Welcome to The New York Rockmarket’s end of the year list spectacular. This is when I talk about how lists are fun but ultimately meaningless, and apologize for not posting the last few days because I’ve been compiling my lists. This is also where I talk about favorites as opposed to best, like I did last year. All of those things still apply. I’m making two lists this year: Favorite Songs and Favorite Albums. I’m going to attempt to skew my albums list a bit more towards the critical, but this songs list is just straight-up about fun, beautiful, moving songs. Some of the songs are actually terrible, but I like them. Each artist can only be listed once, for the sake of music discovery. (Why are there fish in the header?, you might be asking. Because I like them. That’s my rationale for this list, as well.)
Here we go, my favorite songs of 2010. I hope you find some new bands that you really like.
30) “Candy In The Kitchen” – Blair Oh pop! You’re so satisfying. Delicious hooks are the best, and sometimes they turn up in unlikely places. “Candy In The Kitchen” could almost be a single on Top 40 radio. From the very first kick drum beat, to the pre-chorus build up, to the electronic chorus, all the way to the “ooh” filled bridge. This is an easily digestible song from one of the most understated, sincere new artists of the year. It’s brilliantly put together from start to finish.
29) “You Can Come Over” – Shannon and The Clams I’m technically cheating on this one. This album was released in December 2009, and therefore should not be included on this list. However, I’m making an exception because of its late release. Also because I didn’t know about it until I saw Shannon and The Clams at SXSW. Watching them was sort of looking watching Best Coast for the first time. Your first thought is, “Damn, this girl’s got pipes!!” But then with Shannon you take it one step further when you realize she’s a total punk rock badass. I remember reading somewhere that this song sounds like a 1950s prom on a five day bender, and that’s exactly what I like about it.
28) “Wing Walker” – Ancient Crux This track from California’s Ancient Crux is just some damn good use of guitar. It really gets good in the second minute.
27) “Daisy” – Fang Island “Are you PSYCHED?” “Yeah man, I am SO PSYCHED.” “AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” If “Daisy” were a conversation, it would be that one. I saw Fang Island for the first and only time this year in a not-for-not-locals bar in East Austin during SXSW, where there were only Mexican pop bands on the jukebox. It was decidedly one of the oddest nights of my life, and one crazily energetic performance. I’ll never forget watching them do this song with my mouth sort of half open in awe at their manic guitar parts and enormous energy.
26) “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” – Arcade Fire What can I say, it’s anthemic. I love a good anthemic song every now and then. Actually, what really won me over on this particular song was Regine’s ridiculously happy performance on SNL. It was kind of weird, and I like it when people are overly sincere on network television.
25) “Dead Girls Dance” – Oberhofer I think Oberhofer may have won CMJ this year. They’re certainly one of the most talented very, very young bands to come up from the ranks in 2010. I think they may be the Wild Nothing or Smith Westerns of next year, though their guitar production will need a little help if that’s to be the case. Still, Brad Oberhofer certainly has a unique voice, possibly unique to give him a nice, long career on its own. He’s a promising young songwriter, too. His voice and the forward momentum of “Dead Girls Dance” was what turned me onto the band earlier in the year.
24) “Nikki Dont” – Royal Baths Sometimes songs are quietly great. There’s no need to hit anyone over the head to be damn good. That’s the case here with Royal Baths. As soon as I heard the bend on “Nikki don’t get devastated,” I knew that this would be a song to slowly creep under my skin. The vocals are hushed, the drums urgently move forward, and the occasional xylophone tempers it all. We don’t really get Nikki’s whole story, but the song itself tells us a lot about her and her love life. A quietly successful song that would make Lou Reed happy, or at least give a slight nod of approval.
23) “Radio” – Air Waves When I included “Shine On” on my list last year, I felt like I was giving big ups to the underdog. This year I’m extremely happy to report that I feel like I’m rehashing old news with this choice. Of course Nicole Schneit is a great songwriter, melancholy without being overly precious, and this is one of my favorite songs from her excellent 2010 album, Dungeon Dots. Viva Air Waves!
22) “Go Outside” – Cults The true brilliance of this song lies in its bass line. That, and the fact that it was one of the biggest Internet hits this year and it’s about going outside and getting away from computer. The swirly production is nearly perfect, and I don’t know any publication who didn’t get their pants charmed off by this song in 2010.
21) “Animal Tracks” – Mountain Man It took me awhile to figure out that Alex Bleeker & The Freaks were covering this song, but boy was I blown away by the way the verse blows into the chorus. It’s perfect in the way that songs by The Band and Bob Dylan are perfect. Every note is in the right place. I like Mountain Man and Alex Bleeker’s versions equally, but Mountain Man wrote it so they’re getting the nominal spot on the list.