Songs of 2007: According to Jameson

I guess this is where I should do the obligatory "These lists are so subjective" talk. You guys know that though. These are the songs that I enjoyed this year (it says "According to Jameson" right in the title). Your list would probably be vastly different than mine (I'd love to see your list by the way). Additionally, this list (as well as almost lists) is probably slanted towards my mood when I was making it. I did my best to combat this (by compiling the list over a period of weeks), but in the end, these lists are going to reflect how you are feeling in the time period when you are making them. The fact of the matter is that we like certain songs because because they extract certain emotions/feelings from us. I mean, if albums are full meals, then songs are like pieces of candy. If I am getting ready to "go out on the town" (something I don't do all that often), I may want to listen to Daft Punk's "Digital Love" to get me moving. If I am getting ready for bed, I may want a quick Iron & Wine lullaby to serenade me to sleep. If I am planning a night of heavy drinking with my friends, then the Hold Steady's "Massive Nights" would be appropriate. You get the point. Songs are a quick and easy fix, and can take you from one emotion to another in the course of 4 minutes. Anyhow, here are the 15 songs of 2007 that extracted a little something more from me than all the others.

15. Kevin Drew - "Lucky Ones"
I sat here for a long time trying to write something about this song. I honestly can't think of anything to say about it, and I don't know if that means it is perfect, or it has no business being on this list. I love this song though, and have listened to it a ton this year, so I decided to leave it on. I particularly like this verse: "I know i know i know it's true / all the things you thought about I want you to do / and when the clouds separate in comes the sun / hurry through the song that a girl once sung / she's the reason why i'm trying to make it alright / trying to drive through to Croatia tonight / wanna lie beside her with the wind in my hand / try to be a stereotype with a plan / but my love of god and my god is love / that's why i do all the things of the above / don't you expect to make a phone call tonight / treat me like a motherfucker who is right" I still can't tell if Kevin Drew is a genius, or insane. Probably a little bit of both...

14. Voxtrot - "Blood Red Blood"
With EPs that garnered them the title of "2006 indie blog darlings", Voxtrot had a lot to live up to with their 2007 full-length debut. While their self-titled album did not quite match up to the hype of their quick hitting EPs, Voxtrot closer, "Blood Red Blood" recaptured that 2006 magic. The song's carpe diem theme is not exactly groundbreaking, and in the hands of some other singers, could come off as hokey. However, the passion in Voxtrot lead singer, Ramesh Srivastava's, voice is so believable that it creates a sense of urgency, leaving listeners ready to "get up and do something". Musically, "Blood Red Blood" matches the song's message of proactivity. Purposeful drums and guitar open, and then the song builds into a wall of sound, brimming with glossy strings and high-flying horns at the summit. As the song closes, the music correspondingly deflates, and Srivastava reminds us that time leaves us "like blood, red blood".

13. Stars - "Take Me to the Riot"
Stars specialize in theatrical indie rock music. They traditionally write over-the-top, offbeat anthems that focus on characters and situations that are imperfect. These imperfections create a sense of credibility in the stories though, giving the songs an underlying integrity not found in traditional pop music. Torquil Campbell, Stars' male lead (the band has both male and female lead vocals), was quoted as saying "Take Me to the Riot" is the story of "two drug dealers in love with each other, but one of them has their shit together a little bit more than the other." This unconventional love story is told atop some of the most instantaneously captivating pop music of the year. A pretty simple rock song, with an infectious chorus, "Take Me to the Riot" will have you hitting the repeat button and singing along after only a couple of listens. It's not much, but it's just enough to keep.

12. Kanye West - "Stronger"
Those who know me (well), know that I am a sucker for Kanye West. Even worse (probably), I love the popular Kanye West songs the most (I still adore "Gold Digger"). See...I never listen to the radio, and I rarely find myself in environments where dancing is the main event, so the songs never get played out for me (sidenote: given the proper circumstances, I will dance...and enjoy every minute of it). House party play counts aside, Kanye's songs are catching. Throw in the fact that West (a producing genius) was smart enough to sample Daft Punk's, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" on "Stronger", and I am on board. Daft Punk's track was strong enough on its own (no pun intended), but West cleans it up into a concise, radio-friendly beat, and then tosses his usual blend of swagger and hubris into the rhyme, creating a 2007 dance-floor standard. Oh yeah, Kanye manages to rhyme "Klondike" with "blonde dyke" on the track as well...

