Top 30 Songs for October 25-31, 2020

  1. CAN I CALL YOU TONIGHT? – Dayglow (3)
  2. MY OWN SOUL’S WARNING – The Killers (1)
  3. FEEL YOU – My Morning Jacket (2)
  4. DOWNS – Roadkeeper (5)
  5. IS IT TRUE – Tame Impala (6)
  6. BLOODY VALENTINE – Machine Gun Kelly (7)
  7. IT’S YOU – The Frontier (4)
  8. ARE YOU BORED YET? – Wallows featuring Clairo (10)
  9. MARIPOSA – Peach Tree Rascals (11)
  10. HOODIE UP – MISSIO (9)
  11. GIANTS – Dermot Kennedy (12)
  12. MONSTERS – All Time Low featuring blackbear (8)
  13. FAULT LINES – Callum Pitt (15)
  14. COME & GO – Juice WRLD featuring Marshmello (21)
  15. MOOD – 24kGoldn featuring Iann Dior 22)
  16. CARDIGAN – Taylor Swift (13)
  17. HALLUCINOGENICS – Matt Maeson (14) 21st week on list
  18. FRIDAY NIGHT – Heist At Five featuring Francesca Confortini (19)
  19. FOR SURE – Future Islands (17)
  20. IDENTICAL – Phoenix (23)
  21. TANGERINE – Glass Animals (24)
  22. THE LET GO – Elle King (25)
  23. AMOEBAS IN GLASS HOUSES – Moonlight Broadcast (26)
  24. MY FUTURE – Billie Eilish (16)
  25. WHAT YOU GONNA DO??? – Bastille featuring Graham Coxon (18)
  26. VISITOR – Of Monsters and Men (27)
  27. BURN THE VISION – Amongst Liars (28)
  28. BEAUTIFUL ANYWAY – Judah & the Lion (29)
  29. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (30)
  30. WATERMELON SUGAR – Harry Styles (20)

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #69: “Dizzy” by The Million Reasons

The song at #69 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the magnificent “Dizzy” by Chicago alternative indie rock band The Million Reasons. The song was released in July 2018, and I loved it at first listen. (I love this band and all its members too, as they’re as gracious and kind as they are talented.) The Million Reasons released their debut EP The Runaround in 2017, but “Dizzy” was my first introduction to them. The song made me an instant fan, and I’ve followed them closely ever since. At the time “Dizzy” was recorded, the band consisted of Scott Nadeau (vocals and guitar), Ken Ugel (guitar), Mike Nichols (guitar) and Colin Dill (drums). Bassist Jason Cillo joined the band later in 2018, and sadly, Nadeau left the band in 2019, but was replaced by an equally great vocalist Taylor Brennan.

The song is about a relationship in which both parties are blinded by an obsessive and possibly irrational desire for each other. Musically, the song is a slow burn. It starts off with an enthralling guitar riff that immediately pulls us in with the promise that something really beautiful is about to unfold, and as the music swells into a soaring anthem, we’re not disappointed. The instrumentals are incredible, and Scott Nadeau’s powerful, expressive vocals are perfection. By the time the final chorus arrives with Mike Nichols’ jaw-dropping screaming guitar solo and Nadeau’s raw, impassioned wails, I’m left covered in goosebumps and gasping for breath. This is truly one of the most beautiful rock songs I’ve ever heard.

The stunning video showing the band performing the song was directed and edited by Stephanie Battista.

ECHOSEVEN – Single Review: “I Am the Tree”

When I last featured New Brunswick, Canada-based alternative metal rap group ECHOSEVEN on this blog this past May, it was to review their explosive debut single “Everything”. Both they and I were pleasantly surprised when the review received hundreds of views, especially given they were a relatively new band and this was their first single. They quickly followed in June with a second single “Gunnin”, a melodic and introspective rap-rock ballad. On September 30, they dropped their third single “I Am the Tree“, a more traditional metal rock sounding track.

In the five months since I wrote about them, ECHOSEVEN has undergone a few changes in lineup, with a new second guitarist and bassist. The band now consists of Stefanie Roy on vocals & guitar, Darrell Vautour on rapping vocals, Justin Larracey on guitar, Allon McCall on drums, Dylan Osmond on guitar, and Mike Brooks on bass. About the new single, the band explains: “‘I Am the Tree’ is about not letting your demons win. It’s about realizing your past and present life may not be perfect, but when it comes to persevering, you have the strength of a lion.”

