completely and return to his roots.”

– Alan Wilkis

citattecken ”To me this song has a vibe to it. It always makes me happy and it is so fun to do live.”

63. OMVR ”Up In The Air”(single)

”The song was originally written by Dag and Halvor (also known as the duo Skinny Days). It was our first time meeting and the start of a great relation both musically and on a personal level. We rewrote a little bit of the song and changed some of the structure and just recorded it. Had so much fun doing this track with them and the audience always responded to this song when we did our live shows. 

To me this song has a vibe to it. It always makes me happy and it is so fun to do live. It’s a little bit outside what I normally would do, but I guess that’s what I love about the track. It’s just a fun song!”

– Omar Mohamed Ahmed

62. Ducktails ”Surreal Exposure”(from St. Catherine)

61. Birdy + Rhodes ”Let It All Go”(from Wishes)

60. Toro Y Moi ”Spell It Out”(from What For?)

59. Bop English ”Struck Matches”(from Constant Bop)

58. Julien Baker ”Everybody Does”(from Sprained Ankle)

57. Van Hunt ”Emotional Criminal”(from The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets)

56. Everything Everything ”Regret”(from Get To Heaven)

55. The Japanese House ”Cool Blue”(from Clean)

54. Elohim ”She Talks Too Much”(single)

53. Astronauts, Etc ”Eye To Eye”(from Mind Out Wandering)

52. Ben Khan ”1000”(from 1000 EP)

ivan

citattecken ”…we view those who are smiling all the time, as the most trustworthy. But I have found the opposite to be true.”

51. Ivan & Alyosha  ”It’s All Just Pretend”(from It’s All Just Pretend)

”In a nut shell, the song is about letting your true colors show. Being completely transparent to those who are observing your life. So many times we view those who are smiling all the time, as the most trustworthy. But I have found the opposite to be true. The people who have inspired me most, are the ones who are well aware of the troubles in life.”

– Pete Wilson

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Golden Ticket

citattecken ”…the boogie down funk feel made sense. Definitely one of our favorite records to perform live.”

50. Golden Rules ”Down South Boogie”(from Golden Ticket)

”‘Down South Boogie’ was one of the last songs we recorded for the album, after we already assumed it was finished. The beat was infectious from the beginning before there was any lyrics or idea meant for it. We both live on the South end of our cities and just representing that with the boogie down funk feel made sense. Definitely one of our favorite records to perform live. The crowd’s reaction as soon as the beat drop is always a gratifying feeling.”

– Eric Biddines

The Charlatans Modern Nature

citattecken ”After all, Jon had brain cancer. After he died, there was a real kind of lightness. In some ways everyone felt that he was in a better place.”

49. The Charlatans ”Come Home Baby”(from Modern Nature)

”We hadn’t made an album in five years, though we all wanted to, but with Jon‘s illness it was difficult to start. He wanted to, but everyone else thought it wasn’t a good idea for him as he was in no shape. He really wanted to be involved, so we did some jams and stuff like that to keep him as busy as we could but there was never gonna be an album made in that situation. It was just too dark. After all, Jon had brain cancer. After he died, there was a real kind of lightness. In some ways everyone felt that he was in a better place. He was suffering, not having any real medication during chemotherapy and radiation for three years, then the cancer was in remission before coming back twice as much. After his funeral in August we did a concert in October and felt we’d been through it all and went back to the studio to see what could happen. There, we all sat down on sofas, pretty much put a microphone in the middle and started singing and it just came out. It was beautiful and positive and even though it was in the middle of winter it sounded like summer. Like it was recorded in the Caribbean with rays of sunshine, and it was amazing.

‘Come Home Baby’ was an instrumental that Tony brought in, it sounded like a traditional Charlatans song to me and I didn’t take notice at it too much until I was in the car driving from Manchester to Northwitch to go and see my family. I sat there listening to it and suddenly just thought ‘there’s something really good about this’, something that just transcends the traditional us, something a bit more spiritual and I just got the lyrics trying to write about my little boy. As with most of my lyrics they could mean more than one thing, quite dreamy I suppose, and I think a lot of people thought it was about Jon. It’s kind of bizarre. There’s only one song on the album that makes me think about Jon and that’s ‘Trouble Understanding’, but that’s just a song about nature, really. But it’s good with double meanings, isn’t it? Half the time I don’t know what the songs are about, I’m the kind of writer that lets things unfold and if I let it be like that naturally it seems to give more. If you try to rush it or crump its style it’s like nurturing something, really.”

Tim Burgess

lp

citattecken ”I was at a place in my personal relationship where we hadn’t broken up but I knew something was off.”

48. LP ”Muddy Waters”(single)

”This song came about like a storm really. It was all written in one quick day (except for the bridge) with Josh Record, an amazing British singer/songwriter. We met at a sorta crappy recording studio in the middle of London and talked about wanting it to have an old field recording vibe as far as the tempo and the sadness. We were searching for some good sounds and a vibe but were coming up short at the studio so we took a cab to his house out in Crystal Palace and had a few beers and it popped out pretty quick. I was at a place in my personal relationship where we hadn’t broken up but I knew something was off. That song kind of leapt out of my subconscious onto the page. Like any good collaborator, Josh was right there with me and we built the track with that mood in the room. I had the title Muddy Waters in my phone and knew it would be cool if I could get it right. Not to mention impossible to google!! Well done!

Then Mike Del Rio who later produced it fleshed it out with even more moodiness and when we put some amazing gospel singer friends of mine on it and it really just came together.”

– LP

The-Slow-Show-White-Water

citattecken ”…performing the song live I’ve realised it’s an incredibly sad song about a very unhappy time.”

47. The Slow Show ”Paint You Like A Rose”(from White Water)

”‘Paint you like a rose’ is a personal account of a tired relationship. It’s a song about taking things for granted and how time can change a perspective, weather an identity. I think the central line in the song sums up it’s meaning perfectly, in a very straight forward way:

‘I’ll paint you like a rose if you’d just stand still
Just like you used to
All those things you know
About me are true
But they’re wasted on you’

I wrote the song in Manchester, in one sitting, very quickly. I didn’t spend much time giving it any meaning or thinking about it’s origin or inspiration. Listening back and performing the song live I’ve realised it’s an incredibly sad song about a very unhappy time. Strangely, I still enjoy performing the song. It’s very cathartic and it still feels very honest. I hope people can relate to this song or at least take something from it.”

– Rob Goodwin

darrenhanlon

citattecken ”The day it was recorded, in an old Church in New Orleans, was the first time it was played through properly. I found the double bass player in a club the night before…”

46. Darren Hanlon ”Halley’s Comet, 1986″(from Where Did You Come From?)

”This song came whilst I was holed up in the suburbs of Nashville trying to write other songs. The couple upstairs would fight a lot so I’d go out walking the streets in the steaming heat feeling homesick. At night when I feel like this I tend to look at the stars, knowing they link us all, and that if my family looks up in the night sky they might see the same ones as me (the American sky overlaps with the Australian sky at the edges). That’s when the idea for the song hit me.

To attempt to see Halley’s Comet back in 1986 one had to locate the Pleiades constellation. It’s the one I can most easily identify now, mainly because of those cold nights in the front yard. I was heartened to discover it also perches in the American sky like an old friend, albeit in the early morning as the horizon starts to lighten with the sunrise.

This song might be one of the longest on the album but it’s the one that came to me the quickest, fully formed. These are always the most magical for the writer. The day it was recorded, in an old Church in New Orleans, was the first time it was played through properly. I found the double bass player in a club the night before and asked if he wanted to play. Due to such haste I neglected to fact-check and therefore screwed up my astral navigational instructions. I sang, “to the right of the Hyades, to the left of the Pleiades,” when in fact it is the opposite. I realized too late and now, I guess, I’ve lost any Astronomer fans I once had.

The only thing that was added later was the accordion as I was mixing it in Portland, by my good friend Jenee Conlee. Now sometimes when I play it I get tears in my eyes. My parents still live in the same house, and the lady still lives next door. I’ll be seeing them all when I go home for Christmas.”

– Darren Hanlon

billie

citattecken ”…it sort of turned into this super sad song I guess about how words can really affect people, and not for the right reasons…”

45. Billie Marten ”Bird”(from As Long As EP)

”‘Bird’ was written with Olivia Broadfield and was a last resort sort of song. We hadn’t come up with anything all day until we switched from guitars to piano and I started singing nonsense words way up high and it sort of turned into this super sad song I guess about how words can really affect people, and not for the right reasons; how you can feel kind of trapped/caught in your own space all the time even when no-one is actually with you.”

– Billie Marten

44. Dornik ”Drive”(from Dornik)

43. Eliot Sumner ”After Dark”(single)

42. The Helio Sequence ”Upward Mobility”(from The Helio Sequence)

ALBERTACROSS_ALBERTACROSS-500PIX

citattecken ”…earlier on it was more electronic. We used a lot of old 70/80s synthesizers…”

41. Alberta Cross ”Isolation”(from Alberta Cross)

”‘Isolation’ was one of the first songs I wrote for the new record. It went through a lot of phases. At one point earlier on it was more electronic. We used a lot of old 70/80s synthesizers etc. We ended up rerecording it again pretty live up in the studio Dreamland in Upstate New York where the whole record was recorded. Dreamland is an old Church that they converted into a music studio. I feel like the room there really captured the vibe of the song and the live vibe mixed with us adding some more modern sounds back in Midtown a few weeks later made the tune what it is. Lyrically it kinda talks for itself. It’s mostly about the feeling of isolation and escapism.”

Petter Ericson Stakee

cduncanarchitect_1437940242

citattecken ”…I was listening to a lot of Fever Ray, which definitely influenced the track.”

40. C. Duncan ”Say”(from Architect)

”When I wrote ‘Say’ I was listening to a lot of Fever Ray, which definitely influenced the track. I wrote and recorded it in my home studio. I wanted to keep the chord sequence simple and have more rhythmically driven vibe, whilst maintaining the melodic and choral elements used in my other songs. ‘Say’ is about escaping from the city and running away to a distant (almost utopian) place.”

Chris Duncan

django

citattecken ”The drum beat is made of live drums mixed with chopped samples.”

39. Django Django ”First Light”(from Born Under Saturn)

”‘First Light’ was the first song we finished from the new album. It seemed appropriate to use it first given the title! So it was the first single. The lyrics are all about new beginnings and fresh starts but it has a darker undertone to it. It started with a synth hook that Tommy wrote then the chorus came much later. The drum beat is made of live drums mixed with chopped samples. The vocals are sometimes tracked four times and split. I like 1960s and 70s vocal recording methods to try to emulate that.”

Dave Maclean

surferblood

citattecken ”…I was sick with a fever and sleeping out on the couch. I woke up delirious and wandered into the kitchen where I got into a conversation with my father…”

38. Surfer Blood ”Island”(from 1000 Palms)

”‘Island’ is one of the songs that’s been in the back of our mind for years, and was considered for our Warner Bros album Pythons. We’ve always liked the chorus and the eerie, dream-like quality, but couldn’t fit the pieces together in the right way. When we started writing for our newest record: 1000 Palms, we decided to use the song in its very first incarnation, the version we preferred before any producers/ label people heard it and started moving things around. In hindsight, I’m glad we waited to record this song on our own terms.

I wrote the lyrics about coming home to my parents house after a long tour, I was sick with a fever and sleeping out on the couch. I woke up delirious and wandered into the kitchen where I got into a conversation with my father, I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but it was a very strange experience. I went and jotted down some lyrics afterwards, and didn’t look at them again until weeks later. It was just a few verses, but they ended up becoming the foundation of the song.”

– John Paul Pitts

cyril

citattecken ”…she hopped in her car and spent a majority of the day driving between Santa Monica and Ventura. The melody and lyrics clicked in her head while she was driving.”

37. Cyril Hahn feat. Kotomi ”Grace”(from Begin EP)

”The song started out as an instrumental early this year. I knew that I would want somebody to sing over it from the start and layed out the song in a pop structure with verse, chorus, bridge etc. I sent it over to Kotomi along with a couple of other demos but she was instantly drawn to Grace. Kotomi told me that when she first heard the demo, she hopped in her car and went for a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and spent a majority of the day driving between Santa Monica and Ventura. The melody and lyrics clicked in her head while she was driving. With a voice Memo and a notepad by her side, she’d pull over and jot down words as she thought of them. She then recorded the vocals in her living room at home later on.

When I asked Kotomi about the lyrics, she told me the following: ‘I think everyone naturally gets attached to their plans and expectations for their lives, and also to their perception of themselves…and the more attached you are, the more difficult it is to adjust when change inevitably comes our way. So just move…embrace change, and enjoy the process. Maybe the short version of that would be it’s about being fluide, embracing change, and enjoying the process.'”

– Cyril Hahn

sonlux

citattecken ”We invited Moses Sumney into the studio to emulate the manipulated flute parts with his voice.”

36. Son Lux ”You Don’t Know Me”(from Bones)

”‘You Don’t Know Me’ emerged from a sketch I started on the very first day of work on the record. Playing back a recording of a Japanese flute at different speeds, then layering the takes, I built a series of chords. Later, we invited Moses Sumney into the studio to emulate the manipulated flute parts with his voice. After this, I recorded the lead vocal (while developing laryngitis). Hanna Benn swooped in at the last minute, channeled Mariah Carey, Palestrina and Schoenberg, and wrote and sung all the amazing stuff that closes the song.”

– Ryan Lott

stevenaclark

citattecken ”I wanted the song to have a classic soulful rock feel to it, like something from the 70s.”

35. Steven A. Clark ”Lonely Roller”(from The Lonely Roller)

”The song started with the beat idea. It was a very simple four on the floor rhythm, then I added the fake guitar melody. The line ‘flew out to Vegas for the weekend’ just randomly popped into my head and the lyrics and melodies developed from there. I was thinking about if I could be anywhere and go crazy where would that be? Vegas was the answer.

I wanted the song to have a classic soulful rock feel to it, like something from the 70s. The song is pretty old and has been reproduced a couple times but once we decided to add the song to the album we took in into to the studio to add more elements. My friend Albert Vargas, who is a great bass player, completely changed the dynamic of the song with the bass line he added. The bass makes the song great.”

– Steven A. Clark

34. The Wombats ”Be Your Shadow”(from Glitterbug)

33. Kurt Vile ”Pretty Pimpin”(from b’lieve i’m goin down…)

32. Bully ”Trying”(from Feels Like)

vvbrown

citattecken ”The song is about the gay rights movement centered around the vogueing scene, which took place in Brooklyn, New York.”

