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Class of 2020 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

Well, what a year this was.

Thankfully, we had the music. Not in the way that we usually have it, but we had it. So the Class of 2020 list is here again, and almost 40 of the artists included share the full story behind their song exclusively for Songs for Whoever. The past couple of months have been a lot about calculating timezones and using modern technology.

We managed to meet a few artists in Stockholm before things went haywire, but when the artists had to stop coming here, we instead went to the artists. To Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Christchurch, San Francisco, Cornwall and wherever. Through Facetime, Zoom, Whatsapp, Skype, telephone and e-mail.

And here we are. With a list chock full of so many fantastic stories to read, and even more brilliant songs to hear.

I wish for 2021 to be as great as 2020. In terms of released music, that is.

The rest of it can fuck right off and never come back.

Now dig in!

Spotify playlist at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2020 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#11 | #10-#2 |#1


100. Shermanology “Sunshine”
(Single)

99. The Secret Sisters “Nowhere, Baby”
(from Saturn Return)

98. Wet “Come To You”
(Single)

97. White Denim “I Don’t Understand Rock And Roll”
(from World As A Waiting Room)

96. Fontaines D.C. “A Lucid Dream”
(from A Hero’s Death)

95. Rina Sawayama “Bad Friend”
(from SAWAYAMA)

94. Laura Marling “Only The Strong”
(from Song For Our Daughter)

93. Yves Tumor “Strawberry Privilege”
(from Heaven To A Tortured Mind)

92. Stevan “Rock N Roll”
(from Just Kids)

citattecken “…we talked about how we could write something together that felt like French electro but would still fit into my style…”

91. Nicole Atkins “Domino”
(from Italian Ice)

“One summer while touring, my band and I got really into listening to French electro music. It’s the perfect kind of music to drive to for long hours at night. Back at home in Nashville, I turned my friend Dex Green onto some of it while we were recording for my other project with Jim Sclavunos of the Bad Seeds. Dex caught the bug and got into it too and we talked about how we could write something together that felt like French electro but would still fit into my style. A few days later he sent over a drum and keys track and we finished the song from there fairly quickly.”

– Nicole Atkins

citattecken “…it satisfies the rhyme of job and kebob and advocates for ‘the secret’. I named it after myself to be cheeky but it is an accurate expression…”

90. Clem Snide “Ballad Of Eef Barzelay”
(from Forever Just Beyond)

“I think we always feel like we’re falling through life? Desperately grabbing at whatever little snappy branch we can but if there is no ground then there is no fear and then we’re flying or least floating… And in the end, a leap of faith is inevitable. Like the song says ‘to live is to fly’.

Also, it satisfies the rhyme of job and kebob and advocates for ‘the secret’. I named it after myself to be cheeky but it is an accurate expression of what I believe.”

– Eef Barzelay

89. Jessy Lanza “Lick In Heaven”
(from All The Time)

88. Matt Berninger “Serpentine Prison”
(from Serpentine Prison)

87. Moses Boyd “Shades Of You (feat. Poppy Ajudha)”
(from Dark Matter)

86. Local Natives “Lemon (feat. Sharon Van Etten)”
(from Sour Lemon EP)

85. beabadoobee “Care”
(from Fake It Flowers)

84. International Teachers Of Pop “Don’t Diss The Disco”
(from Pop Gossip)

83. Perfume Genius “Describe”
(from Set My Heart On Fire Immediately)

82. Empress Of “Bit Of Rain”
(from I’m Your Empress Of)

citattecken “…oddly our two closest neighbours were pro spoon-bender Uri Geller and coffee pod whore George Clooney, who looks really old in real life…”

81. Vienna Ditto “Dose Of The Salts”
(from Flat Earth)

“‘Dose of the Salts’ was written when I was still living in a very clapped-out narrowboat on the river Thames, about 40 miles West of London. I’d left town and been lured out to the countryside – which I hate – by my own lustfulness, haha! It was the middle of nowhere (oddly our two closest neighbours were pro spoon-bender Uri Geller and coffee pod whore George Clooney, who looks really old in real life), it was freezing cold that winter, the boats were only accessible via a very muddy track, and I was miserable.

