It’s once again time to shortlist some songs that currently have me keeping a grasp on sanity, and keep me from pushing people off Mullholland Drive who have no idea how to navigate a winding road and therefore have no business driving on it. These songs also keep my brain from dribbling out my ears due to the mind-numbing day job which takes away pieces of my soul everyday. (It’s like I’m creating horcruxes out of coffee mugs, envelopes, staplers and sticky notes, without the cool street cred of having killed people for them.)
Annabelle Lee & Come On Up to the House – Sarah Jarosz: Incredibly talented, sickeningly young bluegrass doll (yeah, I said bluegrass) creates haunting song with one of Poe’s most famous poems and mellows out a Tom Waits tune with some Appalachian soul.
Make It Out Alive – Hanson: More than a year after the release of Shout It Out, and I’m still finding gems on this album. Right now the horn and piano driven bounces of this song, coupled with Taylor’s always melt-worthy vocals make a song about how we’re all going to die eventually one of the most fun compositions to bop along with in the car.
Smotherin’ Me – Imelda May: One of several cute, pixie-like, Brit chicks I’ve come to adore after appearing on The Graham Norton Show. Rockabilly swings with the voice of a long-time smoking jazz musician who’s done one too many wails.
Summerboy – Lady Gaga: Sorry, Born This Way, but you’re really not up to par with The Fame (or The Fame Monster). I can actually hear GaGa’s real voice in this song, not the auto-tuned, over processed product in, say, “Judas.”
Vigilante – Lucas Grabeel: This is one of those tunes I am so addicted to yet have no idea why. It was stuck in my head for three days this week. Not complaining as I love Lucas’ sweet tenor voice, especially when it dips into the lower register, but this is just one piece of ear candy that inexplicably makes me really happy.
Latest Mistake – Mandy Moore: Much as I like Amanda Leigh, I still stand by Wild Hope as the most accomplished of her albums, and whenever I go back to it, I come away with a new (temporary) favorite tune from the album. The emotional push behind the lyrics adds true depth to this folk-pop-rock gem.
Anchored – Tony Lucca: A bit out of place seasonally with lyrics that begin Smells like Los Angeles, middle of winter, but the emotion which carries this ballad transforms even the hottest day into a cool, romantic, bittersweet evening.
When I Stop Running (Album) – TFDI: The grouping of Jay Nash, Matt Duke and (the incomparable) Tony Lucca is inspired. The album plays off their strengths as artists, yet even when singing their own solo tunes the depth added from backing vocals by the other two outshines individual performance. And the group efforts combine the trio’s folk-rock aspects in harmonious unity.
Best tracks: When I Stop Running, If I Was a Ghost, Sweet Talking Liar, Hurtin’ Kind (And it's only $1.99 for the whole mp3 album on Amazon...)
Anything Darren Criss sings. No, Really. Seriously. Anything.