Friday, December 14, 2012

2012: My Year in Song

Listen while you read here: 2012 in song on Spotify

The theme in this music** is hope beyond hardship, and that’s definitely been the theme for my year. Another theme is the brokenness of man, and how love transcends that brokenness and grants freedom and joy despite it. It is these ideas that have sustained me this year, and these songs have served as reminders, encouragers, and respites. Something brighter is up ahead.

I am definitely on the “traditional music” train and have been devouring all the banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, and stripped down production I can find. There is such beauty in simplicity.

**Note: Some of these songs are included simply because they sound awesome and I couldn’t stop listening to them. Mostly in the Honorable Mentions. There’s not much depth in my selection of them beyond that.

The House that Heaven Built - Japandroids
I set this as my alarm for about 4 months this year. I couldn’t get enough of it, my rock-out jam of 2012. Celebration rock for sure! This song epitomizes vitality, and youth. Since I had a milestone birthday this year, it’s good to cling to things that keep me young, and this song is that. So much so that my friend who lives near me texted one fine summer day saying “saw you dancing your way to metro this morning” and I realized that I had been listening to this song and, perhaps, headbanging a little on my walk. Oops.

All My Fountains - The Falls Church Anglican
This song is reflective of the depth of the spirit and joy the TFCA congregation has maintained and even grown despite the challenges faced. It has truly been inspiring to be a part of. I have almost never enjoyed contemporary Christian worship songs but this is an exception: a reminder that we are filled not through the things of this world, only through Living Water. This version isn’t on Spotify but here’s a YouTube link to another great version.

July - Youth Lagoon 
I came across this band at a friend's party.  You can't really hear the words he's saying, and one day I wanted to look them up because I am a very lyrically driven listener.  This song, it's not even my favorite musically on the album, perfectly describes my most recent break up and the view I've come around to on it.  I even blogged about it. "Real love had not quite yet found me..."

Down in the Valley - The Head and The Heart
Just the band name in itself had me thinking when I first heard it. This show was one of the best I went to all year, and even inspired a blog post, which is rare. It draws you up with that great build in the middle. It’s almost saying everything familiar can be new again.

You are now entering the dance portion of this mix...

Fever - Maps and Atlases
This is one of those songs that just sounds awesome. I love the beat and it got me through many a tedious Friday Filing session at work.

You! Me! Dancing! - Los Campesinos!
This was another fantastic show I saw this year. These guys blew the doors off the place, and even though I was saddened to learn this song is associated with a beer commercial, it is undeniably catchy and mandates rocking out. Especially in the car with the windows down. I love pretty much any song with a build up or hand claps. Put them together and look out!

The Basement - Eric Hutchinson
Another amazing 2012 show. I dare you to sit still when you hear this. In fact, I DOUBLE DARE YOU.

Let’s cool it off a notch...

Blessed - Lucinda Williams
What would it be like to live a day where you saw God in everything? I think this song is a great reminder that our eyes should always be open to the blessings that are all around us, sometimes in the least expected places.

Rock of Ages - Black Prairie
Sometimes I hear a song and it just sounds like a call to my heart from above. This is one of those.

Suitcase - Over the Rhine
Ah, this song is so sad and beautiful. And this whole album is so so good. It’s hard to pick just one cut, but this is the one I listened to the most, by far.

Holocene - Bon Iver
I first heard this song through a music video (not the official one with the boy in it, which is also phenomenal) which shows the natural beauty and renewal of winter melting into spring. It was the dead of January 2012 and in a very pronounced winter season in my life. But the snow melting and how the song ends “I can see for miles, miles, miles” and the view of the water stretching out beyond the horizon gave me a lot of hope. The gorgeous softness and steady rhythms put me in an otherworldly trance when I listen to it.

Bringin’ it home now...

A Little Bit of Everything - Dawes
I love how this song has three distinct narratives. I’m a sucker for great story songs. I also love how it sounds like it could be ballad from the Civil War era. “If you can give yourself to someone, then you should.” Such great words and an amazing guitar solo make this a standout among an album of equally fantastic music.

Lover’s Eyes - Mumford and Sons
“Your strength just makes me feel less strong”. A song I’ve interpreted as the relentless pursuit of God after our errant souls, and the acceptance as we finally give in to Him. “I’ll walk slow, take my hand, help me on my way”. Amen.

Walking Home - We Are Serenades
Hand claps! I love the message of this song and I think it’s also really beautiful. “Even if the last wall is crumblin’ down, love will be around. I’m walking home to you...” This song isn’t on Spotify either so I’ve included a YouTube link.

Shake It Out - Florence and the Machine
Every lyric in this song rings true to me. Here comes the dawn of 2013 and I could not be more excited about it. Can’t wait to dance, unburdened.

This is Not the End - Gungor
A sermon at my church ended with this song in early spring of 2012. Keeping an eternal perspective is something I aim to be better at in 2013.

Honorable Mentions:
We Will All Be Changed - Seryn (highly recommend the entire album!)
Adorn - Miguel (far and away the sexiest song of 2012)
Heavy Mood - Tilly and the Wall
Hambone - Gospel Claws
LEGO - Lady Leshurr (this chick has flow like woah)
Til I Met Thee - Cody Chesnutt (remember him? yep, he’s back, and apparently, found Jesus.)

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