I had insomnia and – I later realised – was suffering from low-level carbon monoxide poisoning, so I was very tired all the time. I also became obsessed with ghosts and the various meanings of the word ghost. I felt like a fucking ghost. I made it back to town and wrote pretty much the whole thing in the pub, just in the time it took for my mate to go to the toilet. Funnily enough, with my feet by the fire, I fell asleep straight after.”

– Nigel Firth

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#11 | #10-#2 |#1

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Class of 2019 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

My friend Daniel, the editor-in-chief at GAFFA Magazine, often repeats one word as some kind of recurring mantra: context. And he’s right. Music is very much about context. Maybe not in all cases, because there should also be some room for the listener to do their own math, give a song a little afterthought or leave it open for interpretation. Maybe there’s simply not much to tell.

Either way, certain songs admittedly come out in a different light when given some background. Hence the theme of this year-end list, where almost 40 artists once again have been kind enough to share their personal stories behind their songs, both musically and lyrically.  All of them exclusively for the Songs for Whoever Class of 2019 list.

A tradition held since 2013. Let’s keep it going into the new decade, shall we?

Spotify playlist at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2019 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1


100. Priests “The Seduction Of Kansas”
(from The Seduction Of Kansas)

99. Mikal Cronin “Fire”
(from Seeker)

98. Hand Habits “can’t calm down”
(from placeholder)

97. Boogie “Silent Ride”
(from Everythings For Sale)

96. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib feat. Yasiin Bey & Black Thought “Education”
(from Bandana)

95. Tempers “Peace Of Mind”
(from Private Life)

94. Miguel “Funeral”
(Single)

93. Drab Majesty “The Other Side”
(from Modern Mirror)

92. Kindness feat. Robyn “Cry Everything”
(from Something Like A War)

citattecken “The song is written about a run in with an old friend who I had a falling out with, and my frustration with the fact that they acted like nothing was wrong…”

91. Briston Maroney “Small Talk”
(from Indiana)

“The song is written about a run in with an old friend who I had a falling out with, and my frustration with the fact that they acted like nothing was wrong. They listed off their achievements, newfound health routines, and peace found in sobriety like it was a competition, and that growth was something that was easy, clean, and fun. It made me pretty mad. Like dumb mad. I went to my friend Lexi’s house and wrote it all down and out came this song.”

– Briston Maroney

citattecken “People are constantly tied down to money, materialistic things, jobs and more. It was a song that helped me release and realize that it’s okay to not have a job…”

90. GRMLN “Skeleton”
(Single)

“I wrote and recorded ‘Skeleton’ in my garage by myself. It was a song about being free in this life. People are constantly tied down to money, materialistic things, jobs and more. It was a song that helped me release and realize that it’s okay to not have a job, to not make a lot of money. Just as long as you’re happy with yourself.”

– Yoodoo Park

89. Stats “Lose It”
(from Other People’s Lives)

88. Ex Hex “Tough Enough”
(from It’s Real)

87. Judah & The Lion feat. Kacey Musgraves “Pictures”
(from Pep Talk)

86. SOAK “Knocks Me Off My Feet”
(from Grim Town)

85. Heather Woods Broderick “White Tail”
(from Invitation)

citattecken “…it wasn’t really an idea for us to release that first, it wasn’t like we felt this was the best song or anything like that. Lee had an idea to do the video in Algiers because he thought it was best suited…”

84. Algiers “Dispossession”
(Single)

Franklin: ”Music wise it’s more akin to The Underside Of Power, it’s about a year and a half old. Sometimes you get in the zone and want to write a song and this was the result of that. Sonically and how it was recorded, that’s a whole other story.”

