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Feature /// Lockeland Springsteen’s Favorite Local Songs of 2014

For the first time, Team L/S is proud to have formulated our Top Local Songs of the Year. Voted on by our team, our list follows the songs that impacted us the most, that stirred us, made us cry, made us dance and just dumfounded us with their beauty, originality or even weirdness.

We did it. For the first time, Team L/S is proud to have formulated our Favorite Local Songs of 2014Voted on by our
team – editors Marissa and Emily, writers Katie, Kimberly, Kevin and Shanning and photographer Kate – our list follows the songs that impacted us the most, that stirred us, made us cry, made us dance and just dumfounded us with their beauty, originality or even weirdness.

Hope you enjoy reading as much as we did writing – and listening. Good job, 2014.

– Team L/S 

Nikki photo by Mick Leonardi for Lockeland Springsteen. 

10151868_663223393726481_7536233311836509425_n1. Nikki Lane, “Sleep with a Stranger” ::: So is this what it sounds like when you transport seventies Nashville into a disco scene out of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights? I think so. There are many great songs off of Nikki’s All or Nothin’, but what makes this particular one our tops of the year is both the completely unapologetic groove and completely unapologetic ode to screwing the strangers you meet at bars and not wanting them to call you later. Because in a year where popstars continued to dance pantless and country singers saw women as a nice accessory to go with your truck, you could even call this feminism – except with Nikki, the song’s doing the seducing. Catchy, loose and wild, it’s not a slutty action or a slutty song. It’s confident, oozing from the speakers like a snake-charmer hum – maybe it reminds you of a night where you wish you just enjoyed things without feeling guilty, or makes you wistful for a debaucherous evening you wish you had the guts to live out. I’m not going to tell you which it riles in me, but we’ll happily divulge a secret that the world’s finally getting clued in on: it’s Nikki’s time to reign. – MRM

2. Sturgill Simpson, “Turtles All the Way Down” ::: It’s a rare instance when I remember the exact moment I firstunnamed listened to something, but with Sturgill, I can recall it clear as day. This is because the second the first licks of Metamodern Sounds in Country Music came through my car speakers, I missed my house. I drove right by and kept going, up Woodland Street, down 17th, and turned left all the way into Shelby Park where I parked by the pond, next to a few kids picnicking at a table and a couple of lost-looking geese. And I stayed there, through the entire album, even though I was late on a deadline and low on gas and had to pee, because I couldn’t stop listening. I lingered on this song in particular, as it warped country music into an otherworldly universe, turning string theory into something that happens on a guitar neck and not just in physics. But for all the pontificating and deconstructing critics have done (including myself), there’s such a deep, visceral element to Simpson’s music that rattles your bones as well as your brain – the kind of rattle that pulls you over to the side of the road to listen, absorb – that even if you don’t care about what theorists he references or drugs he’s taken or if he’s the savior of this or that, you’re still completely compelled to take every last note in. – MRM

IMG_07553. Jack White, “Lazaretto” ::: It’s safe to say this was Jack White‘s biggest year ever–and a year of change for me as well. A month after I moved to Nashville, Lazaretto dropped, I walked into Third Man Records for the first time, and experienced my first Bonnaroo–in which Jack delivered the most satisfying performance of his career to date (shame on you if you missed it). If this warm welcome to the south was a preview of what was to come for life in Nashville, I wish I had known sooner to soak it in more. The title track off Jack’s second solo album is undeniably electric, a force to be reckoned with allowing all of its parts to shine–each and every member. No riff is left unnoticed and the delivery of lyrics like, “When I say nothing / I say everything” leaves you feeling like you spat in someone’s face as Jack does in the video. It’s raw, loud and unforgettable. On top of all that compacted into the first single, the Laz Ultra LP contains a bevy of bells and whistles giving people who have never thought to invest in vinyl a new reason to begin. – Kimberly B

4. The Weeks, “Book of Ruth” ::: I have found my sister in a sea of Bonnaroovians to belt “Brother in the Night” and step side-to-side with her, and I’ve seen this band play four times in the past seven months, so I think it’s fair to say that I am committed to loving The Weeks.  This five-piece, Mississippi-molded collective arrived in Nashville in 2011 with an identity and intention to stay true to their Southern roots, while letting talent and time take a welcomed tole on the band’s current sound. “Book Of Ruth,” released this year on their Buttons EP, stands out on the four-song release as one that audibly admits their growth as a band and their cohesive and rhythm-driven nature, and lyrically, it matches their discography of confessions and first-person interactions. And if you have yet to experience this track, there’s no better way than to watch The Weeks perform the song at one of our very own Lockeland Sessions. -Katie IMG_5939

