Monday, November 2, 2009

200 Greatest Tracks of the Decade (50-26)

I'm quickly learning that although the weekend sounds like the ideal time to hammer out a few blog posts, it's not really feasible. That and I'm gradually whittling down my vocabulary and my reservoir of snide comments with every post. I need to get some more material. Forgive me if these descriptions become a bit more terse as a result, although I have a feeling that will be a welcomed change for most of you. Here we go!

50. The Killers- Mr. Brightside  (2004)

The Killers don't write songs like this anymore. Frankly, I don't think anyone does. A rock song with hooks that would make Timbaland jealous. You can feel this song growing and growing towards something, as verse is trumped by a catchier bridge, which is completely obliterated the chorus.

49. Cat Power-I Found A Reason (Velvet Underground Cover) (2000)
Cat Power's allure stems from her vulnerable, fragile voice. She often sounds lost and forlorn, barely holding herself together. Maybe that's why I love this song so much. She actually sounds happy here (as happy as Cat Power gets), and I can't help but feel happy for her.

48. Phoenix- Long Distance Call (2006)

With bands like Phoenix and Justice trailblazing throughout the decade, it's a good time to be from France. Of course you wouldn't know it from listening to Phoenix. They sound American as well, Phoenix. Without baggage or pretensions, Phoenix toys with the listener here, teasing the chorus, building momentum only to kill it off, but when they finally jump into the chorus, buckle up.

47. Friendly Fires-Skeleton Boy (2009)

Before the verse starts, Friendly Fires do an admirable Justice impression, mixing in some twitchy rhythms and gurgling basslines before they sing a note. From here they swing from cowbell to strings to snaredrums, never lingering longer than 10 seconds but still leaving quite an impression.

(Forgive the Twilight drivel, this is what I found on youtube. He is pretty dreamy though.

46. Band Of Horses-The Funeral (2006)

For a song that sounds like a lullaby for the first 90 seconds, Band of Horses certainly make up for lost time in the last two minutes. Never has such morbid subject matter sounded so pretty.

45. Justice vs Simian-We Are Your Friends (2006)

Another instance of Justice sprinkling their awesome dust on an otherwise forgettable song. The tumbling synths and dreamy keyboards play an admirable second fiddle, but the real showcase is the androgynous scream of a chorus, that I hope was looped, because otherwise the singer surely had an aneurysm.

44. Titus Andronicus-Titus Andronicus (2008)

Serious punk for serious times. Titus Andronicus thrash and yelp their way through indecipherable verse after indecipherable verse until they unleash one of the most fist-pumping head-bobbing choruses of the decade.


43. Antony & The Johnsons-Hope There's Someone (2005)

Antony is the male Cat Power. Or at least I think he's male. He twinkles on a piano, but this song is a capella as far as I'm concerned. And what a capella it is. Antony voice flutters like a bird's song, expressing a desperate longing for love and fear of death that is disarming and entrancing.

42. The Love Language- Lalita (2009)

A fantastic song from one of the best bands I've had the pleasure to see this year. If anyone writes better hooks than this North Carolina ensemble, I'll eat my shoe.

41. Devotchka- How it Ends (2004)

The song used the tremendous effect in the film Everything Is Illuminated, is straight up chill-inducing, especially when paired with clips from the film as it is here.

40. Okkervil River- For Real (2005)

The gentle strumming and subdued vocals that open this song do not prepare you for what is to come. Schizophrenic lyrics and jarring electric guitar sound like the door slamming behind you in a haunted house. However insane it sounds in places, it never feels out of control, at that's probably the most unsettling realization of all.

I want to know this time if you're really finally mine
I need to know that you're not lying so I want to see you tried
And I don't want to hear you say it shouldn't really be this way
'Cause I like this way just fine

39. Feist-Mushaboom (2004)

A cartoonish amalgum of handclaps and trumpets, it's no surprise that the music video features a dance number, flying toast and a wormhole. From anyone else, completely stupid. From Feist, completely perfect.