Ryan: “It was recorded basically by Franklin and Randall, it wasn’t really the rest of the band. This record is really the first record we’ve done that’s actually been produced in traditional terms where they set the schedule. We brought the songs but they said what they wanted to work on and set the entire sonic framework. Normally we do that. Of course we fed into it, there wasn’t ‘get out of our way’, but it was definitely their plan and that song is most indicative of our limited interaction with it. So it wasn’t really an idea for us to release that first, it wasn’t like we felt this was the best song or anything like that. Lee had an idea to do the video in Algiers because he thought that song was best suited to have a video shot there, and then we ended up switching and doing it in Paris. He was much more interested in the visual accompaniment than anything else about the importance of the song.”

– Franklin James Fisher and Ryan Mahan

83. Pedro The Lion “Clean Up”
(from Phoenix)

82. Calexico and Iron & Wine “What Heaven’s Left”
(from Years To Burn)

81. Sheer Mag “Hardly To Blame”
(from A Distant Call)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

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Frankie Lee “Downtown Lights”

Frankie Lee “Downtown Lights”:

Den som i refrängen upprepade gånger sjunger en enda textrad, den litar helt och fullt på sin egen förmåga att förmedla dess exakta innebörd.

Och det finns inga som helst skäl att tvivla när Frankie Lee med sammetslen stämma förklarar “I can feel your heart, baby, breaking in my arms tonight”. Låten handlar om en dröm han hade där han vandrade tillsammans med skådespelerskan Jessica Lange nedför huvudgatan i hemstaden Stillwater där Lange bodde en period när han var barn.

I maj turnerar han runt i Europa med Strand Of Oaks och nya albumet “Stillwater” släpps samma månad.

In Memoriam: Kurt Cobain 1967-1994

Jag har alltid varit för bekväm för att spontanövernatta på folks soffor. Trassla med kontaktlinser utan att ha med sig glasögonen, sova oroligt i fosterställning bara för att vakna till femtielva gånger av att ett ben eller en arm eller hela kroppshyddan är på väg över kanten ner i golvet. Nej, då var det alltid bättre att rumla hem utan att passera Gå.

Varför jag valde att ändå göra det den här natten är lika oklart som minnesbilderna från kvällen som föregick den. Kanske var det för att jag var i färd med att flytta till Stockholm för gott och ville minnas Uffes legendariska fylleslags-etta ovanför dåvarande Hemköp. Få med mig the full experience en sista gång.

Ledbruten under en filt på en kall och gnekande skinnsoffa, dessutom bakfull som en örn, kvicknade jag icke desto mindre till av att MTV flimrade på tjockteven och det enda namn som ideligen nämndes var Kurt Cobains. Min första syn var fotot av två livlösa ben och inte ens en bakfull örn behövde lång tid att räkna ut vad som hänt.

När jag för en enda gångs skull vaknade upp i någon annans soffa var det då ett jävla sätt att göra det på.

Mariee Sioux “She Knows White”

Mariee Sioux “She Knows White”: Hennes fullständiga namn är Mariee Sioux Soboyna och hon härstammar från såväl amerikansk ursprungsbefolkning som Östeuropa och hon sjunger sånger som om hon hade klättrat nedför stammarna på Buffy Sainte-Maries eller Joni Mitchells släktträd.

Show Me The Body “Madonna Rocket”

Show Me The Body “Madonna Rocket”: Hemma i NYC ligger de här sludgepunkarna ständigt i luven på polisen som stoppar deras underradarn-spelningar när de protesterar mot att rockklubbar stängs för att ge plats åt lyxlägenheter. För att ge kidsen som inte fyllt 21 en möjlighet att uppleva levande musik på riktigt flyttar de ofta ut sina spelningar på gatorna. Inte sällan är skillnaden mellan moshpit och krigszon hårfin.

