Spring of 2014 has been a great one for new music. Past favorites like Beck, The Black Keys, Ray Montagne and The Roots all released new albums, and I discovered new to me favorites like Neon Trees, Cloud Nothings and The War On Drugs.
Not my first choice to listen to, but interesting to see what Beck has on the mind. Songs are:
Warpaint — Lissie’s Heart Murmur Warp 9 — Nunk The Shaggs — Why do I feel? Sibylle Baier — Tonight Section 25 — C. P. Section 25 — Melt Close Selda — Meydan Sizindir Serge Gainsbourg — L’homme A Tete De Choux Uri Geller — I Cannot Answer You Francoise Hardy — Viens Harumi — Without Her Chris Bell — I am The Cosmos
That was a hard assignment: go through all of my favorite songs from the past decade and come up with the top 20. Some of the songs are on the list because they’re filled with compelling lyrics and music; others because of the moment that the song is attached with, and the best have both.
I made a playlist of them on 8tracks.com so you can (legally) listen to them and let me know what you think:
Why would I like a song from the mid-2000’s that says “it’s time to get away, it’s time to get away from you” and “I thought you were low man, but the truth is I was shocked”? Must be the great beats and bass.
If you thought The Funeral was a downer, how about a song of a teen-age girl who dies of ‘cancer of the bone’? It always kills me when Sufjan sings “and He takes and takes and takes” referring to the death and Job 1:21. In my book this song is one of the saddest of all time, but extremely beautiful.
One of the things I really like about the Kaiser Chiefs is the noises they make between lyrics. This song features a long “aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhggggggggg” right before the final chorus. One of the best versions I heard was performed by 4 Eyes.
Perhaps you have never considered a move to L.A., but I seem to have every year right around the first real snow storm. I think Art Brut is hilarious, and even though this song isn’t one of their singles, I think is very catchy and funny. It will always remind me of the aughts.
I still remember hearing this song for the first time on MTV Europe when I was in Amsterdam, and thinking “what is this?” It was my first exposure to the White Stripes and I was blown away. From there they became one of my (and many other people’s) top bands of the decade. Fell in Love With a Girl, Hotel Yorba, The Denial Twist, Take Take Take, Conquest and My Doorbell would be in the Top 100 Songs of the 00’s list if I made one.
Besides being my introduction to the White Stripes, Seven Nation Army is a top ten song because of its kick ass opening guitar riff, thumping beat and Jack White’s mysterious but compelling lyrics.
Some have called this song misogynistic and I can see why as Jay-Z does seem to say “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” quite a lot in this song. To me he’s just saying that having women in his life isn’t an issue — but almost everything else is.
Anyhow, I’m not really a Jay-Z fan — most of his Black Album sounds to me like he’s rapping over the beats produced by some 16 year old on an old Casio keyboard. But put the sound of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter behind him and you have some kick-ass track. The mix of the “aaahhh” and the thumping bass from the song are ingenious — ‘as loud as a motor bike’ — make Jay-Z’s problems sound real.
If you haven’t heard the opening 30 seconds of this song you are missing one of the best bass lines in 20th century music. It’s arresting. When M’bar crying full throttle (as little kids are wont to do from time to time) we put on this song and he immediately blinks, looks around, stops crying and smiles. It’s like magic. It was a good song before we discovered its magical powers, but now it’s the #5 song of the decade and probably the most listened to song in our collection.
Let’s pretend we don’t exist
Let’s pretend we’re in Antarctica
Let’s pretend we don’t exist
Let’s pretend we’re in Antarctica
We’ve played this song so many times that Nol said, “that’s a lot of pretending you don’t exist. May not be good for the kid.”
Like Is This It, Hissing Fauna is an album that almost every song is an amazing track and for me may be the top album of the decade. It was hard to pick which one was my absolute favorite track, but She’s A Rejecter jumped out at me for the great bouncy energy of the opening and subsequent verses. When I’ve seen Of Montreal play this song live the whole audience turns into a crowd of Tiggers hopping with the beat.
And then the refrain which slows things down
oh no she’s a rejecter
i must protect myself
there’s the girl that left me bitter
want to pay some other girl
to just walk up to her and hit her
but i can’t i can’t i can’t i can’t i can’t
before the band lets loose with the bounce again.
And who hasn’t wanted to “pay some other girl to just walk up to her and hit her”? I sure have. For quite some time whenever some asked me “if I wanted to …” there was only one answer.
On the surface this is such a happy song, jangling guitars, sweet words about a boy and a girl but then wait “The loving is a mess what happened to all of the feeling?” Turns out it crumbled apart. But that’s not really the point of the song in my opinion. The point was about embracing life, grabbing the sunny day and going forward. That’s what kept it in heavy rotation since its release.