5. Stacey Randol, “Fables” ::: I’ve had my eye on Stacey Randol for a while now – there’s something about her sweet, choral folksongs that have a thick layer of moody melancholy buried beneath striking poetic lyrics and unique orchestration that stands out in a crowded Americana mass. And “Fables,” the first song off of her album of the same name, stopped me in my tracks. “Don’t get down, that’s just how I am wound,” she sings, her vocals mixed to expose every little syllable, “I don’t belong where I am needed.” Like Stevie Nicks meets Fleet Foxes, the mood set by the track is nearly as evocative as the storytelling – you can see it move in like a steady fog, you can feel it envelop you. A true masterpiece hits on all your senses – I’ve never been one to believe that music’s just for the listening. This one touches them all. – MRM

6. Foreign Fields, “Little Lover” ::: A taste of what we can expect to hear on Foreign Field’s next album release, “Little Lover” is a perfect reflection of what has caused me to turn repeatedly to the electronic-folk group’s masterful productions. Though its lyrics weigh heavy inside the duo’s haunting harmonies, the rhythmic precision, perfectly placed ascensions, and timely pauses create the backdrop to any story requiring both the exploration and exorcism of intense and undefined emotion. 2014 was a year of hiking unchartered territory in the great range of feelings with which I have been blessed. This song became my constant companion, the kind of empathic friend that walks into your deepest internal terrains one step ahead to light the way. – EK

IMAG0015_1 copy7. Pujol, “Judas Booth” ::: Daniel Pujol’s triumphant glam pop masterpiece KLUDGE starts with a few seconds of lo-fi cassette recording before unspooling into a stark confession: “I’m getting back into the swing of things, I had a real bad year.” The sudden, anthemic sweep of the song’s chorus resolves to put behind a shitty time, Pujol’s true salvation coming in the form of no longer giving a fuck. As someone who has had a similarly turbulent 2014 that found me dropping the comforts of my longtime hometown to move to Nashville, I can relate to the sentiment. – Kevin

8. Cory Branan, “All I Got And Gone” ::: What happens when you mix the more macabre elements of Bob Dylan’s ModernProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Times with the street sound of Parisian accordions, all within the blessed terrain of our great southern  landscape? Besides being an impeccable and unique recording tucked inside one of the best albums of the year, Cory Branan creates a thumping cinematic pulse inside “All I Got And Gone.” The lyrics conjure image as clear as a film montage, weaving between personifications of spooky, weathered atmosphere, and the confines of a room cluttered with memory and resentment. For me, the song has been the 2014 impetus to clearing out the past, cleaning up the scrapbook remains of what seemed to be all I had and what is no longer here, as I wipe the slate clean from tangled engagements to welcome the new year. – EK

9. All Them Witches, “The Marriage of Coyote Woman” :: I must admit, hadn’t heard of All Them Witches were before I moved to Nashville, but they are certainly one of my favorite local discoveries thus far. Although I wasn’t in town yet for their Live On The Green appearance, the word of mouth surrounding this band has grown to deafening levels. “The Marriage of Coyote Woman,” from the excellent Lightning at the Door, takes shades of Led Zeppelin and transforms them into full-on brushstrokes. This isn’t your dad’s blues rock, and it isn’t yours either, it’s something unique entirely. – Kevin (Editor’s note: Kate was at both the LOTG and recent Third & Lindsley performance and is “still putting the pieces of herself back Processed with VSCOcam with m1 presettogether”).

10. Apache Relay, “Katie Queen of Tennessee” ::: Smack in the middle of my twenties there remain snapshots of former relationships, laden with lust, sparkling with nostalgia, slivers of images that would glide easily over Lou Reed’s rendition of “This Magic Moment.” With its throwback beats and whimsical sopranos, “Katie Queen of Tennessee” is one of the most perfectly crafted love songs of 2014. It represents a certain brand of innocence, one easily associated with a Pleasantville-type existence, harkening images of a charming and antiquated kind of courtship. The strength of this song comes in its ability to superimpose a fictional veil over all my Tennessee relationships. Between a singing violin and one of the catchiest hooks of the years, The Apache Relay succeeds in crafting three minutes of perfectly arranged major-chord pop. In truth, all my southern-state affairs have been as soured as the rest, but the sweet odes to darling Katie, the Queen transforms even the most sordid former flames in the power of its imagery. – EK

11. Luke Bell, “Sometimes” ::: I don’t always listen to country music, but when I do, I want it to sound like Luke Bell’s “Sometimes.” This track off Bell’s latest album Don’t Mind if I Do could easily pass for a classic country tune cut straight out of Sun Records. Mixing together the type of down and honest lyrics and a rich, full tone you expect to hear from the likes of George Jones or Elvis Presley with upbeat piano riffs that make you feel like you’re listening to a honky-tonk jukebox, “Sometimes” is just one of those greats that gets stuck in your head and won’t go away. An example of just plain good songwriting at its best. – SN

12. Joe Fletcher, “Florence, Alabama” ::: In an age where we have the capability to manipulate sounds any way we want, Joe Fletcher sticks to simplicity – cutting out the production thrills and stripping down letting his voice and pure songwriting talent shine in “Florence, Alabama.” Joe sticks beautifully true to the traditional styling of an unaccompanied, chorusless, bridgeless Townes-esque folk ballad. – SN

