Category Archives: Singles

Music to Your Ears – Justin Timberlake, The Vaccines, I’m With Her

I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the outcome to our first annual Music to Your Ears single bracket, and here we are:

The Killers “Run for Cover” wins Best Song of the Year over Haim’s “Want You Back!

Thanks all who voted this year, and hopefully we’ll be back again next December even bigger and better than before!

Now, without further adieu, are the first new singles of 2018:

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Justin Timberlake, The Vaccines, I’m With Her

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Music to Your Ears – Music Bracket Finals and Top Five Albums

Here you go, it all comes down to this:  and are the two best tracks from 2017, according to our readers. Which one will come out on top? That’s up to you to decide, faithful followers!

Our final showdown of the year involves one of the lowest seeds, a rarity in brackets – but for good reason, it’s the hit single “Want You Back” from Haim. The sister trio out of California faces off against their neighbors from Nevada – The Killers, with their big return in “Run for Cover”.

Take a listen once again, to refresh your memory:

 


Now, for additional reading pleasure, are my top five albums of 2017:

5) Spoon – Hot Thoughts

As is often the case with bands you’ve loved for a decade or more, it’s difficult to continue loving each and every album they put out. It’s usually lightning in a bottle when you capture their sound for the first time, and a battle for quality in your mind spreads over their subsequent work. Spoon has generally been good for me, but their last two albums, 2010’s Transference and 2014’s They Want My Soul were lackluster to say the least. What a relief that Britt Daniel and company got back on their game with this album, a fresh funky dance groove that wants you to shake off the dust of your bad feelings. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

What I Said Then (3/22): “I love when an album comes together like this, reminding you of all their best moments, while still imagining new adventures for the crew. This is likely my favorite album this year so far.”

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Music Bracket Finals and Top Five Albums

Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Final Four plus Albums

The underdogs keep rolling as literally all four match-ups had upset defeats – that leaves us with a final four of:

The boys from Vegas are inviting the Englishman for a duel for the ages:

Take a listen again to refresh your memory:

The sister trio is facing off against the New Zealand import:

Hear them again to finalize your vote:

 

Now, for some additional enjoyment, here’s the first five of my favorite albums of the year:

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Final Four plus Albums

Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Elite Eight and Honorable Mentions

Well, there’s already been some surprising upsets in our first bracket music challenge! Both our 1st and 2nd seeds were knocked out (some may say our voters have no heart) as Selena Gomez fell to Liam Gallagher and Carly Rae Jepsen fell to Haim. Without further adieu, here’s the elite eight:

First, we have the British invading the States again as Liam Gallagher takes on St. Vincent:

It’s all about cardio in our second match-up as Cold War Kids try to unseat the racing Killers single:

Underrated Jidenna pops up in our third face-off, where he tries to fend of the sister trio Haim:

Kesha continues strong, but faces fierce competition from similar songstress Lorde:

Now, as for those songs that didn’t make the cut – some were victims of overexposure (Feel It Still, Portugal. the Man) and some were simply a victim of my strict sixteen limits. Anyway, here’s six extra songs for your enjoyment:

Honorable Mentions:

Edge of Town – Middle Kids

Early this year, a new band emerged out of Australia with a three-song EP. This snappy garage rocker earwormed its way into my head, and positioned this band as one of the artists I’m most excited about in the coming year. Eagerly anticipating their full release, we can live inside this for now – a mix of Yeah Yeah Yeahs tremble from vocalist Alex Lahey and guitar work that feels straight out of tour mates Cold War Kids. Elton John has lauded this tune, and now so am I.

Forgiveness – Paramore

The best song off After Laughter, the crisp follow-up to their best and self-titled 2013 album, ‘Forgiveness’ is a somber look at how heartbreak affects us. Take a look at this section – ‘Cause your voice is a gun / Every word is a bullet hole / Shot a hole in the sun / If I never look up maybe I’ll never notice. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but Hayley Williams has never written anything so poignant and relatable.

Sky Musings – Wolf Alice

As tremulous as the vocals were in Sleigh Bells’ great track ‘And Saints’, singer Ellie Roswell outdoes Alexis Krauss here in the best track off Wolf Alice’s latest album. Almost whipsering, Roswell searches her way under your skin with one of the darkest yet hopeful tracks you’ll hear all year. When you’re young you think your life is over when something drastic happens, but Wolf Alice is here to remind you that there’s plenty of time left to make sure you get it right.

I’m Stuck – Noah Cyrus

Miley’s younger sister nearly stole the show this summer with this catchy love tune that popped up in commercials and trailers all over the place. I hesitate to say it’s better, because I clearly placed ‘Malibu’ in the bracket, but I have higher hopes for where Noah’s future lies. She’s already got the knack for irresistible hooks, and I gather she’ll have the chance to win us over for many songs of the summer to come.

Lay It On Me – Vance Joy

A late entry in this – literally, I heard this again yesterday and realized I knew the lyrics only after a second listen. I’m already a big fan of Vance Joy’s 2013 hit ‘Riptide’ and that song worked its way into my heart over a year. This time it was clearly much faster, and Joy’s infectious vocals are just what we need as the year wraps up. Apparently this developed from a voicemail Joy kept on his phone for some time, and this is the quaint response.

