John Diliberto’s Top Ten Songs for 2012
TOP TEN SONGS
1 Geigertek “Underpass”
2 The Raveonettes – “Till the End”
3 Sharon Van Etten – “Serpents”
4 Liftoff – “Summer Shone”
5 Frankie Rose “Moon In My Mind”
6 Shel – “Paint My Life”
7 Blue Foundation – “Lost”
8 Norah Jones – “4 Broken Hearts”
9 Azure Ray – “Scattered Like Leaves”
10 The XX – “Angels”
Mid-November always seems too early to pick “Best of the Year” lists, but Echoes Philadelphia affiliate, WXPN always asks for their host lists at this time, to coordinate with their Best 100 Songs of 2012 poll. So I’ve come up with mine which you can see on the XPN website. I’ve got Top Ten Songs and Top Ten Albums. Today, I want to talk about the songs.
My Top Ten Songs list usually doesn’t look like an Echoes list. When I think of songs, I think of rock and pop music more than the instrumental “compositions” or “pieces” of a lot of Echoes music. But number one on my list is a song we played a lot on Echoes, Geigertek’s cover of John Foxx’s “Underpass” from his CD, Soundtrack for City Living. It’s one of my favorite Foxx songs from his 1980 album, Metamatic and Neil Fellowes, who is Geigertek, takes this song of urban alienation and turns it into a luxurious lament. And unlike most instrumental artists who try to sing, Neil Fellowes really can.
The Raveonettes “Till the End” is the last song on their album, Observator. This plea to hold on to love is a hell raising, guitar-distorted rush to oblivion and the song that makes me go right back to the top of this album to hear it all again.
Sharon Van Etten’s “Serpents” is one of the more rocking songs from her CD, Tramp. When you’re really pissed off, put this on, because she’s really pissed off too in this psychotic fever dream of anger and regret driven by hard-strumming guitar and dive-bomb feedback.
Liftoff’s Sunday Morning Airplay was not one of my favorite albums of the year and picking a song from it was difficult. The instrumental Morricone-lounge sound of “Feathered Up” came close, but I went for this Mexican-grooved, Morricone-laced and Mamas & Papas-harmonized hymn to sun and romance, “Summer Shone.” By the way, Sunday Morning Airplay? The most overlooked album of the year.
Frankie Rose kind of came out of nowhere even though she’s been around for a while playing drums with Dum Dum Girls and releasing a previous album with her band, the Outs. With that pedigree I would’ve never picked her as an Echoes artist, but Interstellar has several great Echoes tracks including this one, a haiku reverie with Echo & the Bunnymen-reverb guitar and a triumphal chorus. A live version of this is on the Echoes CD, Tangents.
SHEL was definitely out of nowhere. This Colorado band of sisters released their charming self-titled debut and carved out an acoustic dream pop of lovely songs laced with mandolin, violin piano and percussion, but especially, beautiful vocal harmonies. “Paint My Life” is a song of identity and alienation that mixes desolation and triumph with Eva Holbrook’s vocals and lyrics. Their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” was also a close choice.
From SHEL’s almost nostalgic pastoral meditation, we go to the dark, post-Blade Runner dreamscape of Blue Foundation’s “Lost” from the album, In My Mind I Am Free. Tobias Wilner creates a swirling, distorted percussion driven landscape with wailing siren synths that surround singer Sara Savery’s stacked vocals. Savery is Wilner’s wife and she wrote the lyrics. Hearing them, you might hope that this song of disconnected love isn’t about their marriage.
I liked Norah Jones’ new direction on Little Broken Hearts and the Cajun swamp, 50s dirge, “4 Broken Hearts,” is as beautiful, languid and pained as anything she’s recorded. .
Speaking of pained, no one does that better than Azure Ray, the mavens of melancholy. Their EP, As Above So Below, casts their introspective songs in dark electronic hues, including this track, “Scattered like Leaves,” a song of the most desolate lost love.
Finally, let’s keep the mood downtempo and introspective, The XX end this list with “Angels” from their second album, Coexist. Singer Romy Madley Croft whispers in your ear about the most delirious love, so delirious she suggests it might be the illusion of a dream. Set against sparse, echoing guitar and a slow rolling drum, it could be a heart-felt valentine or a tragic lament.
Coming up next, my Top Ten Albums of the Year. That will look a lot more like Echoes.
You can see my lists and others at XPN.org. And while you’re there, you can vote in their poll.
Or better still, you can hear them right here if you subscribe to Spotify.
~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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