Tag Archives: Jay Reatard

BDWPS Podcast #47

In this episode of BDWPS Podcast we check out new tracks from Aesop Rock, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Underworld, Yoni & Geti, Cate LeBon, Dalek, and Xiu Xiu. We also discuss the Jay Reatard documentary “Better Than Something” and take a closer look at the Bob Dylan anti-war anthem, “Masters of War”. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher (search key word: BDWPS).

Check it out HERE!

Tracklist:

Aesop Rock “Lotta Years”
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever “Heard You’re Moving”
Underworld “Motorhome”
Yoni & Geti “Internal Exile”
Cate LeBon “Wonderful”
Dalek “Guaranteed Struggle”
Xiu Xiu “Laura Palmer’s Theme”
Jay Reatard “My Shadow”

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Ty Segall Band “Slaughterhouse”

Ty Segall Band

“Slaughterhouse”

[In the Red; 2012]

Rating: 8.5

I’m beginning to think Thee Oh See’s John Dwyer must be some sort of mentor for his younger fellow San Francisco friend Ty Segall.  Many of the choices Segall has made, both carreer-wise and aesthetically, have followed in Thee Oh Sees path.  One obvious lesson learned from Dwyer is hard work. Thee Oh Sees have released five albums in the past three years. Segall has followed suit, releasing four albums in the past two years, with reports that another album may make its way to shelves still this year. As a result of this constant flow of new material, I’ve felt that some of these albums have been hit-and-miss affairs. “Goodbye Bread,” although fun at times, came off as a bit silly, a little sleepy, and slightly sloppy. This year’s collaboration with White Fence took on the same carefree approach, and although I enjoy its psychedelic folk experimentation, a few tracks seemed like left-overs dressed up as the main course.

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Cloud Nothings “Turning On” / “Leave You Forever”


Cloud Nothings
“Turning On”/ “Leave You Forever”
[Car Park/ True Panther 2010]

RATING: 7.5/8.5

This is such a hectic time of year: last minute purchases, making a list and checking it twice (or two dozen times), and late, sleepless nights while visions of Superchunk dance in my head.  Yes my friends, it’s time to come up with my year-end best albums list.  I always look forward to this annual process, although every year or so, an album arises that throws a wrench into my system.  Back in 2008 it was Jay Reatard’s “Matador Singles 08”, a collection of songs that had been released on Matador Records as singles over the course of the year.  There is not a mediocre song in the bunch, and of all the albums from that year, it’s one of the few that I still revisit frequently.

An album like “Matador Singles 08” raises some difficult questions because it was arguably the best collection of songs released in 2008, yet I didn’t place it on my best albums list that year based on principle.  I convinced myself that it wasn’t truly an album, rather a collection of songs in the same sense that a book of short stories isn’t deemed a novel.  I decided that to be categorized as a pure album it should have a backbone holding all the songs together: whether it be based on the overlying theme or the production keeping each song within the same unique world.

Since that 2008 omission, I still have regrets. When Jay Reatard died earlier this year, my guilt was heightened, although I can proudly say his 2009 album “Watch Me Fall”, ignored by most writers, made my top ten.  And I think “Watch Me Fall” proves my point – it had a definite theme of depression and self hate while the songs on “Matador Singles 08” cover a wide range of  unrelated topics.  A song like “I’m Watching You”, featured on both albums, even furthers my point. On the 2009 version the song seems to be a part of the “Watch Me Fall” universe, while the version on “Matador Singles 08” seems more like a loner, thriving on it’s own merit.

But just when I think I’ve got my opinion set in stone on the whole compilation thing, along come Cloud Nothings with the 2010 release “Turning On”.  Cloud Nothings began as simply Dylan Baldi, an 18-year-old college student from Cleveland, recording songs in his parent’s basement.  Over the months leading all the way back to the fall of 2009, Baldi posted his songs on the internet and quickly gained a buzz due to his knack for addictive lo-fi pop melodies. By the end of the year he had dropped out of college and found himself opening for bands like Real Estate and Woods.

“Turning On” is a compilation of all the songs Baldi released over the past year and a half, resulting in a treasury of pop-punk magic that shows a young man honing his powers like Luke Skywalker in Dagobah.  His natural talent for producing enchanting melodies is undeniable and gushes out of each muddle of fuzz and echo.

