Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BEST SONGS OF 2009: 100 - 76

The countdown towards Best Song of 2009 continues!  Today, we'll be taking a look at Songs 100 down to 76.  If you haven't yet seen our write-up for songs 125-101 you can start the countdown from the top by clicking here...

(Otherwise, click READ MORE below to see songs 100-76 after the jump.)

100- Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More
The Avett Brothers had our vote for best folk album of the year on lock down until Marcus Mumford (and his 'sons') put out their passionate debut album Sigh No More.  Technically a 2010 release in the US, The London-based folk-trio's album hit UK shelves in October.
(MP3 not available until the official US release)

99- Real Estate - Fake Blues
This surf-rock from the Turnpike state is a few notches up the evolutionary scale from the 'Jersey Shore'.  Light on the lyrics and heavy on the reverb, 'Fake Blues' is both cold and optimistic, like a foggy April morning on a dirty Atlantic City Beach.

98- Fink - Sort of Revolution
The title-track to the London-based singer and producer's latest album puts him somewhere on the musical spectrum between Bon Iver and John Legend.

97- Ugly Purple Sweater - Jumbo Slice
Far more delightful than that present from your Grandmother, this DC-based duo puts out a warm brand of fun and accessible folk.  If that doesn't sell you, 'Jumbo Slice' even comes complete with a chorus of kazoos!
(No link, but you can listen to 'Jumbo Slice' and download their entire album right here.)

96- The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)
The album may play better as a whole, but 'The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)' gets an honorary nod on behalf of the entire release- a rare, sum-of-its-parts theme album in the age of iTunes and 30-second samples.  Also, there's a really cryptic chorus of children... Like, 'Children of the Corn' creepy.

95- The Avett Brothers - I and Love, and You
The Avett Brothers had a breakout 2009, and you need only grab a vanilla latte at your local Starbucks to notice the prevalence of their sixth-album and major-label debut.  While the band no doubt deserves it, the acclaim may be a double-edged sword for some of their original fan-base.

94- Washed Out - Feel it all Around
2009 was apparently the year of atmospheric, lo-fi synth, with artists like Washed Out, VHS Head and Neon Indian going wild for 80's nostalgia and faux-blurry transfers.  The other two artists in question are soon to appear on the list, but "Feel it all Around' is a fresh, chill beginning for Washed Out.

93- La Roux - In for the Kill
Speaking of nostalgia for the 80's, this throwback puts simple synth-pop on display against the beautiful and bountiful vocals of Elly Jackson on 'In for the Kill'.

92- Moby - Shot in the Back of the Head
Perhaps fallen from his perch atop the pop-chart radar, Moby has devoted his energy to continuing to make relevant music for his core fan-base.  Perhaps the best-case example from his latest album Wait For Me is 'Shot in the Back of the Head' in which the song's melody unfolds via backwards guitar riffs.

91- Health - Die Slow
"Die Slow" is both fun and menacing.  The soft vocals and dreamy electro-pop collide destructively against the raw, assembly-line industrial sound of Health.

90- Eels - Fresh Blood
Having made a healthy career off of churning out solid rock tunes backed by focused emotional themes, Eels put out Hombre Lobo in 2009.  Subtitled '12 Songs of Desire' the album is clearly intended to meet any emotional disposition, be it the need to pout over a girl or punch somebody in the face.  In this case, 'Fresh Blood' is more of the later.

89- St. Vincent - Actor Out of Work
An interesting assortment of straight-forward rock, ambiguous poetry and a section of horns so oddly placed that it actually seems fitting.  St. Vincent's 'Actor Out of Work' is a short stint but proves to be the centerpiece of a much more temperate album.

88- Depeche Mode - In Chains
Not just earning points for still being at it after all these years (29 and counting), Depeche Mode's 'In Chains' puts singer Dave Gahan's best foot forward.  As he agonizes and ruminates over a particularly binding love, the guitars and electronics chirp and scream their way into the song's seething narrative.

