I know music fans are ready to bid 2016 a long overdue good riddance. The votes are in, and the best of lists have been posted.
But wait. There are always just a few more songs to consider: the stragglers, the misfits, and the ones that were released too late in the year to make the lists. So here are five songs to see you into the new year. May 2017 have mercy on us that this year did not! xo
1. Emmy The Great – “Rapids”
Emmy The Great put out the delicate and well-produced Second Love back in March. It included the memorable track “Swimming Pool,” one that she performed at the Bootleg in the week leading up to the LP’s release.
“Rapids,” however, came to us in November as a one-off. Probably an inadvertent continuation of the aquatic theme of “Swimming Pool,” Emma Lee-Moss had this to say about it:
“I wanted to write something to be released quickly, symbolically for myself, so that I know that the album cycle is over and it’s all new from here. The song ended up being about that tustle with music, about a question I am asking myself now: am I going to keep this relationship going or do I let it go? Could I even let it go? It’s a love song to music, and so I see it as the right link between Second Love and what comes next.”
Wait for those atmospheric sounds in the outro and the whimsical digital riff that twirls you around and around, like a robot dance partner.
2. Grandaddy – “A Lost Machine”
Jason Lytle and Grandaddy are finally back. 2017 will bring us their long-awaited new album, Last Place, on March 3. Until then, take a trip on the six+ minute post-apocalyptic mini-epic that is “A Lost Machine.” Any song that starts with a multi-syllabic lyric like, “Surveillance audio recorder in a dried-up creek,” will have my attention. Many slow builds and sublime releases follow.
3. Dr. Dog – “Jim Song”
Late in November, Dr. Dog released Abandoned Mansion sans fanfare. What a surprise! With 20 or so listens under my belt, I think it is safe to designate this one as my favorite Dr. Dog record. “Jim Song” starts with a Dylan-like intro and moves on to explore the messy and confounding intersection of love and ego.
So jump on it, and while you’re at it, spring for the $10 download. For the next six weeks, all proceeds benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center. As Dr. Dog themselves remind us, “The album is great and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. Unless, you are literally made out of money.”
4. Conor Oberst – “The Pearl” (live) feat. Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin
Tribute albums and events are prone to phoned-in or otherwise sub-par performances, often the result of collaborations from a cast of disparate characters. On The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris: An All-Star Concert Celebration, however, there is a true gem.
Conor Oberst did not appear on this night with his Bright Eyes mates. Instead, backed by Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin, the three paid homage to Harris with a steely-eyed rendition of her song “The Pearl.” The track comes off Emmylou’s lush 2000 album, Red Dirt Girl. “Time is a brutal but a careless thief….”
5. Islands – “Pumpkin”
Culled from Taste, one of two LP’s Islands put out this year, “Pumpkin” flirts with disturbing themes, all the while sounding as creepy as it is cool. Chalk up another win for Sir Nick Diamonds.