Första gången de spelade i London var ljudet så satans högt att en uppsättning av Hamlet i en intilliggande teater nästan fick avbrytas. Samma kväll brände de Union Jack under en bro och en bild som förevigade denna happening på NME’s Instagramkonto sköljdes över så av hatkommentarer att bilden togs bort för husfridens skull.

Helvete vad jag skulle vilja uppleva dem och den här låten. Helst från ett hörn av lokalen, då.

Marvin Gaye “You’re The Man”

Alla dessa fantastiska “lost albums” som plockas upp ur byrålådan, dammet blåses av och allt är bara ren fröjd. Let’s Get It On var definitivt en helt annan uppföljare till What’s Going on, av olika skäl, men det hade inte gjort ont med You’re The Man heller. Skönt att få höra den i ett stycke, så här 47 år senare.

Ny låt: Big Thief “UFOF”, 2019

Precis när jag trodde att Adrianne Lenker skrev låtar på den absoluta toppen av sin förmåga.

Sedan kom nya Big Thief-singeln “UFOF” och plötsligt fanns det en nivå ytterligare.

Lyssna på Spotify

Class of 2018 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

“Don’t you have anything better to do?”, people have been asking me, year in, year out.

Frankly, no, I don’t. Can you dig it?

What could be better than going through all your playlists from 2018 revisiting your own favourites, or digging through this year’s releases mining for lost gems? What’s better than narrowing thousands down to the top 100, feeling anxious about whether you left ones out that you in a month or so will regret were omitted? What’s better than talking to songwriters, trying to get their perspective on a certain track of theirs that you have grown to love?

Well, there you go. Very few things come even close to being better than that.

For the sixth consecutive year, here is the most unique year-end “best of” list you may come across. The 100 greatest songs of 2018. Out of those, more than 40 of the songwriters tell the story behind their song, a personal insight shared exclusively for this very list.

Please honour them by reading their contributions while listening. Perhaps there’s a new artist waiting to be discovered? Or a track you like that you didn’t know much about? Suffice to say, whatever the approach; if you’re really, really interested in music, this is your goldmine.

Can you dig it?

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

Class of 2018 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!:
#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1


100. IDLES “Never Fight A Man With A Perm”
(from Joy As An Act Of Resistance)

99. TT “Love Leaks”
(from LoveLaws)

98. Beach House “Lose Your Smile”
(from 7)

97. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats “Still Out There Running”
(from Tearing At The Seams)

96. The Vaccines “Your Love Is My Favourite Band”
(from Combat Sports)

95. Holy Esque “I Am The Truth”
(from Television / Sweet)

94. NAO “Drive And Disconnect”
(from Saturn)

93. Courtney Barnett “Charity”
(from Tell Me How You Really Feel)

92. Parquet Courts “Total Football”
(from Wide Awake!)

citattecken “The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era…”

91. Unknown Mortal Orchestra “American Guilt”
(from Sex & Food)

“That song started in Hanoi. The reason I went to Hanoi was because I wanted to bring guitar back into it a bit more. The first two albums were written on guitar and featured mostly that instrument. On the third album, however, I leaned more on keyboards and piano since I was interested in taking apart old analogue synths and stuff. Because I was obsessed with the insides of the synth I ended up playing them a lot on the record.

On this one I wanted to go back to guitar. I think people who like Unknown Mortal Orchestra missed the guitar a little bit, I felt that was the case. So I was thinking of the most obvious influences, trying to get back to almost what I liked about guitar when I was a teenager. I didn’t play the guitar then but I was a big music fan as a kid. The first time I heard Jimi Hendrix was in some movie about Vietnam which made me think of the sixties and the music I loved from that era and how I probably heard it all on these TV shows and movies about the Vietnam war.

