Jameson's Top Five "Top 40" Tracks of 2009

Even though I have all kinds of year-end/decade-end lists that I want to write with great fervor, I have for some reason been caught up in serious amounts of radio pop songs (i.e. Top 40) at the end of this year. That being said, I figured it would be fun to throw out my top five "Top 40" tracks of 2009. I must admit, I don't listen to a whole lot of radio, so the population from which these songs were selected was pretty limited. In other words, omissions are likely. For all of you who think I am a music elitist, blowhard...you may be right...but I can still enjoy a damn good pop song as much as the next guy.

5. "Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
This was basically the pop radio rock and roll song of the year. I first saw the "on the road montage" video for "Use Somebody" as I sat in a hotel by myself in Hopkinsville, KY while travelling for work, and while my work/travel life is in no way relatable to the Kings of Leon's, the video still felt really poignant. Plus its practically impossible not to sing the "Whoa Ohh" parts of the chorus.

4. "Run This Town" - Jay-Z (featuring Kanye West and Rihanna)
Without even hearing this song, and just looking at the lineup, it was clear that it would be stone cold radio jam. Jay-Z may have softened a little in his old age, but Rihanna and Kanye are still rolling, and they sound as strong as ever on "Run This Town". It has been speculated that Kanye blows Jigga off the stage on this one, and that's probably a fair statement. I mean nothing Jay says comes close to "What you think I rap for, to push a fuckin' Rav4?"

3. "You Belong With Me" - Taylor Swift
I don't care who you are, if you have not at least heard of Taylor Swift you are living under a rock. 2009 was the year Taylor Swift went from being a rising pop country star to being a legitimate pop music superstar. With "You Belong With Me" serving as her magnum opus it is no surprise. I guarantee you that every single girl/woman between the ages of 14 and 30 hears this song and immediately says "This is completely my life." That is great pop songwriting ladies and gentlemen; universal appeal.

2. "Bad Romance" - Lady GaGa
I have to admit, I had not heard one Lady GaGa song until November of this year. However, after hearing "Bad Romance" recently on a television show, I was enthralled. Honestly, Lady GaGa is some kind of freak (in every form of the word). However, I will be damned if "Bad Romance" does not sound as good as anything Madonna ever released. Just listen to the pipes on this chick. It is completely bizarre, but there are hooks everywhere and the chorus soars over top of anything I have heard on the radio in a long time. I know that underage college kids are liquor drunk somewhere dancing to this song. As they should be.

1. "Empire State of Mind" - Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys)
Jay-Z making yet another appearance on the list. However, similar to "Run This Town", Mr. Carter is outdone again by his guest star. Alicia Keys absolutely owns this song. Don't get me wrong, Jay has some pretty badass lines here (see: "MDMA got you feelin' like a champion, the city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien"), but no one could live up to Ms. Keys' performance. People who hear it the first time are belting out that chorus by the second time it comes around. I read a review of the track on pitchfork that said it pretty well "...then Alicia Keys' elemental voice blows in on the chorus, and suddenly, we are all holding hands together and singing along on top of the Empire State Building." I have never been to New York City, but if it is half as inspiring as Keys makes it feel on "Empire State of Mind", then I am not sure the American Dream is dead just yet.


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Luke's 100 Favorite Songs of the Decade: 100 - 90

In the first part of this 10 part series, I present to you, my humble reader (and listener), the songs which were the most difficult to choose. The top choices for any list are usually the easiest (sometimes seeding can become difficult, but the choices are the most obvious); it's the final few spots that require excrutiating mental debating and rough decision making.

These 10 songs battled it out with a host of possible contenders, including The Crescent - Spinning Wheels, Alaska! - The Western Shore, Forever Stranger - Goodbye Lonely, Earlimart - We're So Happy (We Left the Piano in the Trunk), and Paik - Orson Fader and came out on top.