31. V V ”Shift”(from Glitch)

”‘Shift’ was written in 6 hours and produced in 2 days. It was a very natural process. The song is about the gay rights movement centered around the vogueing scene, which took place in Brooklyn, New York. The song is about empowerment and shifting perceptions whilst eradicating discrimination and homophobia. The song lyrics are about fighting for those rights and empowerment as a collective. This doesn’t have to be directed just at homophobia but at human rights in general. The vogueing scene was very much dipped in house music and we wanted to personify that in the beat and the feel of the track. It needed to feel like a club in the 80’s/90’s of underground New York.

Brutal, aggressive, but powerful but still feminine. It opens with ‘I will be the girl that you will dream about’ – The dream after all is true equality where no one judges anyone and you can be free to be truly yourself. We kept the structure open, but wanted the verses to have an almost medieval quality to the arrangement of the melodies. There needed to be a consistency with the operatic vocal tones very much like the last album but needed to make you feel like you were vogueing and feeling fabulous like the political statement made by the vogueing dancer. Nearly native and I have a lot of musical chemistry and this song was the last song on the album, we didn’t know where it came from but on a Tuesday afternoon it just did. ”

– V V Brown

beachslang

citattecken ”This was me listening to way too much Jesus & Mary Chain and having a go at writing a loud pop song.”

30. Beach Slang ”Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”(from The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us)

”This song is for a friend who really needed to hear it. It’s strange how really brilliant some people can be and just never know it. I wanted to remind her. I don’t know, Stephen Merritt said this thing once about there only being two types of Music that matter – pop and avant garde. This was me listening to way too much Jesus & Mary Chain and having a go at writing a loud pop song. I think maybe I even got some of it right. Who knows?”

– James Alex

ghostculture

citattecken ”Since the release of Depeche Mode’s song ‘Get The Balance Right’, Detroit artists have been influenced by the more European sound that they had pioneered. I felt inspired to follow…”

29. Ghost Culture ”Arms”(from Ghost Culture)

”‘Arms’ came about after listening to Omar S. and other artists on his FXHE label based in Detroit, some tracks of which I like to DJ. Since the release of Depeche Mode’s song ‘Get The Balance Right’, Detroit artists have been influenced by the more European sound that they had pioneered. I felt inspired to follow these footsteps and try to create something with a good middle ground between the two; a strong but ‘bouncy’ and spacious rhythm section, a held but flowing bass line, and a vocal centre-piece.

The bass line and the top line came first, followed by the vocal melody and then the lyrics last. This is a process I used for the whole album, it did make it fairly difficult, in that I then had to fit lyrics into a pre written melody syllable by syllable. Luckily, I had only managed to write one line of melody for this track, but I liked that limitation and felt that the song didn’t need any more than that.

The production took many forms over the course of making the track, I even tried one version with live drums and bass. The end section is a chance for the song to work well live, this moment always works on stage because it is a break from concentrating on the melody and a chance to dance a bit. The lyrics are about a person who you trust and is never wrong, but also who you are unnervingly fixated on, and can’t shake it. The end result works well for me and was worth the experimenting”

– James Greenwood

lowerdens

citattecken ”It’s a scenario that’s played out time and time again in my life, as I love quite a few self-destructive, stubborn people.”

28. Lower Dens ”Ondine”(from Escape From Evil)

”Ondine is unique in that the whole band wrote it together in a single day’s writing session (except for the lyrics.) In the demo version we recorded that day, it’s entirely intact. When we worked together on those early sessions, someone would write a bass line (in this case it was me), then Nate added drums, then Will or Walker (in this case, Walker) added guitar, and finally I added my complimentary guitar part. When Geoff played the bass line on his synth, the preset he loaded already had a delay on it. The delay for whatever reason added a kind of timeless melancholy, and from there, it was very easy to complete the song. It was one of those things that feels like it’s writing itself. I wrote the lyrics and recorded them the next day. I still don’t really know what it’s about exactly, but I’ve come to understand that it has something to do with feeling a deep concern for a loved one, trying desperately to help them, and realizing with a kind of futile frustration that they can’t or won’t accept your help. It’s a scenario that’s played out time and time again in my life, as I love quite a few self-destructive, stubborn people.

The song was difficult to record precisely because we already had a demo version of it that felt perfect. We made a more or less faithful studio version of it with our recording engineer, Chris Freeland, and our mixing engineer/co-producer Chris Coady, and finally sent it to Ariel Rechtshaid. He’d liked the song from the beginning and tried adding a lot of rich, dark elements to it to help it keep the feeling from the demo. Maybe he intended for us to just use a couple of things, but we ended up keeping almost all of it. It put the song in a slightly different, parallel universe. I took the recordings Ariel sent, edited them, sent them back to Chris C., and he mixed it.

It’s one of my favorite songs because so much of the band and our favorite producers and engineers all had a hand in it, but it remained a very solid, focused piece of work. To me that says that we were all silently agreed on what it should be, and working together toward the same thing. It’s a rare and precious thing for me for that reason.”

Jana Hunter

moonduo

citattecken ”The album Shadow of the Sun was heavily influenced by a lot of dystopian literature that I was reading at the time.”

27. Moon Duo ”Zero”(from Shadow Of The Sun)

”I don’t tend to analyze our songs, or think too hard about what they mean until we’re done with a record. The album Shadow of the Sun was heavily influenced by a lot of dystopian literature that I was reading at the time. (The song ‘Ice’ was named directly after the novel by Ana Kavan, for example). So that fed into the lyrics of the album and also the sounds, as we were playing with mixing computer, synthesized, future sounds, with regular old fashioned rock instrumentation. (In good dystopian sci-fi there’s often the old, the ruins, mixed with the new.) The song ‘Zero’ contains all of these elements, with a dash of nihilism thrown in for good measure. I’ll let the listeners interpret the song’s meaning as they will, but listening to it now I hear that I was trying to balance this sense of despair that can be overwhelming at times, with a sort of nonchalance about the whole thing (life, existence). It’s pretty dark, I guess.

Likewise, sonically we were trying to balance a lot of disparate elements that were pulling the song in different directions. We had a hard time mixing this song in particular, getting the groove to balance just right. We wanted it to flow well despite the herky-jerkyness of some of the parts. It has an awkwardness to it that we didn’t want obscured.”

– Ripley Johnson

ryley

citattecken ”We had to edit out that jam section in the end. It went on forever…”

26. Ryley Walker ”Sweet Satisfaction”(from Primrose Green)

”I came up with that in the middle of winter in a desolate Chicago last year, it gets really cold there, way below zero, three feet of snow, dangerous to go outside. I think it’s kind of a cover poet drunk song, a desperate song. You have seven or eight drinks and all of a sudden you think you’re this poet and can reach into a woman’s heart with this poem. It comes from that standing point. A drunk leaning against the wall poet. We had to cut that song down, because originally it was like fifteen minutes long. Maybe in the box set in twenty years! I like that version better but the label thought there was no room left on the record. We had to edit out that jam section in the end. It went on forever, not in a bad way, I thought it was pretty cool with the strings and that bit that sounded like Terry Riley.”

Ryley Walker

25. Luke Sital-Singh ”I Was Low”(from The Breakneck Speed Of Tomorrow)

24. Shearwater ”Quiet Americans”(single)

23. Benjamin Clementine ”The People And I”(from At Least For Now)

22. Car Seat Headrest ”Something Soon”(from Teens Of Style)

21. Amason ”Flygplatsen”(från Flygplatsen EP)

bluerosecode

citattecken ”…I had been in rehab in Bournemouth, homeless, at the end of a relationship, spiritually bankrupt, without a pot to piss in…”

20. Blue Rose Code ”Grateful”(single)

”In the final stages of a six month recording process, deep in the Scottish Borders at Gran’s House Studio, I had driven nearly five hundred miles from Dorset, in England, to prepare for a session with Nashville Gospel legends, The McCrary Sisters. I’d taken a punt and speculatively asked their UK agent, Andy Shearer, whether they’d be available during the Summer to sing on my new record. I knew they were over touring and for the festivals. In truth, I never really expected anything to come from my asking but I’ve learned that if you never ask, you’ll never know. Anyway, I had maybe six songs that I wanted to try with the Sisters and I was very excited to have them in the studio following day. I’d never met them but knew their reputation, having worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Mary J Blige.

I was exhausted after spending the whole day driving but, finally, in the studio alone at midnight, in the peak of Summer in the Scottish countryside, I sat and reflected on how lucky I was. Only a short while before, I had been in rehab in Bournemouth, homeless, at the end of a relationship, spiritually bankrupt, without a pot to piss in and now, here I was sat at the piano and at the end of recording an album that I loved with the best musicians I’d ever worked with.

Truly, I was grateful.

I opened the piano and played a refrain, the lyrics and melody just fell out of me, ‘When I wake in the morning, now I try to be thankful. Did you know that I almost died? From a fire that’s in my blood, now I just try to be peaceful. I’ve been burning up endlessly’.

The notion that I’ve continued to write and record in spite of the industry is something that I feel strongly. The live and online support that I receive, the radio play, that’s what sustains me. It’s the listeners with whom I have a love and connection, not the people that make value judgements based on aesthetic saleability, for whom I write. ‘I’ll never be cool, I’ll never be good looking. I’ll never be rich, I know, but, Lord, I am grateful’. A hymn of defiance to the labels and management companies who have the final say on ‘success’. To be honest, it’s a broad theme, one of acceptance and taking comfort in the blessings we have.

I continued writing on for an hour, or so. The song was written almost entirely in that one session. It very rarely happens like that but, when it does, it really is something special. It was the last song written for the record and hadn’t existed at all when we started but it summed up all that I was feeling in that moment. I’m a lucky dog. I put the pen down and went to bed and, in fact, even as the ladies were being driven down from Edinburgh to the studio the next morning, I was emailing a rough demo over to the band and still fine tuning the lyrics. It was quite extraordinary.

The final cut features Angus Lyon on keys, Euan Burton on bass, John Lowrie on drums and MG Boulter on pedal steel. Believe it or not, we recorded the ladies’ backs to the rough demo and then when we got the band in to record a few days later I said to them, ‘I want a D’Angelo vibe’, you know, that minimal rhythm section, and a hard kick. The last song written became the first single released and, actually, the song only appears in an abridged form as an intro to the album. I love it.

As a foot note, I feel like I need to address the use of Christian language in the the song. Appropriately, I tried to write my own Scots Gospel song for the ladies to sing. I wasn’t raised with religion and I’m not religious. I would, however, respect and argue for an individual’s right to worship and, frankly, it’s really none of my business.

Following the single’s release, I had a message from a guy who told me he was ‘put off by the use of the word ‘Lord’. He asked me ‘why must being grateful be connected to God’. For me, he was looking for problems where there are none. It’s artistic license and it’s my prerogative as a songwriter to write the song as I feel it.

No offence intended or ought to be taken. Maybe just take a few deep breaths and count to ten. And relax.”

– Ross Wilson

alltvvins

citattecken ”…I had about 100 loops all doing different things, it was a bit of a mess really.”

19. All Tvvins ”Thank You”(single)

”The bones of ‘Thank You’ was written pretty much in two hours in my house in Dublin, it started from a crazy project in Ableton where I had about 100 loops all doing different things, it was a bit of a mess really. Conor called into my place and had a look through the loops, straight away he picked out one loop and we got working.

I programmed a rough beat to the loop and Conor sat with a bass and microphone, he pretty much sketched out the whole track the way it is now in a couple of runs and had most of the lyrics as well. At the time we wrote ‘Thank You’ we were writing a couple of songs a week. I remember when it was finished we looked at each other and said ‘Cool, see you tomorrow’.

I spent rest of the day doing some additional production ideas on the track and guitar. I think once we both had that version and spent some time with it we both knew we had a good song. We played it live over the next few weeks and tweaked some things but it never really went too far from the original demo. For recording we tracked it in Oxford with Jim Abbiss producing the track.”

– Lar Kaye

haelos

citattecken ”…the classic James Brown ‘Funky Drummer’ break suited the mood we were going for. It was raw against the melancholy of the chords and added a touch of nostalgia…”

18. Hælos ”Earth Not Above”(from Earth Not Above EP)

”‘Earth Not Above’ was one of the first tracks we wrote together while we were still working in Dom‘s flat. Dom was playing around with some chords on the Fender Rhodes we had just bought and came upon the descending chord line that lies underneath the verses. We did some sample hunting and decided that the classic James Brown ‘Funky Drummer’ break suited the mood we were going for. It was raw against the melancholy of the chords and added a touch of nostalgia which we liked. Those two elements really provided the main body of the tune that we built out from. Dom played around a fair bit with a stripped back version of the groove so we could bring the break in on the chorus for impact. I think the melody for the verses also came pretty early, they have a disco feel which was what we were playing around with a lot at the time. I think a few of the lyrics started to come out around then and an early theme of return and redemption started to emerge. Dom played in some of the synths and strings and we worked in the chorus hook line which now sits at the end of the track: ‘Some people need healing / Some people need love/ Some light for that feeling / From earth not above’. Its about feeling totally alone in the universe with no faith, no love: utterly broken and then being shown a way back from that.

After living with what we had done for a couple of weeks we decided the song needed a new chorus and the soaring melody ‘Oh is this what we have become?’ was added by in Lotti. It was one of those moments in the studio where she just came out with this lick and we all instantly jumped on it. Dom stripped out the drum track underneath so it felt like more of a drop and I wrote in that introspective questioning lyric that spins the whole song into an elegy to coming back from the edge. After Dom and Lotti tracked the chorus Lotti wrote in her diving harmony on the verses over our vocals. We added in the string break before the end as part of the general rearrangement / distilling process each of our songs goes through. We worked hard on the arrangement of the outro gradually reintroducing each element of the song over the blaring arps. We added in the ‘Some people need healing’ vocal over that which turned it into this epic conclusion to everything that the song is about.”

– Arthur Delaney

thelegends

citattecken ”Skillnaden den här gången var att jag spelade in allt på väldigt kort tid och skrev texterna samtidigt som jag gjorde låtarna, dessutom sjöng jag in dem samtidigt vilket gjorde att det blev mer känsla.”

