Monday, January 11, 2010

Rocking Songs of 2009

Hey All.

Back with an update on rock and roll, not cooking (cooking is coming soon though, thanks for your continued support!)

I've gone ahead, like so many others, and compiled a list of songs that were my favorites of 2009, based (primarily) on how many times I listened to them as calculated by both last.fm and how long the mix CD they were on stayed in my car, and whether I still want to listen to them now. This is what I came up with, in no particular order, except maybe #1:

1. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Frank, AB
My roommates were ready to murder me after I discovered this song. I walked around the house all day going "Oo-oo oo-oo" and played it for them incessantly. I figured it out on guitar. And it didn't help that this was kind of a break-up-ish song that made me sob like a 4 year old with a skinned knee. I saw them live and it was just as goosebumpy. Listen, and love.

2. Veelee - Not Getting Anywhere
Yep, I chose the sort of sappy ballad duet as my favorite. I can't help it. I adore it. I was at Veelee's very first show ever, and trust me, you're going to hear about this band. Download their whole, quite worthwhile EP at their web site (linked above).

3. Beep Beep - Human Hair
Beep Beep is probably my favorite band of 2009. I've seen them twice. One of those times, I drove over 500 miles to make sure I caught them. They are a new incarnation of an old favorite who put out an incredible (and criminally underpromoted by Saddle Creek!) double disc this year. Human Hair is one of the "outlier" songs. It is so kitschy and well orchestrated that I felt like it was truly representative of the band for me. Weird, awesome and totally offputting unless you're a little sick. :)

4. Beep Beep - Mermaid Struggle
This is Beep Beep's face-melter. One of my roommates says it makes her feel like she's having a seizure. It makes me feel like I need to take acid and practice playing guitar. If this song doesn't in some way impress you, I feel like we don't see eye to eye. It blends beauty and dissonance so well that I fell in love with Beep Beep all over again the minute I heard it.

5. Red Collar - Tools
You might not be from North Carolina, and so I'll forgive you for not knowing our hometown heroes. Their first full-length, Pilgrim, has been getting lots of play and support around here. Tools has been my favorite RC song for a long time because it captures both the angst and energy the band can bring to a stage show. If they are ever playing in your town, just go to the show. Trust me. No recording can ever do their live show justice.

6. Ida Maria - Queen Of The World
A friend sent me this song saying it reminded her of me. I listened to it and at first thought "A Norwegian Erin McKeown, circa Distillation." Then I listened to it again. Ida Maria, you have written my theme song. If you've ever been an indecisive, possibly alcoholic, definitely lonesome twenty something girl, you will pin this song to your chest.

7. Marina & The Diamonds - Obsessions
You're thinking, God, when will this stupid piano singer-songwriter thing end, right? I had the same thing going on through 2009. I have had enough of Feist and Regina Spector and Nora Jones. But I love Marina Diamond. She is terribly off, self-loathing and basically sounds like someone I would hang with. And she is totally remixable. See if this doesn't get stuck in your head. Just try and see.

8. Fol Chen - Cable TV
You wanna have a good time? Wanna get down? This retro jam cites being broke, being in love and dancing in your underwear to Janet Jackson. It is absolutely infectious, although it does smack a bit of a one hit wonder.

9. The Love Language - Sparxxx
This was my first exposure to local breakouts The Love Language. It made me hungry for more. This song, though, really made me believe that Stu McLamb deserves all the fame and fortune he can get, because this shit is pure pop gold.

10. Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
The year's biggest garage duo! I missed them twice, once because I was working and once because of singer's emergency surgery and sudden date changes. This song is truly anthemic for those of us who are young, dumb and in love with rock and roll.

11. Bruce Peninsula - Crabapples
Easily the most unique, striking and resonant song on the list. Bruce Peninsula makes use of the stark contrast between simple call and response chorus, and extremely complex drumming. They claim to be inspired by Alan Lomax archives, and I can definitely hear it. When it comes up on my mix, EVERYONE wants to know what it is. Now you do.

