My Top Songs of 2009

So I skipped another week of the Week That Was…sorry.  I had finals and then Kristen and I headed to Florida for a whirlwind weekend of stuff with her family.  We had a great time but all of that combined to make me not write my weekly post.  I promise it will be back next week though.

But instead, I’m giving you my Top Songs of 2009.  I’ve done this the past few years and I always find it enjoyable.  My criteria is not that the song was released in 2009, but instead that I heard it and latched onto it this year.  These are the songs that I will always remember when I think of 2009 music.  So here we go, in order of the mix that I made so that they flow together well…

1. Sometime Around Midnight – The Airborne Toxic Event – I might have heard this song in late 2008 but I latched onto it in early 2009.  The lyrics describe being haunted by running into an ex at a bar somewhere and the aftermath of that messy experience.  I’m not so keen on that, but it is a feeling that I think most people are familiar with.  What I love is the the slow build, both in the music and the singer’s voice, adding layer upon layer until a high crescendo is met and the song just explodes into emotion and frenzy.  You can actually feel the desperation in the songwriter.  Any time someone can pull that off with a song, I’m impressed.

2. If She Wants Me – Belle & Sebastian – This song starts with the whimsical guitar rift that carries it through the entire song and gives it the breezy feel that I love so much.  I find it nearly impossible to listen to this song without bobbing my head and tapping my fingers to the rhythm.  And for me, that makes a great song.  Bonus points here for the use of an organ, which rounds out the sound nicely and adds another layer of sound and complements the vocals wonderfully.

3. Oscar Wilde – Company of Thieves – Another toe-tapping song that got stuck in my head this year.  I love the pop sensibilities combined with the fuzzed out guitars and the repetitive hook.   There is a great little interlude in the middle of this song that slows things down, almost to a stop, but then builds back to a frenzied finish.  And I like the lyrical sentiment about how we are all our own devil.  I think that there is some truth in that…

4. Relator – Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson – Unlike most people, I thought that Scarlett’s first album was pretty good.  But this record, combining Pete and Scarlett together is great.  This song has it all.  Catchy rifts, experimental techniques, fun vocals, and a great overall sound.  This song is the third in my trifecta of great pop-rock songs.  *For some reason, iTunes refused to add this to my iMix.  So if you go look at the iMix linked at the bottom, you’ll have to add this one yourself.  But it is worth it.

5. Sugarfoot – Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears – The first time I heard this song I thought that it was an old James Brown B-side that I’d never heard.  The big band sound and mid-song breakdown are classic JB.  This song really just makes me want to get down and boogie.  Guitars, horns, drums and vocals all come together for a musical treat for your ears.

6. Take Care – Zach Williams – My love of Zach Williams is well documented here. This is probably about the third version of Take Care I’ve heard and this is by far the best.  Zach’s frantic vocals combined with the tight sound of the band take you on a musically journey of love and promises.  I just love the way this song runs together and builds on itself, finally coming to the breakdown in the middle, a soft, breezy and jazzy wish that flows back into the song so well.  This boy has got serious talent and you are missing out if you have not heard this album or seen him live.

7. Bull Black Nova – Wilco – Wilco’s latest album, Wilco (The Album), is fantastic, but I’d say that this is the standout track off that release.  It is not the catchiest or most accessible, but it showcases Wilco at their finest.  Catchy rifts and an experimental tone that captivates you in an unexpected way.  The slow build here is amazing as Tweedy and Co work themselves into a frenzy by the end of the song, showcasing their ability to take things to the edge of crazy while still maintaining control.  Simply put, I love this song.

8. The Thief and The Heartbreaker – Alberta Cross – This is another slowly building alternative song that grows and develops until it sticks in your head, long after it ends.  A haunting rift coupled with a great voice that builds and builds to the incredible ending.  I could easily see this song turn into an extended jam at a live show and I think that the edgy tone it has is offset by the catchiness of it.

9. Wheels – Foo Fighters – This song came out on their Greatest Hits album, one of two new releases on that record.  This is such a great and catchy song that sticks with you and just begs for repeated plays.  This song combines an edgy rock sound with a catchy hook that just gets better with each listen. Just like almost all of their songs… Foo Fighters are one of the most underrated bands of today and when I listen to a song like this I always wonder why more people don’t go crazy for these guys.  I am one person that will definitely be missing them on their current hiatus.

10. Stand Up Comedy – U2 – I’m a nominal U2 fan (if there is such a thing).  I liked their new album, but did not love it.  But I love this song.  The catchy guitar and cool tambourine sound make for an epic pop sound that takes the rock edge and turns it on its’ head.  Bono and the boys nailed it with this song that has a large sound and a fun vibe.

11. Valhalla – K-OS/Sam Roberts – I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite song for the year, but if forced to, this would be it.  I love collaborations and this one takes the cake.  A rock/rap/dance song that is edgy and poppy all at the same time.  Combine the catchiness of Sam Roberts and the rhymes of K-OS and you have a winner.  Probably the most unexpected song on this list, but easily one of the best.

12. 1901 – Phoenix – Who knew that the best pop song of the year would come from France?  Well, if you are familiar with Phoenix, you would.  These guys simply are amazing and this song is the latest in a long string of hits.  It was incredible to me to hear people talk about this new band Phoenix when they’ve got something like 4 or five albums out.  Oh well.  This song combines dancability with rock fuzz and turns it into a fantastic song that really makes you move.  I just love everything about this song.

13. Clockwork – Mute Math – I was a little disappointed by Mute Math’s newest album released this year, but this song, released on an EP was amazing.  It has all the best elements of the band, with the frantic drumming, the winding vocals and edgy guitar all coming together to make a cohesive rock song.  I wish that the rest of their songs this year were this epic, but I’m glad that this one made it out to the light of day.

14. Headphones – Jars of Clay – This song was chosen mainly for the message in the lyrics.  I love the way they zero in on how we shut people out with our own noise and keep from actually engaging people.  The music complements the message in a haunting way as it grows and winds throughout the song, incorporating so many elements into a whole.  This album was a great work as a whole, but their were few songs that really stood out to me.  This song was one of the exceptions.

15. Little Pieces – Gomez – Simple and catchy.  Vocals and guitars.  Ebb and flow.  Build and come down.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Gomez, but this song is so complete that it drew me in and I just loved the rifts it contained.  The strong beat carries the song and the quick ending is just right.

16. Little Bribes – Death Cab For Cutie – This song came out on an EP early in the summer and I think that it is the best song they’ve ever done.  A scathing review of Las Vegas lyrically, musically this song has great hooks and and a fun rhythm.  It is more upbeat than most of their songs and it starts quick and keeps up the fast tempo.  Just an all-around good song.

So there you go.  These are the songs that captured my fancy this past year.  You can check it all out on iTunes and even look at some from the past few years.  Enjoy.

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