I know you were all wondering, and I revealed these choices on the show The Baggage Claim, which I co-host with DJ Cogswell and occasional guest DJ Dante's Prayer. There were so many great songs this year ...but my absolute favorite was...
The pounding mysterious '60s spy-movie-theme-sounding pounding piano surprised me as the opening for a song which really is based on the Julia Child cookbook. For me, the List of Equipment alternates between a work inspired by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 and images of a lounge singer in the kitchen with a culinary torch song.
The literature-inspired duo —Lusterlit, are also in the innovative literary discussion group called the Bushwick Book Club. Founder Susan Hwang and Charlie Nieland teamed up to create an album of book-based songs.
I emailed Charlie to ask about any Sergio Mendes bossa nova influences in my favorite earworm of the year.
"I see how you hear a little bossa in List," Charlie wrote, "but when we played it originally on 12 string acoustic and Korean drum it had a blues meets Indian flavor that reminded me of Led Zeppelin, weirdly enough, with the riffs and the sound of the instruments. But once the piano and the drum kit got in there, it changes."
Everything about the song hooked me … the uncommon musical topic, the boiling piano and musical shifts, blending in some cool guitar fuzz … the unexpected twists on verses that alternate from very fun to surprising turns.
"Susan originally wrote List Of Equipment on piano but was excited to give it the Lusterlit 12 string guitar/Janggu (Korean Drum) arrangement and that became the basis for how we play it. Then in the studio we brought all the other elements in, piano (with those percussive bass octaves), bass, electric guitar (with the solo breaks; Susan encouraged me to take it far in the second verse when she heard me playing the riffs) and the drum kit (which she played)."
In no particular order, here are some of my other favorite songs of 2017:
by Victoria Celestine
I tried writing this while listening to Carrying On but, Victoria Celestine's musical rollercoaster kept interrupting my typing. The dates between her beautiful melodic singles are spaced out long enough so I'm always wanting Something More, but sometimes I have to Let Go and realize it is Crazy to keep checking for a new song. I first heard Victoria sing Back Home in San Antonio thanks to a recommendation from guitarist JD Elizondo. Deep Down Inside I knew she was super talented and bought her CDs. But even after reviewing her new and old work, I had writer's block so I just tried stringing together her song titles in hopes I'd think up an idea. I didn't think up an idea, but I have to stress there's one thing I can say about Victoria's music..unlike my writing, It Only Gets Better.
"(You're Better) Than Ever"
by illuminati hotties
This energetic song starts with noisy spacey sounds and then melodic omplaints cabout life's little misfortunes. Sarah Tuzdin sings her uptempo troubles like a much less scary version of Courtney Barnett's delivery on the brilliant "Avant Gardener." But it's more fun hearing Sarah sing her drifting, wondering, daydreaming, hopeful two minute song (or poetic transcript of text messages?) is a genius work.
Henry B. Gonzalez
Thinking out-of-the-box is the norm for Buttercup. This rocking folk song for Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez is a wonderful tribute. Henry B. was known for introducing a bill abolishing the poll tax, and the song describes his 1957 filibuster in the Texas Senate against bills resisting desegregation.