Ten Songs I've Heard Over The Past Year That Have Impressed Me

1.  Make a Plan to Love Me by Bright Eyes

I've obsessed over Lua by Bright Eyes for years, and admit that I'd listened to that song (particularly the version he does with Gillian Welch that appears on the wonderful compilation 'Dark Was The Night') more than all of his other songs put together.  But when I stumbled upon Cassadaga at a charity shop, I thought I'd try and branch out.  I doubt Make a Plan to Love Me will be placed alongside the likes of Lua and Bright Eyes' other great songs, but it does have charm and I lose myself in it every time.  I played it while my dad was in the room last week.  He thought I was playing it just to annoy him.  I guess I'm just hooked on the sentiment.  

2.  How It Felt To Kiss You by Mara Carlyle

I bought Mara Carlyle's album from a car boot sale only last week.  I haven't had much time to digest it fully, but this instrumental track has quickly asserted itself as an early favourite.  Like the best songs, it allows you to forget time during its wonderful four minutes.  

3.  Hover I by Andrew Bird

Like Bright Eyes, Andrew Bird was on my radar for a song that appeared on the compilation Dark Was The Night.  His cover of The Handsome Family's The Giant of Illinois has a wonderful nostalgic tone and has arguably got the edge on the original.  I discovered Hover I through a playlist entitled "What Beauty Sounds Like" on www.8tracks.com and, well, the publisher wasn't wrong.  Another instrumental and a possible companion piece to How It Felt to Kiss You, and another one to get lost in.  

4.  Laura by Bat For Lashes       

I vaguely recall hearing Laura a few years ago, but it didn't really establish itself to me as a minor classic until I fell in love with a girl of the same name.  I was reacquainted with it through Mary Anne Hobbs' Sunday morning show on BBC 6music around December-time.  It gave me the most intense shivers and I was smitten instantly, just as I was with the girl.

5.  Hold Heart by Emiliana Torrini 

Perhaps a little less controversial than Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes but no less talented, this was another one I'd discovered through 6music.  Flying the flag for Icelend, a country deeply, deeply in love with music.  I didn't know how much beauty a music store could contain until I walked into 12 Tónar in central Reykjavik in 2011.  It was while I was there that I heard Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men, a full year before the band got the sort of attention that they fully deserved.  

6.  Bully by Cat Power

Of all the songs I've listened to over the past year, this is the one that's probably had the biggest effect on me.  There's no standard structure, but there's something so raw about the song and her performance on Jools Holland that you can't help but feeling that Chan Marshall is amid the turmoil rather than completely through it.  She almost loses it at one point towards the end, but she manages to hold it together.  

7.  Be Above It by Tame Impala

There's an Animal Collective-like hypnotism about this one.  I ought to have followed up on my passion for this by delving into the Tame Impala back catalogue but it's yet to happen.  To be filed under 'mesmerising'.    

8.  Float On by Modest Mouse

I think I may have bought 'Good News for People Who Love Bad News', Modest Mouse's fourth studio album, from either a car boot sale or a charity shop.  They were forced onto my radar when Vampire Weekend referenced them in their song, Step.  Like Vampire Weekend, Modest Mouse seem to have the ability to fit lyrics into a song and make it work in a way that very few artists can.  


 9.  Not 'Cause I Wanted To by Bonnie Raitt  

Perhaps the most melancholic song in the list, it's also the one that has the ability to take me elsewhere.  I wander off to a different age when I listen to it.  After years of listening primarily to folk and indie music, I find my taste is wandering over to country for the simplicity of its storytelling, its honesty and general lack of ostentation.   

 10.  Coyote by Don Edwards

I first heard this towards the end of Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man.  A very calming and honest song song that's free of any pretention.  I've got a soft spot for songs with narratives.     


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