This is one of the most exciting times to run a music website. These lists represent hours and hours of listening to a variety of music. These are some of the best elements of that time of searching. This year I’ve explicitly chosen to try to avoid too many songs from the same artists, but there are a few repeats in the top 20 songs. Many of these artists are launching their careers. If you enjoy the music, consider purchasing their albums and merchandise, buy tickets and hear them live. What keeps art alive is when real people support real artists. But “save the world” discussions aside, do enjoy these lists dear friends.
20. Cereus Bright, “Cereus Bright”
-This is a track that shows a deeper kind of folk music. This band is in the process of writing and recording new music, which I cannot wait to hear. In the meantime, enjoy this orchestral piece that blends intricate harmonies and unconventional melodies for a truly unique track.
19. Jacob Jones, “Lost on the Ohio”
-Beautiful and persuasive, Jones echoes the classic era of country music. Putting listeners in mind of the great Ray Charles and the newer (but still great) Justin Townes Earle, this is a great album. This track in particular strikes a “chord” with me, considering I grew up just a few miles from the mighty Ohio River.
18. Elijah and the Moon, “Always”
-Some bands just have “it” and Elijah and the Moon absolutely have it. This song puts listeners in mind of Fleet Foxes among others. It’s a hopeful, deep, even enriching track. It evokes emotion in a way that seemingly few songs really can.
17. Paper Route, “Glass Heart Hymn”
-If you came here looking for folk music, just skip this track. But if you came here looking to be blown away by brilliant songwriting and inspiring music, then click on this mind-blowing track. This genre-defying track is electro and rock, come together with a tension-building crescendo that feels palpable through the entire track. Just… try it.
16. Hannah Fair, “Hell Tonight”
-It’s not every day that I get to hear such a supremely talented song writer. It’s also even more rare to have someone like Hannah Fair participate in one of our site contents. This song “Hell Tonight” is a classic country song, complete with steel guitar, but I really encourage you to listen to the words and not just get caught up in yer two steppin’. “He’s the devil in disguise – can you explain that fire in his eyes? I’ll be in hell tonight… if I am yours.” That there is song writin’.
15. Elijah and the Moon, “The Mountainside”
-If someone told me this song came off of an early Fleet Foxes album, I would not question it. It’s that good. The ethereal backing vocals make this a truly phenomenal track. The lyrics are complicated, mysterious, and provoking. The harmonies are stunning. The end product is, well, one of the best of the year.
14. Lowly the Tree Ghost, “Oh the Monsters”
-This is probably the cutest thing in the whole wide world. The male-female harmonies are adorable and perfectly balanced. Oh and the message of the song is about the hope of the sunrise in the morning. It’s a really wonderful track that is both uplifting and inspiring. I love it.
13. Deep Dark Woods, “Gonna Have a Jubilee”
-When they invented country music, they invented this kind of music. It’s both old and new. It’s familiar and unique. It talks about hearts and fires and lights and darkness. In short, it’s about real life in beautiful, deep metaphors. “It’s a long way to where I’m going, where I want to be. If I ever make it over there, we’re gonna have jubilee.” This could be a life anthem for me (and that’s real talk).
12. Wood Brothers, “Firewater”
-The Wood Brothers are just amazing. Really, their songwriting and performance is some of the best in the business. This song, with its imagery, great vocals, and clever songwriting is perfect. Her lips are like fire water… What an image!
11. Fionn Regan, “Salt and Cloves”
-If you need to relax, click play on this beautiful acoustic song. Fionn Regan is an unbelievable songwriter and this song does not disappoint. This particular recording of the track is awesome because it includes The Staves on background vocals. Even still, it’s like sonic blood pressure medication. *sigh*