My Top 100 Songs of 2009 – 90-81

Today I continue my ten-part series showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of last year.

90. IYAZ – Replay

Usually in December of every year, I go home for Christmas.  The indie world is dead at the end of the year, so I usually do research on the pop charts, listening to songs I have missed for most of the year.  Nearly all of the songs I am happy to have avoided, but there are always a few candidates that make the cut.  I’m a sucker for well-crafted pop music, as everyone knows, and IYAZ’s first single had my head bobbing enough for it to make my year-end list.  It’s charming, super-infectious, and it name-drops a common household item that no one owned ten years ago (that would be the iPod).

89. Crocodiles – I Wanna Kill

In the spring of ’09, these guys were all the rage in the blogosphere, hailed, because of this song, as the next big lo-fi group.  My, how things change quickly on the Interwebs; the rest of the album was pretty subpar, we all found out.  But this song remains the highlight – while the verses have a definite New Order feel, the chorus feels like an arena-rock sendup.  If Springsteen covered it, the world would be singing it.

88. Yeasayer – Ambling Alp

To prep the world for their inevitable 2010 electro-pop explosion titled Odd Blood, the boys in Yeasayer released the first single at the tail end of the year, “Ambling Alp.”  And, from the sound of things, they’re picking up where MGMT left off (even more so now that the new stuff from Congratulations is pretty underwhelming so far).  What a great, upbeat, positive song for all the apathetic hipsters to shrug along to.  “Stick up for yourself, son/Never mind what anybody else done.”  Have these guys been on Yo Gabba Gabba yet?  Because they totally should be.

87. Deer Tick – Easy

The lone good song from Born On Flag Day is the first single.  Let me just say that, for the record, I’m done with Deer Tick.  War Elephant is unbeatable, and the boys know it; the past three times I’ve seen them, the show has been mostly covers, and that includes stops at high-profile shows at the Bowery Ballroom during CMJ and ACL in early October.  If they would write more songs like this, they wouldn’t be regressing.

86. Thermals – We Were Sick

One of the best live bands ever, and Now We Can See, while not their best, is a new badass direction for the group, maintaining their old sound while giving new fans a simple pop structure to feast on.  The lyrics are less political and more introspective, a sigh of relief we all can breathe along to now that Bush is out of office.  “We Were Sick” indeed.

85.  The Dodos – Fables

The Dodos were another band that let me down in 2009; Time to Die was such a disappointment.  Like Deer Tick, the lone highlight is the first single.  And it feels like a leftover from Visiter, ready for satellite radio, with its acoustic pop strumming, singalong three-part harmony, and reggaeton-lifted beat.  If these boys don’t pick it up on the next disc, at least we still have Local Natives.

84.  Toro y Moi – Human Nature (Michael Jackson cover)

In July, we lost a legend, and the music world, popular and not-so-popular, delivered tributes, covers, remixes, and general homages to the King of Pop.  This is by far the best effort I heard all year – a chillwave take on one of Jackson’s biggest songs from one of the biggest up-and-comers in indie music right now.  He stays true to the original, while making it his own, which always makes for a great cover.  Like a single diamond-studded glove, it’s a perfect fit.  Chuh-mon-ah.

83.  Them Crooked Vultures – New Fang

The first of two songs to make my list from the kick-ass supergroup’s self-titled debut.  These star-filled collabs are a dime a dozen nowadays, but I was glad to hear this trio was making music together.  Once I saw the band at ACL and discovered Josh Homme was steering the wheel, I was ecstatic.  Like an offshoot of Queens of the Stone Age, Homme’s stripper/stoner rock is ever-present, except, this time around, with the backbone groove of a bass legend like Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and the percussive animal that is Dave Grohl.  What more could you ask for?

82.  The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Come Saturday

Let me just go ahead and say it – there’s nothing special about this band, especially if you lived through the 80’s and already heard this on John Hughes soundtracks.  This band makes beautiful pop landscapes filled with the songwriting capability of Psychedelic Furs, the Cure, and My Bloody Valentine combined.  Their best work is this track, found near the beginning of their self-titled debut.  So, yeah, nothing special, but what’s wrong with that?  If you’re an imitator, why not imitate awesome music?  And from the sounds of their new material, the band is coming into their own just nicely.

81.  Dinosaur Jr. – Over It

The first of three tracks from Farm to make the cut, easily one of my favorites from 2009.  The elder statesmen of indie-guitar rock (influencing all your favorites, including the Pixies and Guided By Voices) returned with an album so loud, copies of it had to be recalled in Europe.  The best thing about this song is the video, which shows in cinematic brilliance the band’s skills at extreme sports.  If Mascis and the boys ever get tired of rocking our worlds, they might have a shot at X Games.

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