For the past four years, I’ve culled together a collection of what I felt were the best indie pop and rock songs of the year. Or, in the case of Tom Petty on this year’s collection, simply unheard ones. I share the mix discs with a handful of friends as a little homemade Christmas gift that’s, technically, I should admit, illegal.
I explain what this has to do with The Dew’s mantra of simple, more creative living in previous years’ posts, where you can also find an explanation of the compilation title, “Skeleton at the Feast.” So I won’t rehash all that here. But please, read back on it and take a gander at past years’ selections.
That said, I did want to share this year’s track list, with bonus features (annotations!) and a few tracks that were nearly included.
Skeleton at the Feast 2014
- “Perfect Wilderness” by Afternoons. This song was first released in 2010 by a previous incarnation of this band going by the name of Shadow Shadow Shade. Hoping this fantastic track finds an audience this time around.
- “FolkRockaBoom” by Il Pan del Diavolo. Jenn and I have toyed, on and off, with moving outright to Italy. During our last such dalliance, she discovered this band and song.
- “The Body Electric” by Hurray for the Riff Raff. Carson McCullers always wanted to be a musician. Now she is.
- “Fault Lines” by Tom Petty. You go, old man.
- “Zombie” by Jamie T. The video’s gross, but it’s also kind of fab.
- “Some Things Are Big (And Some Things Are Small)” by Guided by Voices. Off the first of two records they released in 2014 before abruptly breaking up. Again.
- “Feather Man” by Woods. Haunting and pretty, just like Christmas.
- “Friday Night” by The Whigs. Athens, Ga.’s raucous boys represent (and release an album whose cover I debated stealing wholesale for this year’s SatF).
- “Saturday Night” by the Felice Brothers. Because, whistle chorus at the end.
- “Nashville” by The Old 97’s. Mind them curse words, dear ones.
- “Water Fountain” by tUnE-yArDs. I find her abrasive sometimes, but she strikes on all cylinders in this tune.
- “Step Out of the Shadows” by Glen Hansard. This song is like an intermission in the middle of the record, but one you can’t actually leave the theater during.
- “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” by Ages and Ages. I didn’t know these guys before stumbling on this album. And now I can’t stop listening to the whole damn record.
- “Best Medicine” by The Stray Birds. I’m told the “stray birds” referenced are not singer Maya de Vitry’s eyebrows, but I find this claim dubious. (I know you guys aren’t an “image” band, but pluck, dear, pluck.) Heard this song on a drive to Pittsburgh from Morgantown, W.V. – the band hails from Lancaster – and nearly got in a wreck trying to write down their name.
- “The Aching” by Broken Twin. Her voice gives me chills from its first fragile note.
- “Jerry Spinelli and Patricia Polacco” by Drew Danburry. This is on a free EP that’s available from Drew’s site, if you patiently fish around for it. I’ve followed him for a few years and was surprised to learn that he’s now owner of an old-timey barber shop. Also, the song’s actual title is like five times as long as the portion I’ve listed. Take that, Fiona Apple.
- “Endless Sleeper” by The Raveonettes. If you’re gonna sing about death and junk, make it pretty.
- “I Just Don’t Understand” by Spoon. This is a fan-made video, but it’s better than staring at an album cover for 2 minutes, 37 seconds.
- “JM” by Strand of Oaks. The initials are for Jason Molina, and this song is the centerpiece of Strand of Oaks’ fine, fine album.
- “Stranded (On My Own)” by Titus Andronicus. Even if you don’t like the punkrock, I challenge you not to fall in love with the Meatloafesque singalong at the end.
- “I Decline” by Perfume Genius. This was the winner of a toss-up, vs. his song “Queen.” Both fantastic, obviously.
- “Interrogation” by James. Wonder of wonders, this album is finally available stateside. Poor overlooked James, at least they’re still making bank in the UK (I think). Also, this is the second album cover off this year’s collection which could’ve been subjugated for my SatF cover.
- “I Wanna Get Better,” by Bleachers. Eliminated because Jenn gets one scratch per year. She says it reminds her of Up With People. If she got two scratches, the other would’ve gone to the Guided by Voices track, which she still thinks will end up in a Volkswagen commercial next year.
- “These Sticks” by Afghan Whigs. I think a little less production on this whole album would’ve made it better. Still, so glad they’re back.
- “Cthulu” by EMA. Love this song, but it takes too long to get where it’s going.
- “Giving Up Everything” by Natalie Merchant. Eliminated because she does nothing on her new record that Broken Twin doesn’t do better.
- “This Year,” by Shearwater. Eliminated because 1) it’s a cover, and 2) it’s not as good as the Mountain Goats’ original.
- “Get Busted,” by heRobust. I very much wanted an electronic song on the disc, and I’m not 100 percent convinced this one shouldn’t have been.
Happy Christmas, Dew Abiders.