“My Little Raygun” actually reminds me a little of the late, great Jay Reatard:


Baldi is wise beyond his years in the art of writing songs that are simple yet compelling at the same time.  Despite this perspicacity, his songs still feel juvenile and effortless which results in 14-straight tracks that not only cause nostalgia, but transport you back to the early days of pimples and pubes. He sings of the concerns of a teen, yet they are filled with a gravity that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

A live acoustic performance of “Cool Kids” that is, well, pretty damn cool:

So does “Turning On” deserve a place on my best albums of 2010 list? Do I dare go against my notion of what a true album should be comprised of?

No, but not because of my position on compilations – I still hold my beliefs true that an album is more than a collection of songs.  As startling and exciting as Baldi’s album may be, it can also get a bit messy.  The drums sound amateurish throughout and the lo-fi production value gets in the way.  I understand that the errant crack of drumsticks and the unpredictable bass drum can add to the quirky nature of the Cloud Nothing’s music, but it can also dampen an otherwise fiery pop track.

“Can’t Stay Awake” is a great song interrupted by a strange drum melt-down near the end:

Since escaping his parent’s basement, Baldi has acquired a full-piece band and a few months ago they released “Leave You Forever” a four song EP that takes the pulp of “Turning On” and squeezes out its poppy-juiciness, creating exceptionally fresh results. I’m hard-pressed to find another album in 2010 that has four songs that are as good in combination as “Leave You Forever” has to offer.

Which raises another question: can an EP be considered an album when it’s only four songs?

Oh crap…it looks like I have more sleepless nights ahead me.

“Leave You Forever” – one of the Fantastic Four on the EP:

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Video Clip of the Week: Spoon Covering Jay Reatard

Spoon covered Jay Reatard’s “No Time” last week in concert. Fuck. Just makes me sad.

The original version:

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In Memory of Jay Reatard (1980-2010)

   

Jay Reatard (1980-2010)

 

“Jay was what few people have the capacity to be. He created an undeniably classic album that contained so much pain transferred to tape in such an explosive way that it made you feel different after hearing it. He was transgressive and honest. His flaws were something he focused on and overdubbed and distorted until they made you forget who he really was– a person with feelings and a good heart. He loved music and worked hard from a young age to pursue it. He was a self-made and unmade man. I am truly sickened to see him go.” 

Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) 

I don’t know why I’m writing this right now, but I just feel like I have to. I need to release this confusion. I need to try and understand. Jay Reatard is dead. The news hit me hard, possibly harder than any other death to one of my music heroes.  With Kurt Cobain and Elliot Smith, you always sensed that it could all end any day.  When Johnny Cash died, it was sad, yet not unexpected, what with old age and all. But Jay was at the top of his game.  He wasn’t an aging legend nor a suicidal recluse (at least not to my knowledge).  He was a guy who still had so much more to offer; he stood at the doorstep of greatness. “Watch Me Fall” was one of the best albums of 2009, and now I find myself questioning how I couldn’t have put it at the top of my best albums list. Maybe I just became accustomed to his amazing music that seemed to flow out effortlessly like an endless, melodic stream. Maybe I just took advantage of his genius. Maybe we all did. 

This summer, you couldn’t escape Michael Jackson fever, which always irritated me. The guy hasn’t been relevent for decades, yet when he died, everyone forgot about the pedophilia charges and the mediocre albums of the 90s, convincing themselves that Michael still mattered. 

Jay Reatard still matters – God damn it. He was changing the way we look at classic punk rock, building from the foundation that the Ramones laid long ago and showing that a simple pop-punk song could be so much more.  He was an extremely talented guy, heck, he played every instrument on almost every song off all his albums. I feel no shame in stating that he’s one of the best songwriters of the past ten years, and I’m not just saying that because I’m lost in some type of post-death trauma (just check my kind words about him on both of my “Best of 2009” lists).  Unfortunately, you won’t be hearing much of anything about Jay’s death on major news networks (unless the rumblings of homicide come true, then they’ll have something to exploit, which we know they do so well).  

