My Top 100 Songs of 2009: The Top Ten

Today I conclude my series of posts showcasing my picks for the best tracks of 2009.  And it only took half a year!

10. Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

It sounds like nothing they’ve ever done before, so cheerful, so upbeat, so….piano pop.  But it works just the same.  It still feels like Grizzly Bear – the lush production, the layered harmonics.  And the lightbulb-head music video is a fun watch as well.

9. The Avett Brothers – I and Love And You

I suppose the cost of living would ultimately keep me from moving to Brooklyn, but this song perfectly captures a visit to a town filled with so much opportunity and fun.  Compared to a small Midwest city or a stagnant southern town, the hippest borough in New York feels like a mecca.

8. Animal Collective – My Girls

With Merriwhether Post Pavilion, Animal Collective were able to transform from a noise group with an annoying rabid fan base to one of the most relevant indie groups of the decade.  “My Girls” is the track that showed the world these guys weren’t merely making semi-accessible music that had promise for the future; the time had finally come to grow, and AC delivered in droves and dance beats.

7. Neon Indian – Deadbeat Summer

This is likely the most laid-back thing Alan Palomo has ever done – the first leaked track, appropriately in the summer of 2009, is deceivingly nonchalant, as we soon found out after listening to the rest of the dance-heavy Psychic Chasms.  Still, the lyrics embody a directionless time of my life, and I probably will associate it with the lame job I was working at the time I first heard it (a security stint at a bingo parlor).

6. Atlas Sound/Panda Bear – Walkabout

Leave it to the Animal Collective member to spice up what was an incredibly boring album from an overrated artist.  “Walkabout” is a summertime treat, and the lone memorable track from Logos, probably because it sounds like it belongs on Person Pitch.

5. Washed Out – Feel It All Around

If the Library of Congress ever decides to devote its time to the chillwave subgenre, let “Feel It All Around” be the prime example.  Of all the music released since the term was coined, this song is pretty much the best example.  From the beginning hit, the track puts in a mood, a place, a time, where everything moves so beautifully slower.

4. Surfer Blood – Swim (To Reach the End)

While the rest of Astro Coast is pretty straightforward, “Swim” was an echo-filled, lo-fi take on Weezer that sounds pretty fresh.  And it rocks legitimately hard, harder, in fact, than anything on the rest of the disc.

3. Phoenix – 1901

Phoenix is now a huge band, probably because of this song more than any other.  It was brilliantly used to sell Cadillac cars, and it sneaked its way onto FM radio for a chart-topping stint.  With “1901” Phoenix found the way to beautifully meld their unique mix of unusually-delivered lyrics, jazz-and-funk hybrid instrumentation, and pure dance into a pop gem.

2. The Thermals – Now We Can See

With the album of the same name, the Thermals abandoned the political undertones that made them notable and instead penned more simple, introspective, and musically fun music.  “Now We Can See” is more optimistic, steady, and catchy than anything previously, and it’s effective in opening a new chapter for this always-impressive band.

1. Passion Pit – Sleepyhead

Does this song ever get old?  I first heard it in October 2008, and by the time Manners was released, it was on repeat.  It’s the prime introduction to an electro-pop band with so much promise – the falsetto, the infectious synth lines, the perfectly placed blips and bleeps, and the fact that the chorus is an instantly classic keyboard line.  I still listen to it regularly, 500 million times later.  And it’s a blast to hear live.  Easily my favorite song of 2009.


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