A sneak preview of The Falcon’s Nest Hot 100 featuring the top songs of the year. The list is a work in progress, and things may change, in fact they probably will as the panel of experts hashes things out to determine which song will be number one. Stay tuned to see if Little Green Cars hangs on to their pole position.
(01.) My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me – Little Green Cars
Since strict rules prohibit having more than one song by an artist on any best-of list, “My Love Took Me Down to the River to “Silence Me” made the list by the slimmest of margins over “Harper Lee,” and the excellent “John Wayne,” all from the stunningly good Little Green Cars album, Absolute Zero. Sorry Stevie, Donagh, and the rest of the guys, we had to go with Faye’s bombastically cool lead vocal turn on this one. This live version version showcases the song perfectly.
(02.) Walk Like a Man – The Ruen Brothers
Here, we are asked if we have ever heard Frankie sing “Walk Like a Man.” The answer is, yes we have and recent London transplants The Ruen Brothers have also head the classic Four Seasons song and use it as a jumping off point for this Sun Records meets Roy Orbison, by way of The Stray Cats, genre defying gem. Bearing limited resemblance to the original tune beyond the name checking aspect, this song, and this band will make you feel better about the future of music.
(03.) Drinkin’ – Holly Williams
The apple certainly does not fall far from the Williams family tree as the daughter of Bocephus, and the granddaughter of Hank Williams, plants her own stake in the ground. With more than a passing resemblance to her famous grand-dad, Holly Williams takes her troubled family past head on with this powerful and sobering number. The closing lines “don’t die drinking like the night is young,” pretty much says all that needs to be said. Don’t sleep on “Waitinn’ on June,” another terrific song from The highway that celebrates the relationship between The Man in Black and June Carter Cash.
(04.) Wakin on a Pretty Day – Kurt Vile
channelling his inner Bruce Springsteen in places, and his outer Lou Reed in others “Wakin on a Pretty Day” is the center piece of Kurt Vile’s latest release. A slow burn that never really speeds up, the song is a perfect example that sometimes meandering can be quite good.
(05.) The Ceiling – The Wild Feathers
One of several songs from their self titled release that could have made the list. A slow build crescendo sort of listen that demonstrates the musicianship and versatility of a band that will make a lot of musical waves in the years to come if they can shed their somewhat Mumford and Sons vibe they like to wear from time to time.
(06.) Step – Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires of the City will be showing up on many best of the year lists in the next couple of weeks, and “Step,” could very well be the Vampire’s best song to date. Showing a maturation with each release, this tune is a carefully crafted number with elements of Paul Simon and showcases main songwriter Ezra Koenig at the height of his powers.
(07.) Dear Someone – Walker Lukens
It is hard not to like an artist that vibes Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon and cites Warren Zevon as songwriting muse of his, and it is hard not to love the song “Dear Someone” from his album Devoted. The video is pretty bad-ass in its own right. Check out the best artist never to have appeared on David Letterman. Before it’s too late, and you are behind the curve.
(08.) Last of the Summer Wine – Palma Violets
Having already established that 180, the fine new Palma Violets record was going to make into the top 10 of the Falcon’s Nest Hot 100 year-end album list, it was only a matter of which song would make the singles list. Facing strong competition from “Last of the Cool Cats,” a song that gets extra points for the strong organ intro and the supremely cool song title, the winner is “Last of the Summer Wine,” a tune with a strong sixties sixties Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra vibe that shows off the diversity of a band that can switch from Sinatra cool to Ramones rowdy or Lou Reed velvety at the drop of a fedora.
(09.) A New Life – Jim James
Whether it is with My Morning Jacket, his Folk supergroup Monsters of Folk, or now, as a solo artist, everything he touches seems to turn to entrancing gold, and this single from his latest solo release is no exception. Let this Beatlesque, pastoral beauty envelop your senses, and take you on a trip inside your own imagination.
(10.) Royals – Lorde
We don’t usually ride the popularity train, and would typically run naked from a song where the video has 80 million views on YouTube, but for this infectious little ditty we are making an exception. An earworm of the highest order, we may come to our senses before the final list is prepared, but in the meantime, here’s one for the conformists.
(11.) Joy of Nothing – Foy Vance
The second entry from the Emerald Isle, “Joy of Nothing” is the best song Van Morrison never wrote. His voice soars like a butterfly in flight, the arrangement is angelic, and resulting mini opus is ear inspiring.
