By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
Cary Brothers "Comes and Goes (In Waves)" by Greg Laswell It seems that it's difficult for some musicians to be friends. Jealousy, skinny-jeans envy, hooked up with same girl in Tucson, etc. Luckily, it's hard not to find like-minded scoundrels at the Hotel Cafe in L.A. Laswell's a good buddy and, damn, if he's not a ridiculously talented songwriter, too. Out of my gratefulness for friends, I pick this tune because he wrote it right as a bunch of us were having tough transitions in life this year. It reminds me of friends. Oh, and whiskey, too . . . but mostly friends.
Tom Gabel, Against Me! "More News from Nowhere" by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds The closing track off of Cave's Dig Lazarus, Dig!!!, a record which, in my opinion, is the best album of 2008. It's no wonder that Cave did such an incredible job on the movie The Proposition. Instead of using his songs to make soundtracks for movies, you could easily write movies around his songs.
Matt Fazzi, Taking Back Sunday "Unparallel Rabbits" by Gavin Castleton "Unparallel Rabbits" is incredibly dense, dark, and haunting. And I love the way he creates such a vivid picture of these two lovers whose relationship has soured by way of complacency. I'm thankful for his brave approach to songwriting and musicianship, which push me to expand how I look at my own ideas and tendencies and boundaries. I'm grateful that there are artists out there like Gavin, who are a slave to their art first and foremost, above all else.
Dan Nigro, As Tall As Lions "Starlings" by Elbow Elbow has always been a band for me that takes pop songs into a new direction, and this was one of the first things that inspired me to begin the . . . writing process [for our new record]. The lack of urgency in this song reminded me that patience can be one of the most fulfilling thing about listening to music.
Ingrid Michaelson "Make You Go Crazy" by Brett Dennen It makes me smile, ear to ear. His melody catches you instantly. And then, when you hear the words, you are sold.
John Vesely, Secondhand Serenade "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz I picked up Jason's new album as soon as it was out on iTunes, and I knew this song was going to be a huge hit, and, lo and behold, it's doing really big things. It's definitely one of those songs that just makes you feel calm and happy no matter what the environment is when you play it, as if summer weren't going to end.
Al Barr, Dropkick Murphys "Career Opportunities" by The Clash From their Live at Shea Stadium album, released this year! It is amazing how this song and this band hold up with music that was recorded well over 20 years ago. This is as important today as it was then — maybe even more. Long live the memory of Joe Strummer!
Taylor Swift "Best Days of Your Life" by Kellie Pickler I had so much fun writing this with my best friend, Kellie! The song really helped her get past an old relationship, and helped me to get my first cut on another artist's album. It's a really important song for me as a writer.
Butch Walker "Chopped N Skewed" by T-Pain I'm grateful for the fact that I can write songs, but I will never be as talented yet, at the same time, as ridiculous as [T-Pain]. I wish I could allow myself the ability to just let go of being so serious or clever all the time, and just say something retarded like, "Shit's so hot, I gotta stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge, stick it in the fridge." Actually, I just patented and trademarked that song as we speak, so don't any of you assholes try to jock it.
Rachael Yamagata "Pretty Bird" by Jenny Lewis I'm grateful this year for Jenny Lewis' song "Pretty Bird" from her new record, Acid Tongue. Her entire record stunned me and I love it. And this song, in particular, has such a laid-back swank and lilting vocal melody mixed with gritty yet romantic electric guitars — right up my alley. Muchos gracias, Lewis.