Fortunately, I had the honor of seeing Jay Reatard perform less than two years ago at South by Southwest. I would go on to name it the best show of the week.  Here’s a snippet of what I wrote: 

We had reached that moment in the week where you’re so exhausted from standing and drinking that your legs feel like they could buckle any moment.  I needed a kick-start, and if classic punk couldn’t do it, my goal of waking up was hopeless.  The instant Jay Reatard and his band of afro haired misfits took the stage the crowd broke into a fist pumping mosh pit.  Throwing caution to the wind, we all joined in, bouncing and po-going around as the upbeat punk rock blew out of the speakers.   As I watched Jay thrash away through fast paced song after fast paced song, I tried to remember the last time I attended a good old-fashioned punk show.  I couldn’t recall, but as the adrenaline pumped through my heart, I knew it had been a long time coming.  

I have no doubt that Jay’s legacy will live on. Just like other unappreciated artists of the past  who died too soon (Nick Drake anyone?) ten years from now people will look back with wonder at Jay’s intricate, masterful approach to pop-punk.  His YouTube performances, which are already something of lore, will continue building the legend, the aura of Jay Reatard. Until then, those of us who knew him and his music intimately will mourn his death.  For now, he is ours to miss.  There’s enough time ahead of us for him to be given the respect from others he so greatly deserves. 

It ain’t gonna save me
It ain’t gonna save me, no how

All is lost there is no hope, All is lost you can’t go home,
All is lost there is no hope for me.
 

“It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” Jay Reatard

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Top 20 Albums of 2009 (10-1)

10.Dinosaur Jr.

“Farm”

Dinosaur Jr pisses me off.  In 1989 Lou Barlow left the group due to inner-group tension, and as a result, we were robbed of 18 year of amazing music. Don’t get me wrong, the post-Barlow era of Dinosaur Jr still had some great albums but they fail in comparison to such classics as “Bug” and “You’re Living All Over Me”.  Fortunately, they finally got over their little quarrel and got back to rocking a few years back. If you thought the band’s kick-ass 2007 reunion album “Beyond” was a fluke, “Farm” serves as evidence that you are gravely mistaken.  Usually when bands reunite, they sound dated and contrived, but somehow, Dino’s reunion material sounds fervent and fresh.  Yes, J. Mascis is keeping the guitar solo alive, and it’s never sounded better.

9. Sunset Rubdown

“Dragonslayer”

“Dragonslayer” is a grower, not a show-er.  The first few listens may be difficult to wrap your head around, but once you’ve grounded yourself in Spencer Krug’s peculiar realm, you’ll find yourself swept away by his story of the struggle between friendship and love. Soon, Krug will have you wondering aloud “Why DID Anna change her name?” or “how did you get held up at yesterday’s parties?”  Krug buries his tale beneath a pile of vivid metaphors, yet, you still sense there is a narrative haunting around the tombstone. “Dragonslayer” is a lot like a T.S. Elliot poem: the more you listen to it, the more you want to hear it, to know it, to understand it.  “Dragonslayer” is the indie-rock opera the Decemberists were aiming for with “The Hazards of Love”, and Anna is our generation’s Pinball Wizard (I still don’t get why she had to change her name though).

8. Jay Reatard

“Watch Me Fall”

You haven’t heard songs this catchy since The Beatle’s “Hard Days Night”, although if Jay were a member of the Fab Five there would have been a lot of chicks with black eyes (No one charges Jay Reatard without receiving a souvenir).  Don’t be fooled by “Watch Me Fall’s” up-beat, cheery sound; this encourageable little pup’s got bite. Although “Watch Me Fall” is grounded in punk, it shows Jay maturing with his sound, relying more often upon his acoustic guitar and songwriting that is complex and finely tuned.  Complex punk? If you don’t think it’s possible, take it up with Jay.

7. Akron/Family

“Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free”

The cover says it all – there is no other album in 2009 that represents America’s trials and tribulations better than “Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free”.  It of course has the folk backbone throughout, but along the ride, the band takes you through various styles of American music, from big band, 60s psychedelia, 40s doo-wop, 90s hip-hop, to the punk-rock noise of the 70s and 80s.  Like a musical Betsy Ross, Akron/Family have taken all the genres of music that have grown out of the “land of the free” and created an intricate, multi-faceted, harmonious quilt of where we’ve been.  Throughout, these sounds are intertwined naturally and performed wonderfully by non-other than Akron/Family.