(12) Hey Judas – Black Star Riders
The latest reincarnation of Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders features Scott Gorham from the original band on guitar. Haters will hate, but if we can’t have the original, this is the next best thing, and “Hey Judas” stands up right next to anything Thin Lizzy ever put out, so Rock On boys.
(13.) Girls Want Rock – Free Energy
Sometimes the song writes itself, and this Tom Petty inspired rocker is one of those. Insane hooks, anthemic chorus, cool guitar riffs, and a 70’s rock vibe on top if it all. Nice,nice, very nice, where is Greg Kihn when we need him.
(14.) Recovery – Frank Turner
That rare entity that combines a love lost song with a post-punk sensibility and a summer anthem feel. It’s all good and the album, Tape Deck Heart, is a must hear.
(15.) When I Get Older – Wild Party
There is nothing not to like about this song. With more hooks than a fishing pole, a theme everyone can relate to, and a bouncy anthemic rock feel Wild Party could certainly throw one if this is the kind of music they are going to play.
(16.) Girls – The 1975
All work and no play makes things very dull and boring, and the deliciously 70 somewhat psychedelic retro-rockers, 1975 is one of our many retro rockers. We are not sure if we like the song or the victoria secret looking girls playing guitar in the video. Either way, it’s a guilty pleasure and all good.
(17.) Birmingham – Shovels and Rope
The Americana song of the year for 2013, this is a perfect country road driving song. This husband and wife duo are the real deal, combining Americana, Folk, and a whole lot of Soul. Shovels and Rope is a Charleston, SC band consisting of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. Formed in 2010, they sing harmony driven folk, rock and country songs using two old guitars, a kick drum, a snare, a few tambourines, harmonicas, and and maybe a little keyboard sometimes. They tour constantly as a two piece, making as much noise as they can.
(18.) Patty Griffin – Ohio
Patty Griffin teams up with her musical Muse Robert Plant here on this beautiful song with the beautiful harmonies in sharp contrast to the inspiration of this song,The Underground Railroad and the escaped slaves. It is all about the context on this hypnotic wonder.
(19.) Shout it Out – Mikal Cronin
A slightly fuzzy Garage Pop jam that just might be the anthem of the year.
(20.) Mona – Goons (Baby, I Need It All)
In the late 50’s congress held hearings to determine the correlation between juvenile delinquency and Rock & Roll. Frank Sinatra attended these hearings and in 1958 said, “Rock and Roll smells phony and false. It is sung, played, and written, for the most part, by cretinous goons.
(21.) Monday Morning – James Younger
The best song to cure the Monday blues since Jimmy Buffet’s “Come Monday,” and “I Don’t like Mondays,” The Boomtown Rats classic.This is a good pick me up song for any day of the week and celebrates the joys of music and Rock and Roll. “Take the day off of work, we can just lie around, the sun comes up, we can go skip town.” Hey Ho, lets go.
(22.) Monster – Meg Myers
Despite the likely comparison to back in the day Alanis Morisette, this wonder from down under should have a breakthrough year in 2014. From her album Desire, “Monster” tells of a relationship gone wrong and with sentiments like “I wanna kill you my love, my love too much, your love not enough,” few punches are pulled. Extra credit points are awarded for the absence of a bra on the video.
(23.) – The Wire – Haim
Full disclosure her, the more I listen to Days Are Gone, the new, somewhat overproduced, Haim album the less I like it, however I feel the exact opposite about “The Wire,” a jaunty Go Gos meets The Eagles “Heartache Tonight”sort of number. Just stop those comparisons to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.
(24.) Open – Rhye
The first W-T-F moment here is that we really liked “Woman,” the latest album from the band Rhye, it is sort of like admitting you liked a chick flick. The second moment comes from realizing that the sensual bedroom mojo vibe is coming from two guys, not just a female Sade clone. And finally, this song as well as this entire album will go on your let’s get it on playlist right next to Marvin Gaye, Barry White, and Al Green. Try it, you can thanks us later.
(25.) San Francisco – Foxygen
It is no secret that here in The Falcon’s Nest wear our love all things San Francisco on our collective sleeves, or wings as it were, and while conspiracy theorists might think that is the only reason we included this retro psychedelic song on our 2013 list, but they would be wrong. This is one cool song, and one of those tunes that will make your day a lot better just from one listen.