Pretty Good Year

Having moaned at my general disinterest at the state of music in 2009 it’s now time to talk about what I did like. Choosing my favourite songs is always a lot of fun – in a way it’s more satisfying than albums and not only because there are more to choose from. It’s also because the sheer number of listens brings a certain familiarity with individual songs that can be so great they really become an integral part of your life. This year even as I was left cold by the vast amount of new music and new hypes I still had no problem finding a bunch of songs to keep myself warm and contented. And here are they are – in an order that is likely to change daily;

25. Papillon – Editors

A pure excitable burst of song!

24. 1901 – Phoenix

A little happy indie pop rock electronic gem!

23. Mowgli’s Road – Marina & the Diamonds

A perfect single from the endless talent that is Marina & the Diamonds.

22.I am not a robot – Marina & the Diamonds

Better to be hated than loved for what you’re not. Way too much to love about this lady to even entertain the word hate.

21. Gone too Far – Dragonette

One of the many addictive songs from Fixin’ to Thrill. This one featuring Cotton Eyed Joe like banjo – I kid you not!

20. Winter’s Carol – Tori Amos

A return to form from her surprisingly wonderful Winter album

19. Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool – Editors

Not only one of the most bizarre titles songs it also displays one of the most brilliant rhythms of the year. A feast for the ears.

18. People Got a Lotta Nerve – Neko Case

We know, They call them killer whales
But you seem surprised
When it pinned you down to the bottom of the tank
Where you can’t turn around
It took half your leg, and both your lungs
And I craved I ate hearts of sharks

A little like The Decemberists below this is a surprisingly catchy tune and one wich proved to be a fine introduction to her exceptional album.

17. My Boys – Taken by Trees

In my opinion far more interesting than the Animal Collective original.

16. Horchata – Vampire Weekend

Every bit as delicious as anything on their debut.

15. Lisztomania  – Phoenix

A prefect indie pop song – never gets old even after countless plays!

14. Can you Give it – Maccabees

One of a handful of gems from this year’s album. Boy can they give it!

13. The Great Detector – Bell X1

Impossible not to love – why? Because it’s so catchy? Maybe. Because it’s the best Talking Heads song of the year? Possibly. Or could it be the line ‘You’re the chocolate at the end of my cornetto‘? That’s got to be it 🙂

12. Effigy – Andrew Bird

From his wonderfully understated album this is my top pick, mainly due to the sublime harmonies. Simon & Garfunkel eat your heart out.

11. Heavy Cross – The Gossip

It is always comforting when a good song is popular enough to get air play on commercial stations. It happens so rarely. But here is a song that is almost impossible not to love – whoever you are or what your musical leanings might be. A faultless, rocking, kick into the blandness of pop radio. We need more, please!

10. Crystalised – The XX

Probably the most atmospheric song I’ve heard this year. I love the dark and moody feeling it broods.  It exudes late night moments of discovery. The almost nonchalant vocals slowly guide you around the melody that hooks you in and declares this a definite classic from 2009.

9. Fixin’ to Thrill – Dragonette

The most intriguing voice in pop. Dragonette have the crossover appeal of the Ting Tings but then with a truck load more grit. Fixin to Thrill was indeed one of the most satisfying pop singles of the year. They deserve to take over the world but they’ll settle on thrilling you.

8. This Tornado Loves you  – Neko Case

Neko Case’s charm is exceedingly hard to explain. The closest I could ever come to showing someone why I love her music would be to draw their attention towards the end of this song – specifically the first time she sings “This tornado loves you – what will make you believe me’. That voice, that phrase – what a way to close the opening track of her perfect album. Is it Americana, alt country, folk? Who cares –  it’s her voice and songs that make me believe her!

7. He Falls to Me – The Hidden Cameras

This is all about the big sound. It’s brash, bombastic and glorious. It’s also wonderfully original and refreshing. The Hidden Cameras, without doubt, made the most unique music I heard this year. Whatever their sonic experiment might have been it certainly worked and He Falls to Me could very well be the signature tune for their stunning album. It is also my signature tune for not giving up on a year when there was very little music of any decent innovation. Thank God the Hidden Cameras came along.

6. Obsessions – Marina & the Diamonds

A simple piano driven introduction with a sweet vocal brings one in mind of Tori or Feist. But don’t be fooled Marina & the Diamonds is wholly original. This is a song on the far from usual topic of trying to choose from a collection of identical crackers in the supermarket.

Cheeks are on fire; just choose something, something, something
Pressure overwhelming
Next minute I am turning out of the door, facing one week without food

Those vocals, that piano, that stunning melody all explain why Marina & the Diamonds have been my obsession of 2009.

5.  Love you Better – Maccabees

The guitar playing that introduces us to this tune is almost summoning your attention with the promise of an anthem. And it is an anthem! And a promise! !nd a damn good tune! And it certainly made me love the Maccabees better. Like all the songs on this album the whole package is perfect. Songwriting, instrumentation, production, vocals – wonderful music.

4. The Rake’s Song – The Decemberists

A thumping great song with a a crazy rhythm and an outrageously murderous lyric. How a song about killing your children can be this fun is beyond me – well I guess that’s the magic of The Decemberists. Play loud and sing along – it’s compulsory.

3. Sugar Tongue – The Indigo Girls

Simply put, this has most beautiful melody I heard this year. While The Indigo Girls have a certain amount of nostalgia for me this track is easily on par with any one of the wonderful songs they’ve made throughout their career. The musical phrasing on the lines I’ve got the blackest boots, the whitest skin, satisfy my sugar tongue again is pure magic while the harmony on we’ll teach them how to talk and whistle while they walk couldn’t be more perfect. Exquisite!

2. Alone Like That – David Kitt

Like The XX this is all about late night. And I am not talking about late night coming home from the pub or club. This is about a late hour when you are awake and for all you know you might be the only one not asleep in the world. You’re not particular down or happy but your mind is unusually sharp as your thoughts take on very specific direction influenced by the dark, the quiet or just the fact that there is nothing else to do at that time of night but think. When you wake in the morning it’s business as usual – until you play this gorgeous song. Kitt is a criminally underrated song writer as displayed by this melody, this beat and this atmosphere.

1. 5Rebeccas – The View

This would have to be my favourite track of the year, based on number of plays alone. It’s loud, it’s fast, catchy as hell and it’s about five girls called Rebecca! One of my favourite music moments of the year is that middle eight that manages to bring cool back into key change. A simple rock song that put a smile on a face countless times in 2009. Just what was needed!


One response to “Pretty Good Year

  1. It’s nice to finally know the names of some of my favourite new songs! =)

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