Maybe if I went to Vietnam that would prompt some kind of inspiration for something heavy and guitar based. That worked better than I thought it would. The moment we arrived in Hanoi I thought it would be more modernized but it actually reminded me of a movie about Vietnam! It was really inspiring, it was the monsoon season, so we didn’t do anything touristy or fun. We rented a place through Airbnb from where we had to walk through a really messy neighbourhood to get to the studio. Each time we arrived there we were drenched in sweat, bedraggled from going through this crazy third world situation, but always inspired from things that we’d seen on the way; fishermen, farmers, stray dogs, people selling food and everything.

Walking home from the studio was a similar thing, but always night, people having picnics everywhere, strange tropical smells, burning incense and stuff. We were constantly talking about how stimulating everything was just to look at, so in the studio we felt that we had a lot to say. American Guilt was one of the things to come out of that. It was just fun to make music with the two other guys who were with me, my brother Cody who plays drums and Jake, the bass player. Often we threw these ridiculous references into the mix. For instance, at one point we were talking about Metallica and Jake was probably thinking that I was crazy, Metallica is normally not relevant when making an Unknown Mortal Orchestra record! But talking about the wrong references is sometimes very useful to me.

To me, the phrase ‘American guilt’ wasn’t me pointing a finger at the Americans, I’ve lived there for nearly ten years myself. If people in Mexico, Canada or wherever are angry at America they can use the song however they want, but the way I thought about it was that the longer I’ve lived there the more I understand it and get implicated myself as I get American. There’s a guilt that comes with it though, for instance all the tax dollars that go into the war machine. The more money I make, the more money I indirectly put into the war machine. At the same time I also feel in debt for all the great music that has come out of that country.”

– Ruban Nielson

citattecken “I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’…”

90. The Tambourine Girls “Jeanine”
(from Waiting For Pleasure)

“I guess it’s about love and doubt. I wrote it after watching a clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro telling everyone they should ‘get a gun and learn how to use it’. I’m always amazed by people who can say things like that with such certainty. I don’t share her opinions, so I wrote her a love song. Our guitarist Nick[Weaver} came up with that guitar line the first time I took the song to rehearsal.”

– Simon Relf

89. Charles Bradley “I Feel A Change”
(from Black Velvet)

88. Jonathan Wilson “Living With Myself”
(from Rare Birds)

87. Thievery Corporation “Voyage Libre (feat. LouLou Ghelichkhani)”
(from Treasures From The Temple)

86. Thee Oh Sees “Enrique El Cobrador”
(from Smote Reverser)

85. Courtney Marie Andrews “May Your Kindness Remain”
(from May Your Kindness Remain)

citattecken “After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea…”

84. Josh Rouse “Salton Sea”
(from Love In The Modern Age)
“The idea came to me when we were on tour and we were driving from Phoenix and Los Angeles. We crossed by a sign that gave directions to Salton Sea and I said ‘ooh, that would be a great name for a song!’. I had heard about the place but I didn’t know too much about it so on that drive I watched an hour-long documentary about the Salton Sea on Youtube, narrated by John Waters, the filmmaker. That’s how the title and the song idea came about.

The story is all fiction. After seeing the documentary it seemed like it would be a good metaphor for a couple that’s taking a small vacation to the Salton Sea, but when they arrive they realize that it’s not what it used to be. Colouring geographical locations sometimes inspire a song. When you’re listening to a song you want to take people to a place sometimes, you set the scene like a movie.

I think I did the music a few years back, I kind of had the melodic idea but no lyrics for it. That’s how songs work sometimes, it just came together that way. With the keyboard it sort of went in a Cure direction. They have a song called ‘A Forest’ that we used to do a cover for and rhythmically it takes its cues from that song.”

– Josh Rouse

citattecken “I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’…”

83. Lera Lynn “What Is Love (feat. Dylan LeBlanc)”
(from Plays Well With Others)

“I met Dylan years ago, when he was opening for me on a tour. He was late for his set. But he was so good, I remember thinking, ‘he won’t be opening for me very long’. I’ve been a huge fan ever since. He’s an excellent guitarist and singer and writer and I’m so glad we finally got the chance to write. When we sing together, something really cool happens where you can’t distinguish who’s who. This song is dear to me, as it explores how one cannot love another without first loving themselves, which we all know is a life-long pursuit.”

