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25. “Tin Foil Hat,” Todd Rundgren (feat. Donald Fagen). Todd Rundgren teams with Donald Fagen for that great, tremendous, amazing and all that Steely Dan vibe. Current POTUS fans need not apply.
24. “Hot Thoughts,” Spoon. Proving once again that all hooks matter.
23. “Bad Liar,” Selena Gomez. Old man includes one obligatory current pop tart tune on his list to show how hip or desperate he is.
22. “Get Drunk and Cry,” Ruthie Collins. Ruthie cements her trad country credibility with a title that harkens back to the alcohol equals sadness era of the genre.
21. “No Lives Matter,” Body Count. Dave Chappelle laughed about Trump fighting for his African-American deep pockets more than coal smeared white poor people. Body Count rages on the same issue.
20. “Love Triangle,” RaeLynn. Pop country look at divorce from the torn between two ex-lovers perspective of a kiddo.
19. “Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins,” Chuck Prophet. Prophet brings back the spirt of Bobby Fuller, or Marshall Crenshaw, to remind us of the era when pop music was delightfully melody driven.
18. “Lies I Choose to Believe,” John Moreland. Okie singer/songwriter channels his inner Bruce Springsteen to invest in a beautiful mirage.
17. “Sweet Time,” Jim Lauderdale. A seasoned pro takes us back to the pre-countrypolitan shuffle era. Ray Price could have killed this one.
16. “The Underside of Power,” Algiers. Hey, how can you not like a band whose Wikipedia entry says, “Algiers pulls from a divergent number of musical (and nonmusical) influences; the most notable of which being post-punk, gospel music, Southern Gothic literature and the concept of the Other”? Very easily, you might say. Still this sounds like Brit pop taking on psychedelic soul and has immediate pleasures beyond the weirdness factor.
15. “Adios,” Glen Campell. Glen rips our hearts out one more time before signing off.
14. “Feel It Still,” Portugal. The Man. This year’s left field equivalent to Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” Every year should have one.
13. “Cairo, Il,” Natalie Hemby. I have fond memories of the Cairo, Illinois ferries from by pre-teen days, but the community is now a hotbed of racial tensions and economic despair. Puxico, Missouri native Natalie Hemby reminds us of the ghosts that have invaded small town America.
12. “Sunday,” Lee Ann Womack. Womack has the body of work of a top tier country star, if not the commercial presence. I have no idea what “Sunday” is about, but Lee Ann’s glory bound and I’m happy to take the trip with her.
11. “Wrangled,” Angaleena Presley. The smokin’ Pistol Annie returns to her blue-collar roots on this marriage is prison update of Mary Chapin-Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her.”
10. “I’m Not,” Daddy Issues. These Nashville female punk rockers have been losing since they lost their virginity, conflating their sexuality and self-esteem issues on “I’m Not.” Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.
9. “Good with God,” Old 97’s featuring Brandi Carlisle. Nifty cowpunk alt-country with lyrical angst about a female deity’s judgment. Hell hath no fury like a goddess…
8. “Back Against the Wall,” Son Volt. I have no idea who Joe Whyte is, but he saved me some time, writing in January, “’Back Against the Wall’ is a soaring, uplifting song that has the best of Farrar’s typically clever writing and his world weary, smoky voice against a backdrop of climbing chords and a Crazy Horse-style guitar break or two that simply elevates the song.” Thanks, Joe!!
7. “Big Boys,” Chuck Berry. You simply cannot recreate the excitement and feel of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll in the modern era. Unless you are Chuck Berry.
6. “Fire,” Beth Ditto. My Arkansas home girl goes the slow burn then explode route on the…har har har…INCENDIARY “Fire.” The All Music Guide describes “Fire’ as Southern rock (!?) so maybe Beth is the new Gregg Allman, except with her own plus size clothes line.
5. “At the Purchaser’s Option,” Rhiannon Giddens. Rhiannon Giddens leaves the Carolina Chocolate Drops to sing about the part of American history that we’re perpetually told to ignore. A reminder that the United States was built upon identity group politics and that part of our damaged DNA still defines our approach to public policy.
4. “Grow Old with Me,” Sunny Sweeney. Dumb guy spends a year in Europe alone and misses his wife terribly, part one.
3. “Heroes,” Motorhead. My friend Bert Cummings is a proponent of the “Lemmy Is God” school of thought and even though I’ve never found comfort in the supernatural, it’s a point well taken.
2. “If We Were Vampires,” Jason Isbell. Dumb guy spends a year in Europe alone and misses his wife terribly, part two.
1. “Silver,” Waxahatchee. The guitar chords wash all over you, beautifully erasing the unwelcome grit and grime from your psychic hardware
he had something to prove and didn’t
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