Thursday, January 28, 2010

BEST SONGS OF 2009: 50 - 26

The Top 50 of 2009 is here!  You can catch up by checking out our lists for 125-101 , 100-76 and 75-51 . We've been having some issues embedding MP3s on the site (perhaps in relation to Apple's buyout of the company?), which is why you'll see a variety of players embedded below. Otherwise, we shall plunge right into 50-26 after the jump.

(Click below to see our Top 50)

50- The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition
Where have you heard that song? Is it from the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack?  Virtually every commercial you saw in the last several months? The correct answer would be 'All of the Above'. There's a savvy appeal that makes this song so damn contagious.

49- Edward Sharpe and the Magnificent Zeroes - 40 Day Dream
Maybe the best part of it all, is that there's nobody named Edward Sharpe in this ensemble. Alex Ebert is in fact the lead-singer of the group, injecting a little bit of the blues into their stylish, psychedelic folk with lyrics as smooth as, "she got jumper-cable lips, she got sunset on her breathe."

48- Peter Bjorn and John - Last Night
Hot on the tails of their 2008 release Seaside Rock, came Living Things less than a year later. A more complete work for the Swedish group, songs like 'Last Night' are proof that Peter Bjorn and John have found a successful working relationship between pop and experimental music.
(You can stream the song for free over here .)

47- Mew - Introducing Palace Players
A band with a sense of humor, this Danish trio actually refers to their sound as 'pretentious art rock'. Their latest EP, No More Stories... features 'Introducing Palace Players' which at times has you thinking Dirty Projectors. At other times the soaring, harmonic vocals collide with the raw, abrupt edge of the song's guitar riffs. There's a wonderful duality that plays throughout the track.

46- Andrew Bird - Tenuousness
Perhaps it's a disservice to the entire album that this is the only representative on the list. Truth be told, Bird's Noble Beast is loaded with songs that deserve our applause. 'Tenuousness' stands out as one of the whistling vocabulist's more charming, hopeful songs.

45- Bon Iver - Blood Bank
It's funny that Bon Iver makes the list twice without having a full-length release in 2009 (Nor should it be seen as a slap-in-the-face to the aforementioned Andrew Bird). 'Blood Bank' fits perfectly within the emotional spectrum of Bon Iver's last album, For Emma, Forever Ago.

44- Eels - Prizefighter
If 'Fresh Blood' (#90) was the band's left hook. 'Prizefighter' is the group's knock-out right. The Eels throw down like they mean in it in this bloody-knuckled anthem.

43- Florence and The Machine - You've Got The Love (xx remix)
With a shout-out to Florence Welch for creating the original, The Xx trade-in Welch's overwhelming belt-it-out vocals for the simple and understated charm of Romy Madley Croft.

42- Discovery - Orange Shirt
What the hell is this? At first listen it sounds more like some Top 40 hip-pop conjured up by Chris Brown. But who is it? Two white boys (from Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot, respectively) experimenting with styles that go way beyond electro-pop or hip-hop.

41- The Mountain Goats - 1 John 4:16
In the trio's 17th studio album, they loosely rely on biblical thematics, but you wouldn't know it unless you see the track titles. Each song has been written under the inspiration of a bible verse. In this case, the verse is about finding comfort in knowing God is with you. The song is sung from the perspective of an imprisoned man finding solace in the rain.
(You can stream the song for free over here .)

40- Kevin Drew - Love vs. Porn
A super lo-fi production from a Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene. This time he's solo, and featured... wait for it... wait for it... on the Dark Was the Night compilation. Never before has someone sung a song so artful and beautiful about porn (and its consequences?).  The lyrics are ripe with double-meaning as you digest, but the resulting sound is one that's ultimately graceful in its honesty.

39- The xx - Islands
A big year caps off for these British kids and their unique sound. Their freshman release has figured heavily into our top 125 of 2009 list, and you just might see more of them as the countdown continues.

