Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Songs of the Year... number 19- #1

Here are the best songs of the year, in my humble estimation (from 19-1)

19) Cheney's Toy by James McMurtry (funny/harsh diatribe against all things Bush. Here are the lyrics)

18) A-Punk- Vampire Weekend (while I think this bad lacks nothing in the chops, musicianship, performance category, I think they miss out on passion. It is all quite sterile, but the songs are ridiculously catchy. This is the best of many)

17) Skinny Love- Bon Iver (this song and Flume could be the same spot on this. They are equal in ravaged beauty)

16) Sex on Fire- Kings of Leon (the album barely misses my list, but this song rocks.. in an old fashioned kick ___ way)

15) The Twist- Frightened Rabbit (to find one song from this phenomenal album was tough. I could go with Modern Leper or Fast Blood for intensity, but something is special about this song- like all of theirs, yearning for human touch and attention. The lyrics are deceptively simple and devastatingly aching. These guys have all 5 qualities, topping it off with absolute passionate delivery)

14) Handlebars- The Flobots (it took me a few listens to like this song, beyond the admission something special was happening. The more I listen... the more I like. It builds towards a surprisingly powerful climax)

13) California Girls- Magnetic Fields (Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys please meet Jesus and the Mary Chain. Can you come up with a song... make it sound sugar sweet, but be mean as hell?)

12) L.E.S. Artistes- Santogold (hard to pick between this and The Creator. I went with my gut. Gwen Stafani only wishes she could do it like this)

11) Rages of Babylon- Joseph Arthur (as good as anything this masterful artist has done. This song is also devastatingly haunting, taking the perspective of a soldier fighting a "rich man's war" and hoping his family will remember him when he comes home, maybe in a bag. Play for the 20% that still think this war was worth it. Download it here)

10) Mercy- Duffy (Amy Winehouse without the issues. A modern Dusty Springfield. Call her whatever you want. She sings really cool songs, at once steeped in the 60s and modern. This is a great song)

9) Violet Hill- Coldplay (what? A Colpdplay song in my Top 10? Per usual, Coldplay writes one great song per album. When I first heard this, I thought... finally. We are in for what Album #2 promised. Alas, no. The album is mediocre. But, this song is great rock 'n roll and the lyrics are not as inane as prototypical Chris Martin rhymes)

8) Sultan- What Made Milwaukee Famous (pitch perfect power pop- the greatest of all genres. If you like the old Christian band PFR, you will love this. If you like ELO or Cheap Trick, this is perfection)

7) White Winter Hymnal- Fleet Foxes (they can be a bit precious for my tastes, but they do Brian Wilson better than anyone. They also do CS&N better, which is not my favorite. This is a beautiful song, full of the rich harmonies seldom heard outside a church)

6) Bang! Bang!- The Knux (when Rock 'n Roll and Rap mix it is always sketchy. This is what is supposed to sound like)

5) Constructive Summer- The Hold Steady (sounds like a song celebrating partying, but ends up contemplating God and death. How can you do that and sound like so much fun? Best lyrics of the year. I must quote these here*, since they make me think each time I hear them)

4) Bye Bye Bye- Plants and Animals (so, like, what if Queen was... a , you know, jam band? Dude, that would be soooo cool. Actually it would be. Seriously)

3) Furr- Blitzen Trapper (a song about a guy turning into a wolf, that I connect to. Hmmm. It channels Neil Young, The Dead and Dylan through Wilco and creates something wholly new. Enjoy this infectious tune. It is free for dowload some places)

2) Grounds for Divorce- Elbow (if they did not use it for the latest Coen Brothers film, no one would have heard it. that would be a shame. Has the great line "There's a hole in my neighbourhood down which of late I cannot help but fall"  and a killer hook. This is what Coldplay wish they were. By the way, this is my ringtone)

1) Time To Pretend- MGMT (the trendy critics are right. This is the perfect pop song. Lyrically astute, conjuring up a myriad of emotions, even though you will dismiss them if not careful... and you can dance to it. It never leaves your head. As good as any song of the past few years)

*I went to your schools, I did my detention

But the walls are so gray, I couldn't pay attention
I heard your gospel- it moved me to tears,
But I couldn't find the hate, and I couldn't find the fear
I met your Savior, I knelt at his feet,
And he took my ten bucks, and he went down the street
I tried to believe all the things that you said,
But my friends that aren't dying are already dead.

Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer
I think he might've been our only decent teacher
Getting older makes it harder to remember?we are our only saviors
We're gonna build something, this summer

2 comments:

Curious said...

Hmm...MGMT's song "Time to Pretend" is from 2005 (that was on their EP of the same name). How then does it qualify for song of the year this year? I guess a re-release counts for this year?

Rick said...

The Time to Pretend we hear on the radio was recorded for their latest album and released in 2008.

The version from 2005 is different, even if subtly.