17. The Legends ”Keep Him”(from It’s Love)

”Hela skivan är ju nästan samma tema, en kärleksskiva. Skillnaden den här gången var att jag spelade in allt på väldigt kort tid och skrev texterna samtidigt som jag gjorde låtarna, dessutom sjöng jag in dem samtidigt vilket gjorde att det blev mer känsla. Ofta när man sitter och skriver en låt är det just då man har grundkänslan. Man mumlar några ord, lägger några ackord och en melodi. Även om man inte har de orden så är det något man vill förmedla just i den stunden och det känns som att man lyckas bättre när man kan göra klart allt på en gång och sätta känslan direkt på pränt. Jag tycker det är ganska svårt att få till sång men den här gången gick det enklare, det kom bara ut så som jag ville att det skulle låta. Annars brukar det vara ett rysligt filande. Egentligen skulle ‘Keep Him’ ha varit en duett med Erika Forster från Au Revoir Simone, något som skivbolaget föreslog, men den versionen ströks av olika anledningar.”

Johan Angergård

natalieprass

citattecken ”…the strings, Trey really knocked that out of the park… We referenced Gal Costa and her version of “Baby”, the[Caetano Veloso] song on her 1969 self titled album.”

16. Natalie Prass ”Violently”(from Natalie Prass)

”I wrote that song so fast. That’s the only song I wrote by myself in class, I was at college at the time and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in my head. So I had to take a bathroom break and sneak off down the hallway! For some reason I like the echo-y sound in the bathroom when I’m alone, that’s when all the ideas come! Kind of weird, ha ha! Basically it’s about longing and wanting somebody but you can’t have them, you’re tired of pretending that you’re just a friend. There’s just all these reasons why you can’t be with that person. The recording was moving, quite a heavy one. 

Regarding the strings, Trey really knocked that out of the park… We referenced Gal Costa and her version of “Baby”, the[Caetano Veloso] song on her 1969 self titled album. The songs sound nothing like eachother, but the only thing we wanted to capture was the swelling, the building of that song and how the strings kept getting bigger and bigger with this huge release at the end. We were all obsessed with that album. The piano is played by Daniel Clarke who’s in Ryan Adams‘ band. What’s pretty weird with Daniel and me is I didn’t think I knew him when he came in to play on the record. Then I started playing in Jenny Lewis’ band and Ryan and Jenny did a tour together when I found that Daniel was there, he who played on my record. Then it turned into me telling my sister about him and how crazy it was that he was in Ryan’s band, and she said ‘Daniel Clarke? I know him, I had a huge crush on him when he was at your thirteenth birthday party!’, I was like ‘What??’!!! So I have pictures of me, him and my sister from when I was thirteen in my old photo albums! And now we’re sitting here together on tour! Really freaky.”

– Natalie Prass

!!!

citattecken ”A disco odyssey of sorts, in the way that only disco songs can odyssize. starting as a ballad and ending as a full on disco jam session.”

15. !!! ”Freedom ’15″(from As If)

”A disco odyssey of sorts, in the way that only disco songs can odyssize. starting as a ballad and ending as a full on disco jam session. It references the days when disco session groups could stretch out and lay in the pocket for the whole sides of disco 12″ singles. We really stretched out on this one in fact and cut it down to as much as we could possibly bare. A shining example of what we can do live.”

– Nic Offer

torres

citattecken ”…Adrian Utley added some blue light saber energy magic.”

14. Torres ”Ferris Wheel”(from Sprinter)

”‘Ferris Wheel’ is a song I wrote when I was in college. It’s the only one on the new record (Sprinter) that was written before my debut was even recorded. I recorded it to tape with the intention of putting it on my self-titled record, but it was out of place with the rest of the songs and I shelved it. Then when I was writing my second album, I ended up reimagining the sonic palette of the song and falling in love with it all over again. It took on some space-western, John Carpenter-esque characteristics when I re-recorded it, especially when Adrian Utley added some blue light saber energy magic. The new direction resulted in the song being a surprisingly cohesive choice for Sprinter.”

– Mackenzie Scott

crocodiles

citattecken ”We wanted the rhythm to sound like Tito Puente playing with Einsteurzende Neubaten.”

13. Crocodiles ”Crybaby Demon”(from Boys)

”‘Crybaby Demon’ was our first experimentation with latin rhythms. We took a percussion sample from a salsa record and basically wrote the song around it. The title was pinched from a Charles Plymell poem and the words were sort of stream of consciousness, although a story eventually took shape. The demo of it had much more traditional latin percussion on it but when we got to Mexico City to record the album for real our producer Martin Thulin challenged us come up with something more unorthodox. What we eventually came up with was replacing the congas with trashcans. We wanted the rhythm to sound like Tito Puente playing with Einsteurzende Neubaten. We were trying to write our ‘lowrider’ and this is probably the closest we’ll get.”

Brandon Melchez

onlyyou

citattecken ”‘Let me burn’ is sort of my way of accepting that I was losing my grip.”

12. Only You ”Let Me Burn”(single)

”‘Let Me Burn’ was written after a fall out with a band I was in at the time. I’d moved from Oakland to Los Angeles wounded and wound up. I’d just been turned onto Charles Bradley, I really wanted to pour some soul into my own music, so I started writing a batch of heavy songs that conveyed what I was going through. This song in particular is about being so down and out there with my depression, I turned to smoking a lot of wax for a while. I had fallen in love with this nice guy, he was leading me on, I was looking for a way to erase wanting him, erase missing my old band. I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling, I knew things were kind of falling apart etc. ‘Let me burn’ is sort of my way of accepting that I was losing my grip.

Originally I recorded it with Tim Green [Fucking Champs] in Grass Valley, we had a stellar line up, but that recording never got picked up so I tracked it again in Los Angeles with John Alagia [producer to John Mayer, Dave Matthews]. Eventually I asked friends here in LA if they would release it, my friend Mark Roe helped me direct my own video for the song, it was super cathartic.”

– Rachel Fannan

nodisco

citattecken ”We broke up in her car, and this song tells the story…”

11. No! Disco ”Your Orange Car”(from Just Visiting)

”We wrote this song about a year and a half ago. The song is mostly autobiographical about a relationship I had with a girl. We broke up in her car, and this song tells the story of the break up. The break-up was mostly amicable, but the line ‘i know, you know and we know our best is not enough, when it comes down to being us’ tells of how we tried to make it work but it wasn’t meant to be.

We wanted it to be the first single because its really catchy and really good fun to play. We felt it showed off a number of styles and were glad that people like it.”

– Jack Cross

laurastevenson

citattecken ”…I decided to confront those feelings and kick my own ass about it…”

10. Laura Stevenson ”Jellyfish”(from Cocksure)

”This song came out of a time in the past year when I was full of anxiety about what I was doing, I was getting really caught up in measuring my own achievements up against those of my peers and it was fueling this depressive spell. First of all, it was really shameful to even do that in the first place and that was making me feel so bad that it was keeping me from making anything and I was just really becoming a waste of space in my own home. So, I decided to confront those feelings and kick my own ass about it and, even though I continue to struggle with it, writing the song definitely helped me a lot. Also it’s really fun to play.”

Laura Stevenson

baio

citattecken ”It was a test for me to do something catchy but still sounded exciting. I came up with phrases like ‘it is what it is until it was what it was’.”

9. Baio ”Sister of Pearl”(from The Names)

”I just wanted there to be a throw-back, old-school pop song, sort of an exercise trying to write one. It’s one of those things when a turn of phrase pops into your head. Something simple, with three words, like ‘sister of pearl’. This can be some sort of character. A reference to ‘Mother of Pearl’ by Roxy Music, which is one of my favourite songs of all time. And I thought ‘that could be a title of a song from 1963 or the late fifties’, I think it’s evocative in that way. Then I tried to write throw-back lyrics, the opening line was ‘Think I might forget it, gonna write it down’, that was like something from another era. Whenever I try to remember stuff I never write it down, I put it in my phone. I wanted there to be more organic instruments, I played acoustic guitar on it, I wanted it to have very straight-forward lyrics basically saying ‘be who you want to be, don’t let other people get you down’. That’s a classic songwriting trope, I think.

It was also meant to have modern production flourishes but that could have been a song in the sixties or the seventies. It was a test for me to do something catchy but still sounded exciting. I came up with phrases like ‘it is what it is until it was what it was’. What I’m trying to say there is that you can try to accept your situation, time will pass and that’ll be that, or you can do what you want to do or be who you want to be if you don’t have that attitude of ‘it is what it is’. Be yourself.  This was a little pop nugget in the middle of the first half of the album to not make it too dark, I wanted it to feel a bit romantic in the delivery. It’s weard, some songs are like a wrestling match, but ‘Sister of Pearl’ came about really quickly, I wrote it in a day. It would be cool if I could write a song like that every day, but so far that’s the only one in my whole life!”

Chris Baio

flomorrissey

citattecken ”…it is about my first time away from home on my own when I went to California, I had just turned 18.”

8. Flo Morrissey ”Wildflower”(from Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful)

”I had the guitar part, slightly Spanish influenced and then put the lyrics to this. I guess it is about my first time away from home on my own when I went to California, I had just turned 18. It was for a new/old friend I had made there and then had to say ‘farewell’. I was thankful for the experience as it taught me how ‘through the pain we emerge, with so much more power’. It is nice because this one is about someone else from the rest of the record, ha ha!”

Flo Morrissey

basia

citattecken ”Sometimes I think there is a confusion between love and attention.”

7. Basia Bulat ”Infamous”(single)

”That song is about seeing the potential in a relationship and what it could be. Sometimes I think there is a confusion between love and attention. I actually wrote it on the autoharp, tried to play it on guitar and then sent Jim(James) the demo which was very slow. It was one of the first songs we recorded for Good Advice when I went down to Kentucky for a few days to try things out, just me, Jim and the drummer Dave Givan. We started playing it fast and loud, and it was so fun trying to play it in many different ways. I wanted it to be a fun song, it’s almost like an ‘I dare you’ kind of song.”

– Basia Bulat

6. The Chemical Brothers feat. Q-Tip ”Go”(from Born In The Echoes)

5. The Internet feat. KAYTRANADA ”Girl”(from Ego Death)

destroyer

citattecken ”I wrote it as a come pick me up song for a sick generation, ha ha!”

4. Destroyer “Dream Lover”(from Poison Season)

”I think it really stands out and doesn’t sound like a typical Destroyer song. I like it, but I’m not sure of it being much for a song that represents the record, ‘cause it doesn’t feel very indicative of the rest. You’ve got to get past it to see the rest or it draws you in and then exposes you to something quite different. I just wrote it really fast and the band played it once or twice before we just knocked it off very casually in the studio. For some reason it just had it own special sound. The engineers were surprised by how loud we started playing all of a sudden, which I think is the secret to the sound of that song. And then it came down to layering all these squelching saxes and stuff like that. It just came together really easy.

It definitely had this bombast that I wasn’t really expecting it to have, which is cool, I like those kinds of surprises. I wrote it as a come pick me up song for a sick generation, ha ha! All I really remember from writing that song is the middle part that goes ‘You’re sick in bed, you’re sick in the head, you’d love a dog to play dead…’ ha ha! Really boneheaded and simple! First it has that line about the dog playing dead and then it goes ‘oh shit, here comes the sun’. It’s supposed to be a positive reinforcement song for very negative people.”

Dan Bejar

umo

citattecken ”Love isn’t really about the specifics of what people’s race or sexuality is, it’s irrelevant.”

3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Multi-Love”(from Multi-Love)

”My brother had this gospel kind of chord change and I was in New Zeeland touring with the band. We were messing around, he had some songs he had been working on for his own record and then he started to play these chords on the piano so I started singing to them. It wasn’t the intro yet, more like plain chords. It was the same chord change as on the record, but we hadn’t stumbled on that yet. I started singing on top of it, like this weird, twisted gospel idea, and then it stuck in my head. So when I flew him out of New Zeeland to play on the record, I was like “do you remember that thing we were doing?”, and he started playing it. We wrote it as a piano and singing kind of song, then I had a chorus for it that I had written earlier. Another thing, a weird mistake, was that as we were getting ready to do the piano and he started playing this weird, and I went “What’s that? That’s it! That’s way better!”. And he was, “What do you mean? What?”! He played something really amazing and didn’t even know what he was doing! I told him he was arpeggiating the chords so he kept doing it and that was it.

I sat on these lyrics and didn’t really know what they meant. It started to become more clear over the year, but I just wanted it to be a modular love song that could apply to a lot of different scenarios but you could rearrange it yourself. ‘Cause I was thinking that a lot of people could be listening to the song, some of them gay, some of them straight, some are in happy relationship and some had broken up. What if I wrote a song that moved around that, so if you were in a bad or a good place in a relationship it could apply to both and you could listen and relate to it in different ways. I wanted it to be about what love’s really about, which doesn’t really have to do with the specifics of what people’s race or sexuality is. Love isn’t really about those things, it’s irrelevant. So I stumbled through trying to say something that I didn’t know how to say.”

Ruban Nielson

susanne

citattecken ”I wanted a femme fatale song for the album…”

2. Susanne Sundfør ”Delirious”(from Ten Love Songs)

”I wrote ‘Delirious’ in bed. I wanted a femme fatale song for the album, and also quite ‘poppy’ lyrics, and also big vocal arrangements. So those were the ideas behind the song. I made most of the arrangement that day, combining very efficient working with laziness!”

Susanne Sundfør

bc

citattecken ”In fact I then scrapped all of the string orchestration in favor for a real sampling mellotron that probably cost my entire budget.”

1. BC Camplight ”Love Isn’t Anybody’s Fault”(from How To Die In The North)

”I have two guidelines for my writing: care only about yourself and never give a shit about what people will like or hate. Pretty much one rule. Sounds pretentious, I know, but I get bored very easily listening to and creating music, so record making for me is a constant game of keeping myself on my toes. That’s probably why many of my songs have that schizophrenic quality, a sense that they could shoot off like a deflating balloon in any random direction whenever I feel they have made their current point. However, with ‘Love Isn’t Anybody’s Fault’ I wanted to keep the format a bit more traditional…..at least for a while. It was originally intended to set up the album as an opener. I wanted the album to start off completely sane and wander from there. It ended up going second. It was recorded over two three month sessions. Because I can’t record anything like a normal person, we recorded the whole song completely dry and then re-recorded the whole song again over the second three months with deep plate reverb. So you actually hear a clean/verb double track of every instrument.

