One of my fairly recent year-end traditions is to share those songs included on my personal tally of the best of the year that didn’t make the collective Spectrum Culture list. I did it last year and the year before that. My top six and eight of my top ten made our big list, so I go fairly deep into my grouping to deliver my five favorites that aren’t represented. It’s a measure of a pretty good year that all of these, then, are first-rate.
Passion Pit, “Take a Walk”
I have a feeling the couple of excellent Passion Pit singles we initially had in the mix wound up canceling each other out (or I’m simply in the minority in my admiration of the band’s latest). As with almost everything else on the album, the hook is so well-built, it’s almost thrilling. And the buoyant drive of the song is irresistible.
The Mountain Goats, “The Diaz Brothers”
Only John Darnielle could grow a song from the seedling of characters mentioned but never seen in Brian De Palma’s Scarface. Judging by the crowd reaction at a recent Mountain Goats show I attended, it’s the most likely track from the fine new album to join the ranks of the the band’s most beloved songs.
Father John Misty, “Writing a Novel”
My favorite track from my favorite album of the year. I’m a sucker for a song with a strong opening, and none from this year has a grabber quite like this one: “I ran down the road/ Pants down to my knees/ Screaming, ‘Please come help me/ That Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me.'” Somehow, it gets even better from there.
Bruce Springsteen, “We Take Care of Our Own”
The Boss does his best to come up with a compelling anthem of American unity to counter the recent Randian nonsense that’s poisoned the national discourse. He may be preaching to the converted, but he’s doing a helluva job of it. And sometimes it’s just as important to bring the converted to their feet.
Jukebox the Ghost, “Everybody Knows”
Ben Folds Five reunited this year, and the result was not appreciably better that the last dismal solo effort by their frontman. Luckily, I can get my fix for pounding, boisterous, clever piano pop from a different quarter.