J's Indie/Rock Mayhem - 16th December 2009
The Top Singles of 2009
[Another year, another year-end wrap-up and another Top Singles of the Year show. This show has come to almost rival the Top 25 Albums show in my heart, if only because this is the show with nothing but wall-to-wall favorite songs from the year. Tonight's show was really something and I love my top 12 picks this year, as well as all the other songs that slid around in there. It makes for quite a show and I hope you enjoy it.
Also, as a small bit of celebration, this particular blog post marks the 500th post here at J's Indie/Rock Mayhem. The blog started back in September of 2003 and so that might seem like a glacial pace of posting, but for the majority of the blog's existence, it's been one post per week. There was a period of time where I did weekly album reviews before I began writing for Aquarium Drunkard, but this is still a great accomplishment. Fittingly, the blog recently also crossed the threshold of its 75,000th visitor. While my blog certainly doesn't generate major traffic, it does great for its purpose and weekly updates, so thank you, those of you who come to read and listen.
The 8th Annual Top 25 Albums of the Year show will be in two weeks - Wednesday, January 30th - and is a 4 hour extravaganza from 4pm - 8pm. The first two hours will feature also-rans from the year's best albums, all leading up to the Top 25 countdown from 6pm until 8pm. Only the Top 25 section will be podcast. I'm terribly excited.
Now, let's celebrate 2009 in style. Onward.]
J's Indie/Rock Podcast: 16th December 2009 - Top Singles of the Year
Theme Song - Peaches - "Rock Show"
Ladyhawke - "My Delirium" [from her self-titled 2008 album. so why on the 2009 single list? well, i think this was pushed as a single this year and i just heard it for the first time myself this year and...well...listen to it, fer cryin' out loud. holy god, this would've been in my top 5 no question otherwise.]
the Streets - "David Hassles" [not from any record, but released via twitter. probably the first song on my list to be done in such a way. the streets didn't put out a new record this year, but mike skinner did release new songs online and this was the peach of the bunch, i'd say.]
Langhorne Slim - "Say Yes" [from be set free, a fun record in its own right, but this song certainly grabbed me from the first time i heard it. and that's really the theme of most of these songs tonight.]
the Henry Clay People - "Something in the Water" [from for cheap or for free. if there's a band you're bound to hear more from, and not just on my show, it's these guys. they're on the way to something great and this record is a fantastic debut. singles, ahoy.]
Future of the Left - "Arming Eritrea" [from travels with myself and another. i did a pretty good job of keeping a lot of the top 25 album contenders off of the top singles list. not purposefully, mind you. it just happened that way, but there was some crossover and here's one big one. this album is full of great songs.]
Passion Pit - "Little Secrets" [from manners. while i certainly slept (no pun) on their amazing single "sleepyhead" last year, i definitely didn't make that mistake twice. this band was made to churn out singles and this was my favorite of the bunch.]
Tommy Keene - "Hide Your Eyes" [from in the late bright. speaking of great single makers, tommy keene has been cranking out awesome pop for a long time and his latest was a great late-period effort. it was a tossup between this and "goodbye jane," both amazing songs, but the ballad won out. what can i say? i'm a sucker.]
Black Moth Super Rainbow - "Born on a Day The Sun Didn't Rise" [from eating us. another return to the top singles list. and another band, like passion pit, who cranks out amazingly infectious songs on a regular basis. BMSR has such a unique sound that it really draws you in immediately.]
New York Dolls - "Cause I Sez So" [the title track from their second post-reunion album and it's another winner. the songs are rockin' and fun and everything the new york dolls always were. there's a celebratory nature about everything they do now.]
Echo and the Bunnymen - "Shroud of Turin" [from the fountain. i certainly wouldn't have expected a single from echo being on my list at the beginning of the year, but here it is. you should come out also to joe g's cover band explosion this saturday, december 19th, at the blind tiger in greensboro. $5 at the door which goes to the NC humane society and it nets you great cover bands of echo and the bunnymen, the breeders, joe jackson, the ventures, the black keys and queens of the stone age. plus, yours truly MCing. what else could you want in a charity donation?]
the Clean - "In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul" [from mr. pop. the new zealand band cranked out another great pop record this year and the result is also one of this year's most fun beatles-alluding songs.]
Birdmonster - "Yuma" [from blood memories. birdmonster was in the top 5 singles last year, but it's not a case of mighty-have-fallen. they're still making great songs and this band's album is another fantastic one.]
Superchunk - "Learned to Surf" [from the leaves in the gutter EP. superchunk's first new music since 2001 and it's a doozy to be sure. especially this song. i'm still picking my jaw up. long live NC rawk!]
Her Space Holiday - "Sleepy Tigers" [from the sleepy tigers EP. a pretty fun and sweet song that was released originally in 2008, but here re-released on an EP that is fun and, well, sweet.]
Patterson Hood - "Back of a Bible" [from murdering oscar (and other love songs). a pretty lovely song and one of my very favorite patterson songs, i do believe. i'm super excited to hear the truckers' latest in the spring - they'll also be playing back-to-back nights at the lincoln theatre in raleigh in february - on a friday and saturday, no less! february 12th and 13th. i'll be there. both nights. count on it.]
Girls - "Lust for Life" [from their self-titled record that really grabbed me by surprise. i tend to get turned off to the similarly named bands and, well, there's another band called women. and it just seemed too hokey. so i paid no attention at first. will i ever learn my lessons? naw.]