11. Les Savy Fav - "Raging In The Plague Age"
The first time I heard "Raging In The Plague Age" was one of those rare moments when I knew (during the very first listen) that the song was fucking awesome. Clocking in at 2:43 (the list's shortest song) the whole thing is just raw, grainy rock and roll. It's one of those songs where you don't even get a moment to brace for it. It just kicks you right in the face with this heavily distorted bass-line and barbaric drums, and it doesn't letup until the song's completion. Les Savy Fav leadman, Tim Harrington's, coarse vocals match the hardrock perfectly here as well, singing for a king that has fallen ill and been ousted from his throne (and out of his castle) only to hear everyone inside having a "raging" party. At the :56 mark in the song, the gritty bass and guitars drop completely out of the mix, and atop only the advancing drums, there is a moment of clarity in which Harrington spits (perhaps) the most rawking 12 seconds of any song in 2007: "Drop the drawbridge, draw down the blinds, everyone inside is getting high tonight, waiting for the plague to move on, no one's getting sober til the liquor's all gone!" Like I said, it's fucking awesome.

10. Black Kids - "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You"
Black Kids are the band that I've been dreaming of ever since I was a little boy. Seriously, "I'm Not Gonna Teach..." sounds so much like a kid show sing along that when listening to it, I feel like I am on Nickelodeon circa 1990. This is not a bad thing though. It has triggered some of the most sparkling pop music to hit the indie circuit this year. Floating on a glistening concoction of synthy keyboards and guitars, Reggie Youngblood leads us down a rainbow paved path to the story of a no self-esteem young man who just so happens to have some moves. For fear of losing the only link to his crush, the unconfident fellow refuses to teach his dancefloor partner's boyfriend how to dance with her. Whether it was Black Kids intentions or not, mixed amongst all this merriment, "I'm Not Gonna Teach..." manages to take a stand for the uncool, letting the world know that they will no longer be taken advantage of. Pretty sweet message...for a kid song.

09. The Arcade Fire - "(Antichrist Television Blues)"
After the 2004 release of the Arcade Fire's eccentric indie rock classic, Funeral, music writers spent a lot of time analyzing the similarities between Win Butler and Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne. On Neon Bible though, the comparisons all shifted to Springsteen. Butler takes his best shot at Boss mimicry on several of Bible’s tracks, but most notably "(Antichrist Television Blues)". In fact, the aforementioned track, Neon Bible's climax, sounds more vintage Springsteen than even Springsteen can pull off anymore. Over a shuffling guitar, Butler strings together a startling image of a father trying to better his life via his talented daughter (sidenote: the song's inspiration was rumored to be Joe Simpson, father - turned pimp - of Jessica and Ashlee, and to my knowledge, the band never denied this). The song builds to a rage in which Butler's singing turns to maddened scolding. Then, right when the song feels like it is going to burst from its own pressure, it comes crashing to a screeching ha-

08. Josh Ritter - "The Temptation Of Adam"
"The Temptation Of Adam" is just another remarkable credential on Josh Ritter's resume. The song is a simple acoustic ballad with fragments of strings throughout. Lyrically though, Ritter weaves an intricate tale of a man and a woman that slowly fall in love while locked inside a missile silo. As the song progresses, the two fall more in love, but Ritter's protagonist begins to fear that their love would never last amongst the distractions of the outside world ("our love would live a half-life on the surface" - see what he did there?). In the end, Adam's rationale is so blurred by his love for Marie that he starts to wish the two would never leave their underground bunker. His temptation transfers from Marie, to whether or not he should start WWIII, so he will never lose her. Thematically, "The Temptation Of Adam" speaks on a few different levels, but ultimately addresses the selfishness of love. Given the choice, would you send the world into peril if it meant you would have love forever? I'd have to imagine that for most, it'd be tempting.

07. The White Stripes - "Rag & Bone"
"Rag & Bone" is one of those songs where if I were to describe the premise, it would sound silly. In fact, it kind of is...but perhaps that is why "Rag & Bone" is so successful. The White Stripes are notorious for taking themselves ultra seriously, and that has never hindered them. However, on "Rag & Bone" we get our first glance at the more comedic side of Jack and Meg (it only took six albums), and its a refreshing take on Detroit's most dysfunctional rock and roll siblings (insert: eyeroll). A half spoken/half sang number, "Rag & Bone" is the story of two scavengers digging through other people's trash. The spoken word parts (the verses) find Jack and Meg playfully sparring back and forth over a bluesy little guitar riff, and as each verse ends, the steady drums of Meg White (along with the song) pick up force. Jack then spouts off the the sang parts (the choruses) which lead right into signature Stripes guitar chords. Six albums in, and the White Stripes still manage to make their simple brand of bluesy garage rock sound fresh. Looks like they've still got plenty of places to go, lots of homes they ain't been to yet.

