December 16th, 2009
Wednesday Evening, 10:16 PM
- On Your Birthday - Jim Boggia - 2008 - Misadventures in Stereo
From Jim's brilliant 2008 release, On You Birthday is a trip down memory lane for the writers, his listeners and ex-lovers. Jim handed the lyric writing over to the underrated David Poe and the two created a breezy homage to those special moments in life that mean more now then they did then. Here is Jim doing the song at Joe's Pub (really if you have a chance to see him there, do yourself a favor, and make it happen):
- Please Read The Letter - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - 2007 - Raising Sand
What a bloody brilliant pairing. T-Bone is a producing genius. He has such a magical ear for this type of stuff. The last minute of this song is the best Led Zep song since IV.
- Last Night - The Strokes - 2000 - Is This It?
In hindsight, Rock and NYC's next-great-hope didn't live up to the hype and expectations of its debut. What they did do was make the NYC music scene vibrant and in particular the Brooklyn music scene the place to be in the 2nd half of the decade. The Indie Blogs owe everything to this track.
- Middle of the Hill - Josh Pyke - 2005 - Feeding the Wolves
A friend of mine sent me the mp3 of this track one day via email saying, "you will love this song." She was spot on. Little did she know that I actually grew-up in the middle of the hill as a child. Maybe its growing older, or that I took up the acoustic guitar this decade, but the 00s have been about me gravitating more and more to small acoustic numbers like this one.
- The Pretender - Foo Fighters -2007- Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Now for something not acoustic. One of the best concerts I went to this decade was an intimate record release party the Foo had at Irving Plaza in NYC. Nothing better then seeing a band of this power at a 500 person show. Especially for a song like The Pretender which slows it down just long enough to explode into full bloom. After a show like that, you don't want to do the 70,000 person stadium thing ever again. YouTube to prove the point: You can find me in the crowd at the end as the only guy there wearing a suit.
- My Girls - Animal Collective - 2009 - Merriweather Post Pavilion
I wrote about this track earlier in the year on the old blog and my feelings are the same. This track is an anologs wet dream. The way it builds and makes you move and the lush wall-of-sound that those keyboards create, My Girls is the highlight of one of the best albums of 2009.
- Uprising - Muse - 2009 - The Resistance
You can thank my teenage Liverpolitan nephews Dylan and John and their super-cool Mom who took them to see these guys in concert, for making me aware of the next-great British thing. Damn those Brits are really up on their music. Theatrical, forceful, driving and rebellious, Muse is a must listen for the Zeitgeist crew that tapped into the mainstream in 2009.
- Jesus, Etc. - Wilco - 2002 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
By now the story of Wilco's YHF is something of rock music legend. Band fights record label for release, label says no. Band offeres it for free online (one of the first to do this mind you), everyone loves it (fans and critics). Label resigns band for an album it already paid for. And you wonder what lead to the music industry downfall this decade. If you have not read what happened yet (in detail), I highly recommend watching Sam Jones' Documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" which highlights the madness. Regardless, YHF is the album of the decade and Jesus Etc. sits smack in the middle of tracklist as a chance to catch your breath and reflect. This could be Tweedy's finest number to date.
- Wilco (the song) - Wilco - 2009 - Wilco (the album)
The final Wilco song that makes my list is also the song where they announced to the world that they were going to have fun again playing music. IMHO, the first side (I have it on LP) of Wilco (the album) is there best set of music since YHF in 2002. The first time I heard this song was when they performed it live on The Colbert Report just days prior to the 2008 Presidential Election. The crowd blew up when they heard it and rightfully so, it's fun, infectious and "sonic shoulder for you to cry....Wilco will love you baby" So true Jeff.
- Everything In Its Right Place - Radiohead - 2000 - Kid A
With the first five notes from Thom Yorks' keyboard, Radiohead proclaimed that Kid A would not be your brothers The Bends or OK Computer. They proclaimed that music was going to be different in the new Millinium for the most important band in the world and for music. Nine years later, it still is and they still are.
- Crazy in Love - Beyonce (Featuring Jay-Z) - 2003 - Dangerously In Love
The best horns, the best beat, one of the best guest star raps from the new Sinatra, the voice, the moves, it all translates into one of the best party songs of the 00s.
- Ex #1 Fan - The Churchills - 2000 - You Are Here
One of those NYC band I found and followed while living up there for the past decade. Great little Power-Pop outfit that specialized in cool harmonies and crunchy guitars. Plus, stalker songs never go out of fashion.
- I Gotta Feeling - The Black Eyed Peas - 2009 - The E.N.D.