87- Miike Snow - Burial
Former pop-producers focus their talents on an entirely solo album- a sort of anonymous pop effort with no face to front it.  While Miike Snow's peppy jingles like 'Burial' will more likely be resigned to car commercials than Billboard charts, it's songs like 'Burial' still prove addictive, with or without the pop-icon to mouth the words.

86- Noah and the Whale - First Days of Spring
Since their debut album, a break-up has ousted a former member and love-interest from the band.  Now, the once jovial, frolicking sound of Noah and the Whale has been replaced with lonely, sorrow-filled thematics that are melancholic at their best and, well... kind of pathetic at their worst.  'First Days of Spring' gives us a little bit of both.

85- The New Pornographers - Hey, Snow White
While it's been two years since they gave us Challengers and the group's newest album isn't due until some time in 2010, The New Pornographers were able to contribute a lone song to the collaborative Dark Was the Night.  Like most artists featured on the double-disc, The New Pornographers brought their A-game on 'Hey, Snow White'.

84- Thom Yorke - Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses
2009 was a bit of bizarre year for Radiohead.  We were told the band would never again release a full-length album.  Radiohead and frontman Thom Yorke released respective singles.  Thom Yorke even appeared on the 'New Moon' soundtrack.  Then, in December, the band announced (without so much as a blink) that they were hard at work on a new feature-length album.  Until then, Yorke's 'Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses' may be the best since 15 Steps.

83- Fanfarlo - The Walls are Coming Down
Approaching it blindly, one might make it three or four songs into Fanfarlo's debut before realizing that this, in fact, is not The Arcade Fire.  That's not to say Fanfarlo isn't fantastic in their own right.  When The Arcade Fire gets dreary and contemplative, Fanfarlo remains hopeful and celebrative in tracks like 'The Walls are Coming Down' with the same rank-and-file horns, pianos and marching drum-lines you'd expect from their fellow UK-rockers.

82- YACHT - Psychic City (Voodoo City)
'Catchy' isn't the right word so much as maybe 'invasive'.  But that's in a good way.  The lyrics and melody are simple enough, and once the song digs its way into your head, there's no getting this happy summer jam out.

81- Charlotte Gainsbourg - Trick Pony
A 2007 water-skiing accident put the French singer/actress in surgery for a cerebral hemorrhage.  The pains and trials of her recovery are every bit as prevalent as the touch of Beck- who produces the album and leaves his undeniable mark on tracks like 'Trick Pony'.
(MP3 Unavailable at

80- Discovery - So Insane
One of the most fascinating things about listening to Discovery is trying to pinpoint a genre to rope around the neck of Discovery's identity disorder.  Is it R&B?  Is it New-Wave? Is it indie rock?  Is it Electronic?  Discovery shifts from one style to the next that 'So Insane' perhaps describes the genre most fittingly.

79- Neon Indian - Deadbeat Summer
Defined by a blurry distortion of what sounds like an sun-burnt cassette tape, Neon Indian seemingly warps and unravels his retro-80's synth-jams for the desired effect.  'Deadbeat Summer' couldn't have a more applicable feel, as the song seems a fitting companion for a summer night's cruise with no destination in sight.

78- Matt and Kim - Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare
The music they make is simple, but the X-factor is the energy and passion injected into it by the duo.  In 'Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare,' Matt Johnson lends his theatrical vocals to a very simple mix of a synthesizer, hand-claps and kick drum to maximum effect.  Minimal ingredients.  Maximum taste.

77- Delorean - Seasun
The only human voices on Delorean's 'Seasun' are a chorus of disembodied female vocals that burst through the clouds like a flash of sun.  Combined with an island-beat, this track is more about a soaring feeling created by sound than it is by anything that words would be able to dictate.

76- Our Book and the Authors - Kids
"Put on your scarves and your mittens 'cuz it's cold outside," the lyrics advise, in the same way that the song adds layer upon layer of simple elements: the constant pecking at the piano or the ever-looping, harmonizing vocals.  The result is something that's both poppy and emotional with an extra layer just to keep us warm.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent choice with 'Good Ol' Fashioned Nightmare' but I honestly would have put it a bit higher on the list.