Thursday, December 31, 2009

My favorite songs of 2009

Well, it's the last day of 2009. In the spirit of such things, I'm going to let you know about what I thought about the year in music.

If you haven't seen it yet, The World-Herald ran with my best albums of 2009 column a few weeks ago. Mal Madrigal or Bear Country may have slipped into that list had I done it a little later. Maybe they'll make it in next year.

Tomorrow, check out to read my take on the best stuff of this whole decade. The online piece is expanded from the version that's going into the paper.

Today, check out my favorite songs of 2009. This is a sampling and not nearly everything I liked. For example, I love that Brad Hoshaw album, but I can't for the life of me find my copy, so I didn't add one of his songs to my list. You should go listen to him anyway.

Here they are, my favorite tracks from 2009:

Japandroids, "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

The line "I don't wanna worry about dyin'" is so brutally honest that it makes you stop and worry for a second. Then when the lyrics turn to "sunshine girls," your thoughts do to.

Monsters of Folk, "Whole Lotta Losin'"

I liked the Monsters best when they were playing fast and loose, like on this tune. I also like when they were collaborative, trading off verses and singing harmonies.

Conor Oberst, "Slowly (Oh, So Slowly)"

Like the Monsters, my favorite stuff from Conor's solo projects are when he doesn't make more Bright Eyes songs, but instead rocks out a little bit, playing it loose and fast. He does so here and does so very well.

Pete Yorn, "Social Development Dance"

Yorn's true tale of meeting a friend then, years later, finding out she died after the fact is heartwrenching. Special recognition goes to him for the line, "Googled your name in quotes, got no results," which comes off much less cheesy than it sounds on paper. (Side Note: Yorn recorded with Mike Mogis at his Omaha-based ARC studio.)

Phoenix, "1901"

You've seen it on the Lexus commercials, but it's even better in its whole version. And who hasn't lived the line, “I'll be anything you ask and more"?

Little Brazil, "Brighton Beach"
Tim McMahan put "Separated" on his year-end list, but my favorite is definitely this one, the song that sets up the relationship between the main characters that the rest of the album proceeds to tear apart. (I can't find anywhere to embed this song from, so go to their MySpace and check it out there.)

Meat Puppets, "Sewn Together"

Way better than most of the stuff they were famous for in the mid-'90s. Even more impressive after reading their story of breakups, drugs, arrests, prison and reuniting.

The Aliens, "Sunlamp Show"

I'm a sucker for the Beta Band (especially that scene in "High Fidelity") and this song is right up that same alley.

Miike Snow, "Burial"

I have no idea what the lyrics are, but the melody there makes me bob my head every time. There's a remix of this song by DJ Mehdi that's phenomenal, but the original is quite good too.

Silversun Pickups, "There's No Secrets This Year"

I'm not even sure what that title means, but it feels like they're right. Oh, and Brian Aubert's fuzzy guitar and high-pitched, Billy-Corgan-esque vocals are pretty great too.

Miles B.A. Robinson, "Shake a Shot"

This songs simple guitar and MBAR's mumbling vocals meander their way into a pretty sweet song.

Jay Z, "Run This Town" (feat. Rihanna and Kanye West)

This might have been my song of the year, except that Kanye's part is kind of terrible. Actually, I don't like it at all. So, this is 2/3 of an amazing, incredible song. The other 1/3 is crap.

Weezer," (If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To"

Rag on them all you want ("'Raditude' is no 'Pinkerton,' man!"), but this song is still pretty fun. And I have a penchant for parenthetical song titles.

Ben Kweller, "Sawdust Man"

How does this guy write these strangely-timed piano lines? They don't feel right, but they sound so good. Also, the lyrics about leaving work, meeting up with your baby and heading for a night on the town are pretty great.

Telekinesis, "Coast of Carolina"

Chris Walla of Deathcab produced this one, a full band album made by a drummer. And a damn good one at that. The guitar on this track rocks.

Rural Alberta Advantage, "Drain the Blood"

It was hard to pick a favorite on this album, but "Drain the Blood" just sounds cooler. Also, if it weren't a cover, I would have picked their version of "Eye of the Tiger."

Matt Whipkey, "If I Was Your Man"

Dreaming about being with the girl always brings up uneasy feelings. Whipkey's song about it is perfect, mixing dreams about the perfect life tinged with the realization that it's not going to happen.

Bear Country, "Dandy Andy"

Any song that has the line, "The toilet is my favorite place to shit in," and makes it sincere is a great tune in my book.

O+S, "We Do What We Want To"

Orenda Fink's dreamy vocals mix some dream-like music on this tune she did with the Scalpelist (a.k.a. Cedric LeMoyne of Remy Zero).

The Avett Brothers, "I And Love And You"

A great song exploring three simple words with much more complicated meanings to them.

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