Year in Review: Top 100 Lubbock Songs of 2013: 25-1

Printby: Thomas D. Mooney

Welcome to the big show. We’re on to what we consider the Top 25 Songs from Lubbock artists that came out this year. We’ve compiled, listened to, written down, spoke with and about Lubbock musicians, broken down, reassessed, and questioned everything Lubbock music this year. And while I stand behind our list without a doubt, I’m certain we’ve missed on something or someone. That’s just how it goes.

If you’ve missed previous days, find them in the links below.

DAY I: 100-81
DAY II: 80-61
DAY III: 60-41
DAY IV: 41-26
DAY V: 25-1 (Today)

Photo Dec 19, 10 17 51 PM25. “One In a Million” Amanda Goebel

This is essentially what made Amanda Goebel winner of The Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition at The Blue Light this year. It’s not officially released in 2013 and this is probably not what the studio version will sound like when it’s recorded. It’d have undoubtedly found its way onto 2014’s list. but it just feels like it should be here. There’s a charming element in Goebel’s rich voice and simple ukelele strumming. You wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up on some indie film’s soundtrack some day sooner rather than later (And on a side note, as part of Goebel winning the fall competition, she gets a music video made to a song of hers. With that, I really only have one request. There needs to be at least one hamburger phone scene.) It has this innocent quirkiness to it that’d make Zooey Deschanel feel a little embarrassed.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

DryHeevesDemo24. “’90s Prom Song” Dry Heeves

This ’90s prom feels kind of like a casual nod to a ’90s pep rally I heard about once (No, I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as hard or great as that.) Just a casual nod. I know these guys love the reverb. It’s part of their sound. But, they’re really at their best when you can understand their lyrics. Like their previous songs on the list, “’90s Prom Song” finds the right formula. It’s good to hear what vocalist Dylan Davis is singing about. It makes ’90s proms sound cooler than they actually were.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

DannyCadraEP23. “When You Throw It Down” Danny Cadra
Danny Cadra

With the sudden cry of a petal steel guitar you instantly want to be sliding across the dance floor of a Texas bar room, but by the end of the first verse, you learn it’s a song about a man with a broken heart and his decision to walk away from the situation he finds himself in and how hard it can be to do. Danny Cadra delivers a true feeling of heartbreak and pain in “When You Throw It Down.” If he would have been born 40 years earlier and put out a song like this, it would have fit perfectly with the songs of the men he idolizes. Lucky for us, he wasn’t and is now the new face of traditional country, sound many of us grew up listening to and giving a new generation that might have missed out and a chance to hear it.  When it comes down to it this is Good Ol’ Country Music.–ART PORTILLO, Hogg Maulies, No Dry County Road Managers

TerryAllenBottom22. “Bottom Of The World” Terry Allen
Bottom of the World

The title track of Terry Allen’s record Bottom of the World, feels so familiar. It’s the same Southwest that’s enamored Allen for the majority of his life. Allen released Juarez, his debut record back in 1975. He’s been writing about it since with a song or two here and there through his various records and projects since, but this is the first record that feels most like a sequel to the cult favorite Juarez. I’m not sure what Allen feels about that sentiment, but I have a hunch he’d see why I’d say such a thing. The bare bones arrangements of Allen’s Bottom of the World are obviously an underlying theme. While he never jams too much noise within a song, the best on the record all have these little accents of mariachi and traditional Mexican music.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

AmandaShiresDownFell21. “Devastate” Amanda Shires
Down Fell the Doves

“Devastate” is the first official song we all heard from Amanda Shires’ Down Fell the Doves. Being the first release, it certainly set a high bar for the entire record. Coming off Carrying Lightning, which was really an eye-opening welcome party of sorts for Shires as a singer-songwriter. She’d had West Cross Timbers in 2008 and played with the likes of Justin Townes Earle, husband Jason Isbell, and a host of other artists, but CL was really the first time a lot of the country was introduced to her. At the very least, it was a “I’m more than just a fiddle player” record. People were wanting to know what kind of record she’d be making next. So as you can imagine, that first song had to carry a lot of weight and make a statement. I think “Devastate” said she wasn’t interested in recreating CL; that this was going to be its own thing and have an edgier feel. For being  only three minutes, Shires says a lot for her minimum lyrics. You hold on and process each word and image longer with lines like “You get so dark. Does her voice light in you somewhere that I could never sing?” Just wow.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS


