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

13 Dec, 2020

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

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


20. Christian Lee Hutson “Talk”
(from Beginners)

citattecken “There’s no irony in this song. It’s a lot of punchline and no joke. Or maybe it is a joke but it’s also serious. It’s about a longing for what one has already got…”

19. Cut Worms “Sold My Soul”
(from Nobody Lives Here Anymore)

“There’s no irony in this song. It’s a lot of punchline and no joke. Or maybe it is a joke but it’s also serious. It’s about a longing for what one has already got. Too much and not enough. It’s about being a fresh, green, hopeful child and a washed up has-been, never-was at the same time. I wanted to write something akin to Kinky Friedman’s “Sold American”. I wanted to write an American song about performing and how the audience and performer are complicit in each other’s pain.”

– Max Clarke

citattecken “…we decided to include it, and I am so glad we did. It was the track that we finished last, as it always felt something was lacking on it…”

18. bdrmm “Gush”
(from Bedroom)

“‘Gush’ was written back in 2016 at a particularly hard time in my life as I was going through the most significant loss I have endured. I remember coming home from work one day and luckily my brother Jordan (bass) was staying over at mine that evening so we just set the equipment up, which at this time was just a laptop, a DI and my iPhone which I used for vocals. We smashed the demo out in about two hours and that was that, it was just a track, a track I never expected to be our most played to this date.

We had always played it live, but I never thought that it would end up being on the album, simply because of the amount we played it, it was just a filler in the set, well, it felt like that to me anyways. Joe (guitar) always had a soft spot for it.

When we went in to record the album, I wouldn’t say reluctantly, but definitely with the least confidence of its place on the album, we decided to include it, and I am so glad we did. It was the track that we finished last, as it always felt something was lacking on it. The last day of recording, I was just playing around over the last minute of the ‘for that mistake i’m sorry’ change in the track, and that’s where the final guitar run came from, it almost fit too perfectly and went from it being the most underrated track on the record, to arguably everybody’s favourite.

I am so glad it’s got the recognition that it has, purely because the more I see people enjoying it, the more it reminds me of the main message of the track:

‘You have to go through shit, to realise it gets better'”

– Ryan Smith

citattecken “We postponed the song because I was worried about it. I thought all the other songs were way better and I was embarrassed to present it…”

17. Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams ”I’m Unfamiliar”
(from Plastic Bouquet)

Kacy: ”For the album, this was the first song I wrote that I sent to Marlon. So it was written before I knew him, but there are some parts that maybe would make you think otherwise. He wrote a line or two on it. It was written before he arrived into Canada with this winter scene in mind. I added some lines like the one including the Southern Hemisphere, to make it more kitchy, ha ha!

We postponed the song because I was worried about it. I thought all the other songs were way better and I was embarrassed to present it. So I had to finish it up. The song is very short because I cut a lot of verses from it. The story changed and I just felt they were unnecessary information. The first verse is just half as long as the second. I felt the verse melody was too boring to keep going for too long, so hit the chorus and trick everyone into listening to the last minute of the song.

Clayton played the organ at the start of the song, he played most of the fancy stuff on the album which was a nice asset to have hanging around. Marlon and I are more for the singing but Marlon definitely changed that one up. He played the electric guitar which I think is a nice part. It was just a little acoustic fingerpicking song before. I think he actually provided the most guidance on that song out of all of them, arrangement wise and adding a line and such. I’m glad we got it out.”

Marlon: ”That’s a song that Kacy wrote early on in the process and one of the first songs we had good to go. She writes such beautiful melodies for her voice. You’re compelled to fall in love with her songs because of how she puts melodies to such a beautiful voice. For me there was a very rare moment to be able to play a guitar solo, I have never done one!

We produced the album together instead of having someone else. Because of our shared love for the same music and having that same bedrock of foundational, traditional country music, all of this happened very organically so there wasn’t really much of a need for an extra party to make it all gel. The way we had started sending the songs back and forth to each other, there was no point at which we couldn’t work things out on our own.”

– Kacy Lee Anderson and Marlon Williams

16. Waxahatchee “Can’t Do Much”
(from Saint Cloud)

15. Ruston Kelly “Radio Cloud”
(from Shape & Destroy)

citattecken “As a fairly shy and introverted person myself, a lot of what I think and feel in any given social situation tends to remain unsaid….”

14. Nap Eyes “Even Though I Can’t Read Your Mind”
(from Snapshot Of A Beginner)

“This song was written, I’m estimating here, sometime in the winter or spring of 2017 in my home city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It came about as part of a songwriting club comprised of myself and my friends Caleb Glasser (Fake Buildings) and Danika Vandersteen (Old & Weird). Incidentally, Caleb also wrote the lyrics for the Nap Eyes song “Mark Zuckerberg” as part of this club, which I subsequently put to music. Anyway, this particular song came about in a typical way on a sunny afternoon, as I was strumming a few chords in my bedroom, trying out lyrical ideas. Generally speaking, I do not know what I’m going to sing or write about when I sit down and start to say or sing phrases, and this song was no exception. I remember liking the sound of the verse chord progression— E, B, F#min, A— which suggested a basic melody. Four-chord progressions like this often remind me of Green Day, who have remained one of my favourite bands since I first heard them as a 10 or 11 year old kid. And I think there is usually some of that old mood-energy influence that comes through in my songwriting at times like this.

