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2009 Wrap-Up: Top Tracks of the Year #11 to #1

11. Jack Penate – Pull My Heart Away
Penate’s crooning seriously sounds like his heart it being physically ripped out on this track. This pained approach is even more appropriate given the nostalgic guitar riffs and heartbeat-like drums. I don’t know what the guitar technique is thats used on this song, but it would sound perfect in a darkly-lit, smoky bar. It also made me hit replay at least 50 times in the past month.

10. Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
I’ve heard Grizzly Bear get plenty of Beach Boys comparisons, but “Two Weeks” is where I was sold. The layered harmonies, the melodic chorus and the rising and falling tempo all equal pop song perfection a la Pet Sounds. “While You Wait For Others” could have easily been in this spot as well.

9. Phoenix – 1901
Again, how hard is it to choose just one song from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix? “1901” stood out way before some ad director for Cadillac chose it for a recent ad, but its easy to see why they did. The chorus is instantly catchy mixed with crisp guitar and sly synth.
8. Basement Jaxx – Raindrops
I’ve never been a fan of “Where’s Your Head At?”, but I knew I loved this song from the first note. Pounding bass, giddy electronic sounds and a danceable beat are all infused to near perfection. There isn’t a chance you can listen to this song and not have a smile on your face.

7. Or, The Whale – Call and Response
You know this list wouldn’t be complete with some alt country. “Call and Response” is more foot-tapping, southern flavored goodness (I can’t get enough of pedal steel guitar) via Or, The Whale. I couldn’t find the lyrics, but it seems to be about the hopeful rebuilding New Orleans.

Call and Response – Or, the Wh…

6. Mayer Hawthorne – Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’
I was a fan of A Strange Arrangement, but this track was the cut that reeled me in. Hawthorne’s appeals to a lady are puncuated by a bouncy tamborine and sax worthy of a snap-off. “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin'” could have easily been produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland (thats some History of Rock & Roll 101 knowledge for ya, thanks U of M-Flint!).

Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin…

5. Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
It was tough to select just one of the many gems from Middle Cylclone. So I went with the song that I caught myself singing the most. “This Tornado Loves You” has that alt country bounce that I’m enamored with and Case’s enchanting voice. She might be using the tornado as a metaphor for her love life, or she might talking about a cyclone with issues. You tell me.

4. Camera Obscura – French Navy
There might not have been a more catchy indie pop track in ’09 than “French Navy”. The chorus is so simple, but is relatable for so many people:

I wanted to control it
But love I couldn’t hold it
I wanted to control it
But love I couldn’t hold it

3. MSTRKRFT – Heartbreaker ft John Legend
The first time I heard this song: A)I had no idea who MSTRKRFT was B)I was certain John Legend’s crooning was via a sample, but had no idea what song. Turns out it ended up as one of my favorite tracks of the year. Legend’s vocals of course sound well over the keys, but who knew how perfect his voice compliments booming electro effects.

2. Kid Cudi – The Pursuit of Happiness
When I saw “featuring MGMT and Ratatat” on the tracklisting for Man On The Moon: End of Day, I knew what would be one of my fav. songs of the year. Cudi party anthem lyrics sound celebratory on a first listen, but there is also anxious and leery words that most likely mirror his true worries about solitude with new fame. Ratatat’s moody production and brooding guitar punctuate the emotional tension of the track.

1. Bon Iver – Blood Bank
He had my favorite song of 2007 and had a few that would have made my top 50 list, (“Brackett, WI”, “Beach Baby” and “Roslyn”) if I had enough time. “Blood Bank” plays up all Justin Vernon’s strengths to near-perfection: a great narrative, emotion-filled singing and bare-bones instrumentation. Now if someone can just tell me what he and some lady are doing at the blood bank? Sounds like winter-time love story or pregnancy discovery to me.

JayeL Audio’s Top Tracks of ’09 Mixtape (.rar)
If you need help downloading the mixtape, please don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Also, comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if you agree, disagree and what I missed in my top 21.