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This year-end CD used to be bound by many rules, but I abandoned those last year so I could focus on LIVING MY LIFE. And live I did! And while I lived, I listened to a lot of music! According to my "2009 downloads" folder, I've kept over 300 new-to-me songs. Here are 23 of my favorites (not exceeding the storage limit of an 80-minute CD), sequenced in an order scientifically proven most pleasing to your ears.
1 - M Ward - Helicopter
I've been trying to take a different approach to finding new music. I can't stream music while at work, where I do the majority of my listening, so I have to download files at home, then bring them to the cubicle for evaluation. As you could imagine, because imagining things is easy, this method results in a lot of so-so songs from up-and-coming artists. Instead of trying to keep up with what's new, I've tried to pick out a few established artists I've previously ignored, and explore their discography. I expanded my M Ward knowledge in 2009, so much so that I spend much of my time wishing I was M Ward. I associate this song with New York City, for no good reason besides the "climbing up a fire escape" lyric. New Yorkers: embrace your new soundtrack for no good reason!
2 - The Magnetic Fields - Born on a Train
Something about deep-toned vocalists turns me off, so I haven't found many Magnetic Fields songs I like. I love this one. I listened to this more than any other song this year. Every bit of instrumentation is perfect.
3, 4 - An Horse - Camp Out
Gav suggested this song and band. We went to see them play a sparsely-attended Tuesday night show, and got to say hi to Kate and ask her about the Hole catalog. More on that in a later post. I love the Australian pronunciation of "last year" in the second verse.
5 - Credence Clearwater Revival - Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
This has always been my favorite CCR song. This is a remastered version. If you like CCR, I highly recommend you seek out the remastered songs. Listen to the bass on this motherfucker! It's like an old AM radio transformed into a pleasure robot!
6 - Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses
I don't know what to say about this one. Listen to the bass on THIS motherfucker?!
7 - Echo & The Bunnymen - Lips Like Sugar
If you aren't listening to this through good headphones or a loud stereo, you might think it sucks. The chorus maybe sucks, but it's kind of fun. The pre-chorus -- is that what you call that -- is much better. And the verses are pretty dope. And the music. Maybe I should have just said, "I like this song."
8 - Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers - Long Division
This is the second Gav recommendation on the list. If a song features both a female singer and horns, it increases my likelihood of loving it by 40%.
9 - Peter Bjorn & John - Nothing to Worry About
I first heard this via Fluxblog. I heard it at the Red Lyon as Kim and I chatted with Cara and Sina -- I also drank the Guinness Anniversary Stout that night, which was a huge mistake. I heard it every Thursday I watched "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", when FX used it in the background of their Sunny promos. So good.
10 - R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe
Here's another remastered classic. R.E.M. is very hit-or-miss for me, but this is a direct hit. You sunk my battleship, Michael Stipe! With a torpedo you fired, like, 20 years ago! Also, this was the year we learned that you are apparently a huge ass.
11 - Thao with The Get Down Stay Down - Goodbye Good Luck
Since "Bag of Hammers" made a couple friends' mix CDs, I'd assumed Thao was a male singing in falsetto. I felt like a rube until mentioning this to my carpool partner last week. "This is a woman?" she said. Yeah, so she's not a great singer, but I dig her groove. I love the feedback and alliteration in this song.
12 - Cursive - From the Hips
I associate this with a pre-scandal David Letterman overpronouncing the album title, "Mama, I'm Swollen".
13 - Death Cab for Cutie - Little Bribes
I liked this year's EP more than last year's album. The imagery in these lyrics is what I expect and demand from Mr. Gibbard.
14 - The Beatles - Good Morning Good Morning (Anthology version)
I had an irregular exposure to The Beatles, and heard most of their songs via the Anthology trilogy before I heard the proper album versions. I still prefer this stripped-down version to the real deal, because I like to Ringo the shit out of my steering wheel while this plays. If all goes as planned, I'll be waist-deep in remastered Beatles goodness in 2010.
15 - Wilco (featuring Feist) - You and I
Has anyone ever regretted adding Feist to their music? She's the bacon of vocals.
16 - David Bowie - Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
"Inglorious Basterds" made this a good song.
17 - The Raveonettes - Last Dance
Certainly the finest Danish song I heard all year. This is The Raveonette's first appearance on a mix of mine since 2003. Welcome back, Danes!
18 - Cat Stevens - Miles from Nowhere
I liked the use of this song in "The Brothers Bloom", which you should rent. You might think, "Adrien Brody? Gross!", but don't! It's a good flick. I also recommend "Brick", by the same director.
19 - The Bird and the Bee - Love Letter to Japan
Inara George used to be two degrees of separation, so I try to see what she's up to now and then, when I happen to be up late on a Tuesday watching Jimmy Kimmel. Alipete would agree: if you watch Inara and her backup band's head and hand motions, the value of this song doubles. Oops! Disney decided to take that video down. You can watch an inferior performance if you like.
20 - Phoenix - 1901
Most of us hadn't heard of them until they played SNL, and most of us liked them immediately afterward. No matter how many times you hear this in a Cadillac commercial, it's still great.
21 - Jenny Owen Youngs - Led to the Sea
The third and final Gav suggestion, which came several months prior to Alipete's recommendation. I liked it immediately, then hated it for a while after an unfortunate night when it repeated in my head as I tossed and turned, then liked it again.
22 - Golden Silvers - Please Venus
I suspect if I took the time to listen to the words in this song, I would find they are terrible. Still, it's got enough accents and backup vocal bop-bop dit-dits to keep me humming (not literally). Also, very nice work on the band name.
23 - M Ward - Requiem
Get it? "Requiem" is last on the list? Do you get it? How great would it be for someone to sing this song at your funeral? And really mean it? How great would it be to be M Ward? That guy is the coolest.