20. “Dead” The Numerators

 This is kind of where I see Dry Heeves this time next year. A more established sound and vibe. The psych-garage rocking Numerators kind of calms down and just lets it flow on “Dead,” a 7-inch single released earlier this year on Atlanta-based indie label Suicide Squeeze. It’s slow and dragged out through their reverb pop filter and is really the some of the best garage rock material to come out this side of Thee Oh Sees, King Tuff, and Surfer Blood. –THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

BrennenLeighNoelMcKay19. “Let’s Go To Lubbock On Vacation” Brennan Leigh & Noel McKay
Before The World Was Made

“I first heard Brennan Leigh & Noel McKay back in 2012 when they were opening for Guy Clark at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas. I had never heard of them and was only there to listen to Guy Clark. I think I was a fan by the end of the first song and was not ready for their short set to end. One of the great songs they played that night was “Let’s Go to Lubbock on Vacation.” I laughed out loud when I first heard that line and have been looking for them to release this album ever since. The entire record is in the wonderful country duet tradition and the music is exactly what country music should be. Noel tells me that he lived in Lubbock from ages 2 to 8 (on Chicago Ave, right inside the Loop) and that he hopes their love for Lubbock comes through in the song. It does and if I didn’t already live here, I’d be making plans to visit after listening to Brennan Leigh & Noel McKay.–ANDY HEDGES, songster

image_136155689032669318. “Sunset Rider” Rattlesnake Milk
Snake, Rattle, & Roll

Has anything ever sounded more Lubbock than Rattlesnake Milk? It’s Hank Williams+The Ventures=Rattlesnake Milk. “Sunset Rider,” like the majority of RM’s tunes all feel like they’re Dust Bowl remnants at their core. Guitarist/vocalist Sean Lewis doesn’t have this smooth croon, but a rather very natural normal voice that just fits. There’s not too many bands who’ve been able to mix country, blues, punk, and folk like RM has done. And as far as guitar tones go, you’ll never hear anything better. While bassist Brad Ivy and drummer Zach Davis lay down the foundation, guitarist Andrew Chavez throws in little jabs of guitar fire. They feel like he’s just making them up on the spot. They feel that spontaneous and fresh.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

Outlier17. “Surrounded By Light” Outlier

 You’re not going to find a song that changes as drastically within its duration as Outlier’s “Surrounded by Light” on this list. All the while, it doesn’t feel like too big a jump between the phases of the song. It feels so natural to have this heavy magnum opus instrumental piece fall between two soft, delicate pieces. It just works. And for that middle instrumental, I’d say best guitar solo from Lubbock this year. Period. In addition, the violin is equally as fierce as the guitars. The lyrical aspect of Outlier is often overlooked, but that’s primarily because their style and sound is so compelling. “Surrounded By Light’s” lyrics feel like a nice pleasant pause within the context of the song–and record overall for that matter.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

VedaMoonSleepwalker16. “Sleepwalker” Veda Moon

Veda Moon, a reincarnation of sorts of Coquelicot, is the best they’ve sounded. “Sleepwalker” proves that there’s more than just country and alternative country bands in Lubbock. “Sleepwalker” finds Kayaki Howle and Damon Dennis slowly turning their own compositions into sweet, soft balladry that could have been down by Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear. Those guitar lines are almost hypnotizing sending you off into some kind of day dream yourself. I don’t know if I’d go as far as to call them down right dream pop, but they’ve certainly cherry picked the great elements of the dream pop world and brought them home to a more folk sound.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS 

SlowRelics15. “I, And I Alone” Slow Relics

Well, this is a surprise. A good one. Can we have more of this? It seems every year there’s some kind of interesting, charming, indie rock project that releases a song or two, plays some shows sporadically, and then disappears as quickly as they came. This year, Slow Relics at least seems to have done the latter–they disappearing part, let’s hope doesn’t happen any time soon. The fact that there’s a new song on the SR bandcamp optimistically points to it staying around. The brains behind SR is Michael Lambert, who for the most part, has been a guitarist for a host of progressive rock bands. This though, finds Lambert slowing things down and going full singer-songwriter. You hear some Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes in Lambert’s voice and while not as folky as the FF, you could easily see “I, And I Alone” as a blueprint for one of their harmonic baroque folk rock ballads.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS 

