Monday, December 23, 2013

Guest List Week: Curt's Best of 2013

[It's Guest List Week! We had so much fun with Guest List Week last year that we're hoping it becomes Guest List Month this time around. We've already got a bunch of great lists lined up, and we're looking for more. If you have opinions on the year in music, we'd love to hear from you. Previous Guest List Week posts are collected here. And, if you're looking for my 100 Songs for 2013, you can find it here.]

[Kicking off Guest List Week, Episode II: Guest List Week Strikes Back, it's Curt Trnka! As I pointed out last year, the fact that Curt no longer writes for the La Crosse Tribune thankfully does not mean that his whole archive isn't still available online. Curt was the first person to play Lorde's "Royals" for me, and for that I am forever in his debt. (Also, Curt is probably reading this and trying to decide whether it's worth pointing out that Episode II was technically Attack of the Clones, and that I really shouldn't be able to use the "Strikes Back" joke until Guest List Week V. I know, Curt ... I know.)]

Year after year, I keep fighting the nearly impossible battle of finding songs that Aaron Bergstrom hasn't heard of. And each year he says I do a good job, but here's what no one knows: It's hard work. I spend a ridiculous amount of December saying sentences like, "Are you kidding me?! There is no WAY he's aware of them. They don't even play outside the Midwest!? What the..." Yet what would the holiday season be without me cursing at my monitor and clicking through hundreds of songs? They'd be boring. So, to keep myself (and hopefully you) entertained for a bit, I give to you, "A list of songs Aaron may not already know everything about."

These New Puritans - "Fragment Two"

There is a good chance the only reason I love this song so much is because I first heard it when I was exhausted. So, to better enjoy this song, go exercise a ton and then listen to it. K, Thanks. 

Mitzi - "Who Will Love You Now"

I know the lyrics are hopeful, but this is a downright sad song with a huge helping of "I'm just barely hanging on." Somehow it all works.

HAERTS - "All The Days"

Aaron is exceptionally good at finding music. He digs up all sorts of gems I (or any of us) might not otherwise find. In my opinion, the type of music he really enjoys fits the mold of a guy with a higher voice singing something lyrically interesting. This song might be the exact opposite, and it might be exactly what I'm looking for in music. It's simple and repetitive. Please do not distract me with your story; instead, just sing something catchy and keep doing it. As Arcade Fire says, "Now they're screaming, 'Sing the chorus again!'"

Leonard Friend - "Holograms"

As evidenced by the previous write-up, I don't really get into lyrics much. It's great that you're clever and all, but I don't care. This song started the same way; then I listened to it for the fifth or sixth time and "got" it. Genius. Absolutely love it. If that feeling is why people care about lyrics, I may need to start paying better attention.

Grizfolk - "Vagabonds"

Have I been down lately and didn't realize it? Or does Aaron just find all the happy music and I'm only left with sad-sounding songs to share? Either way, I can see a pattern forming here. Might wanna find some uppers for this playlist, y'all. Also, I had a hard time deciding between this song and "The Struggle." Check out both if interested.

Clubfeet - "Cape Town"

And again, this was a tough band for me to pick just one song. "Cape Town" was a bit more upbeat than "Heartbreak," but both were songs that if I owned them on a vinyl LP, they would have deep groves in them.

Birdy - "1901"

I think there is a general "No Covers" rule for these lists. I'm not big on rules.

Empire Theory - "Colors"

Finally a song that actually has a good thing to say AND sounds a bit uplifting. PLUS, it's a free download.

Josh Jenkins - "Losing Everything"

No idea why this guy doesn't appear to have a record deal, but he's one of my favorite artists of 2013. Check out Soundcloud and Facebook for all his music.

Caught A Ghost - "Sleeping At Night"

At this point I shouldn't be so surprised when I like a song by Caught a Ghost. Yet here I am again. Basically saying the same thing all over, "Huh. I really like this song. Who's it by? OH COME ON!? How'd I not know that!"

