New Year's music is far better than Christmas music
New Year's is undeniably emo
Warning: You'll either feel great about yourself or bad about songwriters in this section. Diary-prone emo-leaning musicians are glued to New Year's Eve thought-probing. Now, before any nattering breaks out, know that we acknowledge that using the word "emo" is dated, reductive and a borderline slur to music that is anything but bad (well, some of it). But, when you look at the lyrical content of these songs, there's a unifying level of existential dread that comes along. Plus, this stuff is great for movie soundtracks.
Cursive's Tim Kasher is the angry guy at the punch bowl who still remembers how things still sucked 12 months ago when everyone was doing this last. "So break in the new year with a vintage wine / Here's to aging, when some things just get bitter with age," he sings in "Break in the New Year."
Twin Cities product Motion City Soundtrack have multiple songs on their 2006 album Commit This to Memory referencing the turning of the year, including "Together We'll Ring in the New Year." Justin Pierre wails, "These humans all suck/ I'd rather be home feeling violent and lonely." But that's nothing compared to Thursday's "Jet Black New Year" in which Geoff Rickly proclaims "the air is cut with cyanide." Sigh, what's in the medicine cabinet?
Zooey's ex Ben Gibbard actually got this one right on Death Cab for Cutie's "The New Year," from arguably their final great album, Transatlanticism. While there's a fair amount of defeatism laced within its first half, the song ultimately rumbles through with a coda of positivity -- even if it's just a fantasy.
What better time for obfuscation about disposable art than the dawn of the New Year?
After a string of literal pittances, leave it to Leonard Cohen to completely fog up the window of what a fresh 365 can be about on one of his Songs of Love and Hate to "Last Year's Man." A poem that could be unpacked in paragraphs aplenty, here we'll resign to say that amidst the religious imagery and vivid description, Cohen makes a chilling observation about the longevity of any of our creative pursuits. "All the rain falls down, amen, on the work of last year's man," can either be read as a chance to have a literal clean slate of creative projects after an unproductive year -- or the damning reality that no one's going to remember the successes of a past season.
Speaking of, "You say the whole point of everything's the moving on/ And I can't help but feel somewhat opposed to this/ My shit has been torched by fascists, or in some small way, we're all traitors to our own kind." That's Destroyer's Dan Bejar amidst a bank of guitar riffage and warm ambiance of "My Favorite Year," bidding farewell to an artistic high that is often lost before a project's even complete.