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Monday, December 21, 2009

Bears and Bullets Top 25 Songs of 2009

With the end of 2009 rapidly approaching, it's finally time for Bears and Bullets' annual Top 25 Songs of the Year list. Singles from The Walkmen and The Very Best topped our list in what many consider to be a somewhat paltry year in 2008, but with a huge 2009 from artists like Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, and many, many others, 2009 became one of the best years for music this decade.

First, however, lets clear some rules about what can and what cannot be considered for this list. Rule one; The artists' albums on this list must be released within the 2009 calender year - these aren't skewed Grammy rules. Rule two; songs considered for this list must also only be released within the calender year, so this is excludes songs like "Sleepyhead" by Passion Pit and "While You Wait for the Others" from Grizzly Bear, which were heard long before the year started, even though the albums those songs were featured on were released this year.

Now that the rules are clear, lets start with number 25.

#25: Daylight - Matt & Kim
"Daylight," oddly enough, was probably heard more than the other 24 songs on this list. The lead single from Matt & Kim's January album Grand was featured in several TV shows and an immensely popular Bacardi ad, utilizing the song's saloon-esque piano lead and teenage daydream whimsy to capture a sound of youth and playful escape. Kim's light percussion back drop flows through Matt's often high-pitched voice and the gentle electro bass humming behind it, creating a sprawling and yet minimal sound that crashes quickly in the end.

Bacardi Mojito Ad (Featuring Matt & Kim's "Daylight")

#24: James Blues - J. Tillman
J. (Joshua) Tillman, part time solo artist and drummer for Fleet Foxes, released Vacilando Territory Blues (his fifth of sixth lesser-known studio albums) earlier this year. Tillman's quiet acoustic folk is a bit more stripped version of his more well-known band's sound, humming rusty, minimal sounds in "James Blues," a two-and-a-half minute short-story of "poor, poor James" behind slow clapping and aged piano. The end result is the sad story of James, cold and alone, weeping, trying to make sense of what he wants, looking for the same "purpose" as the rest of us.

#23: You and I - Wilco
Wilco's 2009 self-titled album saw a temporary end to the Chicago band's nearly endless album to album drift of trying to find their own identity since 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The new album's key song hit, thanks in large part to Feist's vocal contribution, is a heartfelt and warm "You and I." The song glues together in Feist and Jeff Tweedy's vocals, combining to a simple little love song and a minimal departure for the band.

Wilco - You and I ft. Feist (Live on Letterman)

#22: Don't Lie - The Mantles
The Mantles album debut clings to a late 50's/early 60's garage niche that explores the gnarling and rusty pre-punk era with fuzz laden-guitars and analog tones. "Don't Lie," is a slow march, compared to most of the other more frenzied tracks on the band's self-titled album, but the sketchy sounds like a journey down a dusty road with nothing around in sight; a minimalist portrait of the older jangly sounds that have found a delightful resurgence as of late.

The Mantles - Don't Lie (Scenes from Paper Moon)

#21: Moth's Wings - Passion Pit
Passion Pit truly broke out last year with their most popular and best single to date, "Sleepyhead." This year's full-length debut, Manners, however featured a stronger collection of songs than 2008's Chunk of Change EP, including "Moth's Wings." Lead singer Michael Angelakos, for as shrill as he may sound at times, never comes off so smooth and fluid as he does here, with the band building a lush score into the drum-lead and piano driven chorus the explodes and carries the song until it flutters away in a gloss of beauty and light.

Check Back Later for Tracks #20-#16

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