Wednesday, December 16, 2009

20 Best Songs of 2009: 10-1

We continue our two day series of best songs of the year.


10. Wilco; "Bull Black Nova"; Wilco (The Album)

The band plays with tension, simulating the increasing panic of a freshly-initiated murderer via a steady, aharmonic guitar build-up, reminding us that "This can't be undone."

9. The Avett Brothers; "Laundry Room"; I & Love & You

"I am a breathing time machine," is the final refrain, a conclusion that's supported by the rather specific scenes described throughout this swelling, beautiful track that overflows into a classic Avetts grass coda.

8. Dirty Projectors; "Temecula Sunrise"; Bitte Orca

With intricate guitar runs and drum fills, you'd think this song might be about a bit more than the way an impressive sunrise can make life's endless minutia seem collectively golden.

7. The Felice Brothers; "Katie Dear"; Yonder Is the Clock

A warm, country waltz that almost demands the backdrop of rolling hills and sprawling oaks at sunset, its an appeal for us to abandon complacency for romantic conquest, alleging "Lousiana ain't that bad, when all you've had's Lousiana."

6. Animal Collective; "Bluish"; Merriweather Post Pavillion

As sweet as it gets for Animal Collective, "Bluish" is a sweeping love song in aquarium light whose title is also a reminder that this is about as close to a ballad as you'll get on this disc.

5. Cass McCombs; "Harmonia"; Catacombs

Cass's dissection of friendship, comfort, and trust floats through clouds of guitar strums and ribbons of pedal steel.

4. Flaming Lips; "Watching the Planets"; Embryonic

Wayne and the rest of the lips wait til the final track of Embryonic to let it all boil over into this powerful, cathartic brainbasher.

3. The Decemberists; "Hazards of Love 4"; Hazards of Love

This album's uber-theatric progression is its greatest strength and also its greatest weakness, but Colin Meloy ties it all together with a peaceful ballad reminiscent of Castaways and Cutouts-era reflection.

2. Grizzly Bear; "Ready, Able"; Veckatimest

"Ready, Able" begins both lyrically and musically at peace with whatever demons it addresses but soon turns sinister, aided by the refrain "They go we go, I want you to know, what I did I did."

1. Yo La Tengo; "More Stars Than There Are In Heaven"; Popular Songs

An epic, nearly ten-minute anthem, the song burns slowly before expanding to a full on Northern Lights display of lyrical realization and instrumental radiance, walking hand in hand.

Yo La Tengo takes home tops for the year. How will Popular Songs rank among HSW's top albums? Keep checkin' albums are on the way.

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