1. Holy Hell It's Cold by Quiet Marauder(from MEN)
I tend to revisit MEN (originally released in 2013 - read my three-year-old review of it here) every year at around this time, and this rib-tickling but also slightly sobering cut seemed like an appropriate choice given the current temperature outside.
2. Treaty by Leonard Cohen(from You Want it Darker)
You Want it Darker - which it's probably safe to assume was written and recorded by a Leonard Cohen who knew that he would soon be dead - has a certain duality to it. Many of its songs make it sound like Len had made his peace with the world and was ready to go, but a couple of songs (including Seemed the Better Way and this beautiful number) suggest a certain amount of regret, a desire to go back and change something. More thoughts on You Want it Darker here.
3. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then) by The Decemberists(from The Crane Wife)
Another album I revisited last month was The Crane Wife, which turned ten years old recently. For me, it's still The Decemberists' magnum opus - this tale of a Civil War soldier dying and leaving behind a pregnant widow is one of the album's many standout moments.
4. Gossamer Thin by Conor Oberst(from Ruminations)
I reviewed Ruminations just the other day, so I won't repeat myself here. I'm still totally in love with this song, though.
5. In The Future by Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom(from Don't Believe the Hyperreal)
I wrapped my Christmas presents while listening to this album last year, and it makes the perfect soundtrack for that task. This song in particular is the perfect manifestation of that quiet end-of-December period that's mostly spent wondering what the new year will bring. Read my review of Don't Believe the Hyperreal here.
6. Soma Gona Slapstick by Kristin Hersh(from Wyatt at the Coyote Palace)
As lead singles go, Soma Gone Slapstick's sound is some distance from the beaten track. The rest of Wyatt at the Coyote Palace is similarly off-kilter and unpredictable - read my review here.
7. Guest List by Eels(from Beautiful Freak)
I love this song. It doesn't cut loose like Mental and Not Ready Yet from the same album; instead, it seethes, keeping the rage and hurt just beneath the surface, like someone who's terribly upset but who just about manages not to cry. More thoughts on Beautiful Freak - now 20 years old! - here.
8. Talking to Myself by Lia Pamina(from Love is Enough)
One of many sweet, sad love songs on Lia Pamina's debut album Love is Enough, which I wrote about here.
9. Martha by Tom Waits(from Asylum Years)
A lovely song about speaking to someone you knew so long ago that it almost seems like a past life. Home of the last line ("I remember queit evenings, trembling close to you") that inspired this blog post.
10. The Doldrums by Georgia Ruth(from Fossil Scale)
A highlight from Georgia Ruth's second album Fossil Scale, which I reviewed here.