It is, without question, both my favorite and busiest time of the year. We work our butts off here at MSF to cover as many possible March Madness angles as we can, and we thoroughly enjoy doing it.
But from time to time, even during March, I like to step away from sports for a bit to sip a little chicken soup into my blogging soul. As long-time readers of MSF know, I do this through music.
Music Madness in March
In the past, inspired by my labor of love over at IndieChristmas.com, I’ve presented you with the following playlists:
- 16 More Spectacular Off-the-Radar Music Recommendations
- 18 Spectacular New Off-the-Radar Songs for Summer
- 17 Essential New Songs For Spring
And while I love each of those playlists individually, the one I am about to present to you is, I think, the best one I’ve ever put together. (Unless I’m just being a prisoner to the moment and the tune in my ear as I type this, which is entirely possible).
I originally had 18 songs on this playlist, most of which I’ve found since the new year began. Inspired by some feedback from my trusted musical advisers – you know them as Drew and Tyler – and my desire to tie a nice March Madness ribbon on top it, I whittled it down to a list of 16 songs in what I think is most listenable order.
Now it’s time to let the music do the talking. So enjoy some music madness this March, with my Sweet 16 Songs For Spring.
Here is the list, with a few quick thoughts below.
- The End by The Lower 48
- Form & Control by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
- Six Weeks by Of Monsters and Men
- When She Gets Home by Alpine White
- Life Of Crime by Geographer
- The Right One by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
- What You Gonna Do? by Friska Viljor
- Baby by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
- All Cliches by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
- Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men
- Pett Level by Keston Cobblers Club
- Shepherd Anais Mitchell
- From Finner by Of Monsters And Men
- Cotton Wool by Keston Cobblers Club
- Northern Air by Elliot Brood
- Wilderness by Ghost Heart
The first thing you’ll probably notice is the repeat bands. I usually never do this, preferring to choose one song per band per playlist. However, I tossed that unnecessarily stringent criteria to the side this time in an effort to put together a list of the best songs, regardless of band.
The Phenomenal Handclap Band appears four times, yet each song has its own distinctive flavor, so much so that if I told you they were all by different bands I bet you’d believe me.
Of Monsters And Men is the hands down the best new band I’ve found in 2012, and “Little Talks” is hands down the best song. There was no way I could leave “From Finner” or “Six Weeks” off either. Tyler is seeing them in Chicago in a few weeks. I’m jealous.
And as for Keston Cobblers Club, their sound really worked well for the second half of the playlist, which I wanted to be a bit more mellow, so both songs really fit well.
Sweet 16 Songs For Spring
Note: Links to mp3s are provided where available, namely when they were first linked by Indie Rock Cafe since the bands/labels gave permission for those tracks. As I always do, I encourage you to go support the artists by actually buying their music and going to shows.
1. The End by The Lower 48
This song came from the December 14th Best New Releases post at Indie Rock Cafe, but I didn’t make any 2011 playlists after that, so it qualifies, as do a few others below, for the first 2012 playlist.
It’s a great track by the Portland-based band. And yes, I do enjoy the irony of a song called “The End” being the first song on the playlist. It sets the perfect tone (the song, not the irony).
2. Form & Control by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
I have Indie Rock Cafe to thank for introducing me to The Phenomenal Handclap Band as well, which I greatly enjoy. I don’t have an mp3 I can link to though, and I can’t find a video on YouTube with the track. I bought it from iTunes off the album by the same name. You can listen and buy it here.
Get it. It’s a great track.
3. Six Weeks by Of Monsters and Men
The first appearance by Of Monsters and Men, who you can connect with here. They are going to mega-mega stars soon. Enjoy them now during their ascendancy.
4. When She Gets Home by Alpine White
This discovery was also made at a recent Indie Rock Cafe New Release post (are you noticing a trend?), this one actually coming way back in November. But again, I haven’t done a playlist in a while, so a few of the best 2011 leftovers made it onto this one. This track, by San Francisco-based Alpine White, is one of the best songs on the entire playlist.
And look, there’s a video too!
