August is nearly over, and with the help of Pitchfork's The 200 Best Tracks of the Decade So Far (2010-2014) combined with my own personal discoveries, I've come up with a playlist of the top 14 songs I can't get enough of this month!
1. Left Hand Free -alt-J
To start things off, allow me to say that I haven't been this excited about an album release since Oops I Did it Again came out in 2000 (which I distinctly remember). An Awesome Wave, alt-J's first album, was by far my most loved of 2013. Knowing that they would be performing at Bonnaroo that year made me take back all my promises that I would never use another Port-a-Potty and therefore never attend another Bonnaroo ever again. After hearing Breezeblocks, I was instantly hooked and couldn't wait to devour the rest of the track list, and upon discovering this single off their upcoming album (This Is All Yours) a few weeks ago, I felt that familiar buzz of addiction start all over again. At the risk of sounding painfully cliche, listening to this song makes me want to throw on a pair of aviators, roll the windows down in my car in the middle of the day, and just driiiiiive.
2. Heart it Races (As Played by Dr. Dog)- Architecture In Helsinki
While the intro to this song is catchy enough, I wasn't fully hooked until I heard the almost cartoonish sounding "boom-dadadadadada boom-dadadada, legs like little splinters"....you'll just have to listen to it for yourself to see what I'm talking about here, but trust me, it's likely to get stuck in your head. I've yet to hear the original version by Dr. Dog, but I'm just going to assume it can't possibly be as fun to listen to.
Proper dance moves for this song include (but are not limited to): bobbing, bouncing, strutting like a pigeon, or all of the above with the addition of some limp-wristed jazz hands.
3. I Started A Joke- The Bee Gees
Sappy story time, but just bear with me here. Prior to hearing this song, my exposure to the Bee Gees didn't extend beyond "Stayin' Alive" and The Barry Gibb Talk Show, a which is a classic Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. A few weeks ago, however, I was with my parents at a Mexican restaurant that was playing back to back Bee Gees songs. "I Started a Joke" came on and my dad asked me to Shazaam the song because he said it played a lot on his Bee Gees Pandora station that he listens to when he goes jogging, which I thought was just plain adorable. See, when I (occasionally) run, I have to listen to the most offensive and gritty rap that I can possibly find. I can't imagine running to a song as slow and flowing as this, and the thought of my 43 year old father gracefully bouncing through the streets accompanied by this song really tickles me.
As far as the song itself, it just sounds more and more beautiful every time I listen to it; although I can't help giggling to myself every time I hear "the joke was on me, oh no" due to the fact that it sounds exactly like Jimmy Fallon's hilariously accurate impression of Barry Gibb on SNL.
Long story short, its a pretty song, but I could never listen to it while exercising.
4. Holding On for Life- Broken Bells
On a semi-similar note, if the Bee Gees had a love child with the Eagles, it would be this song...kind of. Broken Bells is composed of James Mercer of the Shins and Danger Mouse, and features many disco-esque" elements (much like Daft Punk did with last year's chart-topper "Get Lucky").
In the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that, other than that I have a great appreciation for funky falsetto.
5. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings- Father John Misty
For some reason, this song just captured me. I'm not sure if it's his delicious voice or the sexy morbidity of the lyrics, but damn it just makes me want to do dirty things in a cemetery with "Adderall and weed in my veins". The fact that I think he's a total babe just adds to the equation, plus the fact that the video stars Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Rec (major bonus points).
Fun fact, Kid Cudi also sampled from this song and mixed it up to create "Young Lady", which is pretty nifty.
6. Hearts a Mess- Gotye
I first heard this song on an episode of Gossip Girl (stop judging me), and I realized pretty quickly that it must be from Gotye. I used to assume that I was alone in thinking that he and Phil Collins' vocal stylings resembled one another, but after a quick Google search I now know that other people make this association as well.
Like many other Gotye creations, this song tiptoes at first, then steadily gains pace until it reaches a full blown crescendo and ultimately dies down a bit before coming to an end (I'm not pretending to be a musically literate person here, guys, just bear with me).
7. Oblivion- Grimes
It took a while for me to love this song; I listened to it after reading the Pitchfork list I mentioned above and was not immediately impressed. After literally making myself listen to it again, it really started to grow on me. To me,Oblivion sounds like some sort of creepy hybrid between Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and an old computer game from the 90s where someone is exploring a dungeon.
