Sunday, March 7, 2010

Everybody's a Critic, Part IV: Other Favorite Songs of 2009

OK, so my pledge to post more regularly has apparently gone the way of bi-partisanship in Washington, as it's been over a month since my last attempt.

I began writing this on the day of the Academy Awards, but do I have my thoughts together on my favorite movies of 2009? Of course not, so this entry will begin some long-delayed ruminations on my favorite songs of last year.

As a refresher, here's a link to my five favorite albums of 2009.

Now, for some individual tracks ... not including any from the favorite albums list noted above. I'll keep adding new songs and thoughts to the bottom of this entry throughout the coming weeks, because there's no telling when I'll actually finish the whole thing.

* I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers, You Really Got a Hold on Me by She & Him, and The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham: If music history had a "most beautiful-sounding recording of all time" contest, and each year got to submit a handful of entries for consideration, these three breathtaking tracks would represent the year past just nicely, in my humble opinion. They're not upbeat by any stretch, mind you, but they're gorgeous and soulful nonetheless. The Avett track is just killer, an aching lament about a relationship ended. The Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward classic cover examines what happens when the heart knows better but can't help itself. And what can one say about Bingham? Got regrets? So does the character in his song ... but one can hope it's not too late.

* Gasoline by The Airborne Toxic Event and Geraldine by Glasvegas: These two songs sat adjacent to one another on just about every mix or iTunes playlist I put together last year. Yes, I realize Gasoline came out in 2008: I was a bit late to the game, so this is admittedly a slight cheat. That said, music history is full of songs about first loves and trying to re-write history: Gasoline's breakneck pace caught my ear and never let up. If the dude from Thunder Road never picked up Mary, this might have been what he was left with as a theme song: "The words you said tore through my head like bullets from a gun/I shoulda just shown up and said 'Get in this car, let's run.'" And looking back at the succeeding, failed relationships that never measured up to that glorious first: "These years have seen so many imitations turning green/Each like the last, they go right past, like credits on a screen/But your memory blazes through me, burning everything, like gasoline." As for Geraldine, simply put, the world would be a better place if everyone knew a Geraldine: "When you're lost in the deep and darkest place around/May my words walk you home safe and sound."

* Kick Drum Heart by The Avett Brothers and Bull Black Nova by Wilco: These two don't have much in common except that they're propulsive, keyboard-driven toe-tappers that I played relentlessly throughout the year.

* Slowly (Oh Slowly) and Nikorette by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: The self-conscious, slightly overwrought prodigy of Bright Eyes has evolved into a confident-sounding, virtuoso in his self-titled "solo" debut of 2008 and last year's Outer South: These two songs are my favorites from the latter.

To be continued...