– Lera Lynn

82. King Tuff “Psycho Star”
(from The Other)

81. Ought “Disgraced In America”
(from Room Inside The World)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#2 | #1

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Class of 2017 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

Amongst all the nerdy year end lists that have flooded us the past month, this here may possibly be the last  but definitely the nerdiest. A bold statement, perhaps. Nerdy, in this case, equals loving. Noboby puts down this much effort into hunting down the songwriters for a plain old list, if it weren’t for the passionate love of music I have inside. Nobody.

Often, I’m lost for proper adjectives trying to describe the superbness of what I’m hearing. So much so, that I’ve actually invented a new word of my own for occasions when nothing gets even close to adequately doing the job: phantomenal. ‘Fantastic’ and ‘phenomenal’ combined. Phantomenal. Useful, isn’t it?

For the fifth consecutive year, you have at hand one of the most unique year end lists there are. I’ve been on Skype, e-mail, Messenger and telephone. I’ve been backstage interviewing at every venue in town. I’ve been sat down in an empty smalltown hotel lobby with Hannah Aldridge (#25), both of us hungover trying to piece together not only the night before but also the details of how the beautiful title track of her latest album was created. I’ve quite possibly worn out most of my business connections trying to get requests through to those beloved artists whom I’ve sensed had a tale to tell, but hopefully both myself and the good people I’ve harassed have been richly rewarded for every profound narrative that has come in return.

The lyrics to this year’s #1, depicting life taking the unthinkable turn, are the most painful and sadly beautiful you’ve probably heard in 2017. Until you’ve read the story behind them, that is.

The themes cover a lot of ground: racism (#36 and #7), precursors to the #metoo movement (#62), money woes (#83), friendships gone sour (#65), existentialism (#86), the now-defunct Welsh coal mining industry (#20) and – naturally – love in every shape or form. Musically, we’re in some cases given the grand tour of studio creativity.

Oh, and before I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, one more thing: if there’s any single song you need for your New Year’s Eve festivities, it has got to be ‘Resolution’ by Desperate Journalist (#35) in which singer Jo Bevan recalls the memorable, to say the least, rollercoaster of a celebration she experienced a couple of years ago.

Now, get on with it and check out all the songs and stories over the next six pages.

They’re nothing less than phantomenal.

To all artists who have contributed with invaluable insight behind the curtains: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Spotify/TIDAL links at the bottom of each page.

100. Frankie Rose “Red Museum”
(from Cage Tropical)

99. The War On Drugs “Thinking Of A Place”
(from A Deeper Understanding)

98. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions “Sleep”
(from Son Of A Lady)

97. Porches “Find Me”
(single)

96. Penny And Sparrow “There’s A Lot Of Us In Here”
(from Wendigo)

95. Hurray For The Riff Raff “Hungry Ghost”
(from The Navigator)

94. Calexico “End Of The World With You”
(single)

93. The Fresh & Onlys “Wolf Lie Down”
(fom Wolf Lie Down)

92. Fleet Foxes “Fool’s Errand”
(from Crack-Up)

91. Beak> “Sex Music”
(single)

90. King Gizzard And The Wizard Lizard “Sleep Drifter”
(from Flying Microtonal Banana)

89. Hiss Golden Messenger “Jenny Of The Roses”
(from Hallelujah Anyhow)

88. Joey Bada$$ feat. Schoolboy Q “Rockabye Baby”
(from ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$)

87. Obliques “Instant Pleasure”
(single)

citattecken “There are things in life, whether it’s a friendship, a street, a time of year, a film, a conversation that touches you. Something that kind of reminds you of what it is to be alive…”

86. Beck “Colors”
(from Colors)

“Like almost the entire album it was made with Greg Kurstin who is an old friend of mine. He’s played on many of my records and we’ve toured together, so we’re like old bandmates. We got together about four or five years ago in his studio and started to write songs together. This was one of the first ones we worked on and we just spent a number of years building the songs and layering ideas, developing them, experimenting and trying to find a sound and creating an identity for this record. Building the whole musical world around it. This is one of the early songs we did. Dear Life, Dreams and Colors I think were the first ones.