Savage – Lights

I had limited my expectations of Lights singer Valerie Poxleitner after being underwhelmed by her previous efforts. Luckily this year’s Skin&Earth is a brilliant concept album that lives in a fantasy world, something that’s definitely up my weird alley. Somehow nerdier Lights became better Lights, and the best example of that improvement is ‘Savage’. A raucous declaration of unrequited love, Lights has truly outdone herself.

Here’s a full playlist of my top thirty-five songs from 2017:

Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Songs Part Two

Here we are again, with the back four face-offs between some of my favorite songs of 2017. Tuesday we brought you the top seed alongside some other notable singles, so check that out and vote if you missed it. As for now, look out below for some pop darlings, some hip hop surprises and one of the most honest songs you’ll hear all year.

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Songs Part Two

Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Songs Part One

So we’re trying something different this year, as I’ve mentioned the past couple of editions – I’m a big fan of brackets and tournaments, so I figured I’d pick my four favorite songs from each season of 2017 (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn) and pit them against each other. I’m going to give the lowdown on why I chose them and all that, of course, signifying why they’re the best sixteen songs of the year.

This is where you come in: This week and the subsequent three Tuesdays I’ll be asking you to vote for what you think is the best of the best. The first four matchups are today, below, and on Thursday I’ll reveal the other four face-offs.

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Best of the Year: Songs Part One

Music to Your Ears: Gwen Stefani, Tove Lo and Sia

Can you believe it’s already nearing the end of 2017? An exhausting time for all makes the time seem to fly. Well this is our last week for regular Music to Your Ears – other than a U2 album coming in early December, we’re going to focus on a recap with our Best of the Year bracket, which you’ll see the first Tuesday of that month, December 5th. For now, enjoy the remnants of what we’ve got in November:

Tove Lo – Blue Lips

Tove Lo gives no fucks, as you may know from her songs “Habits(Stay High)” and “Love Me Like You Do” – upbeat yet somber ballads that lament that love is nearly always fleeting, and with lyrics like “You do your thing never wanted a future / Fuck if I knew how to put it romantic”, you know she isn’t messing around. Late in her new album, “Bad Days” is of the same vein as the first segment of her “Lady Wood” idea, but the rest are harder, faster, meatier hooks, so electric they might knock you out. Tove Lo must be a bit angrier as she reaches her thirties, and I can relate – you’re beaten down by the news, lost love, untrustworthy friends. What else can I say? You want good beats and incisive lyrics? Look no further.

Key Tracks: disco tits / stranger / bad days

Sia – This Is Christmas

For someone who flew under the radar for the better part of a decade, singer-songwriter Sia Furler is doing alright for herself, having snuck into the echelon of great pop of the last few years on the backs of fabulous hits like “Chandelier” and “Cheap Thrills”. So a natural next step for anyone on that level is to put out a Christmas album. One might be worried that she’s “selling out” but I’m here to assuage your fears. This even works as a Sia album on its on, full of original songs meant to delight and inspire. There aren’t as many biting lyrics, meant to flip flop your feelings about lost love, and there’s obviously some winter themed whimsy. I’m pleasantly surprised by this, and you should be as well.

Key Tracks: Santa’s Coming For Us / Underneath the Mistletoe / Puppies Are Forever

Gwen Stefani – You Make It Feel Like Christmas

Gwen Stefani has betrayed me. Where is our pop punk princess of the early 1990s? Somewhere along the way since No Doubt, Stefani transformed past her Harajuku girls and became a Christmas country chaunteuse. Her impending marriage to Voice collaborator Blake Shelton has clearly helped her image, but she’s sort of distanced herself by pandering herself into that middle America pseudo-Christian country style that her beau has squarely positioned himself in from the beginning. It’s great to hear some traditional Xmas music, including a mix of secular and Christian songs, and her voice is as good as it’s ever been. But isn’t this sad for the once stellar sparkplug?

Key Tracks: White Christmas / Santa Baby / Let It Snow

Franz Ferdinand – “Always Ascending”

The past decade has not been kind to Franz Ferdinand. After exploding in 2004 with their self-titled debut, no one seemed to care about their equally fantastic You Could Have It So Much Better except die-hard fans. The following two albums were uninspired, and a questionable team-up with classic British glam-rock group Sparks left everyone asking, “Why did Sparks bother?” Well, now that they’ve even lost founding guitarist Nick McCarthy, who’s spending time with family, the band has moved into “a new phase”. A particularly apt title for their first single, it reminds fans of their early days, but with a decidedly fierce new mood. Alex Kapranos’ growl has never sounded heavier, and McCarthy’s guitar is filled well by new members Dino Bardot (formerly of The 1990s) and Julian Corrie. As it has long been my favorite band, I’m excited to see what new heights they can achieve.


We’ll be a little slight next week, and more likely we’ll be preparing for the upcoming bracket-fueled championship that will find one track above the rest. That’s it, I’ll probably fit in what my favorite songs were for the last three months of the year, showcase a final 16 best of the season, then we’ll get right into the challenges.