The song had a lyrical theme that I liked, so I wanted that to be the star. Whenever myself or the irreplaceable Hattie Coombe is singing I wanted the music to support us I guess like a Gainsbourg track without ever being distracting. Halfway through the song she and I have a call and response bridge. After I wrote that I thought ‘the song has been normal long enough’ and I tried to think of what I could do that’d be hilarious but not goofy…again something that’d keep me on my toes. In the end I decided on a ridiculously out of place drum solo followed by a soft breakdown which features some soft glissando noodling on an old electric piano. This piano was meant to be a place holder for some orchestral stuff I had written for those bars. When I listened back though the piano part just sounded so amazingly cheesy. So funny. Especially juxtaposed with the earnest lyrics. In fact I then scrapped all of the string orchestration (there was 2 months down the tubes) in favor for a real sampling mellotron that probably cost my entire budget. So in the end we have a good song with production values that set a precedent for the making of the rest of the album. It never made it to being one of the singles but I’m proud of it. If you don’t like it, beat it.”

Brian Christinzio

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Class of 2014 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

What could possibly be better than listening to the 100 best songs of the year? Well, how about listening to them while reading the stories behind them? Upon compiling last year’s list in the final weeks of 2013 I felt that among the hundreds, maybe thousands, of year end lists carefully put together by like-minded people like myself, there was usually something lacking: the perspective of the artists themselves. It’s easy for everyone of us writers to have opinions and thoughts about each song, but wouldn’t it be nice to have their true back stories, instead of us guessing things?

So, just like I did last year, again in 2014 I asked the artists if they would consider sharing everything they remembered from writing and recording their song. More than a third responded. And they willingly let us take a deep look into their creative process, with everything from personal downs to party nights acting as fuel to making music. Some songs were long in the making, some songs wrote themselves at the blink of an eye. Happy accidents, eureka moments, cyber writing? Classic poems, books, movies, children’s TV shows? Teenage nostalgia, violent ex-boyfriends? Racist basketball games, newly acquired instruments? And lest we forget, one hilarious story about a man who never dried? Yep, it’s all in there. The food for the greatest songs of 2014.

All song stories are in English, except for a few told in Swedish. I couldn’t really translate them into English without taking away some of their intimacy from the authors.

N.B. My deepest gratitude(and apologies for the stalking…) to all the artists and musicians for taking time to contribute the stories told in this list by giving their songs a personal touch, additional dimension and even a new life. You are all number one.

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1. Jack White ”Lazaretto”(from Lazaretto)

How did you start off working on the song ”Lazaretto”?

”We recorded the album during breaks from touring in 2012. There were many songs that Jack came to the studio with that had already been written start to finish, while others began as experiments or ideas. He works very fast and sometimes likes to get an idea or sketch on tape and see what we can make of it. This song started as more of an experiment.”

Could you elaborate on how it was written?

Jack worked with both of his backing bands, The Buzzards and The Peacocks, on these sessions and we recorded a lot of music. I would guess there’s another 12 tracks that we had been working on that didn’t make the album. The song ‘Lazaretto’ was interesting because initially there were no lyrics. The riff came together and Jack wrote a few of the chord changes along with the breakdown and tempo shifts. We ran through it just a few times and moved on to some other material very quickly. Months later I would listen back thinking he would make some tape edits and give the song more of a traditional structure, but Jack liked it as is. What you hear on the record is what we had put down originally. Start to Finish.

It was great seeing this record come together. Sometime in 2013 he called me into the studio to hear what he was working on. I had heard a lot of other tracks that we had recorded but had forgotten about ‘Lazaretto’ because it was more of a sketch or a studio exercise. Hearing it with lyrics for the first time was a remarkable moment. I couldn’t believe what he had come up with. The song doesn’t have what you would call a traditional chorus or verse form, but it’s so powerful. Both musically and lyrically.”

How was the riff conceived?

Jack has a lot of riffs kicking around when we’re in the studio. Sometimes we’ll be working on something else or rehearsing and one will appear. He usually gets those little snippets on tape to work with later. We had listened to the MC Lyte song ‘Cha Cha Cha’ earlier that day and I think that may have been an initial inspiration. More so with the tempo or the feel of it. Again, this was another experiment that happened in between tracking songs that had already been penned. I don’t even think we spent an hour getting it together and laying down the basic tracks. He cut that solo live and you really can’t beat the room sound of guitar bleeding into all of the other instruments and microphones.”

It’s got a real Lalo Schifrin-meets-Beastie Boys kind of groove. Was that the intention from the beginning, or something you worked out along the way?

”I’m not sure we ever discussed the feel or groove. Drummer Daru Jones comes from a hip hop background so he’ll just take you there at times. Honestly, without the lyrics it was originally an entirely different song. It could have gone so many ways lyrically.

We had recorded 5 or 6 of these song sketches during the session and we didn’t spend much time on it.  Jack wants to capture what happens when human beings play music in a room. He’s going for the spirit or a feeling rather than worrying about little details or trying to reach for perfection. It seems that he’s always got the big picture in sight.”

Did any odd, or unusual, things happen during the recording sessions?

”In a way, this entire record was odd. We would have a day or two off here and there, go in and put down as much as we could in the short time we had. Sometimes 4-5 songs a day. I said before that Jack works fast, but because we were touring it took him a year and a half to finish the record which is really unlike him. The sessions themselves were fast, but the entire process was the longest he’s ever worked on a record. It makes me wonder what the next one will be like.”

Dominic John Davis, bassist

first-aid-kit-stay-gold

2. First Aid Kit ”Stay Gold”(from Stay Gold)

”The song ‘Stay Gold’ was written last summer. The original melodic inspiration arrived from the Canadian sister duo Kate & Anna McGarrigle and their song ‘Heart Like a Wheel’. We loved the melancholy beauty of that tune. ‘Stay Gold’ started as a simple verse with the lines ‘The sun shone high those few summer days / It shone like gold, it shone like gold’. When searching for further inspiration for the lyrical content we found a poetry book and by chance happened to stumble upon Robert Frost’s poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’, which we’d never read before. The poem, about the fleeting nature of life, really hit home with us and it felt like a perfect theme for the song. The rest of the song then followed pretty quickly.

We wanted the production to create a dreamy and haunting landscape. Like a gorgeous but very distant memory and a journey towards something with an uncertain end. We used lots of strange mellotron sounds drenched in reverb, strings and autoharp. In the studio it grew to become this very big and epic sounding, dramatic folky pop, almost ABBA-like sound. It eventually became the title track because we felt like it represented a reoccurring theme within the record of nostalgia, restlessness and fear for the future.”

Johanna and Klara Söderberg

3. The War On Drugs ”Lost In The Dream”(from Lost In The Dream)

”That was one of the first songs I recorded on the album. I remember having that guitar, just a little thing, I sat down at night and put a drum machine on it. It’s funny, if you heard the drum machine, it was like a disco pattern. Not at all what I intended to use. Then I just put down the acoustic and some rough vocals and over time added the instruments. Actually, when I recorded it, it wasn’t that arrangement. I went in and added one more verse based on the first verse, and then redid all of it. It’s a little more sparse than other songs on the album, I like that song a lot.”

– Adam Granofsky

4. Röyksopp feat. Jamie Irrepressible ”Here She Comes Again”(from The Inevitable End)

5. Future Islands ”Seasons(Waiting On You)”(from Singles)

6. Jungle ”Time”(from Jungle)

7. Ariel Pink ”Put Your Number In My Phone”(from Pom Pom)

”That song was more of a collaboration between Jorge Albrecht and I. He had some of the guitar arrangements and stuff like that, which were very beautiful. Then I wrote the lyrics and did the song part. It was a lot of fun to record, there’s a lot of harmonies on it. There were five of us standing around one microphone which made it sound good.”

Ariel Rosenberg

8. St. Paul & The Broken Bones ”Call Me”(from Half The City)

”‘Call Me’ all started with that first guitar riff you hear at the beginning. There were six of us in a tiny room and the moment we heard the riff we knew we had a danceable song. I was in love with the idea of putting a phone number in a song just like the Wilson Pickett ‘634-5789(Soulsville U.S.A)’ song. While in the studio we cut the song live and chose the best of two takes. That song came rather quickly while writing as did the recording of that song. It is always a great moment in our set now when folks hear that opening guitar riff.”

– Paul Janeway

9. The Magic Numbers ”Shot In The Dark”(from Alias)

”I think on this album, a lot was about asking questions, from Romeo having a baby. I think that definitely sparked it in his head. He doesn’t even remember writing it, it just wrote itself. I think it’s a really natural kind of song, with the vocals and all. We just chose what parts we could relate to and sing them, it made it flow better than just one person singing it. The music was done in a lot of live takes, and with the vocals we sat down around an acoustic guitar, as we always do. We’re rocking out a bit in the end, and live it’s even more so. I think it was after touring with Neil Young that Romeo made the solo longer!”

Angela Gannon

”I think it’s the song that represents us best. It’s got the rockier and poppier sides and elements from all four of us.”

Michele Stodart

10. Son Little ”The River”(from Things I Forgot EP)

11. Skogsrå ”Now You See Me”(single)

12. Röyksopp & Robyn ”Do It Again”(from Do It Again EP)

13. Lost In The Trees ”Past Life”(from Past Life)

”For ‘Past Life’, I wanted to write a song based around a single guitar riff, kinda like David Bowie‘s ‘Rebel Rebel’. So I hit record and that riff was the first thing I played. It was just a simple blues riff, but it was so far from anything Lost In The Trees had done up to that point that I thought that was very exciting. My lyrics are about two angels or souls coming to this world to go on a date with each other, the whole ‘park the car at night’ thing reminded me of a make out scene from a 50’s movie. I thought it was romantic and fun, so I went with it.”

– Ari Picker

14. Band Of Skulls ”Hoochie Coochie”(from Himalayan)

”‘Hoochie Coochie’ was a song that we first worked on in the sessions for our second album ‘sweet sour’. It didn’t really fit in with those songs so we kept it. When recording Himalayan we all knew ‘Hoochie Coochie’ would be perfect and with Nick Launey at the desk the song took on a new energy.

It’s a song about every late night and misadventure you’ve ever had all rolled into one. A lot of it’s from first hand experiences.”

Russell Marsden

15. Allo Darlin’ ”Crickets In The Rain”(from We Come From The Same Place)

”‘Crickets…’ was the last song written for our album We Come From The Same Place. I wrote it after I’d moved away from England. We didn’t have a chance to rehearse it before our recording session, so we practised it in the studio in the morning and recorded it in the afternoon. This is not the best way to record all songs, but sometimes it has worked for us. To be honest, a lot of our first album was recorded in this way, with the songs coming together in the studio rather than in the rehearsal room.

I think that the reason the song came together very quickly with the band is that it’s such a typical Allo Darlin’ song and sound. It really sounded like an Allo Darlin’ song from the beginning. I’d had the chord progression for a little while, there’s not much to it really. The important thing to me was the lyric.

I’ve been reading a lot of Joan Didion the last two years, starting with The Year of Magical Thinking and working backwards from there. It’s difficult to write about Joan Didion because she is such an incredible writer and her words have meant so much to me. She has influenced me tremendously. After I left London I was thinking a lot about her essay ‘Goodbye to all that’, which begins with the words ‘It’s easy to see where things begin, it’s harder to see where they end’. It’s broadly about her leaving New York City after spending much of her twenties there, getting married and moving to California. It’s very beautiful. My situation seemed so similar.

Sometimes I have these flashbacks to when I was growing up, and I can see the images very clearly, and feel the weight of the memory. The scenes in the song are all scenes I remember, kissing in swimming pools, a boy falling from the top of resovoir, a sprinkler lazily moving across the lawn in the sunset, the sound of crickets in the rain. I don’t know why these are the ones I recall first, I don’t even have to search for them.

But nostalgia is just that, and it’s crippling. I didn’t want to live in the past anymore. That’s why I contrast the chorus with the verse, ‘and nothing feels the way it did before and I am grateful for that’. It’s a joy to sing these words when we play it live, and it is my favourite song on our record.”

Elizabeth Morris

16. The Afghan Whigs ”It Kills”(from Do To The Beast)

17. Jessie Ware ”Tough Love”(from Tough Love)

18. Weeping Willows ”It Takes A Strong Heart To Love”(from The Time Has Come)

”I Weeping Willows fungerar det alltid så här: någon i bandet ger mig en demo med en instrumental låt. Om jag får känsla för låten så skriver jag ett utkast till en text som jag tycker passar stämningen och stilen i musiken. Det måste passa ihop. Vill det sig sedan väl blir det en låt som vi slutför tillsammans hela bandet. I det här fallet var det en demo från Anders som jag tror att han haft väldigt länge. Det är som en blandning av två av våra stora influenser. Verserna är lite Velvet Underground och refrängen och sticket är The Smiths.

Anders demo lät väldigt mycket Lou Reed/VU, därav ‘Here it comes now…'(‘Here She Comes Now’ – från White Light/White Heat). Mellan våra albuminspelningar sparar jag fraser i en skrivbok. Det kan vara något från någon film eller bok. Eller något jag hör någon säga. Eller så klart något jag själv kommer på. Alla dessa ‘oneliners’ blandas huller om buller i min skrivbok och efter ett tag minns jag inte längre var fraserna kommer ifrån. Jag brukar börja med att leta i min skrivbok för att förenkla processen och snabbt komma igång. När jag väl börjat skriva till en låt kommer flowet, tack vare dessa sparade fraser och jag åker in i en ‘låtskrivarbubbla’.

Texten kom att handla om minnen från skoltiden. Och hur vår uppväxt präglar oss hela livet. Jag minns mobbarna. Hur jobbigt det var. Och att jag ibland sällade mig till dem för att själv slippa bli mobbad. I efterhand förstår jag nu att många av dem kom från väldigt tråkiga hemförhållanden, och att det till viss mån är en förklaring. Men det hjälper ju knappast den utsatte. En situation jag minns väldigt starkt är att det var en flicka i klassen som ofta var smutsig. Hon kallades för ‘Lusen’ och var, så klart, hårt ansatt. En rast stod(som vanligt) halva klassen i en ring runt henne och kastade hennes mössa emellan sig. Jag gick emellan och tog mössan och gav den till henne. Jag kände en stark stolthet över denna handling och jag märkte att hon blev så lättad. Ingen frågade någonsin hur någon mådde. Man ville bara överleva dagen. Jag undrar nu i vuxen ålder över hur hon egentligen hade det hemma…(‘It takes you back to school, where no one ever asked you, they don’t know what you’ve been through’).

