December 17, 2012

Marshall Yarbrough's Top 10 Athens Songs of 2012

We kick off our year-end coverage with one writer's picks for best local tracks.

10 Easter Island: “Weekend”

Nothing excites me so much as a distinctive drumbeat. Old loves include the Walkmen's “Little House of Savages” and Ava Luna's “Clips.” Easter Island's mall-bright guitars and slouch-hither vocals are alluring, sure—but all it takes is the hi-hat splash on beat 3 of each measure to set my heart to racing.

9 Los Meesfits: “Momentos Hybrid”

If the Misfits-in-translation bit is a gimmick, it's weird enough to inspire some true creativity. This song is all horns, major chords, and Spanish lamentation—is it parody if it makes you weep?

8 Werewolves: “The County Line”

Wyatt Strother and co. give us perfect sunny melancholia, with nods to both Elton John and Belle & Sebastian, a wonderful melody bolstered by bright horns, and a go-for-it coda. “The best songs and the best CDs can't fill that void." Ah, but why not?

7 Lera Lynn: “Don't Make Me Wait”

Lynn staggers out her vocals and truly owns the 6/8 meter, the band exuding cool all the while. All the country bona fides are here, the hook line at the end more of a dark punch line, the reference to the gallows apt.

6 Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: “Hard to Be Humble”

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Sunday Run Me Over has plenty of stand-out originals, but none quite match the clownish joy of this Mac Davis cover. Bask in the pathos of the egotist, and picture the shit-eating grin “Lawyer” Dave must be sporting throughout.

5 Madeline: “Happy Warrior”

Perhaps the only downside to Obama’s re-election is that Vic Chesnutt’s “Dick Cheney” was thereby denied a suitable companion in the takedowns-of-appalling-vice-presidents category.

4 Grape Soda: “Obvious Signs”

With this year’s re-release of Form a Sign came the chance to revisit the cool menace of this track, from the swaggering half-time breakdown to haunting lines like these: “We all should be dancing/ So why aren’t you dancing?/ Everyone is dancing/ You’re the only one not dancing.”

3 Muuy Biien: “Sister”

Swung rhythm bounce and a matter-of-fact, up-and-down guitar riff, four-line verse, one-line chorus, and back to the verse for one last line: “Silence is golden.” Forty-three seconds and the band has made its point.

2 Bubbly Mommy Gun: “Whatever N Ever”

At four minutes, this is the longest song on the 21-minute Sand Roses. The brevity is deceptive. Note the pivot halfway through; the story hinted at in the lyrics; the calm concision of the title, repeated in the chorus. There’s even time for a guitar solo at the end.

1 Quiet Hooves: “Too Hard”

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Other songs on Stallin’ are more representative of the band, which, on this third record, is finally present in a way reflective of its brilliant live show. Still, as with the earlier records, the music turns on Julian Bozeman’s songwriting. “Too Hard” best demonstrates Bozeman’s knack for wordplay, with lines both playful and poignant. If his delivery is lighthearted at first, this aloof quality fades more and more with every new line, all of them memorable, all of them true.