Really, this was song of this past summer. Really, everyone loved it, no matter the age or location or creed. This song will always make me think of driving in Ireland this past summer and it being on EVERY five minutes and I really didn't even care. Sorry Beyonce, but this was the best party song of the 00s.
- Mr. Brightside - The Killers - 2004 - Hot Fuss
We all thought at first that these guys were from England those many moons ago. The Brits loved them, played them, bought them, took them under their wings and let them grow. Then all of a sudden we find out they are Americans and from VEGAS and they can ROCK. The Killers are kind of like the American version of Coldplay; everyone in the indie world and MSM love to knock them for being to over-the-top, but you know what, we need bands like that. This is a great 80s throw-back track and one of the best rock songs of the 00s.
- Say It To Me Now - Glen Hansard - 2008 - Once (Soundtrack)
In the beginning of the movie Once we see Hansard playing this song, on that ratty guitar, in the dark, singing at the top of his lungs. In those first two minutes we know his character is in pain and longing for someone/anyone to hear him. Its powerful music and film making. Picture and pitch perfect.
Here is a Youtube of Glen playing it live:
- All My Friends - LCD Soundsystems - 2007 - Sound of Silver
Much like the Animal Collective, this keyboard/piano driven track, builds and builds and builds over its seven plus minutes. By the end, you are singing along, grabbing your jacket and heading out to "see all your friends tonight...."
- Folk Singer - Brendan Benson -2002 - Lapalco
After many years Benson finally found commercial success later in the decade thanks to his association with Jack White and The Raconteurs. Prior to their two releases of Jack's bluesy-bits and Brendan's Macca tendencies, Benson had a string of excellent Power Pop/under-the-radar classic records, that he wrote with ex-Jellyfisher Jason Falkner. Folk Singer shouts-out Lennon, while displaying those Macca tendencies, with a dash of Big Star charm and Brendan's wit.
- Wake Up - The Arcade Fire - 2004 - Funeral
Big, bombastic, lush, adventurists, genius. All of these descriptions could easily help define the best new band of the decade. Both of their releases have been on heavy rotation in my iPod or on the record player. I love the full sound, the song writing, and the sheer power of this band. They evoke U2's passion and David Bowie's (their number one fan) eclecticism, while all along being original and relevant.
- Toxic - Britney Spears - 2003 - In The Zone
This pick has less to do with our "original American Idol", then it does with the masterminds, Bloodshy and Avant, the gurus behind the writing and producing. They throw the kitchen sink at this thing, in the form of beats and guitars and Bollywood strings, and it works. I have heard killer hard rock covers of this tune over the last six years, a great sign that it is a killer song.
- Your Own Worst Enemy - Bruce Springsteen - 2007 - Magic
Somewhere along the way this decade Springsteen must have pulled out his old LP's of The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds and those great Phil Spector productions and said to Clarance that he was going to try to write a great wall-of-sound pop song. With the help of the E Street and Producer Brendan O'Brien, Bruce did just that. I love the piano, the harmonies, the organ, the drums and those Pet Sounds sleigh bells that play throughout the song. Way to go Bruce, Mr. Wilson should be proud.
- Clocks - Coldplay - 2002 - A Rush Of Blood To The Head
When I heard this song for the first time, with its piano riff, minimalist bass/drums and extremely basic chorus, "You are" (yep that's it), I knew that Coldplay was more then just a Radiohead rip-off. Everyone could tell. Clocks is just that good.
- Test Tube Kid - Honeydogs - 2004 - 10,000 Years
I am trying to remember how this Album found me. Did I read something about it in Rolling Stone? Was it EW? Was it Aimee Mann that recommended it in an interview? Who knows? What I do know is that 10,000 Years and I spent a lot of time together in the fall/winter of 2003/2004. It was the moment of the concept album for me - Brian Wilson's SMiLE was finally released, Green Day was eclipsing The Clash and The Who with American Idiot and The Honeydogs released this hidden gem which tells a futuristic story while examining modern society's ills. In Test Tube Kid I hear a little of Macca's "Maybe I'm Amazed" and a whole lot of Elvis Costello's wordplay.
- Intervention - The Arcade Fire - 2007 - Neon Bible
While not has critically lavished on by indie blog elites, Neon Bible packs a massive punch in the emotion department. I saw them do this live on SNL and I was blown away. The best thing out of Canada since SCTV. Here is the band in full doing it on youtube:
- Life On A Chain - Pete Yorn - 2001 - Music for the Morning After
New Jersey native, Pete Yorn, came out of the gates kicking and screaming with this four star debut. Evoking some early Springsteen (of course those comparisons due to geography), other 80s influences like the Buzzcocks and The Smiths, Yorn has built a steady stream of releases since, but nothing living up to the creativity displayed on MFTMA. I once saw him live where he played nothing but covers, and he pulled it off, each and everyone of them - from ballads like Never My Love to punk tracks like Ever Fall In Love With Someone.