Someone at Billboard just hire me already. I've clearly got an ear for this shit.
8. Head On (Hold On To Your Heart)- Man Man
You can stop reading this post here, if you like, because you've reached my favorite track on the list. Spotify has been including this song on nearly every artist radio station I've listened to lately (Fitz and The Tantrums, alt-J, and Kings of Leon, to name a few), and I'm usually too lazy to even check and see who the artist was or notice the song title. Once I'd heard it around five times in a week, however, I needed to know this information. I've been hooked ever since.
For me, a song that has a positive message AND also happens to be insanely catchy is rare, but I found both in this gem. Also, how fun would it be to hang out with these guys? I mean just look at 'em.
9. Do You... - Miguel
I first started listening to Miguel after finishing an episode of Girls and hearing "Simple Things" during the credits, where I immediately (and I mean immediately) bought the second volume of the Girls soundtrack on iTunes because it seemed to be the only place I could get my hands on that song. Fast forward to a few months later and I'm once again swooning over Miguel and his smoothness.
Is he asking if I like drugs? Is he saying he wants to do me like drugs?
I don't know, but he makes me want to say "yes" (or at least a heartfelt "maybe") to both.
I had never listened to "Do You..." in my car until today, and it was da bomb. Parts of it sounded entirely different to me that I'd never noticed before, namely, dat bass (not talking about the fish here, people).
Hooray for homophones!
10. Open- Rhye
This song will make you want to fall in love. Not in a fleeting, temporary, hooking up, on again off again sort of way, but the real deal sort of way. I don't think there's any other song I've heard that exemplifies what truly loving someone really feels like quite the way this does. It's not cliche, it's not abstract, it's what happens when you love someone.
"I'm a fool for that shake in your thighs,
I'm a fool for that sound in your sighs,
I'm a fool for your belly,
I'm a fool for your love. "
Something about using the word belly rather than saying stomach just touched me for some reason, or perhaps its a form of wishful thinking that someone will one day be a fool for my belly. Regardless, this song is super smooth, dreamy, and reminiscent of a lazy Sunday and I could listen to it for-ev-er.
11. Chandelier- Sia
I did not want to like this song, I'll admit that up front. I'm normally not a huge fan of advertisements that interrupt what I'm already listening to on Spotify in order to promote another artist's new single/album/whatever. I was anxious to get back to listening to my Paul Simon playlist the first few times I heard the ad for "Chandelier", but there was something so catchy about it that I couldn't help but fall under its party girl anthem spell. After hearing that Sia has written songs for mega pop stars such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Christina Aguilera, it's no wonder she's starting to gain such popularity as a solo artist. The first time I heard this song, I had no idea what she was saying, but now I'll never pronounce "chandelier" (AKA: shan-di-looo-OOOOOoor) the same way again.
Also, it is no coincidence that this song sounds a lot like Rhihanna's "Diamonds", as it was also written by Sia. The more you know.
12. Cruel- St. Vincent
There are so many things I adore about this song. For starters, the bridge briefly sounds like the beginning of a Disney princess movie (I'm thinking Cinderella), which is amazing. Secondly, the juxtaposition between the funky guitar riffs and the dreamy melody is exactly as Pitchfork's Mike Powell described on his review of the track, "like trying to shove together two magnets at their north poles". The video for this song is also pretty cool, yet slightly morbid. It also makes me reconsider ever wanting to have kids if they're just going to attempt to drown me and bury me alive.
13. Digital Witnesses- St. Vincent
I was a little late in the game when St. Vincent caught my attention, but I'm oh so glad she finally did. I first heard this song when she was a musical guest on SNL back in May, and my dad actually showed her performance to me because he thought it was so unique and, as he put it, "futuristic sounding". She's just such an interesting and artistic performer, it's hard not to be intrigued. Plus she makes me want to buy an electric guitar and wear electric blue eyeshadow AND wear my hair so it looks like I've been electrocuted. IT'S ELECTRIC!
14. Powa- Tune-Yards
Once again, it took a while for this song to grow on me. Eventually I caught myself trying to sing along with it, though, and while I was incredibly disappointed in how pitchy I sounded, I realized that this song was actually super fun. I actually just found out that a woman sings this song...and now I feel like an idiot. I also used to think Brittany from Alabama Shakes was a man, soooo...