With all this being said, the lyrics of ‘Even Though I Can’t Read Your Mind’ address some of the social and psychological challenges that tend to come up when human beings interact. As a fairly shy and introverted person myself, a lot of what I think and feel in any given social situation tends to remain unsaid. At the same time, when it comes to the minds of other people, it’s often necessary for me to remind myself that I have no clear view of what they are thinking and feeling, to say nothing of any judgments they might be forming about me. In this sense, singing the song acts as a kind of balancing or calibrating device for my social brain: on the one hand I’m reminded that, even when I think I know what others are thinking, I really don’t. And on the other, I’m able to affirm the social signs I do see, even discordant ones, and this helps me to adapt to challenging situations while protecting the integrity of my self-concept—what in psychoanalysis is called ego strength.

The process of arranging this with Nap Eyes and ultimately recording it at Long Pond Studio with producers James Elkington and Jon Low was also a great experience. James added his characteristic insight as well as some beautiful lap steel playing to the arrangement, and Jon captured and chiseled out a performance from the band that still reflects our straightforward roots, while giving the recording a depth and shimmer that constitute new territory for us. It was pretty unreal working with those two in that studio, which is a beautiful, high-ceiling’d, converted barn that feels and sounds very good to be in. I’ll conclude by saying, I feel very grateful we got to journey with this simple song from its rough inception all the way through to the version you can hear on Snapshot of a Beginner today.”

– Nigel Chapman

13. Romy “Lifetime”
(Single)

12. Fenne Lily “I Used To Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You”
(from BREACH)

citattecken “…at first I was ‘is this too strong?’. You know, there’s people who are born in war torn countries who actually deal with this. But then I went ‘No’…”

11. Future Islands ”Born In A War”
(from As Long As You Are)

“That song is a cool contrast to songs like ‘For Sure’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘City’s Face’ which were born out of old demos. Songs from the past that had hung around. ‘Born In A War’ comes out of a completely new working relationship within Future Islands. It was a song actually written between William and Mike. They collaborated in building up a lot of what that song sounds like. I mean, Gerrit added a lot of flare as he came into it, but Mike and William had already laid down a lot of keys and ideas in the original demo. I was just immediately drawn to it, it has such a charged bassline. That bassline is just so awesome.

The original working title from William was just ‘Born’. Like any song, it is about just writing the words and finding out what the song is about. I never really bring an agenda to my writing. I don’t say ‘I want to write a song about this, now I’m gonna go write a song!’. Like, I started writing those words; ‘It’s all so temporary, life’s work don’t play that way, life’s more than cash and carry, all your guns to your grave’. And that line which seemed so sharp in that moment – ‘carry your guns to your grave’ – spoke to me what was about. You know, ‘what are you trying to say, Sam?’.

To me, the shining moment of that song is the beginning of the second verse when I’m speaking more to my past; ‘Raised up in a town that’s 80 proof’. To me it’s whiskey. Like you’re raised up in a bottle. So you think about it that way, but also places where there’s nothing to do but drink.

‘Shotgun shells under every roof, every jail’, which is to say our homes have guns and jails have guns, what is this thing? Because I definitely grew up in a place that has a gun in every home. If not, every other home. And most homes have multiple guns. There, you go hunting on Saturday and go to church on Sunday. You know, you put on your camouflage and then you put on your suit.

Calling the song ‘Born In A War’, at first I was ‘is this too strong?’. You know, there’s people who are born in war torn countries who actually deal with this. But then I went ‘No’. Because although America might not have bombings, of course we have gun violence every day. Not only from the police on American citizens, but also random humans going into schools shooting. It’s so much it’s just disgusting. We’re going to fight for people’s right to own guns over people that have lost their lives. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s something that’s existed since I was a child and I’ve never really understood.

To me, that war is not only about guns, it’s more so about a cultural war. Also speaking to the ideas of ‘Be a man! Oh, you don’t want to shoot a gun?’ because that’s not like boys. Those roles which are enforced by culture. Not just American culture, it’s really about a male dominated patriarchal society. A cultural war of ideologies, a war of religious or white supremacist ideologies. The white supremacist ideology that America was created on still exists today. People say that it’s not real and that’s bullshit. It’s very, very real and we’re still dealing with those things. That fear of ‘when does this change?’. As in the lyrics, how many bodies do we have to bury before we change and start examine things what they really are?”

– Samuel T. Herring

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

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