TerryAllenBottom14. “Do They Dream of Hell In Heaven?” Terry Allen
Bottom of the World

I hadn’t heard this song before I picked it, but knew if I chose a Terry Allen tune I’d be impressed. The pedal steel filled introduction of the song, the vocal melodies, and the smooth sound of a sad fiddle, made this song a new favorite of mine. Allen poses questions throughout the song that we have all asked ourselves a time or three and does so with elegance and a gravely southern drawl. He asks, is it better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permit ion? Should we take risk and live now how we want to, or live like we are told maybe to find an end that isn’t necessarily what we had hoped? He uses angels in heaven to present these questions. How do those in heaven feel about being where they are? Do they regret not having sinned? Do they wish they had just repented at the end of life they deemed worth living? Do they dream of hell in heaven? It’s a beautiful piece not only worth taking the time to hear, but ponder.–DUB WOOD, No Dry County

WilliamClarkGreen13. “Dead or in Jail” William Clark Green
Rose Queen

“I got a pocket full of chitlins and some collard greens.” You can’t exactly fake a line like that, now can you? The most important thing in my opinion about Rose Queen is that while it’s often called a “Texas Country” record, it’s secretly not. Just like how Sons of Fathers’ Burning Days isn’t or anything Rodney Parker has ever done. They’re seriously almost indie rock records. I mean, if Green and company had grown up anywhere north of Nashville, it’d be considered more rock and roll than anything else. OK. That’s partly true; there’s plenty of country and folk mixed in there. “Dead or in Jail” is that mixture coming out best. There’s a confidence in Green’s voice that is undeniable on “Dead or in Jail.” You believe him as he’s walking downtown streets at night. Even when he goes into swearing to his parents, family, and friends that he’s going to settle down, he has the nerve to talk about stealing something he can sell before the end.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

BrennenLeighNoelMcKay12. “Soft Guitars” Brennan Leigh & Noel McKay
Before The World Was Made

 If the truth were known to Brennan Leigh and Noel McKay, I’ve got a list of songs in mind that I’d love to hear them sing. They’re all based off what they’ve done on Before the World Was Made. Course, they’d never be nearly as good as any of their originals. Obviously their music chemistry is unparalleled and I have to believe part of why they sound so great is because they’re writing these songs together. As a product, they love these songs and it just comes out in song as well. “Soft Guitars” just has so many of these simple lines of love like “Like the stones around the campfire, I feel the burning of the flames. It feels easy to hold you when those soft guitars play.” There’s plenty of funny moments such “Hey I thought I saw a shooting star. I guess it could have been a fire fly. There’s lighting off on the horizon. We left our clothes down by the riverside” that show these two aren’t just into writing sappy love songs.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

DanielMarkhamRuinedMyLife11. “New Blood” Daniel Markham
Ruined My Life

Can Daniel Markham ruin my life again next year? Doesn’t this feel like falling into a Super Nintendo video game about horror film villains chasing you around? It even has  that 8-bit drum machine flowing underneath Grady Sandlin’s pounding drums and Markam’s own dark guitars, that for some reason, just feel so T. Rex to me. Markham then draws out every last word in each line just enough to give them all character. “Write me a letterrrr, Down on the paperrrr. Don’t let your heart get stuck in the muuuuud.”–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

AmandaShiresDownFell10. “Look Like a Bird” Amanda Shires
Down Fell the Doves

“Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried in my way to be free” was written by Leonard Cohen once. That’s probably a good place to start when examining Amanda Shires songs. The Down Fell the Doves opener is sharp and fierce and sets the mood for the entire record. Like Cohen once before, Shires is searching for freedom–to be like a bid, “careless, weightless, and free.” The song opens up very much like Hans Zimmer’s “Why So Serious?,” the Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight. It has this tortured razor’s edge quality about it before Shires’ comes in vocally. I think it’s not only a great song, but an important one for Shires. With it being the opener, she reminds us all that she’s not just a singer-songwriter, but that she’s armed with a fiddle. It’s not a passing factoid. It’s one of several qualities that make her not just a songwriter, but a dynamic artist.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

