Friday, December 28, 2012

Ending 2012 on a high note: My favorite downloads of the year (Part 1)

As far as years go, I've got no complaints with 2012 - the Mayans were wrong, my first year of marriage to Mrs. Musicule is suiting me nicely and my new business is up and running.

It's this latter point which kept me away from Musicule these last few months, but just like the title says, we're ending the year on a high note. Today's were going to look at my favorite downloads of the year. A point of clarification: To qualify for "favorite download" status, the song had to be downloaded by me this year. This doesn't necessarily mean every song on here is new - it's more a reflection of what I was listening to this year, and in some cases, oversights on what I thought I had in my music collection. With that, let's hit the list!

Update: At the end of the blogpost, you can access the full playlist of the Musicule 2012 favorite downloads from Spotify.

Aimee Mann - Charmer and Labrador: It's always a good year when Aimee Mann has a new album out, and this year's contribution, Charmer, was worth the wait. As an aside, do yourself a favor and follow Aimee on Twitter. It's fascinating! I couldn't limit my favorite song of Aimee's this year to one, so I chose these two. "Charmer" continues with Mrs. Michael Penn's (or does that make her Juliet in black jeans?) ongoing homage to The Cars, but tops the homage with her very tight songwriting skills. "Labrador", was the other strong song on this album, which was also aided by a great video - a nearly shot by shot remake of 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry" video.

The Black Keys - Gold on the Ceiling and Lonely Boy: These are the Tour Rehearsal Tapes versions of these two fantastic songs off of El Camino.

Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven: Okay, this is the year I became a Bruno Mars convert. This Mark Ronson-produced, and VERY Police-influenced track further endeared me to the man who co-wrote Cee Lo's "Fuck You". He can write, genre jump and may be the first person to come close to Justin Timberlake on the music talents/SNL hosting chart.

Bush - Glycerine: Back in the 90s, I danced around the fringes of grunge: I liked Nirvana, enjoyed some of the less moody Pearl Jam tracks and will admit to having a Collective Soul CD hidden in the attic somewhere, but Bush found a short track to getting on my nerves. They never felt like true grungies, which probably had as much to do with the fact that they were British, but to me had mostly to do with the fact that Bush's lead singer, Gavin Rossdale always struck me as a bandwagon rider. However, Glycerine is a great I inadvertently didn't have in my collection.

Carly Rae Jepson - Call Me Maybe, Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know, Psy - Gangnam Style: The only way I can write about these three tracks is by lumping them together. They're catchy, ubiquitous and yes, I downloaded all three. If you don't own any of these, you have stronger willpower than I do.

Cary Brothers - Never Tear Us Apart: It was only this year that I discovered that Cary Brothers is a person and not a duo (First name Cary, last name Brothers...they're not The Cary Brothers). INXS was on my playlist quite a bit this year. Earlier in 2012, I exposed Mrs. Musicule to Rock Star: INXS, the reality show that spawned the JD Fortune era of INXS. This was in time for INXS to again unveil another lead singer, which resulted in an incredibly lackluster track, We Are United (which was apparently so bad, iTunes has removed it since I downloaded it in January). INXS has had a lot of ups and down, so when they decided to call it quits earlier this year, I'm not sure anyone blamed them. Cary puts a nice coda on their career with this cover.

Colin Hay - Down Under (Live) [The Birth of the Song]: This track embodies what I love about music: a great song by a performer who's had a long history and also has a sense of humor. This is a live version of Colin singing his biggest hit from when he was with Men at Work. In 8 minutes, he walks through the song, telling the audience how the song came together. If you have a chance to see Colin Hay live, do. It's most worth it. If you're in the Bay Area, click here and just go to the show.

The Colourfield - She and Can't Get Enough of You Baby: This has, up until now, been a total blind spot in my music collection. I'd always known about Fun Boy Three and Terry Hall, but never knew about The Colourfield. In case you're like I was, here's an interesting two-song primer. The first, is a cover of The Monkees' "She," which Terry takes even darker than The Monkees did. The second, Can't Get Enough of You Baby, which is their cover of a ? and the Mysterians song that was later covered by Smashmouth. Of the three versions, I think this is the best of the lot.

Electric Guest - This Head I Hold: I love this has a timeless '60s soul sound to it. The first time I saw the video for this I had the same reaction I had when I saw a Rick Astley video, "Wait, he's white?!?!":

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals - Never Go Back and Ah Mary: I developed a thing for Grace and her band this year. I've known of their existence for the past couple of years, but either wrote them off or never gave them much thought. Never Go Back was the first single of their new album this year. I'm not sure why it didn't do better. The second track is an older track of theirs, Ah Mary, which I first heard in a grocery store this year - go figure. Music hits you in the strangest places.

Jack White - I'm Shakin': Is it wrong that I like this song because it reminds me of the Heat Miser song from The Year Without Santa Claus?

Janice Whaley - How Soon is Now?: From the "I'm a sucker for a good cover category," here's Janice Whaley's haunting cover of The Smiths' How Soon is Now?

Kylie Minogue - Timebomb: Kylie's been phoning it in for a few years now, so it's nice to see she's still capable of a good dance song with mass appeal.

Lionel Richie, featuring Willie Nelson - Easy: You weren't expecting to find this here, were you? Lionel pandering to the country crowd reeks of opportunity and a yearning for late-career relevance, but hearing Willie's buttery/leathery tones on this track makes up for it.

The Little Willies - Jolene: Speaking of Willie, Norah Jones named this side project after Willie Nelson. A little Norah Jones can go a long way when you're not sitting in a coffee shop, but she does a nice emotional take on this Dolly Parton classic.

LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It: We all know this is this century's I'm Too Sexy, right? We're going to hear this song for years in every bad comedy film where the character is trying to look cool but failing miserably at it. We know this. Even with knowing this, I can't help but laugh every time I hear this song. It's just too infectious. Just sit back and do the wiggle, man...

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow!

UPDATE: You can read Part II RIGHT HERE