Jamie N Commons - "Rumble and Sway"

Do you like Fitz and the Tantrums? Well, I don't really care, cause you're gonna like this song. 

Victory - "Play It"

I can tell you have a question. Go ahead. "Curt, why didn't you post these on Spotify and Facebook when you found them? Why'd you squirrel them away on Soundcloud?" Oh, wow. Great question. Thanks for that. Yeah, well, you know... I didn't want Aaron to find them. Soundcloud seemed like a safe bet.

Fire In The Hamptons - "I Met A Girl"

If Cobra Starship and the Black Keys had a music baby, it'd sound like this.

Royal Canoe - "Hold on to the Metal"

This might as well be any song off of their album Today We're Believers. Amazon lists "Exodus of the Year" and "Nightcrawlin" as the top sellers, but for my money, "Hold on to the Metal" is the song that sets this band apart. I love the "Ba-baaaa-ah!" vocals and the cadence is just perfect. I'm done swooning now. Sorry.

K-OS - "NYCE 2 Know Ya"

When was the last time that an artist put out two albums that were so different and yet both excellent? I have no idea, but I'm voting that BLack on BLonde is that album. It's a two-disc effort that has the BLack (Disc 1) as all rap and BLonde (Disc 2) is all rock. How this works is beyond me.

K-OS - "The Dog Is Mine"

This song my favorite break up song. It's opens with a Canadian celebrity (Their version of Carson Daly, I think.) doing a voice-over. That's just fun. Then the song breaks out into funk and contains an urgent message of "Go screw yourself. Get outta my life right now, but if you even THINK of touching that dog, I'll end ya." That's about the way one should feel in that moment.

Super Water Sympathy - "Uh Oh!"

It took a couple of listens to get this 100 percent figured out, but I love this sound. I was pretty stoked for their new album to come out in April. Then I forgot about it until I started working on this list. Happy Christmas gift to me!

I Found These In 2013, So I'm Counting 'Em

The Blue Stones - "Rolling With The Punches"

Work got crazy this year (said every person ever). This song helped with that.

Divine Fits - "Would That Not Be Nice"

A song that name drops Minneapolis? Why yes, I will play you on repeat.

Radical Face - "Welcome Home"

As a guy who loves songs that have a slow build, this song had me from go. Add in the fact that I was building a home-themed playlist for my sister coming back from D.C. and this was one of my most played songs in 2013.

Random Song From Youtube (And 2012) That I Love

Jackopierce - "Around Me Now"


And why not close with a bang. Here are a few albums that I feel are worth checking out in their entirety that AB may not have already pointed you toward.

Bear Mountain - XO

One of my favorite albums of the year. I threw this on and just plowed through work like it was nothing. Of course, it was so good I neglected to communicate with my coworkers for weeks, but I'm pretty sure that's not a big deal. Check out "Two Step," which makes use of some famous movie lines for no reason I've been able to find, and "Congo," a song that very badly wants you to dance. Or maybe just sway in your chair until your boss yells your name to get your attention. 

Green River Ordinance - Chasing Down the Wind

If Josh Jenkins had an album, it would be my favorite country album of the year. He does not. Therefore THIS is my favorite country album of the year. Not overly country-ish, just good, easy-listening music. (Not currently on Spotify, though a sampler of their music can be found at Noisetrade. But I'd probably just tell you to stream the album at

Fire in the Hamptons - F.I.T.H.

This is technically from 2012, but I didn't find it then and don't remember it being on last year's list, sooo here it is because I listened to it about a thousand times over.

Butch Walker and The Black Widows - The Spade

Super fun, catchy music. Perfect for drinking and hanging out. I think it's from like 2009 or something, but I couldn't care less. I'm late to the party, but it's a helluva party.

1 comment:

  1. I don't want to be a hater but Birdy released her album in 2011. And while they are all covers (she was only 15! and has more talent than any other singer on Earth…) I know that while the radio claims they are "new releases," she was at Outsidelands in 2012 and was my second favorite musical experience of the weekend. I didn't know about the covers part though...