While driving through Boston in traffic a woman in the adjacent car heard Another Sunny Day coming out of my Mini. She found it ‘so beguiling’ that she asked me what it was. I gave her the CD and drove off.
I first heard of Lil Wayne from my source of all things Hip-Hop, The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones. Jones’ article on Lil Wayne was about his dominating the rap world by releasing free “mix-tapes” of his work on the Internet all while building anticipation for his next album. And we weren’t talking one or two tracks; Lil Wayne was releasing three or four a day. Now here was a marketing strategy worth investigating.
Of the freely released songs, Lil Wayne created a very unique version of The Beatles’ Help. Something about Lil Wayne’s sampling of the classic and his gravely delivery made Veronica and I crazed to learn all the lyrics and quote them often. Here’s the opening lyrics of this short song:
So sick need a doc, yes
A creature, monster like the lockness
I gets hotter by the toc, when I sizzle to death
I just tell the clock give me a sec
Some people will tell you that anyone can rap over The Beatles (see Jay-Z) and sound great; I say let’s see their demo. Until then, this is one of my top tracks.
So if you’re lonely
You know I’m here waiting for you
I’m just a cross-hair
I’m just a shot away from you
These opening lines were the lyric of liberation for me when it was released in 2004 and they were attached to an amazing song that broke out in so many directions: fast, slow, major and minor key, multiple (different choruses), etc. The overall album was fantastic and Franz Ferdinand were launched on a hype machine of unbelievable proportions.
Listening to the song at the end of the decade shows that it still sounds amazing and fills me with an optimistic energy.
It’s the first of February, so I guess I’m a bit behind here, but I have finally narrowed down the songs of 2008 to my most ‘memorable’ 27. I was originally trying to get this number down to 18 or 19 so it would fit on one CD, but I simply can’t. And then Hum gave me a great rationalization for why I didn’t need to — basically “don’t be constrained by 20th century media” — so there you go.
Here are the tracks courtesy of 8tracks.com:
In no particular order: M79 by Vampire Weekend on Vampire Weekend That’s Not My Name by The Ting Tings on We Started Nothing All I Want To Do by Sugarland on Love On The Inside Gilt Complex by Sons and Daughters on This Gift Girls And Boys In Love by The Rumble Strips on Girls and Weather The Switch and the Spur by The Raconteurs on Consolers Of The Lonely Close the Lid by Port O’Brien on All We Could Do Was Sing Dita Dimoné by Pop Levi on Never Never Love Dance With Me by The Old 97s on Blame It On Gravity Here Goes Something by Nada Surf on Lucky Time to Pretend by MGMT on Oracular Spectacular Mrs. Officer (Produced By Wyclef Jean) by Lil Wayne Ft. Bobby Valentino on Tha Carter III (Explicit) Mr. Maker by The Kooks on Konk addicted to drugs by Kaiser chiefs on Off with their heads Ready For The Floor by Hot Chip on Made In The Dark Hercules Theme by Hercules and Love Affair on Hercules and Love Affair You Can Come To Me by The Helio Sequence on Keep Your Eyes Ahead Sleepdriving by Grand Archives on The Grand Archives Sleet by The Futureheads on This is Not the World The French Open by Foals on Antidotes Ragged Wood by Fleet Foxes on Fleet Foxes Bob by DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS on Brighter Than Creation’s Dark Sausalito by Conor Oberst on Conor Oberst Good Time by Brazilian Girls on New York City Gamma Ray by Beck on Modern Guilt Oasis by Amanda Palmer on Who Killed Amanda Palmer Borrowing Time by Aimee Mann on Smilers
a brilliant way to create perfect playlists. Play a song, click the Genius button, and iTunes creates a playlist of other songs from your library that go great together. Genius playlists help you discover songs in your library you never knew you had — and rediscover forgotten favorites.
And their examples uses one of my new favorite songs to create these playlists. Some people seem to think that the Genius is a “moron”. So, using Gamma Ray, I generated my own Genius playlist:
Bixby Canyon Bridge by Death Cab For Cutie Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa by Vampire Weekend Cath… by Death Cab For Cutie Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Gamma Ray by Beck Ghosts by Ladytron Grounds For Divorce by Elbow Happiness by Goldfrapp Heart Songs by Weezer I’m Amazed by My Morning Jacket I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You by Black Kids Kids by MGMT Lately by The Helio Sequence Little Black Sandals by Sia Mansard Roof by Vampire Weekend My Mistakes Were Made For You by The Last Shadow Puppets Old Enough by The Raconteurs Olympic Airways by Foals Salute Your Solution by The Raconteurs See The Sun by The Kooks Tessellate by Tokyo Police Club Walls by Beck White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes Who’s Gonna Save My Soul by Gnarls Barkley Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? by She & Him
Not bad, but not Genius. Here is a streaming version of the songs via 8tracks.