Always a tough list to craft. I think my use of the Hype Machine, combined with the growing number of blogs I check daily and Amazon’s mp3 album deals, have nearly doubled my music listening from last year. Here are the top 21 tracks I loved in 2009.
21. The Babies – Meet Me In The City
Clocking in at 2:49, The Babies waste no time in trying to build a formulaic pop song. In true ’60’s lo-fi fashion, “Meet Me In The City” features thrashing cymbals, loud guitars that almost drown out the lead singer’s nonsensical wailing. These are all good things and whoever this lady is, she should definitely just meet him downtown.
20. Fool’s Gold – Surprise Hotel
I usually don’t get into songs that aren’t spoken in English, but I couldn’t get enough of “Surprise Hotel”. Partly instrumental and part Hebrew, Fool’s Gold crafts a funky track that doesn’t slow down long enough for you to order another beachside Mai Tai. Besides, Afro-pop has been big the past few years (see Vampire Weekend).
19. Yeasayer – Tightrope
Most people are probably more partial to “Ambling Amp” in its trippy, upbeat glory, but “Tightrope” was in heavy rotation for most of ’09. The meaning seems pretty simple: if you want something, quit wishing and go get it. Did I already mention how good Dark Was The Night is? I think I did.
18. Miike Snow – Cult Logic
The glistening electro beat for “Cult Logic” is so catchy, its hard to believe the lyrics are actually meaningful. Who knew eight bars could so adequately describe feeling lost and discovery so well? It also made for an excellent mash-up with Drake’s “Forever” via The Hood Internet.
17. Volcano Choir – Island, IS
There are so many sounds in this frenetic collabo from Justin Vernon and Collection of Bees, you might mistake it for a Dan Deacon track. With all the action surrounding Mr. Bon Iver’s haunting voice, you hardly get a chance to hear him sing in what all I can assume is stream of consciousness. It isn’t really saying anything, but its like his voice is another instrument in this wonderful sound collage.
16. The Big Pink – Dominos
The word “shoegaze” was thrown around a lot in 2009 and while I don’t support much from the genre, The Big Pink drifted in to pop territory with “Dominos”. Lyrically, things don’t get very deep and the chorus sums the protagonist’s struggles. He simply can’t handle long term relationships. No big deal, the song is catchy as can be.
15. Just Jack – Embers
This track has three qualities that I love in a song: handclaps, symphony strings and a slow-building beat. Just Jack uses all of these elements in a chant about how the little things people worry about, aren’t necessarily that important. “We are all embers in the same fire.”
14. Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings
Another instance where it was near impossible to select one song from a stellar album. “Moth’s Wings” initially stood out with the opening harpsichord and epic piano work. When I finally listened to the lyrics, it sounded like a therapy session for someone who lost their way. I don’t know why, but I like the comparison to moth’s wings.
13. Matt and Kim – Lessons Learned
Forget about the amazing video for one second. How can you make a song with so much emotion and still sound so damn happy doing it? I really should have seen this duo when they were at the Masquerade.
12. The Dodos – Fables
“Fables” was a constant play for me this fall. This folk-tinged jam tells of an alleged criminal and his accomplice standing trial in front of the jury. The chorus echoes repentance and regret:
I don’t want to go in the fire
I just want to stay in my home
I don’t want to hear all the liars
I just want to be with my own
I can’t make out what the crime is, but the hook was stuck in my head for days.
Check back soon for my favorite tracks #11 to #1 and an accompanying mixtape.