13. Boom Forest, “Baby Teeth” ::: Blending celestial vocals with woodland acoustics, Boom Forest fine-tunes the recipe for audible nostalgia. A stunner, through and through. – EK

14. Alanna Royale, “Nobody Else” ::: Alanna Royale playfully explores dynamics in the powerful emotionally driven “Nobody Else,” weaving together quiet, intimate verses and powerful, horn heavy build-ups. With an undeniably powerful voice, Alanna plays it cool on this song, smooth and low key, bringing a rich roundness that provides for a sultry experience. – SN

15. Music Band, “Take It Back” ::: Classically, Nashville is known for crisp production quality and firm structure, but Music Band could care less about those preconceived notions. And boy, are we thankful. – Kevin

16. Adia Victoria, “Stuck in the South” : An L/S early discovery with a southern gothic vamp that haunts your soul and twists your mind. But please don’t clap just because she’s a girl with a guitar – if Adia doesn’t take you to task for that, I will. (But she probably will – Adia has diehard conviction, and music’s the vehicle to deliver it to us vehemently). – MRM

17. Cale Tyson, “Fool of the year”:  Don’t call it a Throwback: this is modern honky tonk done right, with creative instrumentation and lyrical thrills that make this country perfectly-suited for the state we’re in but built on the bones of the past. – MRM

18. Fly Golden Eagle, “Tangible Intangible” ::: This song is like sitting in the back of an old car cruising through dreamy fall foliage to a destination unknown. At least that’s what I would like to be doing with this song in my speakers. – Kimberly B

19. Bully, “Brainfreeze” :::  Grunge guitar meets a head-strong chick with an opinion to sing and a powerful band to back her. 2014’s band crush debuted with a five-song riot of an EP and has left us all wanting more. – KA

20. Maren Morris, “Loose Change” ::: Dynamite hooks mixed with a singular rasp and a chorus that beats anything currently climbing country radio – but still ringing totally pure. A frequent co-writer in town, we’re waiting with breath that is bated for Maren to release a record herself, and, if “Loose Change” is any indication, it will be a total stunner. – MRM

21. Kim Logan, “Neighborhood” ::: Kim Logan brings her black magic voodoo queen persona back in full force for
unnamed-1“Neighborhood.” Delving deep into the personal experiences she’s had pursuing a music career, sharing creative experiences and falling in love, Logan brilliantly speaks about the nature of competition between friends and lovers in the close knit artistic and musical community in Nashville and the difficult decisions and temptations that inevitably arise along the way. Logan keeps true to her rock and roll soul and alluring, soulful nature in this jam, and that’s why we love her. – SN

22.Evan P. Donohue, “Tell Me, Sara” ::: In another section of the audio-magnetic spectrum sits Donohue outside of his punk home in Diarrhea Planet, and with “Tell Me, Sara” he concludes his 2014 album with a track unlike anything else on his sophomore release. It’s a soundscape of hypnotic resonances, surfaced by a sweet and free melody and Donohue’s effortless yet invested voice. The track reverberates a musical style that distinguishes his work from Nashville’s beloved rockers and gives him every reason to claim space on our list. – KA

23. Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes, “Phantoms” :::  A cinematic melody latched to a syncopated beat, a song that could find a home within the heart of anyone’s modern-day melodrama. – EK

24. Diarrhea Planet, “Platinum Girls” ::: Recently named the “Best Live Act In America” by Paste Magazine, our local pop-punk gods take a step towards becoming one of the country’s best bands as well. – Kevin

25. Lera Lynn, “Letters” ::: Fourth drink sentiments sung with authenticity that haunts you and a melody that lingers on your breath. And just like those conjured feelings, Lynn’s progression is unanticipated and painfully beautiful.  – KA

26. Margo Price, “Since You Put Me Down” :: Heartbreak-laced poetry sung through a reincarnated vocal standard and stratified over nostalgic sounds of lap steel guitar. This song is the reason Price has been mentioned in the same sentence as Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette–she’s doing something right. – KA

27. Night Beds, “Me Liquor and God” ::: Night Beds’ debut album was called Country Sleep and consisted of gorgeously orchestrated Americana tunes. On the newly released “Me Liquor and God”, the strings are replaced by synths in the service of one of the most intriguing projects coming out of Music City. – Kevin

28. Joshua Black Wilkins, “New York or Louisiana” ::: A wistful folksong delicately dragged through the dirt, frayed in all the right places. – MRM

29. Kelsey Waldon, “Town Clown” ::: It’s just good, ole country with a Kentucky accent and a super-smart tongue that hints back to the original Nashville – reinventing a narrative, twangy voice for a new generation. – KA

30. Natural Child, “Nashville’s a Groovy Little Town” ::: A light-hearted symphony of grunge-rock to epitomize the more upbeat notes of our city. – EK

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