The task of creating a list of the 20 best songs to come out of C-U in any given year is a tricky one due to the great diversity of music that exists here. How does one compare hook-laiden indie rock to solemn slide-guitar folk? Or bratty punk to contemplative rap? We at Smile Politely tried our best to put our heads together and make a list of our favorite songs from the past year, with some help from reader-submitted votes.


20. "Shade" — Klevah ft. JEFFdaMC

Old school vibes on this track and the youthful confidence and wisdom radiated by local “femcee” Klevah make this the standout on her album GOLDEN.

19. "Mr. Pee Pants" — Gnargoyle

The shame! A grownup peeing his pants? Gnargoyle has the guts to admit it. Just call Jake Mott Mr. Pee Pants.

18. "Bury Me In My Black Hoodie" — Slam Dinner

Slam Dinner’s clean/scream vocal approach and mathy tones remind me of the late local band Hank., but with a refreshing spin. This song is a perfect finale to their debut tape—it will be exciting to see what they do next.

17. "Juvie Baby" — Chain's Gang

It was sad to see Chain’s Gang split up this year, but not even a week ago a posthumous release, an EP called …Goes To Juvie, surfaced and it’s absolutely killer. The mid-tempo final track takes the cake.

16. "Livin' La Vida Four Loko" — Woodie

Woodie let it all hang out on this track, the centerpiece of their EP Terminally Chill. It’s catchy, melodic, shoegazy punk that isn’t too much of anything because it’s so much of everything.

15. "Book 1" — T.R.U.T.H.

I’m not a rap critic but the production on this track and the strength, vigor and intensity expressed in the delivery make it obviously good.

14. "Bury My Body" — Rebecca Rego & the Trainmen

This little diddy has a repetitive, sing-along chorus that sounds like a group of friends belting it out inside the bar in question.

13. "Sister" — Los Assparados

Posers—we all know one, and we all hate them. Los Assparados have captured this sentiment on the first track of their Fiesta In The USA tape.

12. "Smoke" — Tara Terra

Tara Terra are a young but promising group, and the first track on their debut album Daughter not only showcases the songwriting ability of Emily Otnes but the collaborative abilities of a band six members thick.

11. "My Room" — Nectar

Three-chord simplicity, two-track vocals, sugar and sweetness are at the core of this track.

10. "Party's In the Kitchen" — Bones, Jugs N Harmony

If a song about chips ‘n’ dip and partying doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will. Perhaps a playful xylophone solo? This song does both.

9. "Mondrian" — Acker

Acker has spent the year playing shows, writing songs, and kickstarter-campaigning their way to a new album. Just yesterday they dropped this track ahead of the album’s release, and it’s more than worthy of a top 10 spot on this list, if not just for heavy part at the end—to be listened to at full volume.

8. "Green Grass" — The Chemicals

“Green Grass” is one of those tunes you swear you’ve heard somewhere before the first time you ever listen to it. It’s nothing fancy, but The Chemicals pulled off a simple hit with this one.

7. "One Foot In the Grave" — Kowabunga! Kid

Side A of Kowabunga! Kid’s Halloween flexi introduces a new direction for the band, and it happens to be an insanely good one. More heavy hitting, more punk and less pop, but still uniquely K!K.

6. "Freeway" — Motes

Motes had me with their Feel The Summer’s Heat EP, so the fact that their new single “Freeway” is along the same lines of shoegaze-pop goodness comes as no surprise.

5. "Aquamarine" — Withershins

The rocking, tapped-out opening track to Withershins’ latest album Mt. Fuji In Blue is intense. It’s all waves of guitar distortion and passion—a perfect start to their most mature effort yet.

4. "Outta Control" — Single Player

This is my personal favorite track by Single Player. It’s a little longer than their songs are usually, but who’d object to another catchy chorus?

3. "Half Of Us" — Superior State

The soothing sounds of The Superior State are quite inviting on “Half of Us.” It’s the sound of comfort and a fluttery cross between country and rock a la The War On Drugs.

2. "Mary's Song" — The Fights

The trouble is palpable in every instrument on this track, from the vocals to the forlorn tap of the cymbal. The Fights tell a tale of regret, of “casting shadows,” and of the past.

1. "Cutlery Wives" — The 92s

Dan Durley and co. have made a masterpiece of an album with Television Fuzz, and the stand-out track happens to be the last one on the album. The steady bass line and overall tempo combined with Durley’s apprehensive lyrics make a formula for pop punk perfection.