38. TV On The Radio-Staring at the Sun (2004)

While I'm probably in the minority, I think TV on the Radio have gone downhill since this song. With cooing harmonies and a pulsating bassline, traditional love song it is not, but that doesn't make it any less sexy.

37. Lykke Li- Dance Dance Dance (2008)
Sounding like a Swedish Feist, Lykke Li takes the otherwise cutesy and sappy and melts away all your pretensions. So when she says "I couldn't possibly tell you how I mean, but I can dance, dance, dance" you are crushed by its simplicity and depth at the same time.

36. Passion Pit-Sleepyhead (2009)

While people can shrug off Passion Pit as disgustingly sweet and peppy, this song simply cannot be denied. Whatever preconceptions you may have about nasally vocals or handclaps are steadily ground down by a  pounding drumbeat until you can't help but smile.

35. The Walkmen-The Rat (2004)

"You've got a nerve to be asking a favor". That's a tone-setter if I've ever heard one. Not interested in using any wordplay or ambiguity, this song froths-at-the-mouth in a swarm of guitars and snarls. I don't know why he is so pissed, I only know that I want nothing to do with it.

34. Ryan Adams-Oh My Sweet Carolina (2000)

Ryan Adams writes too many songs. Let's get that out of the way. He comes out with 3 albums a year and while most disappoints, when it sticks, it really sticks. Here he sings with the nostalgia and longing of a man on his deathbed, recanting the things he's done and lamenting those he never did.

up here in the city 
it feels like things are closin' in 
the sunset's just my light bulb burnin' out 
i miss kentucky 
and i miss my family 
all the sweetest winds, they blow across the south. 

33. Interpol - Obstacle 1 (2002)

Layers of guitars ebb and flow in and out of one another, attempting to mirror the constantly changing vocal pacing. Or maybe it's the vocals trying to keep up with the 3 different wandering guitar parts. Although they converge at the chorus briefly, they diverge again only to end together, having taken very different roads to reach the same conclusion.

32. Wilco-Jesus, etc.. (2002)

Why this song wasn't a massive crossover hit is beyond me. I guess I should just be grateful that it got released considering Wilco had to leave their record label to find someone to give it a proper release. Jeff Tweedy evokes an apocalyptic scene wrought with shaking buildings and tears, but promises to be around when the dust settles, which is really all you can ask for.

31. The Arcade Fire-Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (2004)

What to say about the Arcade Fire that hasn't already been said a thousand times over. This song is bursting with energy, at times emotional but always eloquent. Win Butlers cracking voice makes every word feel so real that it almost feels voyeuristic to listen to.    

30. Wolf Parade-I'll Believe In Anything (2005)

"Give me your eyes, I need sunshine." Simple words say so much. I'm not sure if the subject of this song is a longtime girlfriend or is a complete stranger, but that doesn't change what Spencer Krug is feeling here. He loves her unflinchingly and will follow her anywhere, teetering between creepy and chivalrous.

29. Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out (2004)

The way this song makes a complete 180 a minute in still gets me everytime. They could have easily split the two and made two great standalone songs, but instead they threw them together, connected only by a thin guitar riff. And it works like gangbusters. The way it daringly jumps the tracks and manages to right itself again makes the payoff that much sweeter when it turns into such a romper-stomper.

28. Spoon-The Way We Get By (2002)

Most of Spoons songs, while awesome, sound like they are about someone else. A friend of a friend, maybe a character in a book. This one is too great to be about someone else.

We get high in back seats of cars
We break into mobile homes
We go to sleep to 'Shake Appeal'
Never wake up on our own

27. Justice-D.A.N.C.E. (2007)

Just as Justice punches up other people's tracks, they have more than enough creativity to let it all hang out on their own material. The scratchy TV sounds tease like an interlude, until you realize that they are actually going to do it. A song that plays just as strongly in the club as it would on a school bus, it nearly bubbles over with the unbridled energy and enthusiasm. The music video is fantastic also, see my Top Music Videos f the Decade Post here.

26. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (2006)

While Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse had both experienced their fair share of success prior to teaming up for Gnarls Barkley, they soared into the stratosphere with this song. Brilliant in it's simplicity, it strikes the perfect balance between grandeur and humility.

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