Favorite Songs of 2010

I divided this list into two sections, as seemed natural: "regular new" and "smacks of the 80s." Also I'm trying Soundcloud this year so you can just listen right off the page. (Give it a few secs.)

Regular New 2010 Songs

Subliminal Message: Happy Birthday
This band is from the town where I live. That is remarkable because Brattleboro, Vermont only has about 12,000 people. Yet I did not discover Happy Birthday through word of mouth, or at the bar, or at a show. I found them the way I find everything--on the Internet. It was only after I picked this song for my radio show that I learned they're from like, down the street. Anyway, I love the glides (glissando)--that thing where, like the beginning of "Rhapsody in Blue," the notes swoop from low to high, sounding a bit like a classy siren going off. Nice.

Happy Birthday - Subliminal Message by subpop

Let's Get Out of Here: Les Savy Fav
A song about going home together. "I just want you to want me right now." It's like a grunge ballad--sweet but still rockin.

Les Savy Fav - Let's Get Out of Here by Wichita Recordings

Boy: Ra Ra Riot
This band from Syracuse was also on my 2009 list (remixed). I just love their sound I guess--joyful, propulsive, perfect pop. Very crisp guitar lines, nice strings, beautiful pogo-sticking from the bass & drums. This song always makes me smile. No idea what it's about.

Ra Ra Riot - Boy by Arts & Crafts

Real Life: Tanlines
This is like club music gone psychedelic, plus tabla. I love it. The lyrics play to my drippy nostalgic side: "You might think I'm still that way. It's only natural. It was a past life thing, it was a past life thing. It wasn't anything at all." I also love the apparent shout-out to Missing Person's "Destination Unknown." You guys are awesome.

Tanlines - Real Life by musicmule

Bang Bang Bang (f. MNDR & Q-Tip): Mark Ronson
MNDR & Q-Tip are a great pair on this track. It is super catchy, with a very pleasing stutter-synth that is a real earworm. I don't know what MNDR is saying but her attitude is so cool that I sing along with her anyway. "Shake it to morella!" Or whatever.

Bang Bang Bang (Feat. MNDR & Q-Tip)- Mark Ronson by kmdskier

Landscapes: Gregory and the Hawk
Sweet, quiet vocals from Meredith Godreau and some instrument I can't quite identify. Hammered dulcimer? Some gamelan thing? Wait, is it a KOTO? No matter, it's lovely. Her voice makes me want to hang out with her, maybe get some tea.

Gregory and the Hawk - Landscapes by FatCat Records

Shutterbugg: Big Boi
This song got me running again after baby. I'd cue it up on the iPod and go. It is not even close to electro-pop. Big Boi's rapid rapping, the goofy "buh-buh-buh-buh" bass, the foul language--all great to get you up and moving and singing. Sasha Frere Jones calls it "sparkly and irresistible" and he is correct.

Big Boi- Shutterbugg by darkbloom

Loxtep: Annuals
They're from North Carolina, but this song has a fabulous Latin vibe (besides being quite beepy, which is how I like it). "Your line around my neck keeps pullin' pullin'"... and then the pretty children's chorus!

Annuals - Loxtep by IndieHearts

Songs that Smack of the 80s

Your Woman: Cats on Fire
They're Finnish! This cover is amazing, yet with kind of a classic sock-hop sound and lyrics. "I could never be your woman," explains the lead singer. "Why did you play me that way?" Except I'm pretty sure the lead singer is a guy. Apparently this is also true of the original version by White Town (1997). The guitar on this really slays me, it sounds like if Johnny Marr is playing the balalaika. Too delicious.

Cats on Fire - Your Woman by joolsjoyce

Not In Love: Crystal Castles
What better way to make your song sound authentically 80s than to get the guy from The Cure to sing for you? Robert Smith's voice immediately transports me to cold teen Novembers of mild misbehavior and pining to be grown up. This is one of several songs here with lyrics that make me sentimental like a 3-hanky movie: "And we were lovers, now we can't be friends." (The Internet tells me this was a Platinum Blonde song from 1983. BACK IN THE DAY.)

Crystal Castles - Not In Love (Feat. Robert Smith) by Posh Magazine

The Mall & Misery: Broken Bells
The team of Danger Mouse and the guy from the Shins (OK, I know his name, it's James Mercer) formed Broken Bells and released a like-named album in March 2010. It's as good as you might expect. (That is, very.) This particular song starts out a little bit twangy country, then a sweeping string section comes in after 30 seconds, and only after almost a minute does the beat and all the rest kick in. My favorite parts--the little soap bubble pop sound in the background during the verse. Best of all, the raw and twangy Joy Division guitar thing that shows up. Egad!

Boo, the Soundcloud track got taken down, so here's Youtube.

I Can Change: LCD Soundsystem
Do you like Yaz? Gary Numan? How about Flock of Seagulls? If so, then you will love "I Can Change." This song is almost too 80s even for me. But not quite! I can take it!

LCD Soundsystem - I Can Change by IndieRockReviews

I also really liked:

Living Days: Let's Kiss (Youtube)
I Feel Bonnie: Hot Chip f. Bonnie Prince Billy (rcrdlbl)
O.N.E. (XXXChange remix): Yeasayer (The Fader)
A Million Miles: Don Diablo (SoundCloud)
Summer: Atypicals (Bandcamp)
Julius: Starf••ker (Myspace)
Tom Cruz: Plants & Animals (KEXP)
Dissembler: Woodhands (Spinner ***extra stars for video that makes me homesick for Toronto)

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