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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 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 – ‘Murica Edition

All hail the stars and stripes – sorry to our international readers, but we’re all about America here today. Well, probably by the time I finish this write-up, it’ll be the 5th, a far more important holiday (Tristan’s birthday). However, we here at Interjections find music as American as apple pie, so without further adieu, we present you with our top four picks from the spring season, packaged and ready for the final sixteen at the end of the year:

In addition, I wanted to highlight the only new items worth mentioningfrom the past two weeks (besides the oft on repeat Baby Driver soundtrack):

Imagine Dragons – Evolve

With a solid following already devoted to the band, what more could we want to add to this already strikingly impressive band? Well first thing’s first, they want to provide us with a collection of catchy tunes to help us rock the warm nights away. What better than having Dolph Lundgren join you in your first music video from the album? There’s not much more to say, but this is definitely one of the most average rock albums of the year, and that’s saying a lot given the state of “rock” albums. A lot of the album sounds similar, and while I’m not sure it’s outstanding for any casual fans, there are some highlights here, and big fans of the band will be pleased.

Key Tracks: Believer / I Don’t Know Why / Whatever It Takes

Sorry for the delay, but we’re all ready to dive right into the summer, aren’t we? Next week there will be the second full HAIM album, as well as the comeback of Broken Social Scene, as well as some likely surprises!

Music to Your Ears – Michelle Branch, Cold War Kids and The New Pornographers

Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic

I’ve been waiting fourteen years to hear a new Michelle Branch song. After many struggles being entrapped by her record label, Branch was able to break away and with the help of new boyfriend Patrick Carney was able to fund her return to the limelight. She was sorely missed by her many fans as was proven at her secret show and release show in New York over the past month or so. The wait was absolutely worth it, as this is the best Branch has ever sounded. At first, I was worried it would be more of the same, and her last release, Hotel Paper, was a tad dull in its slower moments. Luckily, the slower moments here are punctuated with a better sensibility for tender instrumentals, and the early-2000s sound that made those songs dull has vacated her production. If anything, Carney infused his sound behind hers without taking it over. He’s let her breathe, do what she does best – warble about lost love and new hope and the pain and thrill in between. Listening to this, I realized that I’d filled the void for myself by latching on to one of my favorite singers, Rachael Yamagata, and the two share themes and sounds and almost a matching journey, save that all of Yamagata’s four albums came between Branch’s second and third. It’s fascinating to me that Michelle Branch could pull it off after all this time, but take a listen to the below key tracks for proof. It’s a very welcome return indeed.

Key Tracks: Not a Love Song, Living a Lie, Fault Line

The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions

I really don’t know how I didn’t fall in love with The New Pornographers before 2017. They’re an obvious ‘Tristan’ band, and they sound like several other bands I’ve loved over the past fifteen years or so – Franz Ferdinand, Chvrches, Motion City Soundtrack – maybe not exactly, but within that same range. You may have noticed I included their title song in my best of the winter 2017 tracks, and for good reason – it’s rapidly becoming my favorite song of the year, even moreso than Lorde’s “Green Light” or anything from Spoon. Speaking of that band, this one reminds me even more than those other examples, and I think they may challenge each other for best album of the year. The beat is immediately infectious, the lyrics philosophically ironic – just listen to singer Carl Newman wail that he’s “a second-rate Socrates” when talking about insomnia in ‘Second Sleep’. We all think we’re brilliant in the middle of the night, but they take it to another level here. Another facet of this band is that I didn’t realize is that Neko Case is part of this band, as is Dan Bejar (of Destroyer and Swan Lake). Newman himself has gone by AC Newman for several successful solo albums. The best part of this album is that it’s opened up a whole new catalog to dive into. Of course, this may be the top of their list.

Key Tracks: High Ticket Attractions, Whiteout Conditions, Second Sleep

Cold War Kids – LA Divine

Much like The New Pornographers, my love for Cold War Kids was a recent endeavor. I “discovered” them late, only about two years ago, when their hit single “First” was blasting over airwaves. I mostly love their main singles, though a short five song EP cleverly titled “Five Songs” hit the spot for me concerning the band. Even better is that the group keeps getting better with each subsequent release. Perhaps like the New Pornographers, Cold War Kids may have outdone themselves here. Like a shot of the gate, the band takes on the magic of falling in love, then proceeds to stretch our mood to the breaking point by elucidating on the vapid wasteland that is Los Angeles. How can we get lost in an oasis of our own creation? They love it there, but acknowledge that we can all make it beyond our own foibles as long as we do it together. Nathan Willett’s vocals will earworm their way into your heart by the end of the week.

Key Tracks: Love Is Mystical, No Reason to Run, Invincible

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Reading about Josh Tillman’s personality, he sounds a bit like a musical JD Salinger – part recluse, part genius who loves to speak his mind, but keeps his thoughts close to the vest as much as possible. Either way, his music is melodically introspective, whilst also being as fun as folksy as you’d want from the millenial version of Van Morrison. 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear felt fairly mainstream from a person I’d previously known as the drummer of Fleet Foxes. I didn’t realize the guy would get so political, but it’s not terribly surprising given the state of affairs in our country these days. On that note, some of the highlights of the soft-spoken art piece are his meditations on the effect music can have on curing our emotions over fear for our own environment, like in “Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution” or his soulful retrospect on contentment late in life with “So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain”. The best spot on the album, though? His nearly fifteen minute biographic ballad. It’s at once a gorgeous history of a man torn between two worlds, one of nostalgic love for his parents, and one for a more progressive world outside of his family’s cloistered views. It’s clear this album is for those progressives, but it’s still a beautiful way to express oneself.

Key Tracks: Leaving LA, Pure Comedy, Ballad of the Dying Man

Come back over next week to find us discussing new releases from Joey Badass, Kendrick Lamar and newcomer Alexandra Savoir!