- Crooked Teeth - Death Cab for Cutie - 2005 - Plans
Another indie blog darling that is much more then just the words those hipsters type. With each record they have grown and have gained more and more followers. This is another group that falls in the Elvis Costello group of lyrical wordsmithing. They paint pictures with each line, drawing you in, forcing you to wait for the next lyric, the next story to treasure.
- The Galway Girl - Steve Earle - 2000 - Transcendental Blues
They don't make them like Steve Earle anymore. He is a throwback to the likes of Johnny Cash, a rebel with a guitar, his words and a dream. The first time I heard of Earle it was on a Nightline (is that show still on?) interview where he was talking about his love for The Beatles Rubber Soul, his love of New York and his time in prison. I thought to myself, now this is a Country Star, not a Nashville product, but a true-blue outlaw. From there I fell in love with this record, with his music and his live shows. I have seen him 3 times. This song reminds me of my Dad (Earle plays with the legendary Chieftains on this song) and some young Irish ladies I met when I traveled to Ireland as a teen. Funny thing, this song was all the rage at the bars during my most recent trip back to Ireland. It took long enough!
- Bohemian Like You - Dandy Warhols -2000- Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia
This song always reminds me of my buddy Finn and the trip we took the summer of 2000 to UK/France/Italy. During a stop in Paris, Finn and I went out, found some music and he kept on playing this track on the jukebox. Good times. Another great, lost Stones riff in there.
- My Doorbell - The White Stripes - 2005 - Get Behind Me Satan
I could have picked at least four or five other White Stripes song for this list, but I keep coming back to this one. Jack White, Detroit native, wrote the best Motown song since, Ain't No Mountain High Enough. I would die to hear The Funk Brothers (Motowns and Barry Gordy house band) play this with Jack one day.
- Lose Yourself - Eminem - 2002 - 8 Mile (Soundtrack)
Detroit Rock City at it again, this time from the Rap perspective. Like the Stripes, I could have picked a couple of other Eminem songs for this list, but I keep coming back to this one. With its rock beat, biting lyrics, and energy, this (not Stan) is Eminem's Magnum opus.
- See The World - Gomez - 2006 - How We Operate
Simple, British, moody indie guitar rock, tap your feet, great sunset beach music, that's Gomez and this track to me. "See the World, find an old fashion girl...." Says it all.
- Jigsaw Falling Into Place - Radiohead - 2007 - In Rainbows
The most important band in the world did it again. They tipped the scales, tested the system, profited, and art toppled commerce. In Rainbows and the computer based pay-as-you-go model were the tools, but the songs on In Rainbows were the reason the tools worked. They told everyone to go to the website and pay what you want, here is our new record. The average price paid was a bit over 4 Euros, a steal for the most consistent Radiohead record of the decade.
- December 4th - Danger Mouse - 2004 - The Grey Album (The Beatles White Album meets Jay Z's Black Album)
Here is the background via Wiki: The Grey Album is a mash-up album by Danger Mouse, released in 2004. It uses an a cappella version of rapper Jay-Z's The Black Album and couples it with instrumentals created from a multitude of unauthorized samples from The Beatles' LP The Beatles (more commonly known as The White Album). Here is the truth: The Grey Album is one of my top five albums of this decade. Danger Mouse (Brian Joseph Burton from Gnarls Barkley) spent 6 months perfecting the mash-up of two of the arts greatest originals. This track says it all. It takes Jay-Z story about growing up with his mother and places over George Harrison's guitar work from Mother Natures Son. It transcends both songs, making them something new and shows us how much rap and rock are truly alike at the core. Genius. Take a listen - Youtube:
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand - 2004 - Franz Ferdinand
I loved this song and I am not sure it and I have aged well together. Still it makes the list for its changes, beats and tone.
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? - She & Him - 2008 - Volume One
Now I still LOVE this song. I love the little laugh She (the luminous Zooey Deschanel) gives at the five second mark, I love the playing of Him (M. Ward ) at the one minute mark, I really love the drum work at the one forty minute mark and I really, really love the Beach Boy harmonies at the two minute mark. A great pop record.
So let's leave it with that. Installment III tomorrow.