This song is summery pop brilliance at it's best. Both men who collaborated on this track Brandon Cox (Deerhunter) and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) are perfectionists in their ability to take a simple beat and turn it into an infectious swirly haze of indie pop.
Listen to this song just once and you will be singing "Alabama Arkansas..." all day. The Los Angeles collective of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros deliver one of the year's best love songs. It's a simple song with a tender message ("Home is wherever I'm with you"). The trading off of lyrics between the male and female singer adds a sense of honest romantic playfulness to the song that you just don't hear much of these days.
Animal Collective have been the best thing to happen to psychedelic pop in years, and in 2009 they became indie juggernauts. "My Girls" is the song that propelled them to superstardom. This song is by far their most accessible song that they have ever recorded, and could possibly be their most sincere to date. In the past, Animal Collective have been a crazy group of acid tripping devil-may-care musicians. However with "My Girls" it shows something completely new, maturity. This song is Panda Bear's promise to provide a proper house for his wife and daughter in the wake of his father's death. It's a honest statement about one's priorities in life. It's one thing to have the will power to be open about these sorts of things to a friend, but to have the courage to put it on paper and record a song about it, shows a whole different level of character.
Grizzly Bear have possibly been the most buzzworthy indie band of 2009. Off of their stellar album Veckatimest is "Two Weeks." This song is an unbelievably well crafted pop song driven by pitch perfect harmony courtesy of frontman Ed Drotse.
5. Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys) - Empire State of Mind
There's no denying this song was huge in 2009, it was even more significant considering this was Jay-Z's first #1 song. Even though Blueprint Part III was an overall disappointment filled with way too many guest collaborations this song was a true shining moment for Hova.
"Kettering" is unbelievably depressing in the most beautiful sense of the word. The Antlers paint a picture of a man sitting beside a dying person on a hospital bed peering out of a window contemplating his own mortality. It's sad, heartfelt and the kind of song that makes you want to appreciate every precious moment we have on Earth.
Wilco have successfully taken the best aspects of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born and Sky Blue Sky and crammed it all into one song. The result is "Bull Black Nova" a jarring head rush of piano and guitar, and subsequently Wilco's most ambitious song in years.
On his otherwise snoozefest of album, "I Am Goodbye" is a highlight of Beware. I like Bonnie "Prince" Billy, people say he's the modern Bob Dylan. He could be, his lyrics are extremely powerful, however his song-craft is subpar. He tends to have extremely slow and uninteresting music to accompany his otherwise great lyrics. "I Am Goodbye" is not the case, it's bouncy and filled with alt-country brilliance.
This late 50's early 60's vintage sounding throwback closes out Swift's album The Atlantic Ocean. I find it odd how the two songs that I like from Swift (the other being "The Bully") are the only ones in which he alters his voice to add this scratchy characterization. It's a shame he doesn't do it more because The Atlantic Ocean would have been way more enjoyable.
12. David Byrne (feat The Dirty Projectors) - Knotty Pine
They did it in the beginning of 2009 with Merriweather Post Pavillion and Animal Collective did it again later in the year by releasing a brilliant five song EP called Fall Be Kind. Fall Be Kind has a completely different feel to it than Merriweather, it's darker and has more of an autumn feeling to it. The highlight track from it without a doubt has to be "What Would I Want? Sky" which is the first song ever to legally sample The Grateful Dead.
A few years ago, I made a remark to a friend how it was a shame no one was making music like James Brown did anymore. Well, God must have head me because the soul of James Brown had been reincarnated into Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.
I am not a fan of I And Love And You. The Avett Brothers, one of my favorite alternative bluegrass groups drop their banjos and pick up a set of keys which results in a generic piano-rock album that will get lost in the other soulless crap on the shelf at Starbucks. Mega-producer Rick Rubin has successfully destroyed another band, kudos to him. "Laundry Room" however, is the only track that captures the magic of what The Avetts can create. I sincerely hope while the boys are on the road touring the country they re-listen to Four Theives Gone and remember what it was like to stretch bluegrass to it's limits.
I like this song for one reason. The Bass. This song has one of the most infectious basslines I have heard since LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver. Just listen to the 1:26 mark on this song, it's a damn fine groove.
Well there you have it, our Top 20 Songs of 2009. Stay tuned Monday for the Best Albums of 2009 where we will go even more in-depth on our choices. Go to Lala.com and create a free account to be able to stream these songs and more. Let us know what you think!