New Year’s Tracks: Restarting the clock on a (hopefully) better year

New Year's

Courtesy Kaique Rocha

Happy New Year from the RIFF Team!

We decided to do something a little different for our weekly Tuesday Tracks new music column. Below, we present to you 10 tracks to help settle in to the first day of 2018. Some of these are traditional, while some are newer anthems that mark new beginnings. Whether you celebrated with a wild night out or nested on a warm, soft couch and are using this time for some serious self-reflection, we have a song to help enhance your turn-of-the-year experience.

1. Death Cab For Cutie — “The New Year”

Transatlanticism’s opening track is a personal New Year’s staple, and not just for its title. “So this is the new year/ and I don’t feel any different,” sings frontman Ben Gibbard. Its practical observations of turn-of-the-year festivities might not make the song one to party to. However, the tune provides an ideal soundtrack for those who get pensive with every fresh calendar year.


2. Beach House — “New Year”

If you feel lost in your own world, obsessing about what’s to come, you’re not alone. In its signature dream-pop style, Beach House spends “New Year” thinking of the hazy possibilities the future holds. “Stranger things will come before you,” cautions vocalist Victoria Legrand. While the looks of 2018 might not be too clear yet, Beach House’s reverie of a melody can definitely help you embrace the uncertainty.


3. BØRNS — “Past Lives”

“Past Lives” by BØRNS is the perfect ode to a new beginning. In the song, the Michigan-based singer waves goodbye to an old self, allowing better things—in this case, a better love—to come his way. Set to a beat that only gets grander, the lines “The timing is right/ The stars are aligned” make for the most hopeful start to a new year.


4. Toro Y Moi — “New Beat”

Toro Y Moi’s “New Beat” features artist Chaz Bear finding balance between his past and present, all to the grooviest rhythm. With lyrics like “Tried to make ends meet/ But picked up a new beat,” the song is as infectious in hope as it is in melody. Without a doubt, “New Beat” will put the “fresh” in your fresh start to 2018.


5. The Hotel Café Medley — “Auld Lang Syne”

This supergroup—consisting of vocals by Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Joshua Radin and more—does a haunting cover of “Auld Lang Syne” that sets the right mood for a lot of reflection. Translating to “for old time’s sake,” the traditional Scottish tune bids to celebrate old friends, even as time goes on. While the group’s rendition is one of the song’s many musical interpretations, the original sentiment still tugs at your heartstrings as much as ever.


6. Regina Spektor — “My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)”

No one does a sentimental mood quite like Regina Spektor. With her gentle vocals and soft piano melodies, Spektor allows listeners to take in the new year with peace and tenderness. “A happy new year to all that is living/ To all that is gentle, young and forgiving,” sings Spektor. Her tender tone is soothing enough to heal any of your past sorrows, and maybe even your hangover from New Year’s Eve festivities.


7. The Head and the Heart — “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

Popularized by greats like Ella Fitzgerald, The Head and the Heart’s version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” is equally as sweet. With its puppy love innocence and playful piano lines, the tune will surely bring warmth to your New Year, and not just because the video features a Yule log.


8. Asobi Seksu — “New Years”

Asobi Seksu mixes soft tones with occasional rugged riffs in “New Years.” Together, the juxtaposing elements have a dreamy disposition that’s sure to make your heart race with bliss and excitement. The lyrics are in Japanese, but whether or not you understand the language, Asobi Seksu has a way with sound that will undoubtedly add magic to your New Year’s soundtrack.


9. The Airborne Toxic Event — “Sometime Around Midnight”

The Airborne Toxic Event could have been talking about any midnight hour on any given date. However, “Sometime Around Midnight” can easily be the soundtrack for when the clock strikes 12 and into the new year. Through sweeping orchestral parts mixed with the raspy croon of vocalist-guitarist Mikel Jollet, the song captures the chaos and the clamor of a boozy night out on New Year’s Eve.


10. Camera Obscura — “Happy New Year”

Camera Obscura’s New Year’s song contemplates of new beginnings. It puts into focus a present situation that requires a fresh approach. Although its lyrics are honest and heavy (“Happy new year, you are my only vice/ What if we compromised?”), the tune carries the conversation with a sweet tone. It’s definitely a mood-lifter for a pleasant New Year’s full of reflecting.

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