Låten skrevs ju under ‘supervalåret’ 2014. Så jag tänkte mycket på Sverigedemokraterna och deras väljares ‘mobbing-stil’. Något som oroar och stör mig enormt. Om man som människa är stark och har medel och möjlighet, tycker jag jag att man har en skyldighet och ett ansvar att hjälpa de som har det svårt. Om att vara medmänniska.

Det handlar låten om för mig. Den är nästan politisk.”

– Magnus Carlson

”Den har mycket riktigt funnits ganska länge. Inspirationen till låten / versen kommer(otippat) från The Knife‘s ‘Pass This On’ som kom typ 2003, ‘kjol-Johan'(Johan Renck) gjorde en fantastisk video till den. Refräng och brygga är mycket riktigt(mollvers, dur refräng) Smiths-inspirerade. Hade glömt bort låtidén, hittade den i en gammal telefon typ 2012, gillade melodierna och jobbade klart låten inför The Time has Come, drog upp tempot(vi behövde upptempo låtar) och hittade på ett väldigt enkelt gitarrintro. Magnus text om utanförskap korrelerade med min känsla för vad musiken för mig handlade om.”

– Anders Hernestam

19. Nick Mulvey ”Cucurucu”(from First Mind)

”‘Cucurucu’ was this lullaby that my mother used to sing to me and my brothers and sisters. I think it comes from the Spanish word for the sound of the bird. Something she used to make up with a melody and sing, and I had it in my mind. Then when I was a teenager a friend of mine gave me this book with a poem called ‘Piano’, a very famous poem by british poet D.H. Lawrence. I always loved it, and from the very first time I read it I had a desire to turn it into a song. I just knew it. It took me a long time, because I was busy in Portico Quartet, but it was in the back of my mind for six years.

Then one time I got down to making an adaptation of the poem in some form. In this poem, he takes the reader on a journey which takes him back through the years to a memory of when he was a child and sat underneath a piano, and he presses the feet of his mother who smiles as she sings. In his version that’s a full stop right there, but I thought it would be cool to add a colon and then add my mother singing ‘Cucurucu’. So then you achieve the song within the song. It’s an adaptation, but I’ve been liberal and added on the title and the bridge. ‘Softly, in the evening…’ and onwards, that’s from the poem.

About the slow start, I wanted people to get the words, to hear them clearly. You know, it comes with a good intention. I can also see that it was born from a concern that people wouldn’t get the words. Now I know that people are listening. In my next songs, I don’t know if I’ll be that systematic, when there’s nothing to explain like in this one.”

– Nick Mulvey

20. Viet Cong ”Continental Shelf”(single)

”I remember writing that main riff – like the first thing that you hear in the song – on an acoustic guitar. It was on my birthday, I was on tour with Chad VanGaalen and we were in a little town called Encinitas just north of San Diego, down the West Coast of California, which is maybe why there’s some sort of surfy vibe in there, because I wrote it when I was in a surf town in Southern California. I wrote it in standard tuning, it was kind of like a folky song. I had the melody, I didn’t have the lyrics, but I remember playing it in a studio with Monty and we deconstructed it, we changed the tuning to give it a weirder, Sonic Youth kind of vibe. Originally it almost had a 60s sound. We used to call it ‘Bush Beat’ because we ripped off the beat from ‘Running Up That Hill’.”

Matt Flegel

21. Marissa Nadler ”Drive”(from July)

”‘Drive’ is a song that deals with the dichotomy of two mindsets. Keep in mind this isn’t my current mindset but was at the time that I wrote the song. I’m traveling from town to town, feeling jaded and disillusioned at this stagnancy in my life. The time on the road had me reflecting on some turmoil of the past. During the choruses, there’s a sharp contrast to the feeling of freedom on the open road that I have when I’m touring. It’s a song about how songs, other people’s songs, become ingrained in your psyche and propel you forward when there’s not much else pushing you.”

Marissa Nadler

22. Caribou ”All I Ever Need”(from Our Love)

23. Father John Misty ”Bored In The USA”(single)

24. Bright Light Bright Light feat. Elton John ”I Wish We Were Leaving”(from Life Is Easy)

”I sat down at my piano after a particularly depressing afternoon and wrote the song in the time it takes to sing it. It’s from a place of real sadness, but it’s a loving, not a hateful song. A very close friendship crossed a line and became something else and went very wrong. The lyrics are about saying a mental goodbye to someone – at least in a romantic sense, and letting them get on with whatever they want to do with someone else. For me, it’s the most personally honest I have been in a song on one of my albums. It came on a day where I’d realised that the relationship had come apart and the song just fell out. It took me by surprise really!

When I was up in the studio producing the track, Elton called to talk about a song I’d written on the previous album(a crazy sentence to write!!) and when I heard his voice in the context of putting the production together, I kept hearing his voice on the track. Eventually after I produced the song, and we talked about songs for my second record, I played it to him and he liked it and agreed to add his vocal. Which for me is beyond my wildest dreams. It’s also important for me as the second voice reminds me that there are two voices in every situation. Particularly this one. So it’s become quite a healing song for me – hearing the optimism in the sadness, and hearing the second ”voice” to remember that you can’t see everything from only your own point of view.”

– Rod Thomas

25. The Autumn Defense ”This Thing That I’ve Found”(from Fifth)

”‘This Thing That I Found’ was initially inspired by watching a documentary about Jeff Lynne, who I am a big fan of. I watched the documentary late one night before going to bed, and when I woke up the next morning I grabbed a guitar first thing and started strumming in a bold Jeff Lynne kind of way…and the first verse and chorus just appeared without any real effort. I really should try that more often…writing just after waking up when still in a bit of a dream state. Lots of people comment on how the song reminds them of George Harrison or even Roy Orbison, but actually it takes its cues from their producer Jeff Lynne.”

Pat Sansone

26. Fickle Friends ”Swim”(single)

”We never intended to go down that 80’s revival route but the song just kind of fell into place after we brought a demo to producer James Earp(Bipolar Sunshine, Sons & Lovers). Having won Chef Jamie Olivers unsigned bands competition he went the extra mile and both put us in contact with, and paid for us to work with James. Locking ourselves away for a few days in rural Wales we came home with a song we knew we had to start the year with.

Lyrically the story is bittersweet, mostly stemming from various romantic encounters from my life and bundled into one metaphorical message. Unrequited love is a theme that runs throughout the lyrics in our songs… Again…not intentional, it’s just what flows out of me and onto paper. At our core we are an indie band…but our mutual love of the late 70’s and 80’s pop world and modern commercial dance, electronic and pop music are evident when it comes to writing and recording.

I think we got really lucky with ‘Swim’, after The 1975 dropped their album and Chvrches were dominating the airwaves…it felt like a case of right song – right time. The response truly wasn’t expected and the amount of people who have connected and identified with it musically and lyrically…it’s overwhelming.”

– Natassja Shiner

27. Withered Hand ”Horseshoe”(from New Gods)

”When I was writing ‘Horseshoe’ I felt like I was reaching above myself, I knew it was an important song for me and would be the opener for what became the New Gods album. It is a vehicle for how I feel about love and human relationships and I feel like the way the words tumbled out was pretty much spot on. I also felt the melody and chord changes came to me without very much work, like something was willing me to write it. The song in essence didn’t change very much between demo and final recording.

The central metaphor refers to an old silent movie I used to watch as a kid, where I think Charlie Chaplin had a horseshoe in his boxing glove in order to knock out a much bigger opponent against improbable odds. Apart from being very funny, I have always empathised with the underdog, or the clown. Either side of that central metaphor I am basically riffing on how I feel about love and life. I ask the question over and over whether it is easy to pretend that nobody you love will ever die, I know that some of us find it easier to pretend than others. We need to pretend on a daily basis just to keep going but it’s good to stop and think once in a while.

Recording the song, it was obvious one of the central songs on the album and we tried a couple of versions I recall it ended up a bit faster than I originally planned. It was a very exciting song to record. The band were really revved up for it. We were tracking alot of stuff live but struggling to get the feel I was after so in the end we turned the click track off and just powered through it, so I think it actually speeds up very slightly over the track but I think it’s better for it. Then we retracked my vocals and acoustic guitar I think and the cherry on the cake was other friends coming later to add harmonies and piano etc. Like most of my songs, it’s extremely personal. Suffice to say, when my wife heard an early mix on a rare visit to the studio, she burst into tears. That’s usually a sign it’s good.”

Dan Willson

28. Snowbird ”Bears On My Trail”(from Moon)

”The song is about finding moments experienced in planar reality where they have been frozen on the spiral out of linear earth time, and then harnessing the power still within them in the present moment without running any narrative of the pain story that might have surrounded them at the time. Essentially the story is about a maiden using time travel to access energy vibrations from her memory and using them for protection against wild bears. She lifts out of danger and straight into love from the past that still holds her safely.”

– Simon Raymonde

29. Donovan Blanc ”Hungry A Long Time”(from Donovan Blanc)

”I wrote this song in 2009 and originally it was called ‘Itchy Throats’. The song is mostly about sexual frustration. The original demo was just voice and electric guitar with some electronic drums to keep the beat. In 2011 when we were recording songs for the Honeydrum EP ‘Vacation’, I found it and decided to use it. I kept the original guitar and voice and just overdubbed the rest of the instruments over it, replacing the old electronic drums with real ones played by my pal Marc. When we were signed to Captured Tracks last year, they wanted two more tracks than what we initially had prepared for the LP, and I decided that this song should be one of them, so it was almost not on this release.”

– Joseph Black

30. The New Pornographers ”Dancehall Domine”(from Brill Bruisers)

”That is the song that I think sounds the most like a classic New Pornographers song. We definitely wanted it to be big. Once we had that giant synth bass, that’s when we thought ‘yeah, this is good’. That was part of what we call ‘the Sigue Sigue Sputnik influence’, we wanted songs that had that same arpeggiated beat, and I still like that. The ‘dancehall domine’ is somebody who controls the dancefloor. It’s sort of ironic, I was just thinking of how indie bands were singing about dancing. Like LCD Soundsystem did ‘Dance Yourself Clean’ and I would think ‘I don’t think you’re a good dancer?!’. Or the Dirty Projectors on one of their last singles sang something about dancing, and I’d be like ‘I have a feeling you’re not a very good dancer…’. I thought it was funny to just continue that theme of white indie rock guys singing about being the best dancer.”

Carl Newman

31. Kate Tempest ”The Beigeness”(from Everybody Down)

32. Arc Iris ”Whiskey Man”(from Arc Iris)

”One of the first pieces I ever wrote was a piece for cello and piano. It begins with the cello melody from ‘Whiskey Man’. In the middle of the piece there are raindrops dripping from both the cello and the piano and the two playfully mourning drip drop melodies run circles around each other. The sadness and rolls of dependence are passed between the cello and piano in a very fragile human way. Because of this fragility, I decided to use the cello line(originally written for Robin Ryczek) for ‘Whiskey Man’, a song written about an unbalanced and circular relationship. The weight of the world is carried at times with ease and at times with great difficulty.

The effects of social pressures and obligations can be unbearable for both the lover and the beloved, but what makes the lover hold on are those moments in which he or she gets a glimpse of their loved one unaffected by the thieves of time. No less, the flower in them blossoms so seldom that it is vibrant and untarnished. The well worn mask and confusion created by overused and unfertilized soil is forgotten just long enough for the sad little love cycle to start over again and again and again.”

Jocie Adams

33. Sloan ”You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind”(from Commonwealth)

”‘You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind’ is a song that had been kicking around for a few years. I always had a verse melody but never was satisfied with a good chorus melody(nor lyrics that would fit the song properly). Actually, the melody that I had been singing over the chorus section is now the string melody that pops up halfway through the 2nd chorus. Chris in our band had always thought the song could be turned into something worthwhile, so I continued to try to finish it. I didn’t really hit upon a good chorus melody until one day I was just playing guitar along with the track at home, almost absent mindedly, and I hit upon the melody that eventually became the lead vocal. It was a relief after it had been sitting around for so long. 

The placement of the chorus vocal and the way it begins before the first chord of the chorus was actually an accident that would not have happened without modern computer recording. Ryan, our engineer, was editing my vocal and actually misplaced the vocal in Pro-Tools one bar ahead of where is was supposed to land(starting on the word ‘mind’ instead of ‘you’ve’). A total ‘eureka’ moment. Suddenly it was much better and more satisfying, and maybe catchier? Regardless, thank you Ryan for your slip of the hand/mouse. Lyrically it’s mostly about my girlfriend and references her situation on an extended stay in LA as I was getting to know her. Musically, with it’s layers of acoustic and Moog, I think I was under a heavy influential dose of ABBA, Phoenix and Wings(I mean, what else is there, anyhow?)…and not that it comes close to their awesome catalogues, by the way!”

– Jay Ferguson

34. Say Lou Lou feat. Lindstrøm ”Games For Girls”

”The winter of 2012-13 we had been doing some writing with Noonie Bao, a Swedish artist/writer, so when we got the question if we wanted to write on one of Lindstrøm’s instrumentals/productions for his upcoming album we were like ‘we should do it with Noonie!’. I don’t really remember how we got in contact with Lindstrøm but I think his management reached out to us and played us some of the tracks. We picked the one we found most exciting which then was a disco track with some type of rendition of the hook from ‘U Can’t Touch This’ which might sound weird but it was a really cool and fun track that we instantly were drawn to.

We brought it to Noonie‘s, she had a little studio room behind her parents’ cafe in Södermalm where we used to do the sessions. It was winter. We had coffee and saffron buns. I can’t really remember exactly how it all happened but we got a Japanese school girl/Geisha vibe from the track and that’s why we started singing quite high and very girlish, and why the ‘ahaaha’ vocal in the chorus has that oriental feeling. It was almost like we just pretended we were foreign school girls and made it all up in one go. The song is almost like a girl power mantra, we wanted to highlight that love and sex can mean as little to girls as it does to some boys, that we can play the game and win. In popular culture it’s almost always the girls that fall in love and get hurt and the guys that are unattached, so we wanted to play with that using quite childish, simple metaphors. It’s very different from anything we’ve done before as Say Lou Lou, both in terms of melody and lyrics, but it was fun to try something completely different.

