24. Big Casino – Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat world roams the plains like so many tumbleweeds.
While Jimmy Eat World has always been a sentimental favorite of mine (and anyone who wonders why should a) look at a picture of frontman Jim Adkins next to a picture of me and b) listen to “Band Of The Year ‘95” by my band The Pluto Tapes back to back with “A Praise Chorus”), this one makes the list mostly on the strength of its production. Jimmy Eat World’s songs have always been this catchy, but mix in Butch Vig’s knob twiddling skills, and it’s like someone got peanut butter in their chocolate big time.
23. Say This Sooner – The Almost
Okay, granted, they’re a pretty generic screamy/melodic white boy band, and this is a pretty generic screamy/melodic white boy song. The song is on the list for these four reasons:
1) The lead singer is the drummer for Underoath, and normally drummers aren’t allowed to be talented unless you’re Dave Grohl.
2) The doo-wacka-doo-wacka-doo beat in the verses.
3) The video is an obvious reference to Quantum Leap.
4) Finally, and most importantly, the breakdown, where all of a sudden the loud guitars and drums disappear, and we find ourselves in lo-fi thwacka-thwacka acoustic guitar land. Darn, that’s catchy.
22. Thnks Fr Th Mmrs – Fall Out Boy
I spent all morning trying to find a bad photo of Pete Wentz. Then I just gave up.
Sometimes, you wake up thinking about Fall Out Boy and their song “Thnks Fr The Mmrs” is stuck in your head as you go about your morning routine and you get to wondering
if the song is really about you and should you have sent that Dear John note to Patrick Stump oh Pat pls call me start again.
Sometimes, you wake up thinking about Fall Out Boy and their song “Thnks Fr The Mmrs” is stuck in your head as you go about your morning routine and you get to wondering what this band will be doing in ten years time. The answer is pretty obvious, actually: VH1’s Pete Wentz Is 37 And Single.
21. The Underdog – Spoon
Spoon’s looking for that copy of Tropic of Cancer with all the dirty parts highlighted.
All right, so it turns out you were all right about Spoon. I’d only heard their last big hit, and the fact that I can’t remember what it was called right now should tell you exactly how I felt about it. This song, however, exits in a strange world of its own, between Billy Joel Land and a campfire sing-a-long, and is really pretty wonderful.
20. Thrash Unreal – Against Me!/Ben Lee
75% of Against Me! are happy to see you. That one guy, not so much.
Probably the most infectious hook in a rock song this year is the happy-go-lucky-cum-melancholy “ba-ba-baaah” behind the chorus here. Sure, it sounds a little like a beer commercial, but kudos to Against Me! for breaking into the big time after like a thousand years as cult heroes anyway. Ben Lee’s acoustic version makes us all realize how well written the song really is.
19. Big Wheel – Tori Amos
I don’t know what Tori’s doing here, but it probably has something to do with the patriarchy. Or faeries. Or patriarchal faeries.
We (meaning: fans of Ms. Amos) tend to forget that every album Tori makes is different from the last. I mean, sure, you love Boys For Pele now, but the first time you heard it, you were all like “eww, harpsichords are weird.” Don’t lie. American Doll Posse is light years different from The Beekeeper, and light years better. While I still think that Tori probably needs to pare down her albums to the 12 or 13 best songs she has instead of 21 hit-or-miss tracks, I can’t fault her Doll Posse concept, where she’s created a “band” of characters, all of whom sing different songs. This particular number swaggers with so much bravado that it’s hard not to snap your fingers in the air and squeal “girrrl!”, even if you are hopelessly straight like me.
18. Flathead – The Fratellis
The Fratellis are way, way too cool for flattering haircuts.
Speaking of swagger, these guys remind me of a classier MC5, or a punkier Kinks, or a Scottish Blur, or something. Again we find ourselves identifying with the profundity of a rock and roll chorus that goes “ba-dap-ba-da-da-daah-dah-dah”
17. A Strange Education – The Cinematics
A rare promotional still from The Cinematics’ appearance on Voyage of the Mimi.
You could throw a rock and hit a million Cure/Joy Division wannabe bands this year, although the question is: why would you want to? What have, say, The Cinematics ever done to you, except to develop a sound at once driving and atmospheric, mysterious and accessible, anthemic and lonely? What, indeed?
16. Phantom Limb – The Shins
No snarky caption required.
The band that changed Natalie Portman’s life in Garden State returns to explore suburban ennui. The song even feels like a sleepy summer night in “da burbs.”
15. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse
Ms. Winehouse sings “Amazing Grace” for a group of senior citizens.
Sure, “Rehab” is the song you’re going to remember: in ten or twelve years time they’ll make the Amy Winehouse story biopic, and it’ll be all over the trailer. But they’ll call the movie “Back To Black.” Let’s hope Amy’s biopic has a happy ending.
14. Ultimate – Gogol Bordello
Dexy’s Midnight Runners and the Cast of Fame: Together Again For The First Time!
“There were never any good old days; they are today, they are tomorrow.” So sayeth Eugene Hutz of the gypsy punk troupe Gogol Bordello, at the start of their new record Super Tarantra! These guys are apparently a religious experience to see live, so any album cut isn’t going to do them justice, but this song makes me want to “go forever crazy with it” anyway.
13. Hunting For Witches – Bloc Party
The Student Life Association is here for you!
Okay, so maybe A Weekend In The City wasn’t as political or as earth shaking/booty quaking as Silent Alarm. It still works as an album just fine (hey, remember albums?), and this tune, from its flipping-channels-to-the-beat intro to the intensity of its drum line, proves that yes, Bloc Party still has things to say.