It’s that time of year again…everyone’s putting together their lists for “Best Albums of the Year”. But in this new iTunes Age, albums are sadly becoming a thing of the past and single tracks rule. I mean, who has time to listen to a whole album anymore, right? Instead, I’ve gathered my favorite 20 tunes from the past 12 months to create my own “Best of the Year” album of sorts. Have a listen and happy holidays!
I’ve removed the MP3 files but left the track listings below.
From the opening moans to the driving drum beat and harmonies, this is a last-minute discovery of mine in 2010. Apparently this California-based band was one of the few indie darlings that “flew” under my music radar.
Wasn’t sure how to describe this one, so turned to a fellow blogger’s recap that said it best: “The song’s first tones evoke Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” before spilling to a lighter-than-air series of strings and Ben Folds-style piano. All of this swirls into an ethereal bridge before the band finds a second movement recalling the most earnest of Stevie Wonder melodies.” Not to mention the nice Burt Bacharach-style horns in the beginning. A pop nugget for sure.
3. “Twenty-Two” — Wakey! Wakey!
A fun sing-along song from frontman Michael Grubbs, otherwise known as the man behind Wakey! Wakey! Complete with a screaming refrain and cool whistling. Me likey! likey!
No, not a remake of the Duran Duran classic, but an infectious Latin-flavored, hand-clappin’, string & horn-heavy track from this seven-piece group out of Seattle. ¡Ole amigos!
One of 2010’s first album releases, Spoon once again makes the cut with a tune that begins and ends with an abruptness that always catches me off guard. Almost as if the song goes on forever, but we only get to hear the first 5 minutes. Mysterious stuff.
Definitely the winner of this year’s strangest band name, this Queens, NY group strikes a nice balance between fast-paced lyrics and a slow-moving refrain. Love how long it takes them to sing “rooftops”.
7. “Shadow People” — Dr. Dog
Not sure where these guys have been hiding, but sure glad I found this head-bobbing track off their 6th album. Guess some good things do come out of Philly after all…sorry, KB! 😉
A haphazard find from the sextet out of North Carolina, this track is “filled to the brim with whizzing computer noises, south of the border rhythms, post-production studio effects, and toots from every instrument imaginable.” Perfecto.
Hard to believe that a song that repeats its refrain as often as this one does is so darn fun to listen (and sing) to! Big sound from just a two-man act out of the UK.
The only track to feature a female vocal (albeit a supporting one). Another find from early this year that surely endured. Love the simple acoustic guitar and “baby, baby, baby, baby.”
One of the harder-rocking songs in this year’s collection from an indie ensemble out of Tempe, AZ. In addition to the driving drums and relentless guitars, the track finds time to reveal its softer side, too. Reminds me a little of My Morning Jacket.
Pure pop from the quintet out of Seattle. I’ve been listening to this quite often since the summer and still don’t know what Ben Bridwell is singing about. But I sure love the melody!
13. “Walls” — Shout Out Louds
A shout out for Swedish pop with a driving beat. One of those bands I barely know anything about, but turns out this is the 3rd tune of theirs I’ve included in my year-end collections.
From the Villagers’ (aka Conor O’Brien) debut album, this track’s pulsating pace first captured my attention in June. A solid album, too. Looking forward to his follow-up.
15. “White Blank Page” — Mumford & Sons
Spare and folksy with strong, emotional vocals, this track from London’s Mumford & Sons debut transports you to another place and time. Something tells me this is just the beginning of something big with these guys.
Stumbled upon this one while reading another blogger’s “Best of the Year” posting. Hard to pinpoint what I like most: “Is it the horns? Is it the static in the attic? That feeling of electricity? Those deep baritone harmonies?” Methinks, all of the above. But what the heck is zorbing?!?
Sounding very much like a younger Josh Rouse (when he used to play more up-tempo stuff), this lead track from The Silver Seas’ second album digs its pop hooks into you and doesn’t let go. Ahoy matey! 🙂
A welcome return for Ed Harcourt, who graced my 2002 collection with his debut album. Another fun, toe-tapping tune from the chamber-pop master. Always a great lyricist, this song is no exception.
19. “You and Your Heart” — Jack Johnson
Damn you, Jack Johnson! Just when I’m ready to turn my back on your laid back, surfer-dude sound that’s beginning to rub me the wrong way, you churn out this track that I simply can’t ignore. Catchy as hell with that upfront guitar work.
This final track goes out to my pal Scott. How’s this for a “less than masculine”, “light in the loafers” closer? The perfect mix of electronic music and orchestral arrangements. I saved the best for last!