No Exceptions: The Best Songs of 2013

Originals 2

Following a look back at my favourite cover songs of the year earlier in the week, it’s now time for me to focus on twelve songs from 2013 that have the potential to be cover versions someday. I listened to an awful lot of both new and old music this year and I have to admit that most of it was not awful at all. Nearly all the new music I heard came from albums that I listened to in their entirety, a few more I heard at gigs, but most of the ones below I came across on other blogs. I used to hear a lot of new stuff on the radio in the past, but I’m afraid I never listen to that medium anymore. I’m sure I’m missing out on lots of great music, but at least I don’t have to waste time listening to DJs or advertisements

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Get In Line

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The second part of my list of favourite albums from last year continues with five acts that were already familiar to me from previous years. I’m a big fan of the debut album by Fleet Foxes and I was always going to like their second record. I don’t like it as much as their first one, however, and I have to admit that it’s taken me a while to get into it. It doesn’t have any standout tracks like White Winter Hymnal on the previous album, but it works well as a consistent collection of original songs and that’s why it makes it onto my list

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I Quite Like Wednesdays, Actually

Former Boomtown Rat and current saint, Bob Geldof, celebrates his 60th birthday today. These days he’s best known as the organiser of Live Aid and its successor, Live 8, but there was a time when he helped to pave the way for Irish success on the international music stage. Geldof formed The Boomtown Rats in Dublin just as punk was kicking off on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1977, the band’s first single finished just outside the top spot in Ireland and also the top ten in England. Lookin’ After Number One, musically and lyrically, had much in common with the ethos of punk rock. It opens with pounding drums and is followed by some thrashy guitar before Geldof’s sneering vocals enter. The narrator is out of work and angry with society, but is adamant that he’ll do his own thing. This ideology would also appear to be the singer’s and it wasn’t too long before he could be heard railing against the status quo on TV. The band continued to have hits, though their sound could be described as new wave on subsequent releases. In 1978, their second album produced the band’s first UK number one, though it stalled at number two in their own country. Rat Trap replaced the prominent guitars with saxophone and piano and the song was more influenced by Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen than punk. It’s basically a song The Boss might have written if he’d grown up in Dublin instead of Asbury Park

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Wastin’ Time

Yesterday my friend John and I took a day out to see a wonderful Ron Sexsmith gig at The Academy in Dublin. After a nice late breakfast at The Wild Onion in Limerick, we got into John’s car and headed out on the new motorway from Limerick to Dublin. We listened to Ron’s fine new album called Long Player Late Bloomer. I think it’s his best album since the first two he released about fifteen years ago. It’s full of his trademark hooks and melodies as well as witty and poignant lyrics. It also sounds really good and a lot of this is down to its producer, Bob Rock. The appropriately named Rock didn’t just produce the record, however. He also acted like a coach to the Canadian songwriter and urged him to work on his songs and make them even better than they already were. As we listened to the CD, John mentioned that he was actually looking forward to hearing these new songs even more than Ron’s already impressive back catalogue. I had to agree. There’s always new product to be pushed at any gig and usually a selection of tracks from the new release is something the audience politely listens to while waiting for the earlier favourites to make an appearance

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Maybe This Christmas

As promised yesterday, today’s Christmas song is more upbeat than the three I’ve chosen already. It’s the title track of a compilation from 2002 called Maybe This Christmas and was written and sung by the Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith. I was a big fan of Sexsmith’s early albums and the melodic folk-pop songs they contained. Maybe This Christmas follows this pattern and is an optimistic little ditty that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s possibly a bit too short and sweet for my liking, but I still like the song and Ron’s voice. I also agree with the sentiment expressed in its opening line that “Maybe this Christmas will mean something more”. The last few months have been pretty tough for many people on the isle of Ireland, but I’ve a feeling that this year’s festivities will give us a chance to let our hair down for a while before the hangover strikes in 2011. It looks like we could be in for some nasty haircuts in the New Year

Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith

The 12 Songs of Christmas Archive