ColinGilmoreWildHollow09. “Wake Me In The Night” Colin Gilmore
The Wild and Hollow

 Colin Gilmore. Yeah, still Lubbock’s most underrated songwriter. It feels like “Wake Me In The Night” is the sneaky great song on this list. I mean, it’s at 9, but there’s no denying it’s only percentage points away from topping the list. It’s Gilmore at his most poetic and haunting. Gilmore’s lyrics throughout his career, while good, have more often than not, been more playful and casual. “Wake Me In The Night” though flows with an elegant seriousness. The imagery is southern gothic at its best without ever becoming bogged down.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

GradySpencerSleep08. “Feelin’ Fine” Grady Spencer & The Work

Grady Spencer’s been known to write songs like “Feelin’ Fine” in the past. Like “Gruene Girl” before, Spencer gets a love song out without all those cliché lines that leave you rolling your eyes and turning the radio off. What makes Spencer convincing when he sings about wanting to be a better man and his lack of care for money, is that he’s writing from a place few ever find; he’s found his muse. You know if he didn’t jot these lines down and form them into a recorded song, he’d be singing them while cooking dinner or washing dishes.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

DannyCadraEP07. “The Leavin’ You Love” Danny Cadra
Danny Cadra

When I first heard the studio version of “The Leavin’ You Love,” I floored. It was near the beginning of the year and I was convinced that it’d take the top spot on our list come December. I’m still floored by this song of heartbreak by Cadra and genuinely feel it’d fall in the Top 3 in just about in any other year. Obviously Cadra has a smooth country croon, but that’s really just an added bonus (Speaking of added bonuses, Tori Vasquez’ perfect back up vocals). When he says “it just hurts” in the first verse, you know it does. There’s raw emotion there over that ’90s pedal steel line. Whenever we’ve ever spoke with Cadra about his music, he always brings up that he wants to be known as a neo-traditional country revivalist. It’s a mouthful, but it’s the most spot on genre title I’ve ever heard. This guy sings sad songs and waltzes. Luckily, they’re selling this year.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

Melanee06. “Sway” Melanee

Rock and roll is here to stay. Melanee’s “Sway” is sweaty, loud, distorted, on the cusp of chaos, sweaty, guitar driven, sweaty, strutting, sweaty rock and roll music. You can’t help but pay attention. After Red Shahan joined Six Market Blvd. last year, guitarist Will Boreing revealed the band through a series of YouTube videos that really elevated the band into being the “buzz” band of Lubbock. Boreing and fellow guitarist Kyle Perrin, there’s never a dull moment. They’re axe men who take it near the edge of over the top and too excessive, but never fully fall into ego driven guitar play. That doesn’t mean they don’t show off what they’re working with though.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

David Ramirez The Rooster05. “The Bad Days” David Ramirez
The Rooster

 Wait. Isn’t David Ramirez from Austin or something? True, but after spending a huge chunk of the year in Lubbock, you can’t help but acknowledge the fact that he’s an honorary Lubbock songwriter. I’ve still never seen anyone silence a room quicker than him (John Moreland comes a close second.) It’s something that just about everyone has said who’s a fan of Ramirez’ at least once: Oh, you think his albums sound great, he sounds way more awesome live. And that’s saying something when studio versions are pretty much amazing. With “The Bad Days,” Ramirez tackles the struggles of a relationship–the bad days if you will. When you hear it, you can’t help but think “how has someone not already written this chorus?” It’s so simple, you’d have thought many a songwriter would’ve jotted it down at some point. That’s not a knock either. It’s just brilliantly simple. A bare truth. Hopefully, some of those simple truths rubbed off on some Lubbock songwriters (PS, I think it did).–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS 

TerryAllenBottom04. “Emergency Human Blood Courier” Terry Allen
Bottom of the World