5. Life Of Crime by Geographer
This song comes courtesy of a very recent new release post over at IRC. This is another San Francisco-based band, and this song probably has the most unique, perhaps even jarring style to it.
6. The Right One by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Kudos again to IRC for bringing TPHB into my life.
I have a feeling some people are going to love this song while others are going to hate it. I love it.
No mp3, but it does have an official video:
7. What You Gonna Do? by Friska Viljor
I found this song at the same Indie Rock Cafe post where I found “When She Gets Home”. It is the most purely fun, upbeat song on the playlist, and if you don’t like it I will be convinced that you are an angry person with a heart of coal. (Not really, but come on, how can you not enjoy this song?)
8. Baby by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Yep, more TPHB.
This song I found on iTunes while going through the band’s entire catalog. I like many more than just four of their songs. I like this one in particular because it has a jazzy, bluesy feel to it and holds my attention despite having just one lyric. Seriously. “Baby…I could rule the world…with a girl…like you on my arm.” That’s it. That’s all they say over and over; yet it’s awesome.
9. All Cliches by The Phenomenal Handclap Band
And here is TPHB song #4, which also does not have a publicly-available mp3 I can link to or YouTube video I can embed. I found this one, like Baby, by going through their songs one-by-one on iTunes. So head back over there to listen and buy.
10. Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men
My favorite song on the playlist.
It’s incredibly fun and catchy musically, which becomes even more compelling when you listen to the lyrics and realize they are juxtaposing a rather triumphant beat and melody with the poignant story of a woman who has Alzheimer’s Disease and the man who loves her.
It’s just terrific, as is this band, as is this video:
11. Pett Level by Keston Cobblers Club
I have the fine folks at Lost At E Minor to thank for introducing me to Keston Cobblers Club, a relatively unknown British band that is increasing in popularity and visibility and that I think has big things ahead of it.
12. Shepherd by Anais Mitchell
You’ve got to enjoy folksy, story-based songs to really get into this one. I do, and I also really like Anais Mitchell’s voice. This is really a gorgeous song, both for its simplicity and the honesty of the story and how Mitchell sings it.
I have to credit Tyler for this one, as he posted about Mitchell on Facebook, and then several days later I stumbled upon her at IRC as well.
13. From Finner by Of Monsters And Men
Of Monsters and Men are back!
I love this song too, and since it features the female vocalist it seems like the perfect song to follow Mitchel and ramp the tempo back up again for a strong finish to the playlist.
14. Cotton Wool by Keston Cobblers Club
And back to KCC now. I particularly enjoy this version of “Cotton Wool” from one of the band’s “Shoes Off” sessions they post on YouTube.
When I first heard Keston Cobblers Club, I thought they sounded like what would happen if Mumford and Sons re-did parts of the soundtrack for the movie Amelie. That definitely comes across towards the end in this track, and especially so in their other songs.
15. Northern Air by Elliot Brood
Another good one for all the folk fans out there. This song comes courtesy of the same IRC playlist where I found two other songs on this list, so IRC really nailed that one.
16. Wilderness by Ghost Heart
And now the perfect song to end with. This one came from a late-2011 new release playlist from Indie Rock Cafe as well. Particularly with how this song ends, it seemed like the perfect one to place at track 16. I’m a big fan of the drums in this song. Compelling vocals too.
Also, they are from Michigan, so it’s fitting that we end a playlist full of bands from Iceland, England, Portland, San Francisco, and elsewhere with one based right here in the Midwest.
So there is the list. Hopefully you get as much enjoyment of the songs and how they fit together as I have.
These playlists are always a long, meticulous labor of love, but they are always worth it. I’ve long felt that a well-constructed playlist full of new, unique songs is one of the best gifts anyone can give or receive. Plus, I have a hell of a good time sifting through the songs to get to the final list, and then arranging and rearranging them to get the right order.
I’m still new to Spotify, but I’ll share it there as “Sweet 16 Songs For Spring” if that helps you to find it. I think only 12 of the songs show up though.
Now…back to your regularly scheduled basketball discussion.