To recap: As for My Favorite 50 Songs of 2009, I made a few rules for myself. First, a band can only appear once. Also, this is purely about singles I enjoy. For instance, I would never put Harlem Shakes’ Technicolor Health on my favorite albums list, but “Sunlight” made it pretty high on this list because it’s a great pop song. I like a lot of Grooms’ songs and think they’re probably better than many of these, for instance, but none of them made it onto this list because they work much better as a group of experimental songs on an album. This gave me a chance to give recognition to many bands from this year I would otherwise have left out. And, for the record, I think this list of songs is less important but more fun than my forthcoming list of best albums of 2009. You can download all of the songs by clicking on the words in bold.
So here it is, the third installment of My Favorite 50 Songs of 2009.
30) “Idiot Heart” – Sunset Rubdown I thought Dragonslayer was pretty good, but it didn’t capture me the way Sunset Rubdown’s previous works have. I think that’s mostly because Spencer crafted it more for a live setting. And this song ROCKED in live settings this year. It gets off to a slow, interesting start. But the end is stunning with the repeated line, “I hope that you die in a decent pair of shoes/We’ve got a lot a lot of walking to do.” A cinematic, narrative song with the edge of lyrical nonsense that Kurg always brings to Sunset Rubdown songs. Even though the album wasn’t a classic, this song is.
29) “Hey Boy” – The Magic Kids Is this song utterly derivative? Yes, sure. It is the catchiest, most adorable song to come out this year with an amazing 50s rock vibe mixed with a Beach Boys Je ne sais quoi? Yes, definitely. If this song doesn’t make you smile, I’m worried for your poor, broken heart.
28) “Beach Comber” – Real Estate I think Real Estate is my favorite band from this year. I love everything about this song. From the opening lines, “What you want is just outside your reach/Keep on searching,” to the easy, flowing guitar riff at the end. This song is what I want life to be like. Somehow the tone of the song is hopeful, without being overly sentimental. It’s all deceptively simple. Real Estate is one of those bands that come together in just the right way. Musical magic.
27) “Rain On” – Woods I used to think that Woods sounded like some sort of mystical, forgotten late 60s band. As the year has progressed, I’ve realized that they sound like 2009. In fact, I think when we look back on this time in a few years, Woods and Real Estate will have the sound that will ultimately come to define this era. I like “Rain On” so much that I’m not really sure what to say about it. Listening to it is like reading a really good book. It completely transports you into a place other than your own and you want to stay there. It’s always a little jarring when you finish the book and realize that it’s not a place you can permanently inhabit.
26) “The Other Side” – Paul and the Patients This song consists entirely of awesome guitar build and fun, catchy chorus. It seems somehow appropriate for this very dude-centric band to have a song entirely about build-up and release. I admire its pleasant simplicity (much more so than their other single, “Blogspot”) and I wish this band had gotten more buzz this year.
25) “Bone Jam” – JEFF The Brotherhood JEFF The Brotherhood had one of the most exciting live shows I saw this year. With just drums and guitar, they create really hard songs that are still catchy as hell. There were a lot of two-man “garage” bands in 2009 (JTB does NOT want to be called a garage band), and these guys were far and away the best. This is an amazing song, which helps, but they too have that inexplicable mix of charisma and talent.
24) “Bell” – Screaming Females I heard about Screaming Females before I listened to them. My only thought was what a terrible band name Screaming Females was, especially for a female-fronted band. Visions of bad Sleater-Kinney impersonations ran through my head. Then I pressed play on “Bell,” and realized that Marissa Paternoster is one of the most kick-ass guitarists and rockers on the indie scene right now. Man, woman, or child- she can shred. Screaming Females melted my face at Market Hotel earlier this year, and I’ve been listening to this song on repeat ever since.
23) “The Red Bow” – That Ghost I’m glad That Ghost came out with an EP this year. Their latest album, Young Fridays, came out in 2008, so I can’t include it on any of these lists. “The Red Bow,” is excellent, though, and is definitely an evolution from That Ghost’s output last year. It’s still got that amazing nineteen-year-old-phenom-in-their-bedroom feel, but is a little angrier, edgier, and slightly less Bright Eyes-y than his previous songs. Plus, some of these lyrics are just amazing. “I’d much rather just cut my legs off/So you can carry me home on your own.”
22) “Lust For Life” – Girls This song is so good (and so popular) because everyone can relate to it. “I wish I had a suntan/I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine.” Who doesn’t? The gender confusion, the honesty of admitting to being “fucked in the head,” the adolescent hopefulness; this song has it all. It’s by far one of the least inventive and challenging songs on Girls’ excellent album, but it’s the most fun. And at the end of the day, how can you not love a song who’s music video includes penis microphones? I mean, really.
21) “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” – Handsome Furs Absolutely one of the most underrated albums all year. This is my favorite song off of Face Control. Maybe I’m a shameless Wolf Parade fan, but seriously, but could one band have more top-notch side projects? Dan Boeckner’s grungy guitar mixed in with his girlfriend’s energetic synth playing creates an entirely new sound for us to enjoy. I really, really want to use this song in a WWII movie montage. Fighting, sprawling, and passionate.