To be honest, the reasons are unclear even to me why these songs were chosen... I went with emotional response above all else, leaving very little room to attempt to properly explain myself.

The two rules in effect for this list:
1.) No more than two songs per artist and only a second song if it is absolutely necessary.
2.) The song has to be my favorite... not what I think is necessarily the best song by an artist.

Regardless, let the listing begin:

100: La Roux - I'm Not Your Toy

She scares me and yet I cannot look away... the synth sickens me because of its sheer ridiculous nature, but I cannot help but dance.

99: Arctic Monkeys - Fake Tales of San Francisco

I was among those who initially dismissed the Monkeys as nothing more than hype, but they won me over with their charms, mostly because of this song.

98: Yeti - Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder

Take the bassist from the Libertines, let him play guitar, let him sing, and what do you get? A song better than any of the hyped up bullshit that The Libertines ever put out.

97: Mando Diao - The Band

Perhaps it's because, even in recordings, they sound like a locomotive barreling off of the side of a cliff at full speed, or perhaps it's because when Bjorn Dixgard sings he sound like Paul McCartney, but either way, Mando Diao are just fun to listen to.

96: Dr. Dog - Say Something

Thanks to Al for the initial scoop on Dr. Dog, as well as this song. Pure '60s bliss.

95: Oasis - Falling Down

Check out my review of this album to see me get dramatic and over the top about this song. You can't blame me, though. Oasis makes me emotional.

94: Of Montreal - Eros' Entropic Tundra

Simple and catchy as hell. Those who frequent this blog know my predilection for good pop-rock and this is about as good as it gets.

93: Brakes (aka Brakes!Brakes!Brakes!) - All Night Disco Party

It's stupid, simple, and sung in two languages. Plus it's the the Electric Soft Parade boys' side project. What's not to like?

92: My Morning Jacket - One Big Holiday

MMJ at their rocking best. I usually prefer their very early recordings, particularly those featuring Jim James simply howling the blues in a silo, but this just rocks one's face off.

91: The Basement - Do You Think You're Moving On?

Scruffy irish lads with an ear for a catchy 'chune'. You've got to appreciate a gritty, snarling voice.


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Richard Hawley - Open Up Your Door

I'm back on t'internet with a new pc and, thus, I will also be back more regularly on the blogosphere.

Enjoy Richard Hawley's latest:


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Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys) - "Empire State of Mind"


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New Music: Atlas Sound - Logos

I got the new Atlas Sound album, Logos, yesterday (Tuesday - Oct. 20). I am not sure if it is just the mood I am in, but I have listened to this thing probably eight times in the past two days. Enjoying it quite a bit thus far. Check out a couple of tracks below. The first one is "Walkabout" which features Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear from Animal Collective) and the second one is "Shelia". I don't know what you call this stuff...fractured dream pop? Either way, I like it.


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New Music: The Dutchess & The Duke - Sunset/Sunrise

The Dutchess & The Duke are back this month with a follow-up to one of my favorite albums from last year, She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke. The sophomore effort, Sunset/Sunrise came out earlier this month, and has been on heavy rotation over the past couple of weeks. Check out album opener, "Hands" below. These guys have always been able to tap into that late 60's folk rock movement, and this track/album is no different. First thing that always comes to mind with Dutchess/Duke stuff is Beggar's Banquet era Stones, but they borrow from everyone making great folk rock during the late 60's (which is a pretty large group of folks). Still too early to see if this will stand up as well as their debut, but I don't see me tiring of it anytime soon.


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New Music: Vampire Weekend - "Horchata"

Some more of that affluent east coast island pop/rock that was so damn hard to stop listening to last year can be downloaded (for free) at the link below. Feel free to hate them, but it is most likely just jealousy. If this track, and their stellar debut album, is any indication, these guys are legit. New album drops January 2010.