To me, the meaning behind the title Colors is about the things in life that are colourful, that represent life. It could be the simple things, like one of those days you’re walking around and you notice things about the world. I don’t know if you get that feeling, at least I get it, where you’re just glad to be alive. Those moments remind you while you’re in your problems, your struggles and difficulties and whatever is going on. The things that just take you out of everything, you know. So that’s what I wanted the record to represent. There are things in life, whether it’s a friendship, a street, a time of year, a film, a conversation that touches you. Something that kind of reminds you of what it is to be alive. I think it’s that appreciation of being alive after difficulty. In the face of periods where there wasn’t so much hope. Where you can find grace again in the world. So trying to put that into some kind of music. It was something I didn’t know exactly how to articulate what I was putting into the songs.”

– Beck Hansen

citattecken “Sometimes shamelessly running away from life’s unavoidable mishaps is the first step to processing them and learning how to move on…”

85. Bully “Running”
(from Losing)

“‘Running’ is about learning to adapt to new situations. Sometimes shamelessly running away from life’s unavoidable mishaps is the first step to processing them and learning how to move on.”

– Alicia Bognanno

citattecken “…a sort of pep talk delivered from your own personal coach. Its for the times when you want to quit. At the time I wrote it, I was hearing the word ‘No’… a LOT and I needed encouragement…”

84. Jesca Hoop “Memories Are Now”
(from Memories Are Now)

“For me, ‘Memories Are Now’ is a Go Get it Anthem and a sort of pep talk delivered from your own personal coach. Its for the times when you want to quit. At the time when I wrote it, I was hearing the word ‘No’… A LOT and I needed encouragement. Writing this song was like concocting a tincture for the hard times. A little drop to help reset your mind for hanging in there and riding it through to better times.”

– Jesca Hoop

citattecken “I think money woes are pretty universal though, and what better place to cryptically harangue about them than in a jaunty punk tune…?”

83. Protomartyr “Here Is The Thing”
(from Relatives In Descent)

“‘Here Is The Thing’ was one of the last songs we wrote for the album. We all thought the album could use a looser, groove-based one, maybe in the spirit of “Uncle Mother’s” or “Tarpeian Rock” from previous albums. Greg has said the guitar line is influenced by The Country Teasers song “Golden Apples” and I can hear that. Once I knew it would come after “A Private Understanding”, I felt I could write the lyrics as a sort of continuation of the subject matter in that song, but focus more on the state of Detroit in relation to it. The way the song moves sounded “jaunty” to me, so I felt it could be more humorous or, at least, be more ridiculously wordy.

One of my biggest fears is not fully understanding how money works: how to get it, keep it, and not have it control my life. The fact that many people in America, including me, have to forgo basic medical care because it’s financially out of reach is truly disgusting. I think money woes are pretty universal though, and what better place to cryptically harangue about them than in a jaunty punk tune?”

– Joe Casey

citattecken “…we told more lies than we should and generally did more damage than the body should bare in one night, so I guess because of that I always felt like there was a sort of hazy nostalgia…”

82. The Rural Alberta Advantage “White Lights”
(from The Wild)

Nils: “I feel like White Lights was the first of the new songs that I started working on for the record. We’re always going back to older ideas and reworking them but the simplicity of the opening chords sort of came out of nowhere as did the first line “It’s been a while, I swear that I’ve admired the view”.