6. The Thermals

“Now We Can See”

I would have loved to have the members of The Thermals in my English class.  They understand all the basic Literary Elements: themes, metaphors, foreshadowing, symbolism, etc.  Their 2007 release “The Body, the Blood, and the Machine” relied heavily upon allusions to the bible, using the imagery of the ancient book to tell stories and make a statement about our origin.  “Now We Can See” continues with the origin theme, although in this case they use the motif of evolution.  Every song makes references to the scientific theory that we “grew from the dirt “, then “took off (our) skin” and “crawled to the sea” “to swim!”(these four lyrics were taken from three different songs- now that’s an extended metaphor!). Within these Darwinian tales, the band tells stories of facing your fears, the perils of alcoholism, and the eventual demise of modern society.  Yes, this album is an English/Science teacher’s dream come true. Oh, and did I mention that the songs also kick ass?

5. The Very Best

“Warm Heart of Africa”

I didn’t know how to evaluate The Very Best’s first album due simply to the fact that most of the songs featured music by other artists, whether it be M.I.A., Vampire Weekend, or the music from the “True Romance” soundtrack. Although the music was undeniably delightful, could the band have the same result with their own backing tracks? “Warm Heart of Africa” shames me for doubting. Mwamwaya’s voice is still as smile-inducing as ever, and Radioclit’s contributions are stronger than anything on their self-titled effort. The African vibe is felt throughout, but Radioclit is able to carry the songs discreetly through a series of genres, whether it be new wave or trance.  In a time where regionalism has become almost nonexistent due to technology, The Very Best exemplify what is possible when cultures meld their ideas into one masterwork.

4. Baroness

“Blue Album”

At its core, “Blue Album” is a metal album- yet it is so much more. The band takes all of their eclectic influences and somehow combine them naturally into their powerful assault.  Nothing is forced. Every song evolves organically, taking the listener through an obstacle course of compelling riffs and devastating drums.  Metal is often associated with death, but the “Blue Album” is life its self, a blue flower blossoming in your ears, and then unexpectantly gashing your ear drums with their savage thorns.

3. Japandroids

“Post-Nothing”

About a month ago I had a student I trusted run out to my car to grab a folder I left on my front seat. Of course, I didn’t remember that under the folder laid the coffee table book “Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution”.  When he got back to my room his face was all aglow. “You like punk Mr. S?” he asked in amazement. It was like he had just learned that Santa Claus indeed did exist. Like an authoritative dick, I asked him to go to his desk and told him we could talk about it after class. This resulted in him standing in my room for 15 minutes during my lunch time, listing all the bands he was into, none of which I’d heard of.  He then pulled out his I-POD and commenced having me check out mediocre emo band after emo band, the 21st century’s version of punk.  I tried to think of a band to suggest to this kid, to save him, one that would guide him down the right path. Minor Threat? The Wipers? Rancid? No. I had to come up with something new; this kid didn’t want to listen to an old guy’s music by old punks.  Then it hit me: Japandroids.  Nothing screams youth more than two kids from Vancouver singing lines about wanting to leave there stomping grounds, living life without concern, and kissing french girls. I told him he had to get to lunch soon, but that I would play him “Young Hearts Spark Fire”, and as I watched this kid discover real, earnest, punk rock, the young heart in me may have even pumped out a couple heartbeats.

2. Bill Callahan

“Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle”

While “Woke On a Whaleheart” showed Bill trying find himself without his band Smog, “Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle” is an overwhelming statement that Bill can in fact do this on his own.  While his band explored stranger terrain, Bill focuses on the tangible here, relying mostly on only the live instrumentation of pianos, guitars, and violins.  The album may seem intimate at times, but there are moments where Bill reminds us that his music can be larger than expected.  For example, when the strings break out on “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”, you’d swear it was a sequel to “Eleanor Rigby”.  But my favorite character has to be the mysterious guitar that lurks in the shadows of the album.  Every song you’ll catch a glimpse of it, a basic electric guitar, no effects needed, meandering in the background.  The only thing to upstage the unassuming guitar is Bill himself with his croaking baritone voice that speaks straight to your soul (I swear even the deaf can hear Bill’s voice).  If Bill Callahan only released his lyrics in poetic form, his words alone would be music to your ears. Oh, but we are luckier than that my friends. Not only is Bill a master wordsmith, but his music speaks volumes as well. Just imagine if Dylan Thomas could sing and play guitar?