Animal Collective - "My Girls" [from merriwether post pavillion. i've been slow to come around to this band in general, but this was the song that finally broke me and made me give them a fair listen. it's not always my cup of tea, but it's the jubilant "woo"'s that explode in the chorus of this song that snagged me.]
the Love Language - "Lalita" [from their self-titled debut. they've been signed to merge records, so we'll doubtless, and hopefully, be hearing a new record from them again in 2010, but we can still revel in the awesomeness of this debut.]
Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers - "Songs in the Night" [the title track from her album out on ramseur records. a really great songwriter that ought to be fun to watch in the near future.]
the Thermals - "How We Fade" [from now we can see. these guys were one of the absolute highlights of my stint at the pitchfork festival this summer and the record is a winning and proud post-punk record with a great sense of pop style. this song especially rarely left my head.]
[Now the countdown of the top twelve singles begins. Here we go - the best singles of 2009.]
12. the Damnwells - "55 Pictures" : The Damnwells have always been great at singles, but putting out their latest album as a free download, and then hoping the dividends would pay in touring and exposure, was a bold mood for a band that as recently as a couple of years ago had been on a major label. It'll be interesting to see the results, but it's obvious Alex Dezen and company haven't lost their knack for great roots-flavored power pop. This is the best of a record full of great songs. From One Last Century.
11. the Foreign Exchange - "Daykeeper" : The Foreign Exchange returned with a record that really defied expectations as Phonte Coleman all but completely eschewed rapping in favor of r&b crooning over top of Nicolay's unique creations. This song, the album's opener, is a great primer for the album to come and a melancholic song that hints at things deeper than its surface. From Leave It All Behind.
10. Brendan Benson - "Garbage Day" : The call back to sweet, 60s/70s r&b and soul on this song is a winning feel for Benson, a truly standout song that mines some areas he hasn't gone to extensively. While the overall album was a bit underwhelming, this song is a big addition to his catalogue of great power-pop. From My Old Familiar Friend.
9. Son Volt - "Jukebox of Steel" : This is a closing song to rival Trace's cover of "Mystifies Me." Jay Farrar's writing skills hit a good run this year, but this song is so winning and immediately infectious in its chorus ("throw the calendar away / go and find a jukebox of steel") that it is a welcome competitor. From American Central Dust.
8. A.C. Newman - "The Heartbreak Rides" : It's the "yo-ho"'s. Seriously. It makes the whole thing sound like a jaunty, pirate adventure. Like two people setting off on a grand adventure, cutlass thrust into the wind. It's the type of slow-building pop that Newman thrives within and he does it just as well as ever. From Get Guilty.
7. the Veils - "The Letter" : Not really of a comparison to the Box Tops' classic song, but something much darker. Finn Andrews has a voice like a melancholic fallen angel, lamenting and admiring his fate simultaneously. This song, as well as its album of origin, is a much darker trip than its predecessor. Dark music for dark times. From Sun Gangs.
6. Phoenix - "1901" : A lot of people piled on the praise for this album, but it didn't stand the test for me. Not that I don't like Phoenix, but they are more of a singles band and this song is without question one of the year's finest. A great sense of style that feels both classic and new at the same time, "1901" is the sound of the future and the past dancing. From Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
5. Mos Def - "Auditorium" : I love Mos Def's rhymes here, but what puts this song over the top is the subdued, but brilliant turn by Slick Rick. His gleefully obtuse narrator, itself a great commentary on broader public perceptions of the Iraq War, is a winning weave with his self-reference. It's the type of song that insidiously mounts itself in your brain and takes up residence. From The Ecstatic.
4. the Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Young Adult Friction" : Aside from the winningly goofy pun in the title, this is a blast of pop perfection on an album that is nothing but. The greatest C-86 album recorded since the early 90s, the wintery briskness of the guitars is a godsend for jangle pop lovers. I'd list the whole album if I could, but this song stands mightily above them all. From The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
3. Lake Inferior - "Spiders" : The best single from a North Carolina band this year is this hybrid of Animal Collective's spartan, electronic adornments and the funky thump of Talking Heads. It's the type of song that comes along and changes your thoughts about what pop music can be and how it has to work, where it's come from and where it's going. From Lake Inferior EP.
2. the Raveonettes - "Heart of Stone" : I really had the Raveonettes pegged as a one-trick pony after their first, excellent album. But while the core of their sound hasn't shifted a lot, they've refined it to a honed edge. This song is the epitome of everything that can possibly be right with a song by this band - the lo-fi haze, the ethereal vocals, the aural callbacks to girl groups and original rock and roll. If you don't feel all of that buzzing beneath the surface, then the title may be more about you than you know. From In and Out of Control.
1. P.O.S. - "Low Light Low Life" : I don't know if I can rightly explain what it is about "Low Light Low Life" that kept it constantly in my mind. Cultural and historical allusions, both high and low. Boston Tea Party and "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It" and Law and Order? Check. But it's the way that P.O.S.'s rhymes seem feverish, determined and lucid. There's a forceful righteousness, a seething love, a smothering anger. All of it combines with the production of punchy synth hits, bells and guitar to create perfection. Indeed.
That'll do it for the Top Singles show. Thanks for listening this year. I'll be back in two weeks, on December 30th, with the 8th Annual Top 25 Albums of the Year show. Please tune in - you won't want to miss a second. Until then, Go Panthers! Go Heels!, and take care.