42. Phosphorescent "Song For Zula"
Producer: Matthew Houck
Label: Dead Oceans
For his album Muchacho, singer/songwriter Matthew Houck moved to a small town in Mexico to take a break from his life. One listen to "Song For Zula" and that story is very believable. It's the music of a man who's been doing a lot of thinking, and there's a calm wisdom that seeps through those damaged but not quite broken vocals. Avoiding the of-the-moment sounds that so often dominate popular indie music, Houck strikes a bittersweet chord with dramatic violin strings, rubbery bass, and a lush arrangement that makes "Song For Zula" one of the most powerful pieces of music of the year so far. —Jacob Moore