I’ve started an annual tradition this year of making a mix of songs that came out in the last year that I really liked. In general, the popular music of the year was kind of terrible (remember this?), but there were some redeeming tunes (like this one) along the way. A lot of really good and interesting stuff got overlooked, but with the nature of the music industry it’s hard to catch everything. Anyway, here’s a list of the songs I really enjoyed in 2009:
Monsters of Folk: Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)
The members of Monsters of Folk certainly weren’t thinking modesty when naming the band. This supergroup is made up of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, solo performer M. Ward, and Mike Mogis, who’s appeared with bands like Bright Eyes and The Faint. “Dear God,” with its dreamy harp and vocals, is my favorite M.O.F. song yet, and I can’t wait to hear more from this freak-folk band.
Phish: Backwards Down the Number Line
That’s right, Phish is back! I’ve always preferred live recordings, so most of the stuff this band has produced has treated me well. “Joy” is a studio album, so it’s not quite up to snuff as far as their other releases go. Either way, “Backwards Down the Number Line” is a really catchy song, and I just couldn’tÂ resist adding it considering Phish has been apart and not recording for so long.
Paolo Nutini: Coming Up Easy
Of all the pop singer/songwriters out there, Paolo has got to be my favorite one. His style is sweet and genuine, and any Paolo Nutini song makes for a good, uplifting listen. He’s a creative, talented musician to boot. Maybe it’s the charming Scottish accent, but it certainly doesn’t take long to fall for Paolo, and he had me hooked since “Jenny Don’t Be Hasty” on his first album “These Streets” in 2006.
Mason Jennings: Pittsburgh
Nobody writes lyrics like Mason Jennings does, and “Pittsburgh” is a testament to his talent. He describes various traumatic adolescent experiences with phenomenal imagery and tangible emotion, so much that it’s hard to believe he didn’t live every single one. “Blood of Man” is a fantastic album, and I would recommend to almost anybody. It’s definitely one of my favorite albums this year.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: 40 Day Dream
If you could spend your life with a big group of your hippie friends driving around the country and playing music, would you do it? These guys are living the dream. The band, headed by Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos (or Edward Sharpe), released its first album, “Up From Below,” this year. Every song on the album is guaranteed to make you grin like a fool, and I can’t wait to hear more from the Magnetic Zeros.
Weezer: Let It All Â Hang Out
Say what you will, but Weezer is one of my all-time favorite bands. I just can’t help it. And although I wasn’t thrilled with Raditude, this song is reminiscent of their older albums and has that Weezer feel. It’s just goofy enough, barely three minutes long, and you can’t say it isn’t catchy. I’ll stand by you, Weezer, but you have to promise me, no more autotune. Please.
Wolfmother: New Moon Rising
I just got into the Australian trio Wolfmother this year, and it’s really refreshing to hear a modern, sturdy rockÂ band. They debuted in 2000 and “Cosmic Egg” is their second album. I love how the vocals and guitar wail on “New Moon Rising,” and the whole album is really well-done. I’d kill to hear this band live and will definitely be picking up their 2005 album “Wolfmother.”
The Flaming Lips: The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine
“The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine” is another great psychedelic rock song from a really talented group, “The Flaming Lips.” “Embryonic” has nothing on the band’s 2002 release “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” but it’s still a good album. I got hooked on “Embryonic” after watching The Flaming Lips perform in the studio at NPR’s Morning Becomes Eclectic in October.
Them Crooked Vultures: Reptiles
All of my music-snob friends have messed themselves over Them Crooked Vultures. I’m getting to that point, but still working on it. The band, another supergroup, is made up of John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. The album is exactly what you’d expect (fantastic) and they’re already working on a second.
Telekinesis: Coast of Carolina
This is by far my favorite song of the year. It gets better every time I listen to it, and trust me, I listen to it a lot. The song softly describes the confusion of a big city, and the thirst for open spaces. You can taste how much frontman Michael Benjamin Lerner yearns to be on that coast of Carolina. Listen to this one, and then listen to it again. You’ll get hooked, I swear.
What were your favorites of the year? What are you looking forward to in 2010? Let me know!