1. Animal Collective

“Merriweather Post Pavilion”

On New Years Eve, the group I was hanging out with got into a discussion of who was the biggest band of the decade. The first answer to come to most of our minds was Radiohead. But driving back to Texas, I thought about the question longer and decided we may have been wrong.  TV On the Radio? Arcade Fire? The Yeah Yeah Yeahs? No, none of them created music as influential as Radiohead, but there is one band that did, and maybe even more so: Animal Collective (stick with me here…)

If you look back on Animal Collective’s resume for the past ten years, they’ve released eight albums, four EPs, and a multitude of side projects (Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” is unquestionably one of the top ten albums of the decade).  If you simply compare “Here Comes the Indian” to “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, you’ll see in an instant how much the band has grown. Every album presents a new way to aproach music. 

“Merriweater Post Pavilion” is quite possibly the band’s best album to date, the perfect culmination to a productive decade.  In this case, it’s not an insult to say that it is their most accessible album because to an outsider, “Merriweater Post Pavilion” would still seem pretty alien.  I hate to say the band has matured because it would be a damn shame, but they have definitely learned how to approach their music from a melodical stand-point (and you’ll never hear them scream once, which has slowly become a crutch for them over the years). 

Even the lyrics speak of growing up and facing adulthood.  Yet I insist, they have NOT grown up.  If anything, the album brings me back to my childhood, sounding like the soundtrack to “Fern Gullie”. The sounds are enchanting, exciting, and will have you conjuring up images of elves and gnomes prancing around a magical mushroom in no time.  It’s too bad Jim Henson is dead because I can only imagine what he could have done with the mystical world on “Merriweater Post Pavilion”. I guess as a consolation you can always rent “Fraggle Rock”, turn the sound off, and blast “Merriweater Post Pavilion” out of your stereo.  Who needs drugs when you’ve got “Merriweater Post Pavilion” and Muppets?

(Note to reader: Sad to say goodbye to our best of 2009 lists? Never fear! Over the tenure of 2010, Paul will be moving methodically through decade, listing what he deems the top albums for each year. Look for it in the coming weeks!)

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Top 50 Songs of 2009 (26-50)

50. Dutchess and the Duke
“Scorpio”


The harmonizing voices on this song perfectly capture the heartbreak of the narrator. Despite being near his lover, he still feels miles apart. A few weeks ago I was playing this song in my classroom during journal time, and one of my students commented that it sounded like something from “Juno”. I agreed, although I don’t remember Moldy Peaches ever sounding this damn beautiful.

49. NOFX
“Best God in Show”

Despite releasing a couple lackluster albums in the past few years, NOFX still have a gift for catching you off-guard. On the surface, “Best God in Show” is a happy-hippy jam, but when you get past the joyful ska riff and cheery organ, NOFX is once again questioning religion in a way that is both humorous and thought-provoking.

48. M. Ward
“Never Had Nobody Like You”

Once you get past the use of a double negative in the title, you will find M. Ward has written another hum-able gem that would fit perfectly alongside other classics on “Transfiguration of Vincent”. It’s just too bad he had to let Budweiser throw it into a comercial about guys hi-fiving…who okays these things and deems them as funny?

47. Jay-Z
“DOA (Death to Auto-Tune)

Jay-Z is the godfather of the rap world. When the Hova says auto-tune is dead, you better take notice. Like a modern-day Biz Markie, Jay-Z howls “Na, na, na, na! Hey, hey, hey! Goodbye!” off-key throughout the song, along with the use of live instrumentation, ranging from a squealing saxophone to a sultry guitar line. While most of the rap world has become a caricature of their former selves, Jay-Z continues to sing his own song, even if it is out of tune.

46. Bon Iver
“Woods”

Wait just one second Jay-Z…like a musical zombie, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon breathed new life into the auto-tuner with this captivating new approach to the played-out device. Somehow the old timey lyrics of “I’m building a still” work perfectly through the 21st century lens, sounding like a robotic barbershop quartet. And somehow, Vernon is still able to convey the loneliness and solitude of being alone in the woods.