Download here: http://www.vampireweekend.com/


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Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

Check out a couple of tracks from Scottish band, Frightened Rabbit's, 2008 release, The Midnight Organ Fight. Pretty straightforward acoustic rock doing the whole heart-on-your-sleeve thing. Nothing groundbreaking (but really what is anymore?) Kind of stuff you want to get drunk and sing along to with your buddies.

"The Modern Leper"

"Good Arms vs. Bad Arms"


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Music is an interesting thing. There are only 7 true notes. Every song ever written is based on those 7 notes, as well as the subtle shades of grey that lie between them.

So it's nearly impossible for anyone to truly be original, but oftentimes, upon listening to the radio, it is nearly ridiculous how closely some songs resemble others. Most of the time I chalk this up to simple chance, but it is still quite an interesting phenomenon.

Usually these songs are easy to figure out because the world of 'popular' radio is populated with derivative songs written by 'professionals' who follow a formula. However, on occasion a band will rip (or borrow) a bit of another song to create something a bit more interesting and a bit harder for the average listener to originally place.

Below are a few such songs. Enjoy the deja vu.

Coldplay - In My Place vs. Ride - Dreams Burn Down

Coldplay are a bit notorious for using bits of other bands material to create a new song (like Oasis), and "In My Place" is probably the most obscure of their rips (I give Kraftwerk a bit more weight than Ride in the popularity poll). Still though, those drums, that jangling guitar... it's eery.

Oasis - Cigarettes and Alcohol vs. T. Rex - Bang a Gong

At least Noel Gallagher owns up to it. He knows he steals and he's proud of it. The way he does it makes it into a sort of an homage... still though, c'mon man, moving it down on the scale a bit doesn't change what it is. Still prefer your song... "what's the point in finding yourself a job when there's nothing worth working fer?"

Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams vs. Travis - Writing to Reach You vs. Oasis - Wonderwall

Maybe it's because their album, "The Man Who", was phenomenal, or the fact that they actually reference "Wonderwall" in the song's lyrics, but I don't have as much of a problem with Travis redoing "Wonderwall" as I do with Green Day's rip... or maybe it's just the fact that everyone in the country creamed themselves over an album that's 75% a ripoff.

Green Day - Jesus of Suburbia vs. Brian Adams - Summer of 69

Here they go again.

Green Day - American Idiot vs. Korean Pop?

Ok, this one is most likely just coincidental.

Green Day - 21 Guns vs. ELO - Telephone Lines

Next album.

Alright... this post got away from me and really devolved into a green day slam, didn't it? Ah well... slam on. 21 Guns just really set me off... or maybe it was Tre Cool's plastic face on MTV Hits.


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The Dead Weather - "New Pony"

In case anyone thought that there wasn't any rock and roll going down this summer, the Dead Weather (Jack White's other other band - he's the drummer in this one) have released a pretty filthy blues rock album, Horehound. Alison Mosshart (of the Kills) handles most of the lead vocals on Horehound, and she somehow manages to be terrifying, possessed, and rather hot all over this thing. Meanwhile, White may be commanding the skins, but his presence (as always) is most definitely felt. The whole record is pretty heavy, but this cover of Bob Dylan's "New Pony" is something else.


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Five Summer Jams of 2009

Seeing as summer is in full swing here, I figured I would post five summer jams that have come out this year. 2009 has been a great year for music thus far, and there is no lack of great tracks out there to soundtrack your summer. Something about the summer lets us put our pretentious ways aside and relax a little. A great summer jam will get people out of their seats and out on the (proverbial) floor. You will notice all of these songs are upbeat and easy to sing along with. So roll down your windows, turn up the volume, and try not to sing along to these five summer jams. I dare you.

YACHT - "Psychic City (Voodoo City)"
Electronic duo, YACHT, puts out a pretty straight-forward pop song with speak-sing verses and a refrain that you will not be able to get out of your head.

Discovery - "Osaka Loop Line"
Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles make up the electronic/R&B duo, Discovery. Sounds crazy, but it works. The group's whole debut album, LP, is made for the summer, but this track in particular has a sort of Postal Service meets the effervescent production of Vampire Weekend thing going on.