The song storms through the gate with a juggernaut of Metallica-esque shredding that continues unabated, serving as the relentless driving force propelling the song forward. Into this sonic mayhem the band embeds a throbbing bass line, then tops things off with more guitar, furiously pummeling drumbeats and a deluge of crashing cymbals to create an intense wall of sound. Stefanie’s deep, smoky vocals have a rather subdued feel that contrasts sharply with the dynamic instrumentals. At first they seemed almost too low-key for the heavy music, but the more I listened to the song, the more appropriate to the lyrics they felt. No screaming is necessary to convey the strength and perseverance described in the powerful lyrics:

When all the smoke clears, I will show myself in truth
Without restraint, I’ll smash the disbelief right out of you
No walls can block my way I’ll crush them all in turn
Faced with the eyes of hell, I’ll make your evil burn

Caressed by guiding light, I’ll face my pain with dignity
and if I fall I will fight
I know no misery, I know no secrets to this life
For I am strong – I’m the tree.

I charge unto the path and none stand in my way
just try and catch me, I’ll reveal my sharpest claws again
my roar will echo through the mountains and the sky
Crowned like a lion, I will let your blood run dry

Follow Echoseven: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/purchase on Spotify / SoundcloudApple Music / Bandcamp

TAFARI ANTHONY – Single Review: “No Good”

I recently learned about Toronto-based singer-songwriter Tafari Anthony when his PR rep reached out to me with his new single “No Good“. After hearing it, as well as listening to his terrific catalog of songs, I’m excited to now introduce this talented Queer artist to my readers. Influenced by some of his favorite artists ranging from Prince and John Legend to Lennon Stella and Charlie Puth, Tafari blends R&B, pop and soul with sultry melodies and deeply heartfelt lyrics to create songs with incredible emotional resonance and depth. His powerful lyrics touch on subjects of love, relationships, life’s hardships and finding self identity and worth in a society where most people feel they need to blend in to be happy. The power of his music reflects the fact that his name ‘Tafari’ means “he who inspires awe”.

Tafari has released a substantial amount of music over the past five years, starting with his debut EP Die For You in 2016. He’s been nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award and receives regular airplay on CBC Radio, with one of his singles being named one of CBC’s Most Influential Songs of 2016. He has also performed alongside Shangela (RuPaul’s Drag Race) and has performed at Toronto’s Dundas Square and Massey Hall. Within the past year, Tafari was awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto, and was recently selected as one of CBC Searchlight’s top 25 performers in Canada.

This past January, he released his single “Centerfold”, then followed in May with “Live in a Dream’. On October 21, he dropped his latest single “No Good”; all three singles will be included on his upcoming EP The Way You See Me, due for release on November 20. The track was co-produced by Tafari and Alexander “Sandy” Flockhart, engineered by TEFO, mixed by Brandon Unis and mastered by Brad Smith. The beautiful, poignant song is about how some relationships are just no good for us, yet we seem powerless to resist, ending up pursuing them against our better judgement. Tafari confides, “It takes a lot of self-reflection to be able to realize these patterns in ourselves and even more to get out of them once we are aware. Realizing that you crave the unhealthiness of the relationship. Personally, I often let people treat me like shit for way longer than I should – but once I’m done, I’m done.”

He further elaborated on his thoughts to the webzine American Songwriter: “I’m hoping listeners will really connect with this [song]. It is so much easier than you’d think to get trapped in this cycle of a bad relationship. I’ve heard too often from people that when a relationship is going well they feel like it’s missing something and that something is the drama. It gives us this false sense of excitement, when really the constant drama, [analysis,] and need to always be looking for confrontation is not a healthy relationship at all. Hopefully this song helps bring clarity to even one person who is in a situation like this.”

The song has a sensual groove, anchored by a pulsating synth bass beat and accompanied by warm keyboards, finger snaps and some nicely-strummed guitar. Tafari has an impressive vocal range, and here they’re especially lovely and heartfelt as they go from breathy to raw to falsetto, beautifully conveying a sense of sad resignation expressed in the lyrics:

 “We put the good shit down for a rest / ‘Cause goddamn, I love when you stress / See the vein pop right through your head / I guess some would call us a mess / So now we’re standing here, feeding obsession with crippling fear / But I love it dear / Do I need to explain anymore / That’s why I had to leave / ‘Cause you’re no good for me.

Connect with Tafari:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream his music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase: BandcampWebsiteAmazon

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #70: “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera

The song at #70 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera. While I would be the first to concede that it probably doesn’t qualify as a truly great song, it’s still a deliciously catchy electropop dance tune that’s just too damn fun to resist. When it came out in the summer of 2011, I couldn’t get enough of it, and it’s my biggest guilty pleasure song on this entire list. The song was a massive worldwide hit, reaching #1 in the U.S. and 25 other countries from Brazil to Finland to South Korea, and selling over 15 million digital units.

