My Top 100 Songs of 2009 – 60-51

Today I continue my ten-part series showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of last year.

60. tUnE-yArDs – Sunlight

Simple, repetitive, and one-note at first, but the tracks then grows with an excellent chorus and layers of bass and guitar after the listener gets used to the unique drum pattern.  As we continue listening, more layers of sound surface, including what sound like sampled background vocals.  The song builds to an final explosive chorus that, by this time, you should be able to sing along with.  An unusual, but powerful, demonstration of progression in pop, “Sunlight” is a treat every time.

59. Them Crooked Vultures – Mind Eraser, No Chaser

The coolest supergroup in recent memory with the coolest supergroup name in recent memory deliver a track reminiscent of leftover Queens of the Stone Age.  And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.  Homme and Grohl trade vocals back and forth in a riff-heavy chorus in the coolest name for a song by a supergroup….in recent memory.  Stay tuned for the horn-layered outro – much like the transitions in QOTSA albums, it will throw you for a loop.

58. Lee Fields and the Expressions – Love Comes and Goes

While Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings may have the soul throwback thing pretty much covered, we shan’t ignore the underrated Lee Fields and his stab at it.  “Love Comes and Goes” is a perfect soulful setup for a listener unfamiliar with the retro movement in its prime time, and the song delivers an everyday, yet all too significant message – time passes, friends and lovers come and go.  This I’ve always known.

57. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – 40 Day Dream

Man, these guys just blew up, and quick.  Talk about an overnight indie sensation.  I heard their stuff in August, saw them perform in September at Monolith, and by October they were every hipster girl’s favorite band.  Of course, with yell-along refrains and fist-pumping na-na-nas littered around pleasant string-oriented pop, how could you resist?  “40 Day Dream” is a definite highlight from Up From Below….you know….the magical mystery kind.  Just try not to clap, snap, and “ooh-ahh” along to that bridge!

56. Metric – Help, I’m Alive

The lead single, and finest track, from Fantasies shows that the band’s inevitable and eventual progression to radio pop continues.  “Help, I’m Alive” picks up where the best Silversun Pickups material left off, incorporating a cymbal-pounding buildup along with the repeated phrase “beating like a hammer” and a “Wild Thing”-esque guitar pattern under a sweet, sweet falsetto.

55. Matt and Kim – Daylight

“Lessons Learned” is probably the headline grabber for its all-nude-in-Times-Square music video, but this is the best song from Grand, the duo’s breakthrough disc.  The fondest memories I have of this song, strangely, are tapping my foot along when hearing it featured on an ad for some kind of liquor, and, of course, during the first scene of the first episode of the underrated television comedy Community.  Who needs to streak in Manhattan when you’ve got such a great marketing team?

54. Lucero – Smoke

1372 Overton Park is the first major-label disc from Lucero, but with the exception of a Memphis horn section, it just sounds like good ol’ Lucero.  The album feels like the best from their early years, and Ben Nichols’ voice is surprisingly NOT scratchy and obliterated.  Guess he traded in whiskey for coffee this time around.  “Smoke” highlights Nichols’ knack at storytelling and describing love and heartbreak along with the best country-western crooners.

53. Dent May – You Can’t Force a Dance Party

May’s blunt, candid, quirky lyrics are a definite stand-out from many acoustic-based indie acts out there.  Well, that and his ukulele.  This song, a dance-able tune ironically about not having a good time at a dance party, is a prime example of his accomplishment at pop-craft with a They Might Be Giants-like take on the world.

52. Flight – Flowers

An AC/DC marching band backbeat alongside Wavves-esque distorted vocals and a heavy metal psychedelic guitar slide.  This song is so badass I can’t even describe it that well.  You’re just gonna have to listen.  A song obviously about death, but also pride – “don’t you put no flowers on my grave.”

51. Kid Sister – Life On TV

Kid Sister’s infectious urban Chicago accent is best delivered in the song-title chorus.  Listen to the “on” in “life on TV” and you’ll think it’s spelled “awn.”  Just an addition to the authenticity of one of the coolest female rappers of the Internet age.  Her glossy, humorous approach to late 80s beats is reminiscent of fellow Chi-town powerhouses the Cool Kids, but she provides her own Salt-N-Pepa swagger.  “Life On TV” is one of the best – the synth line cuts like daggers through a barrage of bass, bass, treble, treble.  Crank it.


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