Animal Collective - "Brother Sport"
The obvious summer jam picks off of AC's 2009 release, Merriweather Post Pavilion, are probably the stellar "My Girls" and (the more appropriately titled) "Summertime Clothes". However, I think the main summer number here is album closer, "Brother Sport". In true AC fashion, this one is all over the place with looping beats and synths that build a thick wall of sound. At about the three-minute mark though, when you think your Ipod is stuck, the noise clears out and AC shut it down with some of their classic Brian Wilson-esque harmonies (on repeat, of course).

Japandroids - "Young Hearts Spark Fire"
I know this is the second time this track has shown up. That should be enough explanation of why you need to check it out. Straight-forward two piece rock and roll outfit turns up the distortion and the lays down the hooks.

The Very Best (ft. Ezra Koenig) - "Warm Heart of Africa"
Yet another Vampire Weekend alum showing up here. This time it is lead-singer, Ezra Koenig, guesting on The Very Best's "Warm Heart of Africa". It is the East Coast charm of VW meeting the West African pop of The Very Best half-way in the middle.


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Grizzly Bear - "While You Wait For The Others"

Not really sure there is much I can add that will do this clip justice. Just check it out. Spectacular track from a spectacular album (Veckatimest). Have listened to this particular song about 40 times (the album, in full, about 25 times) in the past month and those harmonies floor me everytime. Gonna be a battle for album of the year this year. Lots of great bands putting out great albums.


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Luke's Best of 2008

I realize that we're nearly to the third quarter of 2009 already, but I hope that you will forgive me the ridiculousness of posting my favorite albums from 2008 and just go with the entire process.

Jameson is on to something with these quick, youtube heavy posts, so in that vein I present you with my 'best of' 2008, as well as a solemn promise that I will do more posting in the very near future.

And in descending order we go:

10 - This is Ivy League - S/T

Over the last several years I have learned a great deal about my changing musical tastes... among the most important of these lessons that I am a sucker for straightforward rock. Perhaps it's a soft spot for no-nonsense music, but to be honest, I think that it's quite possible that the most difficult album to record in these days of diversified and beatles/radiohead-inspired creativity is a simple pop-rock album that is actually good.

This is Ivy League is phenomenal simply because they play instruments and channel the 1960s in a way that makes you smile and want to sip a beer from the end of a row house porch in Liverpool on a hot summer day.

9 - Friendly Fires - S/T

I have to admit that Friendly Fires was a complete unknown to me until June of 2009, so I suppose it's a lucky stroke that I didn't write my best of '08 until now.

Though I am usually somewhat aversed to dance based music, Friendly Fires have just the right amount of rock, dance, and too-cool-for-schoolness to make me get up and shake my surgically repaired knee.

If you don't like the video below I pity you:

8 - Fleet Foxes - S/T

Although I still don't think that they are quite as good as My Morning Jacket were in MMJ's vintage days of corn silo(gh?) recorded alt-country, it's impossible to deny the harmonies and overall loveliness of such a talented band.

On the MMJ front, by the way, Jim James is releasing a solo EP under the name of Yim Yames (that's right) that consists only of covers of George Harrison to include The Ballad of Sir Franky Crisp and Behind that Locked Door among other classics. Can't wait for it, though I wish that The Art of Dying were included somewhere.

7 - Vampire Weekend - S/T

It's Paul Simon's Graceland sung by preppy boys with polo shirts from America's best universities.

Seriously... it is... listen to Graceland.

Hell of an album, though.

6 - The Week that Was - S/T

What is it with self titled albums this year?

You all know I love me some Field Music and the brothers that are the core of the band, Peter and David Brewis, have gone solo and they've both managed to create albums that are not only unique, but ridiculously so.

