#10: Stillness is the Move - Dirty Projectors
As much as people fawned over Merriweather Post Pavilion, Dirty Projector's Bitte Orca rivaled it many ways. Some would even suggest that Orca surpasses MPP in brilliance with its sheer ingenuity and creative flourish, thanks in part to "Stillness is the Move." Often pop music is regarded is simplistic and rudimentary because of lack of originality and mass consumerism. With "Stillness," however, the rhythms, hooks, and harmonies of Amber, Angel and Haley is as uncommon and inventive as anything else we heard this year. Nearly impossible to replicate, although Solange Knowles did a good rendition.
Dirty Projectors - Stillness is the Move
#9: What Would I Want? Sky - Animal Collective
After over three minutes of distorted samples and crashes, Animal Collective's "What Would I Want? Sky," begins to glisten in a clash of brilliant vocal sequences, with a sample of the Grateful Dead's "Unbroken Chain" gently grazing in the background. Few and far between do Animal Collective's songs sound so gloriously uplifting and enriching, with Avey Tare asking, "Is everything alright? You feeling lonely? You feeling homely? You're not the only." The direct contrast between the first and the second half are what make Animal Collective such a polarizing and ingenious group -- with mess is beauty, in the brightest places.
#8: You're a Target - No Age
"You're a Target" accomplished something somewhat rare for No Age; they compiled a rousing, loud and boisterous noise-rock song with a collective harmony and memorable bridge. The song, part of the band's four-track Losing Feeling EP, wouldn't so much as fit with their 2008 album Nouns, because it sounds too mature, too frank and welcoming. "You're a Target," sounds, however, more embracing because the visceral fuzz and melody actual comes clean, unrushed, and still categorically immense.
No Age - You're a Target - MP3
#7: People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case
How any artist retooled Hall & Oates coined "Maneater," to not only an extent of not only relevance but revitalization is beyond me. In Neko Case's "People Got a Lotta Nerve," the red-haired singer-songwriter boasts her man eater lifestyle not to the party-styled anthem idea of commanding and conquering the opposite sex, but ravaging them until their nothing. And yet, it's insatiably sweet coming from Case's exquisite alt-country voice -- both terrifyingly honest and beautifully broadcast.
Neko Case - People Got a Lotta Nerve
#6: Ambling Alp - Yeasayer
Before first listen to "Ambling Alp," Yeasayer could be deemed more psychedelic than pop. Their 2007 album All Hour Cymbals, aside from the wonderful "2080," sounded like a mirage in the Sonora desert -- long, labored, loose and fluid. "Ambling Alp," albeit very new (released only a few weeks ago), is a terrific step for the Brooklyn band. Pop is often curiously standard and continuous, always looking to achieve what's already been heard. Yet, every so often an artist with enough gall and ambition can make those strides toward a higher level. Radiohead did it, Animal Collective did it, and with "Ambling Alp," Yeasayer is doing it.
Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
#5: Lisztomania - Phoenix
With most of 2009 rumbling over Merriweather Post Pavilion and Bitte Orca, Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix reveled in their indie shadows and helped the band make their first leap into popular culture. "Lisztomania," creates a mass-appeal without asserting itself. Its bright melodies and cheery and leaping chorus, makes Phoenix sound lighter and more alluring than ever before, and it's not even the best song of the album.
Phoenix - Lisztomania
#4: Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The border between dance and rock music is hard to define. Often times those in music business will attempt to trespass on that border, and, more or less, failure is certain. What the Yeah Yeah Yeahs achieved with "Heads Will Roll," not only crosses that border, but takes it down. Karen O shrieks and shrills on a "chrome" dance floor, imploring that everyone should "dance, dance, dance till your dead," while Nick churns a haunting synth lead, almost sounding like noir with poise. The finishing product, glistening in a metallic stream, is heavier than it appears; it rips and tears through the dance-floor with a midnight castle element -- glowing in the dark and shining under the lights.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
#3: My Girls - Animal Collective
"My Girls" rushes into the ear with a earthy stream, followed by the emerging electro beat, humming quietly in the back. The song yearns for simplicity, imploring that Panda Bear doesn't "care for fancy things," but that gloriously simplicity is already there. "My Girls," sounds like sped-up evolution. The sounds careen and swirl around the listener, with tiny percussions, vocal samples and bass punches popping out of the back like small cracks on the Earth's surface. It leads and ends in the same fashion, slowly swelling, rising, climaxing, and falling back down to Earth. But before it falls, "My Girls" goes somewhere Animal Collective, until now, haven't found before -- a place lost between sounds and meaning, combining for something unbelievable.
Animal Collective - My Girls
#2: 1901 - Phoenix
"1901" is Phoenix's advertisement for the rest of the world -- it's the culmination of the bands work for the majority of the decade; smart, invigorating, inviting pop music that can make someone smile for days. The song's fuzzy interlude and landscaping synths make Thomas Mars sound cleaner and cooler than ever, bringing the band in the commercial spot light that has been years in the making.
Phoenix - 1901
#1: Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear
"Two Weeks," is Grizzly Bear's triumph on Veckatimest. It's stark, luring, brilliant and incredibly intelligent. Every key note hit by Ed Droste and the rest of the band, honing in on their trademark harmonies, sounds crisper and better than ever. The alarming exceptionalism of "Two Weeks" makes one wonder how much further the band can progress after Veckatimest and 2006's Yellow House. Indeed, if "Two Weeks" can prove anything other than indelible craftsmanship, it's that Grizzly Bear seem to progress at each and every try. How much better can they get?
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks - MP3
Merry Christmas, yall.