In the meantime, I'm a bit behind on tracking down YouTube links, but they're all on Spotify.
CD #1: Courtney Barnett, "Sometimes I Sit and Stare, and Sometimes I Just Sit"
Honestly, all of it is pretty entertaining except the last two tracks that tend to drag, but I have deemed these the top highlights.
15. Elevator Operator
I'm not suicidal, just idling insignificantly
A very talky song with lots going on in the lyrics, it caught my interest right away, but the above is one of the most standout excellent lines in recent music.
Then I see the handrail in the shower
A collection of those canisters for coffee, tea and flour
And a photo of a young man in Vietnam
Starts as a pretty reflection on buying a house in the suburbs, ends in a sad place where I wonder if people buy newly built houses to avoid the sadness of buying a home that someone only left because they died.
17. Aqua Profunda!
I saw you in the lane next to me
You were doing freestyle
This is just a silly little story about seeing a cute guy at the pool and him having no idea you exist. But something about the music and the overall tone makes me think of both the 1960s and Pushing Daisies, specifically the aunts' water routine.
18. Dead Fox
Never having too much money, I get the cheap stuff at the supermarket
But they're all pumped up with ****
A super appetizing title, I know...but an oddly catchy number about the problems of corporations.
19. Debbie Downer
I'm sorry for all my insecurities but it's just part of me
Courtney Barnett songs defy explanation for why they hook you, aside from the fact that this one is nice and fast. And again, I really like the line above.
20. Brianna Lane - Letters from a Lighthouse
In a lighthouse, in a dark room, up the winding stairs
With a teacup and a stir spoon and a wooden chair
I'm sipping on chamomile while writing you a letter
And I know that one more pretty word won't make it any better
OH GOSH, this is such a pretty description of a sad breakup and it literally takes place inside a lighthouse; I don't know how to cope. It's so very elegant and latter-year that I don't even know which couplet is most evocative so I'm just going to give you the option of reading all the ones after this.
[lyrics!]This isn't the first dear you
This isn't the last envelope sealed
The quill to the parchment, the ink to the thumb
The light to the captain, the sea to the sun
This isn't the first dear you
This isn't the last envelope sealed
You are getting used to this, this distance
You are getting used to this, this skipping of stones alone
This being alone
I am writing you of mermaids and the color of the sky
You love being land locked, and you've said your goodbyes
This isn't the last envelope sealed
Now I'm breathing underwater, under wind and the waves
Swimming downward past shipwrecked remains
CD #2: Brianna Lane, “Radiator,” which might be turning into one of my all-time favorite albums. I mean, I tend to skip Cowboy Hat and the last track, but otherwise, they are all unique.
21. Good Guys
We did well with what we had
My childhood wasn't all that bad
My mom played roles of mom and dad
We were the good guys
My immediate favorite on this CD -- a really sweet and wonderful ode to her mom that makes me tear up like every other time I hear it. And made all the better since she grew up in Minnesota near me at around the same time, and references the state by name at one point.
Clock circles round, big hand's down
Street lamps just turned on
I watch the door, just one more
Cup and then I'll be gone
That great guitar riff is a great kick-off to open to the album, and if you're me, then before you can decide whether you want to stay on this track, you're drawn in by the context-free descriptions of nameless people as the picture of her at a coffee shop on a rainy night slowly fills in and adds backstory. I'm really impressed by this song's structure, in other words.
23. Still Alive
I want you to burn my body when I die
Save me from a long goodbye
A nice little laid-back piece about appreciating people before they're gone, possibly from the viewpoint of someone who doesn't have much longer.
[the lyrics, again, are all really good and hard to find online, so voila]So you say it ain't fair, you won't have a chance to say goodbye
I know it's true, I can be a drama queen sometimes
Half life, past life, heaven and hell and angels
I think I'm beginning to believe in all these things
When I go, I don't want you to cry
Love counts more on this side of the light
24. Dreams & Nightmares
Should I kiss you on the cheek?
Could I sing you to sleep?
Who do you want me to be to you?
I just really like the music in this one.
25. Wrong Hands
I lie awake composing letters to my love
Wondering if these words will ever see the page
I'm in a real Blaine headspace for this one and feeling for the narrator as a result. It also has a kind of cool Western feel.
26. Brianna Lane – Lovely
I called myself, I called myself lovely
There ain't nobody else now gonna call me that but me
This song really struck me a few days after I saw that a girl who was really nice to me in high school had just gotten divorced after almost 10 years of a young marriage, and from her appearance and new profile pic, I briefly wondered if it was because she was a lesbian. Further sifting proved this doubtful, but I also noticed that she made some insecure comments about her weight as a newly-single person, while trying to have more positive self-image. Long story short, this song makes me think of her.
27. Rachel Platten – Fight Song
Like a small boat on the ocean
Sending big waves into motion
Radio has been super terrible and disappointing lately, but then I heard this. It sounds like it's been around for 10 years already, at least. Instant modern classic. Delicate voice and lovely piano work.
Bonus CD: How I Met Your Music
I finally looked up the iTunes-only album on an alternate service (you'll never guess where that link goes!), and immediately fell in love and became obsessed with every single track*. I liked most of them within episode context the first time around, so I feel like it'd be pointless to separate out the ones I didn't love before, but I spent literally 20 straight days of May listening to nothing but this playlist until I saw Pitch Perfect 2.
*except for Ode to Virginia. NEVER WILL WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT GROSSNESS EXISTS. Even the Beaver Song is easier to redeem.
Bonus CD: Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack. I'm just going to tell you right now that I listen to this album in full almost every time, skipping only Flashlight. (although to be fair I also skip the Christmas mashup more than half the time). It is musical perfection, but it's hard to separate out the individuals given how short most of them are, so I'm only going to address one single that I feel can stand on its own:
28. Esther Dean – Crazy Youngsters
Time is running out, but who cares
We're running free
Just a really wonderful song that captures the whole idea of being approximately 13-26. Its title looks like some kind of club track, but oh man, it is not that way it all. It lifts up your soul.
29. We Are Never Ever Getting Bad Blood – Taylor Swift as mashed up by...I have no idea who created it.
We are never, ever, ever getting back together
Now we got problems
And I don't think we can solve 'em
I've only heard Bad Blood once, but now it will always sound wrong because this mashup is too brilliant. This is Glee-quality stuff right here. (And yes. I have already cried that Glee is no longer around to create this.)