This is Peter's album, which is phenomenal, but not as good as David's, but which includes a better video, as you will see below (got it!?). Look out for the David Brewis cameo in the video, complete with rapid-type action!

Check them out... I'm tired of asking

5 - Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul

Alright... it's a bit of a homer pick, but go read my previous review (drunken though it was) and you will see that it's worth checking out.

Seriously... Oasis is still really damned good.

4 - School of Language - S/T

Here's the other half of Field Music. David's album is better, but his video is not.

Centered around multiple versions of the same song, the School of Language album is, quite honestly, ridiculously fantastic. He takes the Field Music aesthetic of disjointed beats and sounds and marries them once again to devilishly catchy melodies.

3 - The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead

Just the right combination of shoegaze and pop-rock to tickle my fancy.

Think Ride mixed with Spoon and what you get is an amazing album with among the most catchy melodies of the year.

2 - Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

This is not a pick based on my, or my wife's, own personal love for the band or on previous albums.

The Seldom Seen Kid is, to be perfectly honest, a masterpiece. Every note is specifically chosen and placed in its appropriate place with incredible care.

It's an album that doesn't sink in right away, but which takes time.

Have a listen to the opening song, "Starlings", which, I know, seems awkward at first but which is among the most controlled uses of sound and vocal ability I have ever been exposed to.

It's essentially a song that maps out the highs and lows of the feeling of falling in love in both sound and lyrics. Guy Garvey's voice is the best on Earth and, let's be honest, you have to have recorded a pretty fucking good album to win the Mercury Music Prize and have the BBC Concert Orchestra devote an entire night to playing your album.

Additionally, the below video features the greatest lyric ever written:

"You are the only thing in any room you're ever in"

1 - Maupa - Run Run Sleep

How do you beat an album that I would consider nearly perfect?

Know me!

Well, it helps, but Maupa are my album of the year not because I happen to correspond with them, but because they have crafted a gem.

It's an album that will continually catch you by surprise and which runs the gamut. It's one fucking hell of an album.

There's a reason that NME gave them a review including the phrase "one step away from genius", though I'd argue that NME is missing something and that the album is, truly, genius.

As they would say in Accrington (or so I'd like to believe)

"'Ave a listen, mate"


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The Dirty Projectors: Avant-Garde Pop...is that an oxymoron?

Well, we are almost at the half-way point of 2009, and somehow avant-garde (indie) rock band, the Dirty Projectors, are responsible for two of the best pop singles of the year. Prior to 2009, the band, while gaining some critical accolades, was certainly an acquired taste with their obtuse, art-rock arrangements and David Longstreth's bleating croon singing style. However, somewhere in the time since the band's 2007 release, Rise Above (an experimental re-telling of Black Flag's, Damaged) it appears that Longstreth and company have picked up a pop streak. We are all better off for it.

Exhibit A: "Knotty Pine" - Springy guitars hop along to a stomping beat. Fluttering piano fills out the chorus. Oh yeah, David Byrne is on the track.

Exhibit B: "Stillness Is The Move" - More intricate guitar burst over a heavy beat. Chorus could be played (over and over) on mainstream radio. Track is both singable and danceable.

First, Animal Collective. Then, Grizzly Bear. Now, the Dirty Projectors. Mark 2009 as the year that all the experimental indie rock bands went pop. No complaints here.


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(Bad) News: The Everybodyfields break up.

In a message posted on their website this past Friday (6.5.09), the Everybodyfields announced they were calling it quits. The two core members of the band, Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews, both plan to take a shot at solo careers. A spectacular alt-country band, the Everybodyfields, have reportedly finished recording a fourth album, that appears to be shelved for the time being. While it was a very depressing album, Nothing is Okay (the band's third), was one of the best albums to come out of 2oo7 (looking back...what a fantastic year that was for new music: Boxer, Marry Me, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, In Rainbows, Person Pitch, The Stage Names, Friend and Foe, Let's Stay Friends, Sound of Silver, The Shepherd's Dog, Plague Park, The Reminder, Nothing is Okay, Spirt If, Cassadaga, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, Cease to Begin, Neon Bible, Strawberry Jam). Anyhow, the Everybodyfields will be missed. Check out this live version of Nothing is Okay track, "Lonely Anywhere".