 Terry Allen, arguably the greatest Lubbock songwriter ever, doesn’t show one ounce of rust. Bottom of the World is his first full-length record in over a decade. He’s of course been busy doing other things since 1999’s Salivation, but I just find the fact remarkable and astonishing. So when I say “Emergency Human Blood Courier” is one of Allen’s best in years, I truly mean it. As Allen told me last July, he was driving down the highway in Albuquerque and saw the vehicle with “Emergency Human Blood Courier” slapped to the door. He kept saying those words to himself creating what would become the heartbeat and pulse of the song. Throughout, it’s repeated eight times (and nine if you just go with “Emergency human blood.”) It’s refreshing that a song like “Emergency Human Blood Courier” can come on a record in 2013 and still someone be connected to Allen’s first real muse: Juarez. It comes full circle.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

WilliamClarkGreen03. “Rose Queen” William Clark Green
Rose Queen

“She Like’s The Beatles” get a lot of the radio play and press–deservingly so I might add–but the best song on the record is the title track. You wouldn’t expect anything else out of a song written by William Clark Green and Kenneth O’Meara. There’s a definite maturity in Green’s evolution as a songwriter and artist. Rose Queen as a record is Green being done in the minor leagues. “Rose Queen” happens to be the culmination of all that hard work. It has folk and country roots, but those accents of rock are what the record is all about. Green’s maturing vocabulary and phrasing (while still staying fun and loose) is all over this song and never more apparent than “she ran off to college. I stayed my ass back home. She came back sororitized as a teenage debutante.” I know, it’s your favorite line in the song too.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

AmandaShiresDownFell02. “Bulletproof” Amanda Shires
Down Fell the Doves

What can I really say that I’ve not already? Plenty to tell you the truth. I’m just sure you’ve figured it out by now. Once again, Amanda Shires shows us that those who we love the most are often the ones who cut the deepest. Does being bulletproof mean you’re protected from just about everything or do you still have an Achilles Heel? Does having this tiger’s paw ward off thoughts  of you “shotgunning across my mind?” I don’t think “Bulletproof” is Down Fell the Doves is the “hit” song “Devastate” is, but it’s the best song from the record. Where “Devastate” is this raging Fleetwood Macesque tune that’s probably the loudest Shires’ has ever done, “Bulletproof” feels like Shires experimenting and pushing not only herself, but the envelope of what is considered a folk-pop song.–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

DanielMarkhamRuinedMyLife01. “No Mosquitoes” Daniel Markham
Ruined My Life

Can Daniel Markham ruin my life again next year?” Yeah, I know I already said that before…but seriously. While Ruined My Life has these really rocking songs such as “New Blood,” “Killers They Will Creep,” and “I Came to Rock and Roll,” it’s the quieter songs about self-reflection where Markham really shines brightest. He leaves us on a mellow note with “No Mosquitoes.” The Elliott Smithesque melody has some of the best Markham lyrics. Just look: There’s a shadow on the wall cast my strangers both with names I can’t recall. Wonder what they’re doing there. Wonder if they’re going out tonight. Cant say i even care under this lonely moon, so bright.”–THOMAS D. MOONEY, NS

UPDATE: I’d also like to throw out a list of things that are on the slate for release next year. So you know, if you thought they should have been on the list and weren’t, it very well could be due to what was this year, what’s officially next year, and what was released in 2012. This isn’t a full list by no means, but just a list that I’ve tried to keep up with.

Reckless Heart Brandon Adams &  The Sad Bastards
Give It Time Ross Cooper
God of Wind Kenneth O’Meara
Go Thank Yourself Tori Vasquez
TBD Front Porch Family Band 
TBD Washington Revival 
Two Wolves Dave Martinez
TBD Benton Leachman
TBD No Dry County
TBD Melanee
TBD Erick Willis
TBD Lora Markham
TBD Slow Static
TBD Veda Moon
TBD Zac Wilkerson
TBD Strangetowne
TBD Marshall Vines
TBD Mitchell Rambo & The Watery Graves
TBD Wade Bowen
TBD Phlip Coggins
TBD The Diamond Center
TBD Estelline


One response to “Year in Review: Top 100 Lubbock Songs of 2013: 25-1

  1. Pingback: Year in Review: Top Lubbock Albums & EPs | New Slang·

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