At the time we’d wrapped up most of the touring for Mended With Gold, and I was missing the pull of being on tour but at the same enjoying falling back into the domestic routines you miss when you’re travelling like weekend coffees and walking the dog, that sort of thing.

While the opening line came quick, the rest of the lyrics came together closer to the actual recording of the song. I remember the weekend before we were about to go into the studio I was hanging out with some close friends of mine, some I hadn’t seen in a while and most of which I’ve known for close to two decades. We stayed up later than we should, told more lies than we should and generally did more damage than the body should bare in one night, so I guess because of that I always felt like there was a sort of hazy nostalgia to the song, like having an intimate conversation to a close friend.”

Paul: “I think this song came alive when Robin laid down her harmony on the chorus. It’s also really fun to play.”

Robin: “I remember at practice while we were writing the song, Paul busted out these Keith Moon drums, and it all sort of magically fell together quickly after that. The organs were recorded off my Nord Electro, which was exciting for me because it’s been my main live keyboard for 6 years, so there was sentimental value attached. Our producer Leon Taheny has a really great ear for how accenting certain timbres can totally sculpt a song and even determine how the listener experiences a song. Sonically the bridge and outro make me picture Tom Petty walking into Studio 54 or something; he really made the organs shine. Leon can make something sound very classic without ever seeming uncool.

I love a good rock duet. I think I was thinking about the Neko Case performance of ‘Evangeline’ from the live Sadies record, and the Emmylou Harris part from ‘We Are Nowhere And It’s Now’.”

– Nils Edenloff, Paul Banwatt and Robin Hatch

citattecken “It really has nothing to do with indie music, which I don’t listen to very much of. To me it’s more new wave/power pop/country sounding. I was thinking of early Nick Lowe and people like that…”

81. Sea Pinks “How Long Must I Be Denied?”
(from Watercourse)

“This song started life about five or six years ago with a riff. I wasn’t writing riff based songs much at the time. The riffing was like a new connection happening in my guitar playing brain. It kind of stuck out from the start, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I had some dummy words for it. The original chorus was ‘Shake hands, here’s luck and goodbye’ a quote from A.E. Hausman which I read somewhere second hand. It was much slower at this point. The riff and half song kicked around for a couple of years before I tried it out with Sea Pinks. We worked up a version of it for inclusion on Dreaming Tracks (2014) which had lyrics closer to the final version. At that point I was thinking of finishing Sea Pinks and putting out an album under a different name, and this song would have been the first track on that album. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Anyway the version we recorded sounded all wrong.

Finally I dug it up again for Watercourse. We had it down by now, the bass and drum parts were improved from the previous version and it was much faster and leaner sounding. I also finished off the words. The key line is probably ‘never gonna hear me asking you twice’, immediately before the chorus which proceeds to ask twice. The title becomes a rhetorical question because I know it won’t be answered or even heard by the person or people it’s aimed at. Another key line is ‘I don’t wanna know why’ – implying I already know the reasons for this. Then it flips things around, becomes ‘you know you’re wasting your time/ I won’t be waiting in line’. It’s all very over the top of course and meant to be taken with a pinch of salt. But I suppose it’s about defiance apart from anything else, about wanting something you know you can’t have, and turning that emotion to your advantage. It’s about not being defined by that rejection, but subverting it, even being empowered by it.

Watercourse is really like two mini albums in my mind. I put ‘How Long’ at the start of side two as it marks a break from the softer, more dream pop stuff on side one. It really has nothing to do with indie music, which I don’t listen to very much of. To me it’s more new wave/power pop/country sounding. I was thinking of early Nick Lowe and people like that. I’m still not fully satisfied with the sound of it. It’s a little too polite. It’s one of those songs that keeps being redefined when you play it. We’ve never actually played it live though because the guitar line is so slippery to get right and sing at the same time. Some songs you write in ten minutes, some take six years (and counting). I suppose as a writer it keeps things interesting, at least. “

– Neil Brogan


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