Monday, January 18, 2010

BEST SONGS OF 2009: 75 - 51

We've already taken a look at 125-101 and 100-76 .  Now we're getting to the good stuff.  But not THAT good... we still haven't cracked into the top 50.  We're almost to the Best 50 Songs of 2000, but before we uncork that bottle, let's roll through 75 - 51.

(Click READ MORE below to check out Songs 75 - 51!)

75- The Big Pink - Domino
By the end of 2009, these British Electro-rockers were touring with TV on the Radio across Europe.  Their release A Brief History of Love is head-lined by 'Dominos'.

74- Fever Ray - When I Grow Up
In the awake of a critically-aclaimed 2006 album by her band The Knife of which she formed with her brother, front-woman Karin Dreijer Andersson took a little time off and came up with a solo-album for 2009.  The Swedish singer, with her deep, shrill voice goes by the name Fever Ray.

73- Dirty Projectors - Knotty Pine (feat. David Byrne)
Aside from their critically acclaimed Bitte Orca, the Projectors also contributed to the Dark Was the Night compilation along with David Byrne.  Their selection is one of the more accessible Dirty Projectors songs you'll here.

72- The Flaming Lips - Watching the Planets (feat. Karen O)
Releasing an album that skewed slightly more experimental than their norm, The Flaming Lips released 'Watching the Plantes' in '09, filled with distortion, a thunderous gong, and Yeah Yeah Yeah's front-woman Karen O.

71- VHS Head - Rent Responsibly
Much like name suggests, VHS Head creates their sound by piecing together snips and chunks from old VHS-tapes.  'Rent Responsibly' is the highlight of this chop-and-splice effect.
(You can check out a YouTube for 'Rent Responsibly' here .)

70- Devendra Banhart - 17th and Valencia Roxy Music
For the folk rocker's most recent release, he gives his most commercial effort yet.  '17th and Valencia Roxy Music' is the clear-cut rocker of the album, rattling off a funky disco-beat with chiming psychedelic guitars.

69- Wale - Pretty Girls (feat. Gucci Mane)
Yet another 'new-class' of rappers and a couple of fresh voices to fill the seats, Wale released Attention Deficit fresh off some well-received mix-tapes and a healthy-dose of internet buzz.  'Pretty Girls' is the standout track off the album, thanks to the rolling conga-laced hook lifted from the Backyard Boys.

68- F*ck Buttons - The Lisbon Maru
With their latest release, the explicitly named noise-group has put their noise-making to a new test.  With soaring, ten-minute long tracks like 'The Lisbon Maru' we hear them experimenting with epic post-rock melodies to great success.

67- Other Lives - Black Tables
Indie-rock with a fascination for classical elements, Other Lives most charming piece from their self-titled release is the quiet, melancholic 'Black Tables'- achingly told with piano and violin.

66- Passion Pit - Little Secrets
How many albums were released in 2009 that were much more fun than Passion Pit's Manners?  Most of the album sounds like it should be best restricted to the shower.  Should, but somehow the sound isn't as embarrassing as it should be.  The result is actually quite original and fun.  'Little Secrets', with its choir of children as the hook is actually quite a blast.

65- Bon Iver - Brackett, WI
Dark Was the Night strikes again!  Fresh off of his beautiful 2008 release, For Emma, Forever Ago, the Wisconsin native released an EP, and contributed this song about his home state of Wisconsin to the indie-collab.  His work on an experimental side-project Volcano Choir didn't make our 2009 list, but you can hear 'Brackett, WI' here.

64- Deadmau5- Strobe
Stage name for house-producer Joel Zimmer, Deadmau5 is pronounced 'dead mouse'.  He is Canadian.  And he wears a cartoonish Mickey Mouse-like rodent head (with X's over the eyes) when he performs.  Oddities aside, his 2009 release For Lack of a Better Name contains some really stellar tracks like the ten-minute, progressive build-up, 'Strobe'.

63- N.A.S.A.  - Spacious Thoughts (feat. Tom Waits)
With no official association to the space program, N.A.S.A. actually stands for North America-South America and put out one of the most interesting and eclectic albums of the year.  Featuring a range of artists from Karen O to Kanye West and from Ol' Dirty Bastard to David Bryne.  The highlight of the album is when Tom Waits lends his raspy, cigarette-tarnished vocals to the hip-hop track 'Spacious Thoughts'.  Listen close.  Waits can either be heard saying 'Ghetto Booty' or 'Ghetto Buddha'... either way it's lyrical brilliance.