We recorded scrap vocals on that day with Noonie, and then after a few weeks we went back in alone and added some more vocals and details, and sent it off to Lindstrøm. We didn’t hear anything for like…more than a year. We were under the impression that he hadn’t liked it and that he wasn’t going to use it for his album, so we didn’t really think about it for a while. Then this spring 2014 he sent a new version kind of out of nowhere, with a whole new production, the existing one that is now. We loved it! We asked if we could use if for our next single, so we made a shorter Say Lou Lou version for us and added new vocals and harmonies, and he had his longer edit. The funniest thing about this whole collaboration is that Elektra and I still have never met him! Cyber 21st century song writing!!”

Miranda Kilbey-Jansson

35. François & The Atlas Mountains ”La Vérité”(from Piano Ombre)

”I used to be easily impressed by the authorities, rich people and beautiful women. I ‘ve now realised that their greatest power is to pretend that they are above. They truly don’t know much more than I do and they certainly don’t have super powers to keep them from the problems that I’m going through. They just pretend they are fine and that what they do and think is the absolute truth.

Knowing that if I’m too honest and too kind will I ever succeed? I haven’t decided to turn nasty yet . I should at least start by playing at being pretentious, cool, modern, and sexier than Prince. I’ll try…

Whether the task of playing at being cool is actually less work than being actually good to the people around me…? I truly don’t know…”

François Marry

36. Markus Krunegård ”Invandrarblues”(from Rastlöst Blod)

”Jag var i Helsingfors o hängde allena några dagar för att skriva låtar, det gick dåligt. Det slutade med att jag inte vågade beställa roomservice för att dom skulle höra att jag bröt på svenska i receptionen, så ur magknip av hunger o skam över att inte ens våga prata i telefon på finska föddes denna låt. Texten är väl rätt självförklarande. Jag skrev vers 1 redan till förra skivan men orkade inte göra klart den då, på demon lät den som Suicides gubbrock, så jag o Jari tillförde lite ungdomlig entusiasm o då kändes den bra. Vet inte varför, men jag tänkte först inte ha med den, men så blev det.”

Markus Krunegård

37. Christopher Sander ”Kokong”(from Jorden Var Rund)

38. Hercules & Love Affair feat. Gustaph ”Do You Feel The Same?”(from The Feast Of The Broken Heart)

39. FKA Twigs ”Two Weeks”(from LP1)

40. Lykke Li ”Silver Line”(from I Never Learn)

41. The Primitives ”Spin-O-Rama”(from Spin-O-Rama)

”The initial idea was for the song to be the theme tune to an imagined British 70s children’s TV drama. In fact I wanted to write a whole album of songs around this idea, but it didn’t quite come off. The title was originally ‘Backwards Roundabout’ but that sounded a bit clunky, so I changed it to ‘Spin-O-Rama’, which sounds more like a slightly dark kids TV program from when we were kids. The song is about returning to a less complicated, more innocent existence, via some metaphysical fairground or playground ride. I was thinking about the carousel in Ray Bradbury‘s Something Wicked This Way Comes, where people grow old or young depending on which way the carousel revolves, and also about a mad afternoon in the early days of the band, when we got a bit ”mystical” in a park, and Tracy ended up clinging to the underside of one of those spider web roundabouts, laughing her head off, as it spun faster and faster.

The arpeggio riff reminded me a bit of the ‘Rupert The Bear’ song by Jackie Lee, which, I guess, is where the kids TV theme idea started. We wanted the song to have certain classic Primitives elements; ‘Spacehead’ overdriven drums, layered jangle guitar, fuzzed bar chords etc, but also to sound like one of those big bubblegum glam pop hits from our childhood. When our bass player Raph heard the finished mix, he dubbed it ‘Bay City Stone Roses’, which I thought that was a pretty fair description of what we’d set out to achieve.”

Paul Court

42. Liam Finn ”Wild Animal”(from The Nihilist)

”‘Wild Animal’ was one of the first songs I wrote for The Nihilist after moving to NY. I had just found myself a cool writing space to work out of , I was excited about the endless possibilities and what felt like a fresh beginning but also a bit daunted having moved to a new city and having to find my feet again.

I remember that the verse riff came first and I constructed an instrumental piece of music. The lyrics actually came really quick for ‘Wild Animal’. Most of the time I’ll get a verse and chorus whe I first start writing but then it takes me weeks, months, sometimes years to finish the rest off. ‘Wild Animal’ lyrics came all in one go. I guess it was a response to moving country with my girlfriend, to a new world and a new era in our lives and how you experience this as an individual and a couple simultaneously. The chorus I think I was trying to acknowledge that I was aware of how I get myself worked up(especially while writing) and become hard to reason with, sensitive and unpredictable. The harder anyone tries to calm me down the more I feel backed into a corner and irrational.

Everyday felt like a surreal experience at that time, kind of like living in a film. I was particularly horrified one day when walking past a coffee shop I saw young boy who was wearing one of those harness leashes parents put on to stop their kid from running off. Someone had tied him up to a bike rack outside the coffee shop like a dog while they went inside to buy coffee. The little boy was just losing his shit, screaming and bucking around much like the wild animal he was being treated like. I don’t blame him…”

Liam Finn

43. Dinosaur Feathers ”Impossible”(from Control)

”I had written the music and melody quite a while ago, but could never seem to figure out any lyrics for it. Then, I had an experience playing pickup basketball in Oakland where I was harassed for being white. It was a difficult, but interesting experience. I was talking to Ryan about it and we thought it to just make ‘Impossible’ about that. I tried writing some lyrics, but continued to fail, so I asked Ryan to write them, because I just couldn’t get past this block. So, he wrote the lyrics about my experience in that game and as the song progresses, it sort of expands outwards, meditating on issues of class and identity.”

– Greg Sullo

44. The Night VI ”Sienna”(single)

”The track was born of hostile encounter between guitarist Jack Gourlay and a new girlfriend’s ex, which got us thinking about the special hurt when you’re the one that’s been left behind. It was written in 2 days with our good friend Cass Lowe, who co produced it with Jack, we did our best to record as a 6 piece with the drummer in a separate room but ended up using a lot of the 1st vocal/guitar takes from the original demo. Sometimes the best takes are the ones you haven’t thought too hard over.”

– Sophie-Rose Harper

45. Hello Saferide ”The Crawler”(from The Fox, The Hunter and Hello Saferide)

46. tUnE-yArDs ”Left Behind”(from Nikki Nack)

47. How To Dress Well ”Repeat Pleasure”(from What Is This Heart?)

48. Sun Kil Moon ”Carissa”(from Benji)

49. Kent ”Var Är Vi Nu?”(from Tigerdrottningen)

50. Susanne Sundfør ”Fade Away”(single)

51. Tomas Barfod feat. Nina K ”Busy Baby”(from Love Me)

”The story to this song is told through the perspective of different versions of myself. Or different versions of anybody really. We’re all diverse, stupid and smart, old and young, sad and happy. It can be pretty difficult to find a togetherness inside all of that and inside your different selves. So this song is a ‘what would I tell my younger self?’ kind of story. Or a ‘what would I tell my childish, stupid, sad or self-absorbed self?’ kind of story. How do I snap out of things with ‘only’ the different sides of myself as a weapon? I started writing it by the words ‘awful pale like a mother say yes’ which was, super cliché, scrabbled down on a piece of paper when I was really drunk and for a very long time I didn’t have any music to it. Then Tomas sent me a track from his album called ‘Destiny’s Child’. That’s the song I laid down the vocals to. I was so happy to hear what he built out of the vocals afterwards. What had originally been this sweet and easygoing song, became more of a disco anthem which I think is so much better. Especially with these lyrics.”

– Nina Kinert

52. Archie Bronson Outfit ”We Are Floating”(from Wild Crush)

”‘We are Floating’ was the first track we wrote for Wild Crush, or more accurately, was the first track we decided was a ‘keeper’ for the album. It represents us deciding what the essence of Archie Bronson Outfit was, post Dor leaving the group.

There are some famous musical/riff nods in there! When we came to record it we wanted to elevate it, from what it essentially is, i.e. rockarama. In the studio therefore, we flexed our vocoder and creaky-synth muscles; these are very much elements Capitol K brought to the party.

I don’t really like explaining lyrics, but I like the line ”newly gifting and body-shifting”. Also, ”we are floating, but I can’t relax” is probably the most self-descriptive line I will ever write. There are lines that I can write now where I just know that once Sam is singing them, they will really work, as he brings a certain tension in his singing, and that is one of them!”

Mark ”Arp” Cleveland

53. Hamilton Leithauser ”Alexandra”(from Black Hours)

”The song was very spontaneous and fun to write. Just Rostam and myself in his apartment noodling around with his 12-string guitar. The bulk of the song really took about an hour to write. The mix, however, took about 3 months – and a lot of grief – to get right. A lot of the recording was actually done in Washington, DC at Inner Ear Studios…where I used to work in the 90’s.”

Hamilton Leithauser

54. Ex Hex ”How You Got That Girl”(from Rips)

55. SOHN ”Artifice”(from Tremors)

56. Hiss Golden Messenger ”Saturday’s Song”(from Lateness Of Dancers)

57. Death From Above 1979 ”White Is Red”(from The Physical World)

58. Fujiya & Miyagi ”Little Stabs At Happiness”(from Artificial Sweeteners)

”The song started off very differently to how it finished. It began as a slow cluster type instrumental written on a farfisa. We then added the words but felt the song didn’t fit in with how we wanted the record to sound so we put it to one side and sort of forgot about it. Towards the end of making Artificial Sweeteners we were working out what songs we wanted to put on it and we remembered ‘Little Stabs at Happiness’. It sounded good but still didn’t fit with the feel of the record. So we took it apart and put it back together and it morphed into something else. It still had the originals melancholy but we added a bounce to the bassline and the synth became more off kilter. Maybe it could end up as a soundtrack for depressed ravers somewhere. I hope it has a chink of lightness and positivity to it though somewhere. Hopefully theres a nice contrast between the feel of the music and the words.

The title was borrowed from a 1960s film by Ken Jacobs, although the words haven’t got anything to do with that. I just liked the title. I suppose the song is about never quite being able to achieve what you want to achieve or never reaching a place where you are content. Maybe thats what drives people to keep going and thats where the light comes in.”

David Best

59. The Voluntary Butler Scheme ”Honey In The Gravel Mixture”(from A Million Ways To Make Gold)

”The song was written not long after i learnt to play the trumpet. I just decided to take it up as an extra instrument between albums and as a result of that i ended up writing lots of songs based around brass riffs. The lyric is quite cynical maybe – but is non-sensical enough to disguise it. It’s kind of about that even if things are a bit shit – they can be made just a little better with some simple sweetness. The song was recorded in my house like all my music.”

– Rob Jones

60. Ásgeir ”Summer Guest”(from In The Silence)

61. Timber Timbre ”This Low Commotion”(from Hot Dreams)

62. Sharon Van Etten ”Our Love”(from Are We There)

63. Gardens & Villa ”Colony Glen”(from Dunes)

64. Tokyo Police Club ”Hot Tonight”(from Forcefield)

65. Raury ”God’s Whisper”(single)

66. Fatima ”Underwater”(from Yellow Memories)

67. Greylag ”Yours To Shake”(from Greylag)

”This song is alluding to the riskiness at the core love and relationships — in getting into them and in sustaining them. It’s saying, nothing we do is ever perfect, but if we’re giving it everything we have, we can make something beautiful together. But there’s never any guarantee it will work out the way you want — you both have to put yourself on the line and open yourself to the possibility of getting hurt, or it won’t work.”

– Andrew Stonestreet, Daniel Dixon and Brady Swan

68. Titiyo ”Solna”(single)

På ‘Solna’ har Jonathan Johansson suttit och nästan intervjuat mig för att därefter skriva texten medan jag har gjort melodin. Ackorden kommer faktiskt från Martin Renck, lillebror till Johan Renck(alias Stakka Bo), och hans instrumentalprojekt Svartaste. Jag satt och lyssnade på honom och upptäckte de här ackorden och satte en melodi till dem. Sedan gjorde Dante och Sakarias en 90-talsinspirerad produktion till det, med en annan melodi och en annan text, som sedan byttes mot en ny melodi och så satte Jonathan en ny text till den. Så den har gått några vändor! Från början hette låten ‘Stockholm’. När Jonathan fick höra den och skulle komma med en text frågade han: ‘men är inte du från Solna?’. ‘Jo…’, sa jag, och insåg att här har vi något, eftersom det inte finns så många låtar som handlar om Solna, vad det nu beror på.”

– Titiyo

69. Woman’s Hour ”To The End”(from Conversations)

”Our song ‘To The End’ was written in a unique way to the rest of our songs. The initial spark came whilst I was in Kendal and wrote the chorus chords and riff on the piano. I then sent an iPhone recording to the guys and each of us built it up our own parts in isolation from each other. In a sense it was one of the easiest songs to create as each of the parts we came up with worked really well with each other.”

Fiona Jane Burgess

70. Happyness ”It’s On You”(from Happyness EP)

”‘It’s On You’ was the first song on the first EP we ever released and one of the first things we ever recorded. It originally just had the instrumental backing with a story spoken over the top about a man who never dried when he got out of the bath. Here’s the whole story:

‘There once was a man who never dried. Every morning he would wake up with everybody else. He would sit up, slide out, sway, walk and piss with everybody else. He would undress and self-examine, wash his body parts in an established sequence, pull the plug and feel the land rise around him. But he never dried.

And wherever he went, whether he was watching birds on the television or girls in the park, or in the evenings dripping in bars, people would say: ”Why don’t you dry?'”

– Ash Cooper, Benji Compston and Jonny Allan

71. The Hidden Cameras ”Year Of The Spawn”(from Age)

”I wrote ‘Year of the Spawn’ in 2004 actually. A long time ago. It was one of the first songs I wrote after buying a Gretsch guitar. It was recorded in 2008 I believe. I asked Chilly Gonzales to record piano on it in 2010 and it was mixed by Howie Beck in 2012.”