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Japandroids - "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

You can keep tomorrow. After tonight, we're not gonna need it....

Oh yeah! Oh yeah!


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New Music: Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Instead of trying to do this all at the end of the year, I figure it would be easier to just make smaller posts with clips as the music is actually coming out.

That being said, the new Phoenix album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, is out this week (physically), but I have been enjoying the digital release for the last couple of weeks (it has been out on itunes since May 12). Phoenix is a french band that hails from the same part of France (Versailles) that produced the likes of Air and Daft Punk. While there are shades of electronic-dance in what Phoenix does, I would say the similarities to Air and Daft Punk do not go much further than geographic coincidence (although I will say that the French always do a great job of looking cool).

At the core of it all, Phoenix is really just clean-cut pop-rock group (think Vampire Weekend if they did not care as much). On Wolfgang, the band's fourth full-length, Phoenix continues to churn out danceable, effervescent (occasionally synth - in a good way) rock numbers. Vocalist, Thomas Mars, has an effortless swagger in his delivery that leads me to believe he owns several leather jackets and only wears them over tight v-neck t-shirts. With some of the catchiest/most fun songs to come out so far this year, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix may be 2009's first big summer album (and its only May). Check out the infectious, "1901" below.


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Top Albums of 2008 - Four Months Late

Clearly, I have neglected the blog in 2008. I (personally) had only two posts in 2008, and one of them was about Hunter S. Thompson. If anyone was reading this thing before, they certainly cannot be anymore. I won't apologize or make promises I cannot keep for 2009, but I can at least offer up my top albums of 2008 (in case someone is dying for some relatively new music). I have not done my usual thing of painstakingly writing each individual review, so I apologize for the lack of written content. Instead I have offered up a few sentences about each album, and then embedded a youtube clip of a track from the album. Maybe by having the clip right there (and having less self-indulgent writing), it will be more likely that someone will check out something new. Let me know what you think.

10. Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
Side project of Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen. Sounds like a more structured (and certainly more personal) rendition of the haunting psych-folk that has gained Grizzly Bear so much praise over the past few years. Always feel like this could be the soundtrack to an indie film made today about midwestern suburbia in 1987.

Track: "No One Does It Like You"

9. Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
First Silver Jews album in three years. Wry flea market poetry on top of Nashville inspired honky tonk. Not the best Silver Jews album, but there is no such thing as a bad Jews album.

Track: "Suffering Jukebox"

8. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
Broken-down version of the traditionally over the top Kanye West, translates into the most consistent release of West's undeniably impressive career. Thematically, Kanye is as depressed as he has ever been (or probably will be) on 808s, and the result is the humanization of one of pop music's loudest mouths. The minimal, electronic pallete and tales of misfortune result in one of the most surprising releases of 2008.

Track: "Street Lights"

7. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant EP
The Sun Giant EP proceeded their s/t full-length debut, but everyone seems to group them together (probably because they are both so good). Soaring vocals over Appalaichan folk (rock). The music trods along, sounding from another time and place. The harmonies would make Brian Wilson jealous. Seems like every review of this I read mentions "pastoral rock", but I am not sure what that is. Album is epic.

Track: "Your Protector"

6. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
A band known for its unorthodox mix of junk rock and electronic (think if Radiohead formed in Brooklyn in 2001 - and was just overall grittier), Dear Science finds TV on the Radio exploring their pop/dance tendencies. The result is David Sitek and company cutting through the density of TV on the Radio records past, and the most straightforward TVOTR release to date.