62- Girls - Lust for Life
I think I liked Girls a little less when I discovered that their lead-singer was actually a boy (oops!).  But, then I felt bad when I learned the story behind the Girls lead-singer Chris Owens.  A former member of the Children of God cult, Owens grew up forbidden from listening to music, his mother forced into prostitution, Owens eventually fled the cult and was taken in by a San Francisco millionaire.  The story froths and spills over the edges in 'Lust for Life'.

61- Muse - Uprising
With their 2009 release, Muse signaled to the world that they were making the transition to a mega-band.  Muse spent a good part of the fall playing sold-out stadiums alongside U2.  Their new album The Resistance may be inferior to all of its predecessors, but that's not to say songs like 'Uprising' don't still slay us.

60- Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Cool Yourself
'Cool Yourself' is a bit of poppy piano-rock that's both quirky and breezy.  Originally formed in northern Virginia, the trio, led by Thao Nguyen, has since matriculated to San Francisco, further honing their almost childishly fun folk-rock sound.

59- White Rabbits - They Done Wrong / We Done Wrong
'Huh, that sounds a lot like Spoon,' was the first thing to cross my mind when I heard 'They Done Wrong / We Done Wrong'.  Upon further investigation, Spoon frontman Britt Daniel's hands were all over this project, producing much of the album and 'lending' Spoon's patented sound.  'Percussion Gun' was another great song up for consideration, but barely gets elbowed aside for this.

58- Moderat - Les Grandes Marches
Moderat is what happens when you combine the electronic musings of Modeselektor and Apparat.  Les Grandes Marches is the perfect love child of the two styles, combining Apparat's introspective, ambient electro-style with Modeselektor's punch-you-in-the-face hooks and thumping bass.

57- Florence and the Machine - Kiss with a Fist
I'm not sure if that's a threat or a promise.  Florence and the Machines' 'Kiss with a Fist' seems to be quite the violent love song.  The 'and the Machine' aspect of the band's name is the name given to the musicians who play back-up music to the voice of Florence Welch.  In the case of 'Kiss with a Fist' the sound holds true to that idea as her vocals are the backbone of the entire song.

56- Metric - Help, I'm Alive
Fantasies, Metric's latest release, is chalk full of solid, poppy, electro-rock.  Lead-singer Emily Haines leads the charge on 'Help, I'm Alive' (which also has a nice acoustic version) as the looping percussion and synthesizers all revolve around her poetic vocals.

55- Wilco - Everlasting Everything
An understated song on a relatively straight-forward release from Wilco.  Singer Jeff Tweedy might be through challenging pre-conceived notions of his band, but the song remains a polished and definitive Wilco song.  A quiet, comfortable ballad to close out the self-reflexively titled album.

54- M. Ward - For Beginners
In between working with Zooey Deschanel or his side-group Monsters of Folk, M. Ward turned in a solid solo album in 2009.  'For Beginners' is the folk-singer's best effort of Hold Time.

53- Phoenix - Lisztomania
Lisztomania has often been used to define the response to Franz Liszt's piano performances.  Even in the mid-1800's, the Hungarian composer had screaming fans, which sort of makes him the original pop star. While Phoenix's latest effort is titled Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, I'm not trying to say they're trying to draw certain comparisons, but...

52- DJ Dangermouse and Sparklehorse - Just War (feat. Gruff Rhys)
The best album that wasn't released in 2009.  Contractual complications prevented Dangermouse and Sparklehorse from officially releasing Dark Night of the Soul at all.  When the album (luckily) leaked to the internets, it's the track featuring Gruff Ryhs that upstages all others, including even Julian Casablancas who had a nice little release of his own in 2009.
(You can watch the youtube for the song here )

51- Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Skeletons
Karen O grabbed 2009 by the throat, thrusting herself to complete rock-star status with a number of guest appearances (The Flaming Lips, N.A.S.A., etc.) a critically acclaimed Yeah Yeah Yeahs album and even the children's-chorus-backed soundtrack to 'Where the Wild Things are'.  Yet some of her finest moments come in the quiet ones.  Skeletons may get lost for some on It's Blitz, but the softness and vulnerability in her voice is what really propels this to be one of the best tracks.

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