Sexier, non-Waking Life-esque picture tomorrow.
19. Akron/Family – “I’ll Be On The Water”: mp3
Arkon came out of nowhere and rampaged all over 2005 and my iTunes playcounts like Godzilla vs. King Kong on the national guard’s day off. This song is one of the most “traditional” on Akron/Family, and easily one of the prettiest. The transition out of the field recording into guitars and harmonization is an unexpected (like so many moments on the album) joy, and it’s easily their most straightforward love song: “Thinking of you / there’s lightning bolts in my chest / I know you know / I think our love’s the best.” Awww. How can you not love this guys?
18. Art Brut – “Good Weekend”: mp3
When the Pitchfork staff wrote up their albums of the year lists, this is the song they were listening to. Eddie Argos is hilarious in a winking, self-deprecating way, and this song lives on sheer snark until it gets to the bridge, which has the best build-up of any song released this year. Say it with me: “I’ve seen her naked, twice! I’ve seen her naked, twice!” Which is, of course, brilliant because he has to tell us twice, but even moreso because the last line of the song is “I think that I love her.” Turns out Eddie’s a sweetie after all.
17. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Matt Sweeney – “Bed Is For Sleeping”: mp3
Superwolf didn’t do much for me, and I’m a huge fan of Will Oldham’s last three releases as the bonnie prince, but this song will just melt you. The distorted guitars and barely-there harmonies imply a curious darkness to an otherwise romantic song, but the lyrics are pure passionate sincerity.
16. Antony and the Johnsons – “My Lady Story”: mp3
If you replaced Brion’s string section with Antony’s voice, the unreleased Extraordinary Machine would be the album of the year. Antony takes on that role here, holding up a deeply felt song about pain and loss as with a voice as smooth and soft as velvet. Stevie Wonder would kill to write this song. If you haven’t heard it, it’s pure beauty, and my favorite song by one of the finest new voices of the year.
15. Fiona Apple – “Not About Love”: mp3
Another disappointing record from one of my favorites – I don’t care who’s producing it, some of these songs just aren’t good. Much more tossed-off than When The Pawn, which is still one of my Favorites of All-Time and all that. Still, there are moments of greatness. When she reaches for that falsetto, it doesn’t even matter what the song is about – when Fiona’s at her best, what she delivers is as emotionally affective as it gets. (P.S., I don’t know if a better quality version of this exists, but if it does, can somebody tell me and send it over? Thanks.)
(These blurbs are getting long, huh? I’d hurry it up, but now we’re getting into the really phenomenal songs – as good as the first 14 are, remember, these songs are ranked. And they keep getting better.)
14. Iron & Wine – “16, Maybe Less”: mp3
Beam’s delivery keeps getting better and better, and while I’ve loved this since hearing the unreleased demo (“Look at me, I’m so indie!”), Calexico really helps him add emotional layers to an already great composition. The drumming is gentle enough, and when he sings “Call it predictable / yesterday my dream was of you,” I want to cry.
13. Broken Social Scene – “Swimmers”: mp3
I like this record, and I really like Feist on this record, but Emily, christ. This is the track where nitpicking producer Dave Newfeld decided to put the emphasis on the vocals at long last and it pays off brilliantly. The flood of airy chords and the trademark unbelievable-sounding BSS percussion is perfect and Emily Haines is even better. (Speaking of Feist, hear an excellent live show over at Muzzle of Bees. So much better live.)
12. The Magic Numbers – “I See You, You See Me”: mp3
I’ll argue ’till I’m blue in the face about how great this band is and how they represent everything the ballyhoed New Pornographers have long since forgotten about. This particular track is pretty much exactly how I feel about my girlfriend, with whom I have a two-year anniversary coming up, so…yeah. Great song.
11. New Buffalo – “I’ve Got You And You’ve Got Me (Song of Contentment)”: mp3
Another girlfriend song. New Buffalo, along with Chad VanGaalen and Sea Snakes, was a top 5 artist of 2004 who I had no idea existed until this year. The production of Darren Seltmann (Avalanches) is like magic, and her no-frills delivery is perfect.
Coming tomorrow: The top 10 songs of 2005.