45. Slayer
“Americon”

In a year where we got a glimpse of the stock market’s dirty under-belly and the corruption of American big business, it’s nice to see Slayer take a break from wreaking havoc on Christianity and focusing on the sick fucks who have preyed upon the middle class of this country for too long. There is something poetic about such an “evil” band taking on the true evil of this “land of deceit”.

44. Ty Segall
“Lovely One”

Ty Segall is often banging away at his guitar from start to finish, but on “Lovely One” he takes a break from his distortion pedal, starting off with a calming little guitar strum, eventually leading into the infectious chorus that would fit perfectly alongside The Animals and The Loving Spoonful on a classic oldies station.

43. Lightning Dust
“I Knew”

This song seems pressing despite the lack of a real drum track. The pulsing undertone continues from start to finish while the piano and organ truly take shape as percussion instruments, driving the two-minute romp through its existential path. How can something sound aged and cutting edge at the same time?

42. Pissed Jeans
“Goodbye (Hair)”

Historically, hardcore punk songs are about several defined topics: criticizing the government, criticizing the use of drugs/alcohol, or conveying how horrible it is to be a teenager. Pissed Jeans like to take a different stance. On past albums they’ve lamented the difficulties of being a stalker, the shame felt when cumming, and the perils of scrapbooking. On their 2009 release “King of Jeans” they even present the misery felt during the process of losing your hair:

I still can’t believe this is happening. I’m not fifty years old. I consider myself a young adult and want others to see me this way. If my looks deteriorate, it’ll wreak havoc on my self-esteem. Is that what I have to look forward to?

 Although humorous (and hitting a little close to home for a bald fella like myself) the song also conveys the anguish and frustration that is associated with growing old and losing your youth, one hair at a time.

41. Phoenix
“1901”

I know what you’re thinking: “How could he put this song so low on his list?!” Yes, I will admit that when I first heard this song during the spring, I played it endlessly. It’s catchy as hell and is even capable of getting a white boy like myself on his feet dancing (after a few beers mind you). Unfortunately, my love has turned to loathing due to the Cadillac ads played in heavy rotation during the commercial break of every football game. Despite this hatred, I still can’t deny what a great song it is, or was (don’t worry, Phoenix gets more cred on this list…)

40. The Love Language
“Lalita”

You’ve heard this song before, but in actuality you haven’t. Weird? That is the power of The Love Language my friends. Quit trying to remember where you heard it and just sit back and enjoy the tune you’ve never heard before but swear you have.

39. Morrissey
“Something’s Squeezing My Skull”

When Morrissey expresses that he is “doing fine”, you know he’s lying. Despite being an older gentleman, he still seems to be dealing with his demons, some of which take pleasure in squeezing his skull. Drugs? The perils of relationships? Insanity? Who cares really. At least musically Morrissey sounds better than ever, with a Gang of Four, angular riff and the closing chant of “Don’t give me anymore!” that you just can’t get enough of.

38. The Thermals
“Now We Can See”

The fact that you are hooked on this song within 10 seconds says it all.

37. Sonic Youth
“Thunderclaps for Pyn”

https://bobdylanwrotepropagandasongs.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/09-sonic_youth-thunderclap_for_bobby_pyn2.mp3

When I lived in Omaha I liked to go to the Old Country Buffet on barbeque night. I’d skip over the salad bar, the fried foods section, and even noodle salad row in search of one thing: BBQ ribs. I’d fill my plate with ribs, and ribs only. When all that remained was a plate with meat-less bones I’d go back for seconds, engulfing a pig’s entire rib cage by the end of my visit.  Sonic Youth’s “The Eternal” is much like a buffet line, featuring a wide range of Sonic sounds from over the years, ranging from the art noise of early days to the sparser atmospheres of recent albums. But, like a plate of short ribs, this past year I often found myself skipping over the other tunes in search of a nice earful of “Thunderclaps for Pyn”.  Yummy!

