It should come as no surprise to long-time SOTD listeners that with me being back in the groove of kickin’ out free music for you guys, a new song from Kate Tucker wouldn’t be long in coming. Since ditching all her of dear, dear friends in New York for Nashville a couple of years ago, Ms. Tucker has been bouncing between her solo work and the K+NIKKU project with Nic Danielson, but she recently decided to reform The Sons of Sweden with a new group of Sons…Matthew Thompson on bass, Wes Chandler playing guitar and Ethan Place on drums. Kate and the Sons have been recording new material for a while and have just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to help them release “The Shape, The Color, The Feel”, described as a collaborative audio/visual venture to record the album, release it on vinyl, complete with music videos or short films accompanying each song. ‘Hangover’ is the little tease she’s dropping to get you interested, so give it a listen, head on over to the Sons of Sweden Facebook page and hit the ‘LIKE’ button, and if you have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket, don’t waste it on a Powerball ticket…why not help them out on the Kickstarter campaign?
The other day, a friend pointed out that this past year the usual high output of songs that got put up on The List was decidedly less than past years, to which I replied, yes…the necessity to work from time to time had certainly put a crimp in my ability to give away my usual amount of free music, but what did get tossed up was of such high quality as they more than made up for the diminished quantity. And with that in mind, here are the best of the best…the Songs of the Year…
Ryan Karazija didn’t just come up with the best song this past year, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t also have the best album, too. I could have put any one of the twelve tracks from the album on the annual list…they are all that good…and it’s only a coincidence that ‘Give Up’ is the first track on the album. I’ve already yelled at you guys enough to BUY THIS RECORD, but if you haven’t, do it now! And mark your calenders kids, cuz Ryan’s gonna be taking a flight from Iceland over to New York to play a gig at Piano’s January 19 and MilkBoy in Philly on January 22nd.
If not for Low Roar, Cameras would have certainly been sitting on the top of the heap this year. I’ve played ‘Polarise’ so often, I’m pretty sure even Camille is getting sick of it! Nothing like a wall of hard-to-understand, harmonic, atmospheric, shoegazey melodies to win my heart.
We all should have a dose of sweaty, angst-ridden rock to wake us up from time to time. They’re almost unheard of over here, but these four Scottish lads are burning up the clubs in Great Britain. Powerful, lotsa fun and yes…very sweaty!
#4. BIRD CALL
The Ballad Of New York
DOWNLOAD: The Ballad Of New York
I swear Chiara Angelicola may have been plucked out of a Jazz Club from the 50’s and transported to the Here & Now to remind us what real music is like. She’s got a voice that can drop so low it will rattle your bones…and then outta nowhere she’ll crack a high note that will give you goosebumps. The Ballad Of New York is going to be on her next album, but in the meantime she’s got a lot more sitting over at iTunes just waiting for you to enjoy.
There’s just something so comfortably reassuring about the way Cass McCombs sings. From the very first time I heard ‘The Same Thing’ I was won over. The melody, the slightly syncopated vocal style, the sad/lazy way it made me feel…it all works.
Another strong contender for my favorite album this year was Civilian by the Baltimore duo, Wye Oak. It’s a noisy mashup filled with masterful guitar work, shoegazey distortion, wonderful storytelling and Jenn Wasner’s languid voice holding it all together. It’s another record that you should seriously consider buying!
We’ve been friends for quite a while and I even shot her album cover earlier this year, but when Gabrielle Aimée sent me ‘Have You Ever’ I was knocked out. I had never heard her slide into such a bluesy place and be so damned sexy on a song before, and the vibrato from the Farfisa-like organ transported me back in time.
Kate Tucker has been a staple on The List from the moment we first heard her with the Sons of Sweden and since then we’ve followed her from Seattle to Ohio to New York and now to Nashville, so when she recorded an EP with Nic Danielson as K+Nikku we were on board. I’ve been goofin’ on her…calling her Katemau5…because of the slightly electronic edge to the EP, but she knows I love her…
The Pack A.D. is Becky Black & Maya Miller and they’re a hard-hitting garage duo outta Vancouver B.C. that has released four albums of stripped-down, pissed-off, dirty punk rock…and they’re bloody great! ‘Sirens’ is off of their latest release, Unpersons.
Going from the grungy goodness of The Pack A.D. to Sherlock’s Daughter shoegazing their way through ‘Reprise’ might be a bit jarring, but I’ve had their EP near the top of my iTunes folder all year and there was no chance it wasn’t making it on this list. Call it nonsensical aural wallpaper if you must, but Tanya Horo’s voice always has a calming effect on me…like a neural tranquilizer…I can feel any tension I’m feeling fall away as soon as she whispers in my ear…
We’ve come to the end, but I’ve turned it up to “11” and hearing Chaz Tolliver channel Mick Jagger one more time seems like a perfect way to close out this years Best Of List. The Booze play boogie-rock that can’t help but make you think of the early Stones and The Kinks, and Tolliver seems to have mastered the fine art of Jagger-esque posing…in a good way!
When Kate Tucker and Nic Danielson were little kids, they lived down the street from each other in middle-of-nowhere Ohio. Nic played the piano and Kate sang songs, but they were just far enough away that they never heard each other. They both dreamed of being rockstars, but Nic left Ohio before they could ever meet and form a plan. However, in a wonderful bit of cosmic kismet they found each other years later in far-away Seattle, when they both rented an apartment in the same building. Kate had teamed up with three local guys and formed Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden and for five years Nic was the driving force behind The Kindness Kind. And even when Kate moved to Nashville and cut off her hair and Nic folded up the tents on The Kindness Kind earlier this year, there was still a burning need to work together, so for the past months they have been collaborating remotely on new music. This week they released a few new songs as K+Nikku. The music has decidedly more electronic touches than anything Kate has ever done and it’s more Pop-driven than Nic’s work with TKK, but it perfectly showcases their songwriting abilities, along with Kate’s sweet, high-register vocals and Nic’s musical mastery. They call the new collection of songs ‘Antarctica’ and you can download all four for free over on their website…then head on over to their facebook friends and hit the ‘LIKE’ button.