In the spirit of all those people who are listing their various favorite things of the year (and not so favorite ones too), here are ten songs that I really liked this year that were not on my favorite albums. I don't want to spend too much time writing about them, but rather just present them with videos or mp3s. If there was one tenuous overriding theme, it's that most of the songs I liked this year kind of had a mellow vibe. And I included a couple of songs technically from last year 'cause I'm lame.
I will post a list of my favorite albums of the year in a few days (none of which, as I noted, include the songs below).
Anyway, here are the songs. In descending (or ascending, if you're dyslexic) order, from ten to one.
10. Blitzen Trapper -- Black River Killer
Beautiful song, a kind of modern day murder ballad. This is a band from Portland, Oregon. The song is from their album Furr.
Blitzen Trapper -- Black River Killer [mp3]
9. Vampire Weekend -- Oxford Coma
The hype about this band has gone through several cycles of back/lash/back/lash. People resent them because they are rich kids who went to an Ivy League school and live in Brooklyn. I could take or leave most of their stuff--it's too plain for me--but there's something about this song I really like. Who could not like a song about grammar that opens with the phrase "Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Coma?" The video is clever too. The album is self-titled.
8. Black Mountain -- Tyrants
A man must rock sometimes. Please go ahead and rock.
Black Mountain -- Tyrants [mp3]
A clip from a live performance:
7. Death Cab For Cutie -- I Will Possess Your Heart
I am not a fan of theirs. They seem too pretentious and all that. And while their lead singer has written a few good songs ("Such Great Heights"), as a band they're sort of lame. So it was a mild surprise to hear this song. It has a kind of odd rocking beat, is about the joys of stalking, and creates a suffocating atmosphere as it reaches the 8+ minute mark. Apparently, they know how to rock. The album is called Narrow Stairs.
6. Feist -- I Feel It All
Again, mellow girly stuff but something in there gets me. I like the fact that she feels it all, she's 100% committed to 'it.' This is very reminiscent of underground pop from the '80s like Beat Happening or something like that. After all the iPod commercials and the Sesame Street appearances, it's comforting to know that she's a good song writer. The album came out last year and is called The Reminder.
5. Fleet Foxes -- White Winter Hymnal
And who cannot like this song? Everybody seems to going nuts over this band, a band from Seattle who recently released their self-titled debut album to much acclaim. They are great singers. This song could have been recorded in the 1940s or 1950s.
4. David Byrne & Brian Eno -- Strange Overtones
I don't like David Byrne although I think his work with Talking Heads was brilliant. Brian Eno is worth a longer line of thought. Either way, they put out a pretty awesome album 25 years ago or something (My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts). They made a sequel of sorts (Everything That Happens Will Happen Today) which is much more pop-song-oriented. This song is great. It's got that whole meta thing going for it too. Even as it's describing someone writing a song, it's also describing the song that Byrne himself is singing. Ooooh, so clever, these old people. I would like to post an mp3 of this song but I'm afraid of getting dragged into court. So here's a crappy amateur video.
3. M.I.A. -- Paper Planes
She's now pregnant and about to have a baby somewhere in Brooklyn. Even as I speak. The song takes the Clash's "Straight To Hell" and makes it more awesome, if that was even possible. The album is Kala.
2. Radiohead -- House Of Cards
Also from last year but released as a single this year. I love this song. I love the music. I love the words. I love the video. The complete package. Apparently, this is one of the first videos in which no cameras or lights were used. Instead, we are told, the band and the director used 3-D plotting technologies. You can even "shape-shift" the video's raw data yourself and create your own video. See here.
1. MGMT -- Time To Pretend
An obvious choice, I suppose. I have been listening to this song constantly the last year or so. As far as disposable pop songs go, it is just fucking brilliant. And within this candy wrapper of a song is a surprisingly astute and sharp observation about the arc of a young person's life and the drawing realization that the search for fame, glory, and chicks ends with the obligatory 'choking-in-your-vomit' moment. A really really great song. All parties must end with this. I see the people dancing, raising their arms, confetti falling around, rejoicing the unglorious fall of the beautiful people. The album is called Oracular Spectacular.
While I cannot embed the video here, I urge every human being on the planet to go here to check it out.