I really thought I was going to take the opportunity of having some free time over the past couple of weeks to do some writing, but, true to my slacker nature, I sat on my ass and didn’t do a damn thing.
Now, 2010 is upon us and zipping itself along to becoming as much a memory as 2009. Since changeovers of decades are such a big deal for traditional media outlets, I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of “top-of-’09” and “top-of-the-decade” lists. The particular lists I rather enjoy are the “top songs of ’09.” You can tell a lot about a person by what they pick as great for the entire year. A little perusing will tell me if this person really thought about the list the entire year, or, if they just grabbed the CD stack nearest them when given a deadline of the first week of January.
I’ll admit, for years I’ve been guilty of being in the latter category; my only defense being that there was usually a good smattering of music from the entire year because I’m often too lazy to pull a disc after it’s gone in my player.
Now, of course, everything has gone digital and, therefore, should be much easier to manage. I should be able to look in the “number of times played” column in iTunes and be able to determine what I liked this year. Apparently not so much.
So, here’s my painstaking list of songs I loved in 2009. For you splitting hairs types, some of this stuff may not have been released in 2009, but I found it then and that freakin’ counts in my books. Get bent if you think otherwise. As usual, these aren’t in any particular order; just rolling out as my bingo cage of a brain drops them. Also, I’m listing these things out artist – album – track if any of it seems confusing.
Mr. Gnome – Heave Yer Skeleton – Vampires
Mr. Gnome is one of the absolutely best live bands in the entire world. I shit you not. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Sam Meister play drums: it’s about as close to actual visual magic as one can muster. While both of their two full length albums are pretty spectacular, Vampires pretty much sums up the entire Mr. Gnome feel. I really also want to include the track after Vampires, Cleveland Polka, since they flow together (in my head) like the Pixies’ Palace of the Brine and Letter to Memphis, but I won’t.
The Airborne Toxic Event– The Airborne Toxic Event – Papillon
The Airborne Toxic Event is one of those bands that actually seems to really enjoy what they are doing. Granted, a lot of their stuff is practically made to be the not-so-background music to pivotal moments in some CW television show, but that doesn’t stop them from being enjoyable. Papillon is just plain stupid fun. It may not be recognized as such, but Papillon is pure hipster anthem.
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Lasso
Despite being cheese-eating surrender monkeys (nothing against the French, I just always wanted to put that in a blog entry), Phoenix are quite the talent. They obviously have the commercial acumen to get Cadillac under their thumb early on, so kudos to them. What I like about Lasso is that it is actually a very simple song. There isn’t a lot of sound layering like in so many songs these days, and it’s just got an addictive beat that carries all the way through.
Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3 – D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)
What can I say, I’m a Jay-Z fan. I waited in anticipation for The Blueprint 3 to drop and wasn’t disappointed in the least. While The Blueprint 3 dropped in September, Jay-Z released D.O.A. as a leading single in June pretty much dropping the gauntlet to the prevalent trend in hip-hop. Only Jay-Z could have balls that big.
Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown – Murder City
I just figured American Idiot was going to be as good as Green Day got. It really wouldn’t be too much to not expect them to just phone in a pop-punk record after that effort. Surprise, surprise, 21st Century Breakdown is just as screwed up a story as American Idiot. It was hard for me to isolate one track from this album since I think of it as a single freakishly long song, but Murder City sticks out to me as reminiscent of much older Green Day: I’m talkin’ pre-Dookie.
The Lonely Island– Incredibad – Boombox
I really really wanted to pick I’m On A Boat for my track from this record, but Boombox is honestly a better song. I realize that The Lonely Island is pretty much just a comedy record, but it counts. I’ll kick you in the jeans if you say otherwise.
Matt & Kim – Grand – Cinders
This is another record where there are just so damn many good tracks, and, therefore, I find myself trying to isolate one to be my fave. I picked Cinders because it’s psychotic. In terms of the whole record, it’s a breather in the third quarter, but it really works for me. Synth and drum, what else is needed?
Rancid – Let the Dominoes Fall – The Highway
I’ve got a serious soft spot for Rancid (actually several thanks to being in pits at their shows), but I really wasn’t excited about this record. Unlike the other records, Lars Frederiksen does more vocal duties on this album than past ones and this recording marks the first album without the “classic” Rancid lineup. Over the past couple of years, however, Rancid has really proved their chops by doing a smattering of acoustic tracks and The Highway highlights some of the great raw talent that still exists with these guys.
The Reverend Horton Heat – Laughin’ & Cryin’ – Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas
Every time the Rev puts out a new record I either love it or feel it to be “meh.” Laughin’ & Cryin’ hearkens back to the Sub-Pop days of the Rev: riffing on random stupid Texas stuff and embracing the true glory of drunken music. It’s quite beautiful and Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas is right up there with the best of the drunken Rev songs. Jim has proven that he’s still got it.