– Joel Gibb

72. The Aston Shuffle feat. Mayer Hawthorne ”Never Take It Away”(from Photographs)

73. Goat ”Hide From The Sun”(from Commune)

74. Bipolar Sunshine ”Where Did The Love Go”(single)

75. The Delines ”82nd Street”(from Colfax)

76. Kwabs ”Pray For Love”(from Pray For Love EP)

77. Drive-By Truckers ”Grand Canyon”(from English Oceans)

78. Neneh Cherry feat. Robyn ”Out Of The Black”(from Blank Project)

79. Mark Morriss ”It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time”(from A Flash Of Darkness)

80. Les Big Byrd ”War In The Streets”(from They Worshipped Cats)

81. Miniature Tigers ”Swimming Pool Blues”(from Cruel Runnings)

82. Mazes ”It Is What It Is”(from Wooden Aquarium)

83. Tove Styrke ”Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You”(from Borderline EP)

84. Sean Nicholas Savage ”Empire”(from Bermuda Waterfall)

85. Grumbling Fur ”All The Rays”(from Preternaturals)

86. Foxygen ”How Can You Really”(from …And Star Power)

87. Banks ”Beggin For Thread”(from Goddess)

88. Twin Shadow ”To The Top”(single)

89. Chet Faker ”1998”(from Built On Glass)

90. Black Lips ”Make You Mine”(from Underneath The Rainbow)

91. DMA’s ”Delete”(from DMA’s EP)

92. Owl John ”Red Hand”(from Owl John)

93. Augustines ”Cruel City”(from Augustines)

94. Kevin Morby ”The Ballad Of Arlo Jones”(from Still Life)

95. Strand Of Oaks ”Same Emotions”(from Heal)

96. Ryan Adams ”Kim”(from Ryan Adams)

97. Generationals ”Now Look At Me”(from Alix)

98. Reverend And The Makers feat. Steve Edwards ”I Spy”(from Thirty Two)

99. Arthur Beatrice ”Grand Union”(from Working Out)

100. Lo-Fang ”Look Away”(from Blue Film)

LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST VIA WiMP

LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST VIA RARA

Class of 2013 – Årets 100 bästa låtar!

Både du och jag vet att uppdraget är omöjligt. 100 låtar som ska anses vara årets bästa. Varenda en på listan här nedan ligger egentligen på topp tio vilken dag som helst. Jag hade en lista med det tiodubbla innan jag skar ned till 300 för att handplocka de 100 ”bästa”. Det handlar enbart om humöret för dagen. Men nu ska vi inte vara såna, listor skulle inte finnas om ingen fann spänning i att jämföra, hålla med och inte hålla med.

Alla gör listor den här tiden på året, och ibland kan jag känna att det blir lite tjatigt. Lite som det kanske är för er när ni går igenom den här. Men för en gångs skull är det inte jag som ska berätta något om låtarna som finns med. För vem vet mest om dem om inte de som skrivit dem: artisterna själva. Omkring trettio av dem har exklusivt för Songs for Whoever berättat historien bakom sin låt. Några har haft en hel del att förtälja, några har hållit det kort hur mycket jag än lirkat för att få ur dem något mer. Årets bästa låt har jag till och med fått skriva om själv, inte för att jag har något emot det, men dess upphovsman har helt enkelt inte velat säga något. Och det är säkert en del av förklaringen till dess storhet; myten och spekulationen. Men jag är mycket tacksam för allt som de andra berättar för oss och som tillför upplevelsen en extra dimension.

Hoppas ni får lika roligt när ni går igenom Songs for Whoevers årsbästalista som jag har haft när jag sammanställt den. Oavsett om artisten har berättat något om sin låt eller ej. Oavsett om ni håller med om att en låt ska vara med eller ej. Det är sekundärt. Jag vet inte ens om jag själv håller med. Förhoppningsvis fyller vi i några luckor från 2013, om inte annat.

You and me both know that it’s Mission Impossible. 100 songs considered to be the best of the year. Every single one on this list is, to be honest, top ten on any given day. I had a list of songs ten times the amount before I cut it down to 300 and then hand-picked the 100 ”best”. It’s all about the mood of the day. But let’s not get hung-up on that, lists wouldn’t exist if there was no excitement in comparing, agreeing and disagreeing.

Everybody is making year-end list these days, and sometimes I think it’s a bit repetitive. Maybe a little like you feel going through this one. But for once it’s not me telling things about the songs included. Who knows more about the songs if not the ones who wrote them: the artists themselves. Around thirty of them have exclusively for Songs for Whoever told the story behind their song. Some had a lot to share, some just stuck to a few lines, no matter how much I tried coaxing them into telling more. The best song of the year I’ve even had to write about myself, not that I mind, but because its author simply hasn’t been willing to tell anything. And that’s surely part of the reson for its grandeur; the myth and speculation(Apologies to international readers for writing about No 1 only in Swedish, as well as keeping the Swedish artists’ quotes in their original language). However, I’m very grateful for the song stories that have been told, which adds an extra dimension to the experience.

I do hope you have as much fun going through Songs for Whoever’s best-of-the-year list as I had compiling it. Regardless of a story from the artist or not. Regardless of whether you agree that a song should be included or not. That’s all secondary. I don’t even know if I agree myself. If nothing else we’ll hopefully fill in some gaps from the year 2013.

LYSSNA PÅ SPELLISTAN VIA WiMP

1 Keaton Henson “10am Gare du Nord”
Hans sätt att vid sina ytterst sporadiska framträdanden sitta ihopsjunken – närmast krum – över sin gitarr, tomt blickandes ner i golvet iförd kavaj och yvigt skägg, avslöjar en introvert och skygg artist så fäst vid sin konst att inte ens hans obehag av uppmärksamheten den tilldrar sig kan få honom att överge den. Något som också bekräftas när jag gör research om ”10am Gare du Nord”. Efter växelvis kontakt med Keaton Hensons management får jag i alla fall fram att den kvinnliga rösten som sjunger andrastämma i refrängen är Jesca Hoop(en gång barnflicka hos ingen mindre än Tom Waits, men det tar vi en annan dag). Låtens bakgrund vill han dock absolut inte gå in på, ty han är ”not entirely comfortable with the intimacy”, något jag köper till fullo.

En som däremot inte har några problem alls med att ventilera saken är den känslosvallande sångtextens huvudperson. Franska sångerskan och skådespelerskan SoKo rapporterades ha ett inte helt friktionsfritt förhållande med Henson fram till någon gång under 2012 då paret gjorde ett hjärtslitande publikt uppbrott via lätt kryptiska och sårande hälsningar till varandra i bl.a. radio. Mest drivande att dra den andre i smutsen får nog alla gånger SoKo anses ha varit, men ironiskt nog blev hennes offentliga kölhalning av Henson också en katalysator för hans karriär. Hon ägnade 2012 åt att dela flertalet klipp av hans sånger(som antas i stort sett alltid handla om henne) på sin Facebooksida – med över 210.000 följare – taggat med fräsande ordsalvor riktat mot sin forne älskade. Under 2013 har hon låtit ämnet bero, men så plötsligt den 7 december delade hon åter ett klipp av Henson framförandes ”10am Gare du Nord” åtföljt av orden ”This breaks my heart every single time. Why does he keep singing songs about loving me when he clearly doesn’t…? @keatonhenson #forevermissinghim”. Vad för slags kärlek som river upp den typen av sår kan vi bara försöka föreställa oss.

Henson å sin sida har för det mesta hållit sig till att kommentera situationen i sång, och vill som sagt inte göra det på annat sätt, inte ens när en obskyr svensk musikblogg utser en av hans alster till 2013 års bästa låt. Lider man av svår scenskräck så gör man.

Så till själva huvudämnet: årets bästa låt 2013. Redan titeln väckte intresse. Ett klockslag, en världskänd parisisk tågstation och ett kärlekspar. Föreställ dig följande scenario: en rastlös Keaton Henson är olycklig i deras tvåsamhet och föremålet för hans svallande känslor, SoKo, vill inte längre utstå hans nyckfulla, inåtvända och obeslutsamma persona. Ett helt kärleksförhållande avhandlas på under fyra minuter, och kanske är Gare du Nord helt sonika en metafor för den instabila plattform det vilat på; ständigt ett tåg väntandes på att en av dem ska kliva ombord och den andra inte. Om inte ”10am Gare du Nord” redan hade en lite djupare innebörd så fick den det kanske nu. Har du aldrig sett ett söndermosat hjärta på utsidan av en bröstkorg bör du lyssna och blunda till dessa toner, du lär aldrig komma närmare en visualisering än här. Återigen är det bevisat att smärta är den vackraste känslan, så länge någon annan drabbas och kanaliserar ut den i briljant konst för andra att ta del av.

Inte sedan Jeff Buckley erövrade ”Hallelujah” från Leonard Cohen har vi hört någon sjunga så innerligt över en elektrisk gitarr som verkar ge ljud åt samma förblödande hjärtesår som Keaton Hensons bräckliga röst. Med avslutande raderna ”Please do not break my heart, I think it’s had enough pain to last the rest of my life, And I will not tire of you” är det förmodligen fullt medvetet, för att inte säga nödvändigt, med tretton sekunders tystnad efter att sista ackordet klingat ut. Mot ovan dramatiska bakgrund måste sådana ord begrundas en stund innan man klarar av att höra eller göra något annat.

2 The Proctors “Into The Sun”
”After losing my mother suddenly, my brother was approached by a stranger who said she could see a woman resembling my mother in a field gathering flowers. Thats the chorus, and perhaps ‘another star will guide your way home tonight, and as you stumble arms are holding you tight’ refers to someone watching over you, though no longer physically present. And I’m afraid stumbling home referred to me! Looking at the stars and wondering which one of them was her! Around the same time someone close also lost someone, and the ‘beyond the city lights a sleeping angel said goodnight, my love, please hold on’ is about that, and the massive empathy I felt with my old friend. The first verse goes back in time to when my sister and I visited my dad in his new flat, then walked home rather too late for kids of our age across Gornal Park. I particularly remember the Autumn leaves…”

– Gavin Priest

3 The 1975 ”Chocolate”
”‘Chocolate’ tells the story of our relationships with the governing authorities of our small town. Smoking weed, smoking anything I suppose, boredom and what ensues  when both parties challenge one another. It’s a love letter to boredom, limited opportunities of expressing yourself and embracing and understanding the make up of where you’re from. Musically and structurally it is the blueprint of our output, but I’d need an entire book to discuss that in detail”

– Matthew Healy

4 Vampire Weekend “Ya Hey”
5 Ed Harcourt ”Murmur In My Heart”
6 Superchunk ”Me And You And Jackie Mittoo”
7 Håkan Hellström “När Lyktorna Tänds”

8 Johnossi “For A Little While”
”Jag skrev låten i Portugal, sommaren 2012. Oftast sliter vi med en låt i dagar eller veckor men den här tog en halvtimme ungefär, det är en sån där låt som bara rann ur mig. Jag skrev den på gitarr men visste direkt att det skulle vara piano på inspelningen.”

– John Engelbert

9 Rhye ”Hunger”
”We are not sure if anyone caught this, but the song ‘Hunger’ is the one of the only cuts on the record that has no affiliation with love. Rather it’s a statement, a political one though very subtle… The recording was started in Copenhagen, ‘The Fall’, ‘Woman’ and ‘Major Minor Love’ were recorded there. Then we did the rest in Robin’s apartment in L.A. while I was traveling back and forth for Berlin, visiting Alexa(my wife that I made my most recent record with, Jetlag).”

– Milosh

10 Laura Stevenson ”Runner”
11 Sigur Rós ”Ísjaki”
12 Cut Copy ”In Memory Capsule”
13 Disclosure feat. Eliza Doolittle “You And Me”
14 Neko Case ”I’m From Nowhere”

15 Bipolar Sunshine ”Love More Worry Less”

”The song was written as a form of celebration , self release. I wanted euphoric sound and for people to take the best bits from it to suit them…”

– Adio Marchant

16 Jonathan Johansson “Den Brända Jorden”
”Det är en låt om våld. Om Europa. Om skuld och konsekvens. Den pumpar framåt som blod och sjukdom.”

– Jonathan Johansson

17 MØ ”Glass”
”‘Glass’ is about being young and vulnerable. About wanting to experience life at its full extend, but not knowing how to do so ‘cause you’re too restless and too confused. About being afraid to die, missing all the fun. About being sad ‘cause we always glorify the past. Stuck with a feeling of emptiness towards the dawning days to come.

I received the first beat scratch for ”Glass” from Swed-Dane producer ELOQ  in fall 2012. The lyrics and the melodies I made while on the road. The vocals I recorded at my parents house. Finally my main producer Ronni Vindahl got all exciting parts, and made the song into what it is today. As I said – I wrote all melodies and lyrics while on the road, and I remember clearly how the essential lyrics came about.

I was sitting in the train to Copenhagen. It was raining, and my mind was dark. I looked out at the landscape passing by, and I thought about my situation – things wasn’t too bad… Things were actually quite good, but still I got this feeling of ”what’s the point?”. Young people in Scandinavia nowadays are so spoiled. Myself included. We got everything – all possibilities lies ahead of us. Still we are unsatisfied. Still we want more. That’s just the human nature. While sitting in the train grumbling about these issues – the lyrics for Glass was made. So at least something constructive came out of my gloomy sunday.”

– Karen Marie Ørsted, aka

18 The Black Lillies ”The Fall”
”It is the lead track on our most recent release Runaway Freeway Blues, despite being the final song written for the new record. I have to attribute the initial inspiration to a day on the river with friends and music, crawfish, whispy clouds and sunshine…sounds like some hippy jargon…and it is!  I got together with a bunch of musician friends on a summer day when we were all off the road at the same time…we must have played 200 songs that day….one just lead to the next…and I remember telling myself that the next time I wrote a song don’t be scared to write something simple and something that pleases the senses.  The imagery from ‘The Fall’ is direct and relatable, vast yet focused…and of course its a love song…I haven’t written too many of those…but its high time…a good step to take as a writer and a person!”

– Cruz Contreras

19 Club 8 ”Stop Taking My Time”
”Låten är det närmaste ett beställningsjobb jag kommit med Club 8. När albumet var nästan klart sa Karolina att hon ville ha med en hård elektronisk låt som skulle låta si och så. Så jag åkte till studion och gjorde ”Stop Taking My Time” baserat på hennes önskemål. Det är en av mina favoritlåtar på skivan så det kan visst vara ett fungerande sätt att skriva på ibland. Pratpartiet bestod ursprungligen av mig som sa något på semi-franska med hårt distat ljud. Som en demogrej. Så kom jag att tänka på Indochine‘s album ”L’Aventurier” som en låt med en flicka som hälsade hem. Jag var väldigt faschinerad av att det när jag var liten. Jag tänkte att det skulle passa låten att göra likadant, fast tvärtom. Dvs först en text på engelska som de flesta förstår och sen en hälsning på svenska som 99% av våra lyssnare inte förstår ett ord av.”