Track: "Crying"

5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
This album came out in January of 2008 and seemed to pass with me seamlessly through each season. Its African pop tendencies were a breath of fresh air as the winter thawed right into spring. Its east coast affluence made me feel like less of outcast as I was off to the College of William & Mary a few times this past summer. Once fall rolled around I was wearing boat shoes, had a purple gingham checked shirt on and was scoffing at people getting bent out of shape regarding comma usage.

Track: "A-Punk"

4. The Dutchess and the Duke - She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke
Sounds like the great rock artists/bands of the late 60's doing their best folk rock stuff. Think the Rolling Stones doing Beggar's Banquet. Sometimes I hear Dylan. Sometimes I hear Cohen. On "Mary", I hear both of them. If you like the darker stuff that came out of the late 60's (which you should) you will like this (you will).

Track: "Out of Time" - (Live Version)

3. The Gaslight Anthem - The 59' Sound

See my full review one post down or at this link (http://tuesdaysonthephone.blogspot.com/2009/04/gaslight-anthem-59-sound.html).

Track: "The 59' Sound"

2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
If you are reading this, it probably means you talk to me somewhat regularly. That being said, I have probably already raved to you about the Hold Steady. Best live band in America makes another album of fist pumping, throat clearing, rock and roll music. Of course, you can (and will want to) sing along to the whole thing. Just let me know when, and I can bring the beers.

Track: "Constructive Summer"

1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

I am not kidding when I say I have listened to this album over 100 times (I have the itunes "play count" to prove it). That should be enough of an endorsement. If this album doesn't move you, then you are dead. Check out my full review three posts down or direct at this link(http://tuesdaysonthephone.blogspot.com/2008/06/bon-iver-for-emma-forever-ago.html).

Track: "Skinny Love"


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The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

If forced to categorize their sound, most would classify the Gaslight Anthem as a punk rock band. This is probably a fair assessment. After all, they did share a bill this past fall with Rise Against and Alkaline Trio. Make no mistake though, The Gaslight Anthem span beyond the stereotypical teenage-centric crowds of pop-punk's reach. With a foundation that is based more in the working-class grit of east coast rock and roll, than in the saccharine sheen of the MTV pop-punk circuit, The Gaslight Anthem sound like a punk rock band playing classic rock songs. The end result plays to my most elementary desires.

With the Gaslight Anthem hailing from New Jersey, it would be ridiculous not to mention the influence that Bruce Springsteen has on The '59 Sound. Lead singer Brian Fallon reportedly cut his teeth only a few blocks from E Street, and this is apparent from his first growl on album opener, "Great Expectations", to his last wail on closer, "The Backseat". The comparisons don't stop at the vocal stylings though. Lyrically, Fallon makes no mistake of his allegiances to the Boss, romanticizing about some of Mr. Springsteen's favorite topics: garages, girls, and growing up. In fact, the similarities move to direct Born in the U.S.A. references on tracks like "High Lonesome" (which pulls lyrics directly from "I'm on Fire") and "Meet Me by the River's Edge" (which name-checks both "No Surrender" and "Bobby Jean" within its first ten seconds). The flagrancy of the borrowing somehow makes it less of a sin though, and ultimately contributes to The '59 Sound's cohesion.

The real heroes here though are the hooks, and there are a lot of them. For better or worse, every chorus on The '59 Sound will get stuck in your head. They are melodramatic ("Everybody leaves, so why wouldn't you?"), they are covered in schmaltz ("Did they play your favorite song, one last time?"), they are over the top ("We're gonna wash these sins away, or else we won't come back again"), which is basically three ways of saying that they are fucking great to sing along to ("Maybe I should call me an ambulance").

Plain and simple, The '59 Sound is an album full of unforgettable melodies and hooks, which are laced with nostalgia. With their hybrid version of punk and classic rock, the Gaslight Anthem manages to create a standout summer album in a year (2008) full of them. Musically, it may not be complex. Thematically, it may not be groundbreaking. The '59 Sound will make you sing and dance though. That is what we came to do, right?



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