listening to Your Favorite Songs 2023, Part 4

listening to Your Favorite Songs 2023, Part 4

I am still (gingerly, tenderly) listening to some of your favorite songs of 2023! Revisit part 1, part 2, and part 3 at their various URLs!

MJ Lenderman - "Rudolph" (from @todoestademoda)

"I wouldn't be in the seminary if I could be with you." Forbidden priests are always excellent fodder for art. The obvious recent example is Fleabag but who could forget when Samantha tried to fuck a Franciscan monk in Sex and the City? I love the spiky drums on this song. The reference to Lightning McQueen had me googling MJ Lenderman's age. According to this interview, he is 24. I don't think we can overstate how important the Cars franchise is to Generation Z. I just looked up when Cars came out. It was 2006. I was already sixteen. A bit too old for Cars. Time keeps on slipping into the future.

Greg Mendez -"Maria" (from @TStape03)

Well isn't this just a perfect little tale in a minute and 58 seconds? The lyrics read like a goddamn Amy Hempel short story. Love a good contrast between gentle folk rock aesthetic and harrowing lyrics: "You wanna hear this story 'bout the time we got arrested at a crack den?"

Home Is Where - "Skin Meadow" (from @krissrochelle)

The best part of this song called "Skin Meadow" is the part that goes "Skin meadow, skin meadow." I'm up! I'm headbanging! I'm jumping around. Skin meadow. A real 'cellar door' phrase. It is kind of beautiful and also very gross. The lyrics made me think someone got into a car or bike accident and has been smeared all over the roadside landscape. Skin meadow skin meadow.

Careful Gaze - "Silken Robe" (from @SeaMonser)

Careful Gaze's Instagram bio says "heavy + sad + pretty" and yes, that tracks. Gnarly guitar, intense lyrics ("I cannot choose which parts of me are misunderstood"...whew)...and I really, really love Gabe Reasoner's voice, which slides from rich tenor to raw scream with ease. Just a perfect post-hardcore / emo exsanguination of a song.

Model/Actriz - "Crossing Guard" (from @halldorlactase)

Yeahhhh Model/Actriz are one of my new fave bands of the year. I knew they were something special when they put out "Mosquito" at the end of last year and Dogsbody solidified my opinion. Model/Actriz are sexy. We need bands to make sexy music right now. It's not just movies that are all gray and ascetic. There's a famine of sexuality in music. Everyone is beautiful and no one is horny. "Crossing Guard" already put me in a chokehold with its nervous dance drums and random stabs of guitar and Cole Haden's louche voice — a voice that sounds like it is twirling its own mustache — but the invocation of Lady Gaga's Christian name during the post-chorus ended me completely. And this is somehow a song about Greek mythology that I can shake my ass too? Take all my money, Model/Actriz.

Chappell Roan - "Pink Pony Club" (from @justinpoir)

I'll try not to use this blurb as an excuse to blather on and on about Chappell Roan because The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess deserves its own blog, but this chick is my zero-to-100 why-is-no-one-talking-about-this pop obsession of the year. "Pink Pony Club" actually came out three years ago and no one cared. (Well, NY Mag's absolute gem of a staff writer Rebecca Alter cared, because she has taste and good sense.) After "Pink Pony Club" failed to make a dent in the charts, Chappell got dropped from Atlantic, and it took three years to get re-signed and put her full-length debut out. I'm sure it was heartbreaking to fail in this way, but come on — all the big pop girls get dropped by their labels, it's what gives them the grit to succeed! Lady Gaga: famously dropped, made a whole music video about it. Katy Perry: dropped twice, poor thing. I need to join the Chappell Roan street team. I'm all in on her. She has a gorgeous voice, and I love that she is not afraid to appeal directly to the girls-and-gays audience with her Moulin Rouge cabaret sexy clown aesthetic. I have described her music as "what if Kesha was a lesbian theater kid?" but "Pink Pony Club" specifically is more like "what if Gaga doubled down on Joanne?" Ugh I just love it. Can you tell?

The Hives - "Bogus Operandi" (from @dudepackers)

They're call the Hives because these guys work as diligently as a dang honey bee. No funny business, just the garage rock we all know and love. We could all learn something from the confidence the Hives have in their basic formula: if it ain't broke, why the fork are you trying to fix it? Good riff, KEY CHANGE, Howlin' Pelle still asking you, the listener, to "come on," after all these years.

Eunuchs - "Siren" (from @ridindowntherd)

Sure, I'll take a little bit of deranged, theatrical, nautical cabaret music on this fine day. Patterns are beginning to emerge from this best of 2023 exercise: the biggest and best riffage, the catchiest pop nuggets, and the most Epic song storytelling. This is in the Epic category. This song, which is about a...captured mermaid? a watery tart in captivity? really does taste of the sea: "I looked for bone soup, sea biscuits, salt and rod / I met her on a rock / That rock was covered in moss." The extreme jazz-freakout at the end is giving "shipwreck." May I share the Bandcamp tags for this one? 1970s bacharach black metal experimental experimental metal avant-garde metal baroque pop crooner harp lush neoclassical sax quartet scott walker Sydney. Hell yeah.

PJ Harvey - "Prayer at the Gate" (from @kevbot700)

Another fascinating part of this exercise is the random sequencing of this collection of songs that ends up being meaningful. Accidental connections form. "Siren" and "Prayer at the Gate" both have an undisposable, ancient sort of aura. A patina, even. "Prayer at the Gate" sounds like medieval trip-hop, or like wandering around moodily on a gray wet day in a place that has those super old stone walls that are crumbling at the side of the road. PJ Harvey sounds like the singing mermaid from that Eunuchs song!

Janelle Monáe - "Lipstick Lover" (from @gin_bois)

God bless Janelle Monáe. To like Janelle Monáe is to have exquisite taste. She is so underrated it's a crime. And god bless this song, which sounds like it was written expressly to be played during horny all-inclusive island vacations. Janelle Monáe and Model/Actriz are keeping it sexy during this horribly unsexy time. The music video is also...stunning. This is where I get to say that in 2011, when I was in college and an aspiring music writer, I answered a call for applications from Janelle Monáe's Wondaland Arts Society because they were looking for writers for an internet publication they were starting. I wrote several album reviews for Wondaland, which have since been wiped from the live 'net but are still accessible via Internet Archive. New Year's Eve 2019, a group of my buds partied in an upstate NY cabin, and my friend Kyle began inhabiting a character he called "2020 Kyle," a brasher and chirpier version of himself. "2020 Kyle...I've got a lot of opinions, and no income," he said at one point. This is also how I would describe 2011 Molly. Maybe if I'm brave I will share the old reviews on the blog someday.

Thanks for reading. Tune in real soon for the next batch of songs. And if you like I Enjoy Music? Tell a friend about it.