12. The Joy Formidable - Whirring
Do you like straightforward girl-fronted indie pop? I DO I DO. I've had to avoid ripping off the vocal melodies on the chorus like 10 times.

13. An Horse - Camp Out
Although somewhat irritated by the album as a whole (and particularly the hyping of it, since it gets quite monotonous), I found myself really vibing on this song and put it on a mixtape without wanting to strangle the singer. It encompasses everything I like about the band, good lyrics, interesting rhythm and quirk. And also it namechecks Hole, which makes me smile.

14. Micachu - Golden Phone
Oh Micachu, everyone loves you! A great taste of the experimental, not-quite right but somehow totally aesthetically pleasing artist who is prone to building her own instruments, second guessing her releases. I was pulling for you to win that Mercury Prize, Mica!

15. Hammer No More the Fingers - Radiation
Durham, NC's "Boys Most Likely" put out a fine effort this year with Looking For Bruce. This song has long held its place at the top of my favorites because it combines two of my favorite things: Eastern European Disasters and DISCO! It recalls the story of
http://www.kiddofspeed.com/ and her rides through Chernobyl.

16. La Roux - Fascination
Another contender for the Mercury Music Prize, La Roux's high register could have taken this dance tune to turn-it-off territory, but somehow, it totally fucking works. The downside for everyone I know is that it led me to believe that I, too, can pull off a song in that register. (Note to readers: I cannot.) It has been exposed to death by now, but I still love it. And its remixes.

17. The Rapture - No Sex For Ben
This song is so obviously a jokey B-side, but those tend to be some of my favorite songs by bands (see: Spice Invaders by The Spice Girls, Rednecks by Blur). It's goofy, has a sweet groove and is one of those songs I always play at parties.

18. True Pseudo - Freaking Me Out
Wanna have a disco-punk-electro freak out? I mean a really booty shaker, sweat out the energy jam? This is it. Turn it up, face the mirror and show me the hair-ography. This song deserves to be blasted at any indie dance party worth its salt.

19. Little Boots - Stuck On Repeat
LITTLE MOTHERFUCKING BOOTS. When I first saw Lady Gaga, I just assumed that her songs would sound exactly like Little Boots. They didn't. I like the Gaga, but Little Boots, holy hell. You are a pop genius. Although she had a big hit with Remedy late in the year, this song had *me* stuck on repeat. I have embarrassed myself singing and dancing to this song more than once. Just try not to sing along. Oh, and download ANY remix you can get your hands on of miss boots. She is remix-ready.

20. The Pneurotics - Sirens
A less-well known local, but deserving of praise, The Pneurotics released their sophomore effort this year. Full disclosure, I was privvy to some early tracks and have a very close relationship with this record. However, this song, since the first time I heard Rich McLaughlin play it at Jack Sprat, has found its way into my ear and heart. It's a proper jam. If you like it, check out Happy Song too. It's all on iTunes.

21. Bear in Heaven - Lovesick Teenagers
Last, but certainly not least, is Bear in Heaven, with a song that to be perfectly honest, I *hated* on first, second, third listen. But then, something happened. I had to hear this off-kilter, possibly pitchy song with a driving bassline. It's so simple. It's so dull. But it is an EARWORM and it will get you. You will march with it, I promise.

Download the a zip file of the whole mix here.
(Bands, I know a lot of you, so you can e-mail me if you are unhappy with the fact that I am sharing your tunes and I will take them off the mix)

So yeah, by no means is this list complete. If you're at all interested in great music from the Triangle, I'd also recommend checking out the Indy's 40 Essential Triangle Tunes. They obviously are locally exclusive, have 40 whole songs picked out and there is some (but little) overlap between our lists. Overall, I'd say it's a good sampling of the music of the area, if you care. :)

Next week, I'm compiling a list of vegan NC beers! E-mails have been sent!

2 comments:

Mimi/Pneurotics said...

you're good to us sweet Betsy. Will you make me a mix tape of these songs?

Bendy said...

Lots of new-to-me stuff here that I really like. Hadn't heard a La Roux track outside of heavy remixing- that one's a beaut. If I was told the An Horse track was a B-S composition, I'd have believed it.