Weekly Download – 2010 – Songs of the Year


So you get all the songs at once.  I was going to break it up.  Now I’ve decided to take next week off and allow you time in which to argue with me (via email or comment) about how vehemently you disagree with either of these lists, or, hopefully to inform me what you’ve listened to this year that I’ve missed.  Oh and I chose 16 songs because you can (if so inclined) burn them all to one CD for an uninterrupted music scrapbook of this year (as long as you don’t mind that I took all the photos (and, I guess, wrote all the captions)).

16. Substance by Girls.  I love this little Weezer/Beach Boys-esque ditty.  I love how he casually slips the words into the microphone, like he’s got a secret.  Then by the time he says “guitar solo, come on” he’s got me.

15. Cold War by The Morning Benders.  Easily the best song of the year under two minutes.  It’s a good first thing in the morning burst of happiness.  In fact, you should listen to it first thing every morning.  That’s my prescription for a good 2011.

14. Die by the Drop by The Dead Weather.  I don’t feel like I can make a list like this for any year if there’s not something by Jack White in it.  Here it is.  Jack’s on the drums.  It has all the yelping Jack vocals I love and the laser guitar that simply screams his name (even if he’s not playing it).

13. The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham.  In the movie, Lebowski calls this the “greatest song I ever wrote.”  It hits virtually every cliched broken down country singer topic, I’ll admit.  But it hits them really well.

12. What’s In It For by Avi Buffalo.  I’ve worn this song out all year.  Have not become tired of it.  “All these things that you’ve learned, I’ve been knowin‘ since my childhood.”  These guys are like 19.  I love that.

11. When I Come Home by The Drums.  I get less and less embarrassed that I love this song every time I listen to it.

10. Birthday Boy by Drive-By Truckers.  I’ll defer to my original words about this track.  However, I will say I think an entire movie could be written around the lyric “Pretty girls from the smallest towns get remembered like storms and droughts that old men talk about for years to come.  I guess that’s why they give a damn, so a few old men can say they saw us rain when we were young.”  Maybe Kate Mara and Tommy Lee Jones.  Is that enough to get me a movie deal?

9. Flash Delirium by MGMT.  I hated this song probably the first 30 times a listened to it and you may also.  Then it got to me.  MGMT’s first album got much better pub, but I may like this one better.  There’s a lot of Bowie in this song, Bowie and Prince.  It builds to an unreal crescendo that sometimes I sing so loud in my car that I get hoarse.  Picture that.

8. Cave-O-Sapien by Wolf Parade.  When I said there were songs on Expo ’86 that were as good as anything they had ever done, I was speaking of this track specifically.  It’s a six-minute meander. When I first heard it, I thought the lyric was “you laugh like the sunrise.” I thought, what a beautiful metaphor.  That’s not what it says.  Regardless, great track.  Get it out of your head.  I dare you.

7. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells.  The opening eight bars are enough to make anyone love this song.  They were for me.  This is the sexiest song I’ve heard in a while.  It oozes sex.  Then I hear the words “wonder what your boyfriend thinks about your braces,” and it creeps me out or, I should say, they make me feel like a Chris-Hansen-level predator.

6. Who Makes Your Money by Spoon.  Another song that has survived the test of me listening to the shit out of it and still really liking.  I guess because it’s a really strong track.  It’s the best song of a really good album.  And speaking of movie deals, close your eyes and see the movie that has this song on its soundtrack.  Who does make your money?

5. Theme from ‘Cheers’ by Titus Andronicus.  Wife and I were on a shuttle bus back to our cars after a Thunder game.  There were a group of guys in the back, blasted.  They were painfully loud, every bit a drunken garrulous shit show.  I could feel Wife’s disgust and I could see it on the faces of everyone else.  I could almost feel my own, but then I thought, shit, that used to me back there.

4. Everlasting Light by The Black Keys.  2010 Song of the Summer.  Summer is my favorite season.  There you go.  I assumed it had the momentum to be the Song of the Year.  It was surpassed, but it put up a good fight. In my opinion, this is an impossible not to like song.  I’ve been busted more times than one performing some wretched little wiggle in desk chair with song as the culprit.  “Love is the coal that makes this train roll.”

3. England by The National. “Nothing will ever beat listening to England watching low clouds blow by a full moon while whiskey drunk camping. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”  Text messages are like drunk dials, chiseled into stone.  I love them.  I don’t care how drunk you are, this song is beautiful.  It may very well be low clouds blowing over a full moon.  It surrounds you.  It builds.  Then it crashes out from you.  Like you’re exploding.  Like you’re exploding whiskey.  Quite unreal for a simple song.

2. The Mermaid Parade by Phosphorescent.  I got ahold of this song right after I proclaimed Everlasting Light my song of the summer.  Everlasting Light prolly still was the song of the summer, but I know I listened to this song more.  It’s really sad, but I can’t feel any canned emotion.  I can see him walking around the beach on Coney Island knowing his marriage was over then sitting down and writing this song without any sort of filter.  It’s brutal.  Sometimes the very final “goddamnit, Amanda, ooh goddamnit all”  actually hurts me.  Amanda, I don’t know you, but you really screwed this guy up. And then he wrote an almost perfect song about it.

1. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire.  They tried to ruin this song.  They made it both a sequel and added a parenthetical to it. I guess to distract us.  It’s such an overly complex title to such a beautiful song.  I just want it to be named “awesome” or “unreal.”  SII(MBM) (Wow, that’s even worse) is both of those.  The link is not to the album cut of the song, but to a live performance from Saturday Night Live.  The live video really gives you Arcade Fire.  She (Regine Chassagne) seems so unbelievably passionate when she sings it.  Shit, they all do.  I guess I believe them (even in their Tron outfits).  When I try to remember the music of 2010, the first thing in my mind will be the drum-line that begins this song. I wrote earlier that it is the perfect end to the album.  I think in encapsulates everything The Suburbs is trying to say.  She tells us initially as a warning “they heard me singing and they told me stop / quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock” sounding like she’s reminding us that the world has beaten us all.  Then she moves to a kind of escapism.  “We rode our bikes to the nearest park, sat under the swings and kissed in the dark.” It’s almost like they’re re-imagining youth or reliving it.  Then she says she needs the “darkness, so please cut the lights.”  The music follows suit, the cut, the breakdown.  And then she emerges, defiant and she repeats the line “they heard me singing and they told me stop / quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.”  But now you know she won’t.  Look at her snarl on the video.  She may as well be shaking her head “no.”  That one look, is the entire album.  “They” won.  Arcade Fire know that.  So this is not about a battle between us and them.  We’re already in the underground, occupied territory.  The sprawl has surrounded us.  The Suburbs are everywhere.  What we do now, on their turf, will define us.  Arcade Fire is promising us they won’t stop singing.  Hell yeah.

Enjoy and have a merry Christmas.

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