honorable mention for:
SKINNY LOVE --- BON IVER
BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS --- FLEET FOXES
LET'S SEE IT --- WE ARE SCIENTISTS
CLOSER --- KINGS OF LEON
WE SHOULD FIGHT --- EZRA FURMAN
FOOLS --- THE DODOS
I'M A LADY --- SANTOGOLD
BLIND --- HERCULES + LOVE AFFAIR
20) DUPPY CONQUEROR --- SAM BUCK ROSEN. when you think you have defeated everything there is always something more. at first when you came here you were thinking that this was like all the other cities and it would be easy. no one wants to talk to you here, but after the initial shock of this you began to treasure it. in the subway stations you stand and listen to the gentle shoving beat of whatever people are playing there belowground. trying to speed up. pushing at empty air. they play these things for you and you know it then. you, the conqueror, are the only one really listening, and this is your battle cry.
19) HERE'S THE THING --- GIRL TALK. (no mp3). it is difficult to choose one song off feed the animals because they all blend together. i think though that this is my favorite, just for the bit with shawty lo and elvis costello. the incredible thing about girl talk is the contrast - so awesome, that contrast. these classic songs, ones you were raised on, you'd know every word if they came on the radio. and then, on the top, these rap lyrics, some of them hysterical in their violence or misogyny or widespread use of the word "pussy." you almost want to laugh at it, but you can't.
18) BOARDED DOORS --- THE MORNING BENDERS. when you look at things at the end, and all that's left is an empty house, windows and doors nailed over with plywood - nothing says abandonment like that, nothing says regret like that pulsing organ, and nothing says "how could you do this to me" like that lyric - "maybe you're right to stay in the light, but tell me please where does that leave me?" in the dark, in the pitch dark with the rafters dripping, in that boarded-up house.
17) ERASER --- NO AGE. in july i listened to this outdoors at south street seaport. in the beginning, with that steady riff and drums, the seething whirlpool of bodies i had been fighting on the verge of momentarily dissolved, and i recall, very sweaty, looking to my right at the backlit ships, the masts emblazoned white against the sky. behind me, wall street glimmered with this ironic faithfulness. they started to break into the shove of the drums before the vocals emerge, and i closed my eyes as long as i could. there was motion before me as the whirlpool began to seethe again. i don't know what that lyric is, is it "won't you die"? i just yelled shit out loud. there's a dependency in insanity. you don't need to really give a fuck.
16) NO ONE DOES IT LIKE YOU --- DEPARTMENT OF EAGLES. my friend once wrote something she read aloud to me, and i recall most vividly something about going out in the night, and coming back again. out in the morning light, you don't have to breathe so easy. there is something cold and haunting about this, to go out alone in the early light, and to find nothing. there are no remaining choices. no one does it like you.
15) PHOTOBOOTH --- FRIENDLY FIRES. you write so many songs about love but you don't write them like this. you can't put this into words, how shaky and jittery it is, to be so close and so far, to wait for the flash in suspended animation. all of this is real, do you get it? all this tension is real. that, you can put that to music.
14) HANG THEM ALL --- TAPES N TAPES. do you like the second amendment? do you like capital punishment? tapes n tapes' second album lacked the sheer punch of the first, but this song spoke of passion more than anything, these shoving drums, fuzzy guitar, and, in the end, this break into a shocking, proud kind of chorus.
13) JOCASTA --- NOAH AND THE WHALE. that is the only thing i can call you and the only thing i will ever call you. i consider this a modest proposal. i'd do it just for my own life. end in a brusque clatter. turn to a ghost.
12) HUMMINGBIRD --- BORN RUFFIANS. oh oh oh-oh, oh oh oh-oh-oh, oh oh oh-a-oh, oh-oh-oh.
11) BAD BLOOD --- BEAR HANDS. (this was technically released last year. do i care? no.) you want to start stuttering like billy bibbit in one flew over the cuckoo's nest. spit words out. you get nervous as shit. you know the consequences.
10) THAT'S NOT MY NAME --- TING TINGS. i don't like dancing. i don't like talking. i'm not the prettiest girl - but fuck you if you don't remember me. i'll show you how rememberable i can be.