“Moves Like Jagger” was the the fourth single to be released from Maroon 5’s third album Hands All Over. Both Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine were judges and coaches on the hit music competition show The Voice at the time, and their great chemistry shines through in the song. The video was filmed at the historic Los Angeles Theater, and features a bevy of costumed dancers doing their best Mick Jagger imitations along with Aguilera singing and Levine shown performing shirtless, of course, interspersed with vintage footage of Jagger dancing at several Rolling Stones concerts. In an interview on the ABC program Nightline in November 2011, Jagger stated he was flattered by being named in the song, and later joked on the Late Show with David Letterman about not seeing any royalties from it.

Fun fact: “Moves Like Jagger” is one of two songs on this list featuring prominent whistling, the other being the upcoming Foster the People song “Pumped Up Kicks”.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #71: “Holding On” by The War on Drugs

The song at #71 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Holding On” by Philadelphia-based alternative rock band The War on Drugs. They’re quite honestly one of the best bands making music today, and I love their lush melodic sound that’s a beautiful mash-up of alternative, heartland rock, neo psychedelia and Americana. The band was formed by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile in 2005, but Vile left after the completion of their first album to pursue his solo career. The band has undergone quite a few changes in lineup over the years, and now consists of the aforementioned Granduciel on guitar and lead vocals, David Harley on bass, Jon Natchez on sax & keyboards, Anthony LaMarca on guitar & keyboards, Robbie Bennett and piano, keyboards and guitar, and Charlie Hall on drums & organ.

I became a fan of The War on Drugs in 2014 after hearing their spectacular song “Red Eyes.” So it was natural that I’d love their beautiful song “Holding On” from their magnificent, critically-acclaimed and Grammy-winning 2017 album A Deeper Understanding. Having six band members, including three guitarists, three keyboardists, one of whom also plays sax, a bassist and a drummer, gives their music a full, almost orchestral sound. The piano, guitars, xylophone and synths on “Holding On” are breathtaking, and I love the powerful driving rhythms. Granduciel’s sublime vocals bear a striking resemblance to Bob Dylan on this and some of their other songs.

The song lyrics speak to the passage of time and how it allows a different perspective about a life-changing relationship that ultimately failed. The singer ponders as to whether he left the relationship too soon, or was it possible he held onto it longer than he should have – something many of us have probably wrestled with in less than happy relationships.

Ain’t no way I’m gonna last
Hiding in the seams, I can’t move the past
Feel like I’m about to crash
Riding the same line, I keep keeping on

And he never gonna change
He never gonna learn
I keep moving on the path, yeah
Holding on to mine

When you talk about the past
What are we talking of?
Did I let go too fast?
Was I holding on too long?

Here’s the official video for the song, featuring Granduciel and Frankie Faison:

And here’s a live performance without a visual storyline, which I almost prefer:

Cristóvam – Single Review: “Setting Sun”

Portuguese singer/songwriter Cristóvam grew up in the Azores islands, surrounded by music and the natural beauty of his home. His grandfather started the second oldest radio station in the Atlantic region, and left behind a massive record collection that captivated him as a child and teen, and influenced him to become a musician. Drawing inspiration from such artists as Bob Dylan, Ray Lamontagne, Bon Iver, Angus & Julia Stone, as well as the beauty of his surroundings, Cristóvam creates incredibly pleasing folk songs steeped in lovely melodies and poetic lyrics, and delivered with beautiful instrumentals and his warm, comforting vocals that sound like he could be from Nashville, Austin, or even Dublin. In fact, he reminds at times of Matt Nathanson.

Cristóvam released his debut album Hopes & Dreams in 2018, which I really enjoyed listening to as I familiarized myself with his music in preparation to write this review. It’s an outstanding collection of songs, and I highly recommend that my readers check it out on your favorite streaming platform. He then followed up earlier this year with the poignant and timely “Andra Tutto Bene”, which spoke to the struggles so many have faced as a result of the pandemic.

On October 9th, he dropped his latest single “Setting Sun”, a beautiful, uplifting song about two people so deeply in love that together, they can weather any storm that comes their way, or at least forget the troubles of the outside world for a little while: “Our love is like an island floating in the desert blue.” Cristóvam confides, “I started writing it in 2018, when I was on a holiday with my girlfriend in Sardinia, and sort of left it there. But this year, with all that’s happening and the world being such a strange place, somehow those lyrics resonated back with me, and the fact that I felt so lucky to find comfort in my own little corner, far out in the middle of the Atlantic.” 

The stunning video was filmed in and around the Capelinhos volcano in the Azores, and beautifully captures the romance and sweeping majesty of the track.