36. Lightning Bolt
“Sublime Freak”

How do you make a Lightning Bolt song more chaotic? Add bongos. But there is so much more going on in this song; there is actually a chorus! YES FOLKS! A CHORUS! And if you listen close enough, it almost sounds like a 1960s surfer tune. I can see the beach blanket gogo dancers now…

35. Japandroids
“The Boys are Leaving Town”

Sure, this song has sentimental value for me, reminding me of my road trip this past summer where Paul and I listened to this at the beginning of our trip and later saw the band perform in Boise, Idaho. But this song made its way on this list for more reasons than the memories associated with it. Simply put, it kicks ass. Being the anti-thesis to Cheap Trick’s “Boys are Back in Town”, Japandroids have taken the classic teenage angst of leaving town and given it a jolt with rolling, jumpy drum fills and passionate, lo-fi vocals.

34. Andrew Bird
“Fitz and the Dizzyspells”

Every interview/review I read about Andrew Bird’s 2009 release “Noble Beast” focused heavily on the album’s use of whistling. This is for good reason. Every song on the album features whistling at some point, an aspect that becomes annoying pretty quickly. Only on “Fitz and Dizzyspells” does Andrew find a happy medium between his violin and pierced lips, creating a joyful romp that begs you to put a smile on your face.

33. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Zero”

Karen O singing about leather? I’m sold.

32. Animal Collective
“Brother Sport”

In the past few years the tribal sounds of bands like MIA and El Guincho have become more and more popular.  How soon we forget that Animal Collective brought this sound to the forefront years ago.  On “Merriwether Post Pavillion” the boys finish the album off with “Brother Sport”, a tropical rumpus that works perfectly as a final track due to its celebratory tone. It also serves as a reminder that the Collective can still make you shake your ass off if they really want to.

31. Lou Barlow
“The One I Call”

I know, I know. I hate love songs too.  And I’ll admit, Lou Barlow’s “One I Call” would probably work great on a John Cusack chick flick.  But you can’t resist its earnest lyrics nor can you deny the comfort of the combination of Lou’s voice and his guitar. If I saw Lou on the street, I’d probably yell to him, “Great song Lou!” to which he’d glare at me in disgust (inside joke).

30. Blank Dogs
“Open/Shut”

Guided By Voices meets The Cure circa 1980s? Oh, what a sweet combination, like peanut butter and jelly.

29. Propagandhi
“Dear Coach’s Corner”

Propagandhi usually rage against racism, government, and of course the fact that “Meat is murder”.  But never before have I heard them write about such unique subjects as they do on “Supporting Caste”.  The best has to be “Dear Coach’s Corner”, a vial criticism of the Canadian hockey show “Coach’s Corner” (I guess with Bush out of office, their song material got cut in half). The ranting tune basically states an annoyance with announcers conveying their own agendas when in the end, it’s just a game. Shut the fuck up:

Dear Ron McLane, I wouldn’t bother with these questions
if I didn’t sense some spiritual connection.
We may not be the same, but it’s not like we’re from different planets.
We both love this game so much we can hardly fucking stand it. 

 There is something admirable in Propagandhi’s approach; no one is free from being criticized. Who wouldn’t like to hear a song ripping into Bill Walton, Bob Davie, or Joe Buck?

28. Jay Reatard
“Wounded”

Everything in this song has its function. The “lade-da-da” that starts the song leads into a sweet little acoustic guitar lick, jumping straight into Jay’s yelling anthem, and finally kicking into the fist pumping chorus. And then, when you think you’ve figured it all out, the song finishes off with a killer closer that would put “Hey Jude” to shame.  Jay Reatard is a master songwriter; it’s about time we all accept his God-liness.

27. Matt and Kim
“Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare”

Matt and Kim songs are so simple. A plinking piano over a pounding drum beat and Matt’s nasally whine. Yet, with only these few elements they are able to write irresistable pop hits. While “Daylight” may be considered their breakout hit in 2009, “Good Ol Fashion Nightmare” is just as charming and replay-able.

26. Beirut
“My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille”

When I heard Beirut was releasing a double CD (one disc of them performing with a mexican mariachi band and another of Zach Condon singing over electronic music), I expected the first CD to be the better of the two but was disappointed by his Mexican offering.  Instead, I fell in love with the second disc of five dance songs, devoid of trumpets and accordians.  While two of the songs are about hookers, “My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille” is the obvious stand-out of the album.

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