What was supposed to be a Top 5 has supersized itself into a Top 10. It's the American way, right?
10. "All to All" - Broken Social Scene
Easily the most beautiful song on a beautiful album. Vocals courtesy of not Feist, nor Emily Haines, but one Lisa Lobsinger, whose breathy delivery floats on a sea of bubbling synths.
9. "Infinity Guitars" - Sleigh Bells
I can't make it all the way through this album in one sitting, but damn, if this song didn't end up in a ton of my playlists in 2010. Shouty vocals, like some sort of punk rock cheer, hand claps and fuzzy distorted guitar. All turned up to 11, and then 13 for the final 40 seconds.
8. "Swim" - Surfer Blood
Not much cool music comes from Florida, but these young Sunshine Staters delivered a very solid album (Astro Coast) full of blistering reverb-heavy guitar rock. "Swim" treads in Blue Album Weezer territory without sounding like a rip-off.
7. "Crash Years" - New Pornographers
A gentle-yet-up-tempo pop song with strings and Neko Case's velvet pipes. What the hell else do you need? Nothing, that's what. Well, the coy little Smiths reference, "honey child you're not safe here" didn't hurt either.
6. "Answer to Yourself" - The Soft Pack
This straight-ahead garage jam is like a pep-talk in holey jeans and a threadbare t-shirt. It's sometimes tough to tell if the singer is talking to us or himself, but the sentiment is great and the rolling bass line and tight guitar licks almost will you to get off your ass and DO SOMETHING. San Diego, represent!
5. "Giving Up the Gun" - Vampire Weekend
VW's shimmering pop has gotten even shimmering-er on their second album, and no song illustrates this like "Giving Up the Gun." A bouncy beat buoyed by some well-placed synths tells the tale of an old war hero thinking about his past. The video, however, features famous people playing tennis. And it is fantastic.
4. "Airplanes" - Local Natives
Easily the most sentimental song in my list, a grandson lamenting not getting the chance to spend more time with his dead grandfather as he goes through some old photos and possessions. Sappy shit, to be sure. But the music sounds triumphant and frames the whole event as a celebration of life. I still can't help but picture many a young hipster playing the "I want you back" refrain into their phones after a fight with their girlfriend. Like I said, sappy shit.
3. "A More Perfect Union" - Titus Andronicus
Oh, Titus Andronicus, how you bring me back to my ramshackle (not really, but play along) punk rock past. This song makes me want to find the nearest circle pit (Chain Reaction, maybe?) and throw my skinny elbows around like it was 1999.
2. "Ambling Alp" - Yeasayer
No album made me dance around my house when the wife and kid weren't home this year more than Odd Blood. And the biggest reason was "Ambling Alp," a jam tailor made to make the indie kids test the elasticity of their skinny jeans. No sicko, because they're dancing. Get your mind out of the gutter. Want to keep the dance party going? Check out "ONE" as well.
1. "Angela Surf City" - The Walkmen
When The Walkmen recorded this song, they obviously had me in mind. And by "me" I guess I mean people who are suckers for the quiet-loud-quiet formula. Hot damn, when the drums speed up and signal the onslaught that is the song's perfect chorus, I pretty much lose my shit, metaphorically. I honestly never thought they could record a song I'd like more than "The Rat." Well, they did.
I was going to post YouTube clips of each, but decided against it to keep the post a reasonable length. Most can found in two previous posts here and here.