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.
10) “We Are The Men You’ll Grow To Love Soon” – Let’s Wrestle “Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba.” “We aren’t the most reliable guys in the world / But we got enough money to buy some G&Ts for the girls.” British scamps singing about girls with clever lyrics and lots of handclaps- the #1 song I had constantly stuck in my head this year.
9) “Moon Deluxe” – Andrew Cedermark When that second very distorted guitar part comes in? Damn, that’s good. Then the rest of the song is filled with those “damn” moments. It doesn’t get much better than that.
8) “Fun Dink Death” – Eric Copeland I love it when weird things are really fun. Eric Copeland is a brilliant guy, and it really shows in this playfully thoughtful track. My favorite summer song this year.
7) “Able To” – Eternal Summers On this track, Eternal Summers once again prove how brilliant simple things can be in rock and roll. One simple guitar part with three chords, and a repeated question: “Are you able to?” Then an urgent and moving verse or chorus, both parts could act as the other. And then it’s over just shy of two minutes. I savor every second of it on each repeated listen.
6) “Caesar” – Ty Segall I like “Caesar” so much because it makes me feel like I’m in New York circa 1973. Ty Segall is one of the few artists that adds the energy to their music the way I imagine all of my original heroes did. I suppose there’s nothing particularly new in this song, but the way it builds, with the strummy acoustic guitar, scuzzy bass, and the keys coming in at the end works so well.
5) “Future Islands” – Tin Man The first time I heard this song, I was completely floored by two things. The steel drum sound and the first moment that Sam Herring’s vocals come in. Holy crap. “You couldn’t possibly know how much you mean to me.” I think that might be the most sincere emotion to be captured on record this entire year. At least that what it sounds like. Herring’s howls and yells blend perfectly with the electronic web of drums and bass that the other two band members create; it’s one of those rare musical magic moments.
4) “Whale” – Yellow Ostrich This song moves just like a whale would. It swims along slowly and elegantly, until it suddenly surprises you with a quick, efficient movement that takes your breath away. I’d totally get on a boat off the coast of Maine in the freezing middle of winter to watch this song swim in the middle of the Atlantic. A quick note, too, that of all the songs I posted this year, this was the most downloaded and most complemented to me.
3) “Girls FM” – Happy Birthday In the beginning of this year, I badmouthed Happy Birthday. I thought their live show was sloppy and boring and the songs were too precious. That’s because I didn’t get it yet. It’s all about it GIRLS. And awkward people liking other awkward people. And the spastic guitar parts actually brilliantly express that. The spazz out in the middle of this song is truly excellent. After many, many listens, I still think that this is one of the quirkiest tracks of the year, even if it sometimes disguises itself as typical.
2) “Morgan” – Cloud Nothings “Arthur Conan Doyle.” I love Cloud Nothings’ sound, and the whole “There’s a shark inside my room / he will bite you if you’re careful,” (or something like that) is so odd, such a strange image to put in such a relentlessly moving song. The beauty of “Morgan” is that it’s classic punk, but the vocal production and the guitar tones make it entirely of this year.
1) “A More Perfect Union” – Titus Andronicus I once heard someone say that they thought it was really weird when people cried at rock music. Even with that in mind, and maybe it is weird, I will admit that the first time I heard this song, I had tears rolling down my face. And I’m not that easy of a crier. Maybe it’s the “Oh my goodness- that’s my life, too!” references in the beginning of the song. Maybe it’s all those years of being from New Jersey and listening to Bruce Springsteen. The real reason I think this song is so moving is that Patrick Stickles & co. put it all out on the line. “A More Perfect Union” is an ambitious song. A huge, enormous song. It’s about the Civil War, and American politics, and growing up in the 21st century. Those are the things I feel that we should be making music about. I can’t think of too many other people that really made an ambitious rock record in 2010. Forget that Ariel Pink nonsense. In a year of increasing electronic sounds and reverb-laden vocals, “A More Perfect Union” rules. This song is a classic, the only one I heard this year. It’s the first song I’m going to play for my children or nephews when I decide it’s time to really get them into rock and roll from my youth, and definitely deserves the top spot on any true rock lovers’ list.