38- We Were Promised Jetpacks - It's Thunder and It's Lightning
First off, major points scored for the band's name. Citing the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit as musical influenced, this fellow Scottish quartet plays some moody, progressive rock tracks like 'It's Thunder and It's Lightning' that are stocked full of wailing emotion... and adorable Scottish accents.

37- The Antlers - Kettering
The Antlers released Hospice in 2009, a moody album that centers around an emotional core that's able to tap into the sentimental without feeling melodramatic. If you haven't heard Hospice yet, stop reading and listen to the song below. Then go download the entire album and absorb one of the year's best start-to-finish works.

36- The Low Anthem - Charlie Darwin
Drawing on a range of comparisons from Paul Simon to The Fleet Foxes to Tom Waits, The Low Anthem have been gaining a broad following in the past year. On tracks like 'Charlie Darwin', singer Ben Knox Miller's voice is reserved, presented in high castrati tones. This is just one of his many vocal deliveries- a major attribute to the group's sound, as his vocal range opens up into an all out ass-kicking, smoker-lung wail in other tracks.

35- The Very Best - Warm Heart of Africa (feat. Ezra Koenig)
Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, meet Esau Mwamwaya from The Very Best. The lead-singer for the very white Vampire Weekend is actually pretty well-versed in the Afro-beat flavorings that The Very Best put out and the resulting collaboration is a downright awesome dance-fest... even if you dance like a white boy.

34- Dirty Projectors - Stillness is the Move
The sound of the Dirty Projectors three harmonizing voices do more to make a case for the group than any summary of words ever could. There's great reason 'Stillness is the Move' is the track most prominently featured off of Bitte Orca.

33- Julian Casablancas - Glass
While other songs from Casablancas' Phrazes for the Young have gotten most of the attention, it's 'Glass' that I keep coming back to and hasn't gotten enough play.

32- Years - Kid Toy Love Affair
A very odd little choice for the list. Do Make Say Think's Ohad Benchetrit performs solo as Years and 'Kid Toy Love Affair' is a short burst of orchestral brilliance. The multi-instrumental piece twists and winds you down a path of spiraling emotions. The explosion of symphonic sound is terrifying and beautiful, hopeful and foreboding all at once.

31- The Avett Brothers - Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise
There's no way around taking flack for this choice. At worst, The Avett Brothers can be described as sappy, yearbook-quote fodder. Their album- the band's most successful release to date- is sold to latte-sipping suburbanites at Starbucks. Yet, the album is also really good- solid enough to cling to even when your snobbish instincts tell you to reject them and their newly acquired popularity.
(You can stream the song for free over here .)

30- Junior Boys - Parallel Lines
'Parallel Lines' has one of those base-lines that sounds like the beating of a heart. Over the course of the song's vibrant six and a half minutes, you can hear as the heart pumps blood to all of it's appendages. The contemplative vocals breathe life into the musical bloodstream and the song absolutely pulses with life.

29- Freelance Whales - Generator ^ 1st Floor
Filled with youthful promise, the Freelance Whales have touched upon a fantastic balance of folk and electronic sounds. On the dreamy electronic end of the spectrum, they've drawn Postal Service comparisons, on the multi-instrumental folk side they draw Arcade Fire comparisons. We'll have to keep listening to see if they can live up to the comparisons.
(You can stream the song for free over here or read our concert review and see video of this song here .)

28- Phoenix - 1901
All right, all right... it's hard to deny the force that is Phoenix, their recent album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and specifically this song. Is '1901' referring to a year? The song's catchy chorus line, "falling, falling, falling..." feels more like the appropriate anthem of the year 2009 than it does the first year of the twentieth century.

27- Miike Snow - Animal
There isn't much more to say about Miike Snow's infectious self-titled release. The hooks may be safe, but there's something refreshing there. With some great beats and electronic accents on tracks like 'Animal', this is what i like to call 'smart pop'.

26- Royksopp - Royksopp Forever
Royksopp introduces an orchestra alongside their electronic beat. The evolution of this song is a thing of poetry. The perfect lead-in to the Top 25... (coming soon!)

No comments:

Post a Comment