5. JAMES MCMURTRY “COPPER CANTEEN”
Only McMurtry can whip up the kind of lyrics that you recognize both cognitively and emotionally. With a line that says, “Then your breath on my skin still pulls me back in ‘til I’m weightless and then I can rest,” McMurtry shows that he remembers the revealing, concrete images of Kris Kristofferson’s “cleanest dirty shirt” in “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.”
4. SCREAMING FEMALES “EMPTY HEAD”
It’s one of the best breakup songs this year, and track one from Rose Mountain is a stellar bloodletting of conflicted sentiments regarding a failed relationship. “Why must I be the angry one/I won’t cry, fine line between our love” shines with vulnerability and the right to get pissed off.
3. KENDRICK LAMAR “KING KUNTA”
To Kill a Butterfly is a cultural landmark, and Lamar’s tall tale about a powerful gangster (named after the protagonist of the iconic book and miniseries Roots) adds richness to his racial and political mythology. Lamar seals the deal when he re-contextualizes Michael Jackson’s riveting pop S.O.S., “Annie, are you okay?” to anchor his sociopolitical concerns.
2. COURTNEY BARNETT “PEDESTRIAN AT BEST”
How hard this track rocks is likely to distract from how brutally honest (and funny) Barnett is about the complex emotions behind intimate relationships. “I love you, I hate you, I’m on the fence, it all depends/Whether I’m up or down, I’m on the mend, transcending all reality ” captures the labyrinthine experience behind our most conflicted connections.
1. NEW ORDER “RESTLESS”
Not just a killer dance track, “Restless” is pure joie de vivre. Lyrics like “A taste of love/So sweet, so real you can’t let go/And how does it feel?/It feels so good” unleashes the same drive behind that loving admittance of “And your plastic shoes/They look good too” from Iggy Pop’s “Fall In Love With Me.”
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