Connect with Cristóvam:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream/purchase his music:  SpotifyApple MusicAmazonBandcamp

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #72: “The Joke” by Brandi Carlisle

The song at #72 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the stunning “The Joke” by singer-songwriter Brandi Carlisle. Written as a comment on the sociopolitical climate following the 2016 US presidential election, the song is a deeply poignant ode to the delicate boys and striving girls who continue to struggle in our society. In an interview with NPR, Carlisle explained her inspiration for writing the song: “There are so many people feeling misrepresented. So many people feeling unloved. Boys feeling marginalized and forced into these kind of awkward shapes of masculinity that they do or don’t belong in…so many men and boys are trans or disabled or shy. Little girls who got so excited for the last election, and are dealing with the fallout. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.”

Carlisle has a commanding voice and her stirring, passionate vocals on on this song send chills up and down my spine. Hearing her sing the defiant lyrics in her beautiful voice, backed by haunting piano keys and soaring instrumentals highlighted by gorgeous strings courtesy of the late Paul Buckmaster (a music genius who arranged Carlisle’s album By The Way, I Forgive You, as well as such legendary recordings as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and many of Elton John’s early hits), is a religious experience indeed.

“The Joke” was nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award in four categories, including Record and Song of the Year, and won for Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance.

You’re feeling nervous, aren’t you, boy?
With your quiet voice and impeccable style
Don’t ever let them steal your joy
And your gentle ways, to keep ’em from running wild
They can kick dirt in your face
Dress you down, and tell you that your place
Is in the middle, when they hate the way you shine
I see you tugging on your shirt
Trying to hide inside of it and hide how much it hurts

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

You get discouraged, don’t you, girl?
It’s your brother’s world for a while longer
We gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #73: “Heartbreak Warfare” by John Mayer

The song at #73 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Heartbreak Warfare” by American singer-songwriter and guitarist John Mayer. My first introduction to Mayer was his wonderful debut single “No Such Thing” in 2002. The song was a poignant look back at the high school experience that really resonated with me, as it was played a lot on the radio during the time of one of my milestone High School reunions. I loved that song so much it ended up at #17 on my Top 100 Best Songs of the 2000s list.

“Heartbreak Warfare” is another of Mayer’s songs that I love. The darkly beautiful song is from his fourth studio album Battle Studies, and though it was released in October 2009, it became a hit in early 2010, so in my book, it should be celebrated as one of the best songs of 2010, and also of the 2010s. The song is has a mellow, almost hypnotic tempo, albeit with a haunting undercurrent. Mayer is a fine guitarist, and his work on this track is particularly good, and I love the sense of bitter frustration that comes across in his silky vocals. The lyrics speak of a toxic relationship, and are a plea for his lover to ease up on her poisonous behavior in the hope they can salvage what’s left: “How come the only way to know how high you get me is to see how far I fall? God only knows how much I’d love you if you let me but I can’t break through it all.”

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #74: “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk feat. Nate Ruess

The song at #74 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the beautiful “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk, featuring guest vocals by Nate Ruess. The deeply moving piano ballad is one of my favorite songs from P!nk, and was the third single from her outstanding 2012 album The Truth About Love. The song was a massive worldwide hit, topping the charts in 21 countries including the U.S., and received unanimous critical acclaim.

“Just Give Me a Reason” was co-written by P!nk, Jeff Bhasker (who produced the album), and fun. lead singer Nate Ruess, who also provides his stirring vocals. The song is a heartfelt plea between two people desperate to hold on to a relationship that appears to be falling apart. It was originally intended to be sung just by P!nk, but she soon realized that she needed someone else to sing the song with her, as she felt it was more of a conversation between two people rather than from the perspective of just one person in the relationship. She asked Ruess to sing the song with her as a duet, and the result was magical. The raw emotional power achieved by their dual vocal harmonies gives me goosebumps every single time I hear it.

The lyrics are so honest and relatable that I feel compelled to include them in their entirety:

Right from the start
You were a thief
You stole my heart
And I your willing victim
I let you see the parts of me
That weren’t all that pretty
And with every touch you fixed them

Now you’ve been talking in your sleep, oh, oh
Things you never say to me, oh, oh
Tell me that you’ve had enough
Of our love, our love

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

I’m sorry I don’t understand
Where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine
(Oh, we had everything)
Your head is running wild again
My dear we still have everythin’
And it’s all in your mind
(Yeah, but this is happenin’)

You’ve been havin’ real bad dreams, oh, oh
You used to lie so close to me, oh, oh
There’s nothing more than empty sheets
Between our love, our love
Oh, our love, our love

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
I never stopped
You’re still written in the scars on my heart
You’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

Oh, tear ducts and rust
I’ll fix it for us
We’re collecting dust
But our love’s enough
You’re holding it in
You’re pouring a drink
No nothing is as bad as it seems
We’ll come clean

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
That we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again