I don’t care what people say, I love a good list. I also enjoy symmetry and compartmentalising. Yet somehow, not a fan of long walks on the beach. In this post are my favourite ten songs of the year. They might not be ‘the best’ – however that is defined – or the most critically acclaimed, but they connected to me on a level beyond passive interest. Perhaps they will be the same for you.
10. Xiu Xiu – This Too Shall Pass Away (For Freddy)
Jamie Stewart has issues. And his entire back catalogue seems to be about baring the deepest of wounds to complete strangers, ie, us. This song is a surprisingly positive turn for him, in a passively resigned manner. It helps that the ‘Steven’ in question could be none other than man of the morose Morrissey.
9. Janelle Monae – Cold War
The song epitomises who Monae is as musician and person. She’s different to the expected, stands out from the current pop tarlets and her differences make her hard to pin genre-wise. When she cries out ‘I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me’, you know it comes from experience.
8. Caribou – Odessa
Don’t you just want to DANCE when you hear the intro? Exactly. Don’t watch the video though, that might take the dance right out of you.
7. Warpaint – Undertow
I have a predilection to dislike all-female bands because they all sound depressingly similar. Warpaint are different. Dreamy summer indie rock with perfectly harmonised vocals and not a breathy oversexualised whisper in earshot.
6. Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
Ambling Alp is an empowering song without cheesy power chords or guitar solos. Instead it’s all weird synths and strong drums. Plus uber catchy refrain, ‘Stick up for yourself son, never mind what anyone else done.’
5. Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future
Los Campesinos! are so far from the conventional indie band, they’re practically in another planet. Gareth Campesinos likes to tell stories, and that’s exactly what he does in this tale of anorexic French speaking friends and escape to the seaside. Heart pounding, soul drenching stuff.
4. Ghoul – 3mark
Sydney band Ghoul have been kicking around for a while now. They released an EP in 2008, glitchy pop with Sinatra like smooth vocals. 3mark is a slice from their upcoming EP on Inertia, and it’s a knockout. Insanely catchy percussive rhythms are the perfect backdrop for Ivan Vizintin’s repeated cries to ‘choose life’, referencing Irvine Welsh or otherwise.
3. Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill
Plastic Beach is an album with purpose, a dark environmental theme cleverly disguised in bite sized pop numbers with diverse names like Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg and Mark E Smith lending a hand. Yet the finest moment on the record belongs to orchestrator Damon Albarn on On Melancholy Hill. Sweet but not sacharrine, the longing for the distant or lost other is so beautifully conveyed in the simple piano tune and his chameleon voice.
2. Blur – Fool’s Day
The tense anticipation surrounding a new Blur song disipated into sheer joy upon hearing Fool’s Day, the specially released Record Store Day single. Damon Albarn’s quintessentially British voice and lyrics are a homecoming for fans, Graham Coxon’s grinding guitar opening and Alex James’ three note bass line meld as tightly as in the 90s, and Dave Rowntree, good old reliable Dave, is up the back pounding the skins and staying out of everyone’s way. Just like the old days!
You can download it for free at blur.co.uk
1. Foals – Spanish Sahara
Turn off all the lights. Turn it up. Soak it in.