06. Iron & Wine - "Resurrection Fern"
Much has been made about Iron & Wine's steady transition from the "lo-fi acoustic" sound of debut album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, to the more eclectic, full-band sound found on 2007 release, The Shepherd's Dog. "Resurrection Fern" however, lands somewhere in between those two. A slowly (but steadily) picked acoustic, mixed beautifully over lucid steel guitar serves as yet another rich canvas for Sam Beam to softly stroke-out his Southern folk tale. Beam is often dubbed the most talented songwriter of my generation, and the "Resurrection Fern" is great support for such a thesis. A song ultimately about equality, "Resurrection Fern" (like most Iron & Wine songs) uses imagery from a time long past to sing about current issues. The results are delicate, but powerful: "And we'll undress beside the ashes of the fire, our tender bellies wound around in baling wire, all the more a pair of underwater pearls, than the oak tree and its resurrection fern." All that from a song named for a plant.

05. Okkervil River - "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe"
I had written a mini-essay about "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe", but once I read Amy Phillips' (of Pitchfork) take on the song, I decided that I should scrap it because she said it better than I ever could: "The lyrics are a bummer, all about how the real world can never live up to the drama of the silver screen. ("It's just a life story, so there's no climax.") But the music! It's a wild, barreling celebration of the pleasures of rocking the fuck out, shouting in the wind, and breaking down into random noise just for the hell of it. Will Sheff strongarms these two opposing forces into working together for the greater good of laughing in the face of disappointment. Because he knows that even if life can't deliver the satisfaction of the cinema, sometimes a song can." --Amy Phillips (

04. The National - "Slow Show"
Anymore, it seems that I can't pay attention to the sound of anyone. Every minute I feel more unprepared. To make matters worse, I made a mistake in my life today, and now I just want to start over. I keep looking for somewhere to stand and stay, and when I finally lean on the wall, the wall leans away. It seems that if I could just get a minute of not being nervous, and not thinking of my dick. Now I better get my shit together, because I want to hurry home to you. I want to put on a slow, dumb show for you, and crack you up. However, I am frightened because I know I'll overdo it. You see it's not my fault though, because I dreamt about you for twenty-nine years before I saw you. I missed you for twenty-nine years.

03. Ryan Adams - "The Sun Also Sets"
Ryan Adams recorded Easy Tiger sober. Ironically enough, the vocals on "The Sun Also Sets" sound as though they were recorded in one take after a some heavy soul searching and some heavy drinking. Over the stop-start piano and drums of the verses, Adams expresses his confusion ("When you get the time, sit down and write me a letter") and bitterly advises his former mate ("When you get these feelings next time, oh be sure you're gonna tear someone apart"). The wounds are still fresh, and Adams spends most of the song trying to make sense of it all (although he never really succeeds). What we are left with though is an honest recollection of the fragility of love ("we are only one shove from the nest, we are only one argument from death"). Like many heartbroken individuals, Adams just never saw it coming. I guess that is a pretty sobering experience.

02. Bright Eyes - "Classic Cars"
While Conor Oberst tentatively (albeit successfully) explored the alt-country waters on I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, on Cassadaga, Oberst set out to show the world that this country stuff wasn't just a phase. In fact, on "Classic Cars" we find Conor abandoning his angsty (yet eclectic) brand of acoustic rock for all of the country music mainstays: banjo, steel guitar, and saloon-style piano. While his sound may have changed, Oberst has (thankfully) maintained his chops as a top-notch songwriter. The story of a young man recalling an old flame (literally and figuratively), "Classic Cars" is laden with the little one-liners that have made the Bright Eyes franchise so acclaimed. Via Conor's older woman, we are instructed not to live in the past ("Life is how it is, not how it was") and to be patient ("Everything is a cycle, you've got to let it come to you, and when it does, you will know what to do"). In the end though, it is Mr. Oberst who offers the best advice. The most important thing he learned from his ex-lover? "Never trust a heart that is so bent it can't break."

01. LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends"
A seven and a half minute song with a droning piano that never misses a step, LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" is one of those songs where the music mimics the story. James Murphy, speaking for aging young adults everywhere, articulates the feeling of waking up one day and realizing that the "best years" of your life are past you. Your life has turned into a daily routine (hence the repetitive piano), and all of the sudden you discover that you don't have as many friends as you used to. Murphy frames (my) young adulthood perfectly: "You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again." Some artists might try to serve listeners a glimmer of hope by providing a solution to this great dilemma, but in the end, Murphy is no prophet, just a scenographer, capturing this unfortunate realization in a song. The track hurdles along as the time passes, with the music and sentiments growing more resonant. As "All My Friends" closes, Murphy repeatedly asks, "Where are your friends tonight?" and ultimately pleads, "If I could see all my friends tonight", vocalizing this idea that the transition to adulthood wouldn't be so hard if we could just be around all of our friends. I agree.

- Jameson



Luke said...

There are far too many songs on this list I've not heard... looks like I've got my work cut out for me.

I'll be commenting more later...

You wanna do bdubs/jeds tomorrow?