9) M79 --- VAMPIRE WEEKEND. remember how big new york was when you were young? you were afraid of it. you made your parents take cabs. you'd never take the subway. there was this fear of being left behind the turnstile, unable to swipe your metrocard at the correct speed. now you want to take the subway. now you want to take the bus. you want to sit in the back and feel the engine rumble. you want to sit between two sweaty guys and watch one of them read oedipus rex. you want to take the 79 across the park. dream out the window. the joy lies in knowing this place is too big for you. you could never take it all. you have to make do with what you can feel. this is fine. you can handle this. nothing is more beautiful than new york, nothing. you would die if you knew it all.
8) I'M GOOD I'M GONE --- LYKKE LI. coldness, a mellowing. you remember what it was like. was it really like that? certainly not. when you think hard all you can hear are sharp sounds like looped piano, handclaps. none of that spice you wanted. you were incorrigible at first, wanting everything. are you ashamed of that self now? everything happens for a reason.
7) IN A CAVE --- TOKYO POLICE CLUB. you could leave here, and you could. you just got the new passport in the mail. they call this temptation. you've never felt flight as such a possibility. there is so much that dissatisfies here. you'd walk the back roads in new england, west to the setting sun.
6) KIDS --- MGMT. the second time i heard kids was in brooklyn, in williamsburg, in the light rain. when i bought the album i was wondering how many fucking songs are about the kids. the kids don't know shit. the kids don't stand a chance. the kids are alright. i don't see much wrong with my generation; we do what we have to. but out of all these songs, all these songs that tell me what we do wrong, the one i trust the most comes out of the mouth of this skinny kid, in a poncho and headband, chanting "control yourself" into a mic he clutches along with a pair of women's underwear, under this violent brooklyn sky. i recall i looked up and around. people spread out all around me. in the condo complexes to my right people lined the balconies, clustered, hidden from the rain. i knew then that this song, all the nonsensical euphoria of it, better summed us up than anything else that tried to.
5) DISTURBIA --- RIHANNA. you ever love someone? not like me. not like me, i've felt it. they were gonna lock me away. it doesn't matter. what matters - i lost it. i really did. all of it. i didn't notice. there is a freedom, almost, in losing your mind. bom bom be-dom, bom bom be-dom bom. i want to dance to my own heartbeat. tachycardia. fillibration. stomp it out on the floor. there are others like me, you know. we've all felt it.
4) DONDE ESTA LA PLAYA --- THE WALKMEN. in puerto rico you drive to the beach in a rented sky-blue car. distantly the clouds gather, this thick gray field. back home this time of year those mean snow. it's somewhat unclear here. they could drift to sea, harmless. you are just off the plane - you haven't unpacked, haven't even booked a hotel. maybe you are fleeing something, it doesn't matter. in the trunk your little suitcase is full of unfolded clothes. what you're wearing is rumpled from sitting on that plane. you find your way to the beach and put on a bathing suit in the backseat. throw out a towel on the sand, lie and look at the sky. over the sea the clouds broil. almost you hope it would rain, for the catharsis.
3) OSAKA LOOP LINE 2008 --- DISCOVERY. you lost her. you had these chances you did not take. on the train you watched her wait, sleep. that subtle erotica in watching someone sleep! it could be next to you. you could be feeling that breath on your ear, on the hollow of your neck. but no. you lost her. you're unused to this place. they've got technology here that seems like children's toys. you've lost the ability to use it, to function yourself accordingly. this isn't like waiting for the subway. this isn't new york. it hurts the most that you saw her go, and you did nothing. you were powerless to stop it. you were frozen in place. you were an ice statue. they could've tapped your shoulder, you would've shattered.
2) BALLOONS --- FOALS. i always thought about the red balloon. there's so much to escape. a lack of color. that juvenile torture. friendlessness - heavy. feel it? paris. menilmontant. i don't know when. i think the sky filled with them. all colors. skyline. these tight images. the brusqueness of sound. you don't need words - do i need words? i could tell you what love means and i don't need words. just eight words. i can tell you. i can say it. let me say it.
1) SAINT PETER'S DAY FESTIVAL --- RA RA RIOT. what waits in gloucester? you have someone tangible floating face-down in buzzard's bay. he would wait in gloucester. he would wait, with st. peter, in a bar called the rhumb line. he would drink lazily, something dark, foam yellow-white on the glass. and you would follow this line, this rhumb line, to its very end. you would walk it heel-toe. you would sail it on that straight bearing. you would run it like khalid khannouci ran marathons, you would bathe in ice afterwards. you would do anything to stay on that line. you would follow it to gloucester, only to find that nothing earthly awaited you there. there would be touches of places that would remind you of the things you might've done. would you have lost him, anyway? he would have wanted you to keep on.