– Johan Angergård

20 Blood Orange ”You’re Not Good Enough”
21 Jonathan Wilson “Love To Love”
22 Lady “Get Ready”
23 Phoenix “Trying To Be Cool”
24 Basia Bulat ”Tall Tall Shadow”
25 Fitz & The Tantrums ”Spark”

26 PAWWS “Slow Love”
”A song about enjoying the exciting first part of a relationship”

– Lucy Taylor, aka PAWWS

27 Josh Rouse ”This Movie’s Way Too Long”
”This was the last song written for my album and I tried to put some Lindsey Buckingham type guitar solos at the end which was a lot of fun! The lyrics deal with trying to manage touring and staying in one place. Arguing gets old.”

– Josh Rouse

28 The New Amsterdams ”Too Many Of A Good Thing”
”That song was written and recorded in 2003. The Get Up Kids were on a hiatus and the third New Amsterdams album Worse For The Wear was being released around the same time as the Reggie And The Full Effect record Under The Tray. I was playing in Reggie at the time and had to make the decision not to go on tour with that band but with The New Ams instead. So, I had to take a break from my side project with James to do my side project by myself. There were too many good things going on and not enough time to do it. The song was originally going to be on Killed Or Cured but it was too upbeat.”

– Matt Pryor

29 Free Energy “Girls Want Rock”

”‘Girls Want Rock’ was a demo that we arranged in pro-tools. It’s a party anthem, but also about feeling stuck and caught in repeating patterns and habits. Scott and Paul demoed the song in the Free Energy practice space in Philadelphia, PA, and then rehearsed it live with the band before recording it in a church called Dreamland Studio, in Woodstock, NY. John Agnello produced it.”

– Paul Sprangers

30 Franz Ferdinand ”Love Illumination”
31 The Internet ”Dontcha”

32 Hästpojken ”Sommarvin”

”Texten handlar ganska rakt av om när jag och Adam sitter och dricker tillsammans.”

– Martin Elisson

33 James Blake “Retrograde”
34 The Milk Carton Kids “Whisper In Her Ear”
35 Tedeschi Trucks Band ”Made Up Mind”
36 Lorde ”Royals”

37 Treetop Flyers ”Houses Are Burning”
”‘Houses Are Burning’ is about the way people relate to each other on a core level and was inspired by the re-introduction of rugged individualism in our society, American and sort of British, over the last two or three decades. Greed has grown to be acceptable in ways it wouldn’t have been to previous generations despite its negative effects on people’s lives. 

We’re much more self-serving, self-obsessed than we used to be and these seem to be positive character traits to have nowadays.  People only listen to each other when it fits some preconceived notion and yet everyone wonders why the world is falling apart.

It went unfinished for a while and in an eerie way we revisited and finished the song just before the London riots in the summer of 2011.”

– Tomer Danan

38 Israel Nash Gripka ”Woman At The Well”
”The song is written about my ranch, in Dripping Springs, TX. It’s a place where I have made a lot of life changes in over the past two years. Growing up, seeing the world differently, all from my backyard looking out into the Texas Hill Country. The Woman at the Well is a fountain statue on my back porch. She is made of white stone and ‘pours the water out.’ But for the song, she represents what my life in the country is about: peace and clarity in life.”

– Israel Nash Gripka

39 Lost In The Trees “Lady In White”
40 Empire Of The Sun “Celebrate”
41 Glasvegas “If”
42 Midnight Juggernauts ”Ballad Of The War Machine”

43 Attic Lights ”Don’t You”
”‘Don’t You’ is about falling in love with someone and then realising that they don’t really feel the same back. When love is one-sided like this it can drive you crazy and in the end, you reject the other person as well in order to limit the hurt you feel. Therefore, it basically says, ‘don’t you’ not love me because if you do I won’t love you back anymore.”

– Colin McArdle

Colin wrote the full song in his flat, including the lead guitar solo, and recorded an early demo version on his computer. The full band then learned the song and added various dynamic parts and helped restructure it. It’s also one of the most enjoyable songs to play live from our new album. And the lead guitar solo is my favourite Attic Lights guitar solo.”

– Kev Sherry

44 Tomorrow’s World “Metropolis”
”‘Metropolis’ is my favourite song of the album too. This is the latest one that we’ve recorded. The story is about(I hope to not make a mistake because this is Lou’s story) about the inner darkness of cities. How people behave in the city. But this song is a way, a path to light to positivism. Musically it goes straight to a glowing end. And the beauty of it is in Lou’s energy that she carries along her performance, as a hot secret that she kept for a long time and that she’s finally able to tell to everybody.”

– Jean-Benoît Dunckel

45 Villa ”Mint”
”‘Mint’, or ‘the swan song’, talking about a pursuit of girls and boys chasing each other in a night club, actually more the boys making a big effort to get the girls, in the most funny way possible, we thought it was a good cliche to go with.. cause we see it all the time behind the DJ booth… so we thought we’d make song about it… ‘the swan song’… would you like a mint? 

We worked on this track with the great NICK HOOK who mixed the track for us, big up!!!!”

– Francois De Meyer & Thang

46 Best Coast “I wanna know”
”I was listening to Blondie. I was listening to A LOT of Blondie, and ‘I Wanna Know’ doesn’t sound anything like Blondie but was inspired by Blondie. Almost all of my songs are about break-ups or make-ups, but I wanted to make another song that was classically, undeniably poppy and catchy because I didn’t really have one of those on the second record. ‘I Wanna Know’ is my favorite on the record…it has this very upbeat poppy feel to it, so I’m pretty stoked on that.”

– Bethany Cosentino

47 Josh Berwanger ”Baby Loses Her Mind”
”‘Baby Loses Her Mind’ was written about failed relationships and the tendencies people have to destroy them no matter how good the relationship is going. I recorded it in the mountains of Colorado with Jim Macpherson(The Breeders/Guided By Voices) on drums. As for the riff on ‘Baby…’, I was just messing around, that idea has been done many times from The Beatles to Petty and so on, I think it’s all about how you make it your own, and I felt I made the song mine without feeling I ripped something off, if that makes any sense.”

– Josh Berwanger

48 Lloyd Cole ”Blue Like Mars”
”I found myself singing the opening line to the melody a year or two ago and recorded it on my iPhone. Went back to it a year later to see if I could make a song out of it and ended up in Old Testament and Outer Space. I suppose the idea owes a fair bit to Lonely Planet Boy, which made me think of The Little Prince, hence the last verse. The title is from a NASA photograph that I found on the www”

– Lloyd Cole

49 Cool Ghouls ”In The Morning”
”The song is about being born and raised here in the Bay Area. As a band and also as individuals, we’re just really proud to be from this part of the country. It serves as inspiration for a lot of our material. I wrote the song to act kind of like our battle flag or our coat of arms in a way. Haha. About equipment we used a combination of Protools and a Tascam 388, so a bit new and a bit old. The album was recorded by Tim Cohen of The Fresh & Onlys in his bedroom.”

– Pat McDonald

50 Charlie Boyer And The Voyeurs ”I Watch You”
”‘I watch you’ is about being a voyeur. we named our group after this song, or we named this song after our group. I’m not sure which way round it is.”

– Charlie Boyer

51 The Naked And Famous ”Hearts Like Ours”
52 Arcade Fire ”Joan Of Arc”
53 Willis Earl Beal feat. Cat Power ”Coming Through”
54 Quadron ”LFT”
55 Ladi6 “Diamonds”
56 Alice Russell ”Heartbreaker”
57 The Growlers ”Tell It How It Is”
58 Washed Out ”Falling Back”

59 Buchanan ”Par Avion”
”‘Par Avion’ was the first song we finished recording with our producer for the album. It’s about writing a difficult letter to a loved one back home and was our third single released in Australia – it’s probably my favourite track off the record. The falsetto hopefully helps communicate the emotion of the main character in the song… Although when I was writing the track it kind of just came out that way and wasn’t planned as such!”

– Josh Simons

60 Patrick Baker ”Get 2 Know U”
”‘Get 2 Know U’ was definitely an homage to Whitney Houston and classic 80’s pop-dance production. It was meant to be a kind of exuberant, summery song and I wanted the sounds to be as authentic as possible. It was all produced in my home studio and I spent a lot of time finding the right synths and bass sounds and getting the groove to feel just right. I think a good pop song can be like a finely tuned machine with everything in its right place and so in that regard I really tried to focus on all those little details. It was definitely a lot of fun working on that track.”

– Patrick Baker

61 Nat Jenkins & The Heart Caves “East And West”
”‘East & West’ is a song I co wrote with Heart Caves’ guitarist Robbie Heart. It had always been based around that main hook that Robbie plays – at one stage we were even playing it with a sort of gentle folk vibe. One night I went to a house party and came back in a bad mood. I’d written the lyrics as I walked home that night – and the next day we changed the whole rythmn and feel of the song, keeping that riff as the main hook. 

It was recorded live in one take at London’s Dean Street Studios – however when we came to the mixing stage the producer discovered there was too much drum spill through the vocal mic. So it was that I came to re-record the lead vocal in my Paris apartment’s bathroom while the crazy old woman who lives upstairs yelled ‘Nazi!’ at me and hurled buckets of water out of her window.

It’s still one of my favourite tunes on the record.”

– Nat Jenkins

62 Temples ”Colours To Life”
”‘Colours To Life’ is a song that we wrote while in our studio, looping this 12 string guitar, that just keeps chiming. We tried to create a sound that soars, rushes and explodes all in the same atmosphere. We wanted it to be as-transitional-as-possible pop music.”

– Tom Warmsley

63 Steve Earle & The Dukes(& Duchesses) ”Love’s Gonna Blow My Way”
64 Phosphorescent ”Song For Zula”
65 Haim ”Falling”
66 Kanye West ”Black Skinhead”
67 Justin Timberlake ”Take Back The Night”
68 Jaqee ”Dance”
69 St. Lucia ”Elevate”

70 Valerie June ”You Can’t Be Told”

”The elders can always tell youngsters how to live.  Life must be lived by each being in order to know the proper way to embrace each moment.”

– Valerie June

71 Holy Ghost! ”Bridge And Tunnel”
72 Roosevelt ”Elliot”
73 JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound ”Before You Die”
74 Hot Natured feat. Róisín Murphy ”Alternate State”
75 Shooter Jennings feat. Patty Griffin ”Wild & Lonesome”
76 The National ”Fireproof”
77 Youth Lagoon ”Mute”
78 Drenge ”Backwaters”

79 Gregory Alan Isakov ”Saint Valentine”
”I’m always looking to make songs that allow the listener to dream. This song, in particular, is rooted in the bittersweet search for love and home – but hopefully it conjures up more than that.”

– Gregory Alan Isakov

80 Thea Gilmore ”Love Came Looking For Me”
81 Lana Del Rey “Young And Beautiful”
82 The Flaming Lips ”Peace Sword(Open Your Heart)”
83 John Mayer “Paper Doll”
84 Alela Diane ”About Farewell”
85 Prefab Sprout ”The Songs Of Danny Galway”

86 Over The Rhine ”It Makes No Difference”

”It’s a cover of the The Band classic, of course. We performed it at a Levon Helm memorial concert, and decided to include it on our latest. Stripped down, and sung by a husband and wife, it felt like a new song.”

– Karin Bergquist & Linford Detweiler

87 Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside ”Bad Boys”
88 The Weeknd ”Wanderlust”

89 Fryars ”Cool Like Me”
”‘Cool like me’ has been in the works for over three years and has gone through several reincarnations. It was exciting to finally let it out into the world.”

– Ben Garrett

90 Marc Carroll ”(It Was)Lust Not Love”
”‘Lust Not Love’….Well, I was going to leave that song off the album. I didn’t think it had any place in the structure of the record. When it came to record the song, we (myself and Chris, who produced the album) listened to the demo recording and just went with it and like most songs I record, they dictate themselves during the recording process. A lot of the time I don’t consider the songs I write as songs, more like pieces of music that I happen to sing over. I don’t have the dicipline or patience to perfect something before I go into a studio. I prefer the element of surprise, something to thrill and inspire along the way, even if it ends up failing. Who cares about failure, as long as the song has been served. As for what the song is about…..well, I think the words suit a female voice more than mine. It would work better from a female perspective. It’s a song for Women. Desire can be an untameable beast.”

– Marc Carroll

91 Talib Kweli feat. Miguel ”Come Here”
92 Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge ”Rise Of The Black Suits”
93 Hot Chip ”Dark And Stormy”

94 Justin Currie ”I Hate Myself For Loving You”
”‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’ nearly didn’t make the album as Mike McCarthy, the producer thought it was too clichéd. But I thought we needed something light and throwaway to balance out the album and once the Austin musicians heard it they loved it so their enthusiasm carried it through. I like it because it has a happy ending, like a dirty massage.”

– Justin Currie

95 Chromeo ”Over Your Shoulder”
96 Janelle Monae feat. Miguel ”Primetime”
97 Har Mar Superstar ”Prisoner”
98 Dizraeli & The Small Gods “Million Miles”

99 Retro Stefson ”She Said”
”I started writing the song early 2011 slowly progressing for over a year. Part of the lyrics concern a couple we saw making out in the backstage area of a festival we were playing. It’s produced around the preset Solid bass from the Yamaha DX100 synth.”

– Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson

100 Jenn Grant ”I’ve Got Your Fire”
”I don’t really have a story to share. It is just a bunch of ideas and dreamlike ideas that make up this song and I hope that people have made their own stories for what it means to them. I am honoured to think that anyone as far away as Sweden may have even heard it. I recorded it in a country house in Prince Edward Island where my husband grew up. His name is Daniel Ledwell and he produced the album. I wrote all of the songs for this album in the ten days while we there, recording the drums and bass at the same time. There are a lot of moments on the album, especially on this song, that make me think of angels. Like the angel Gabrielle. It’s sort of based on my own, abstract idea of what an angel would be. Nothing is set in stone with my lyrics. There were a lot of special guests, and on this song 41 boys between the ages of 7-11 sing on the album. They are the Halifax Boys Honours Choir.”

– Jenn Grant

LYSSNA PÅ SPELLISTAN VIA WiMP