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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 85-81

Deerhoof
Offend Maggie
[Kill Rock Stars]

"Want you, three, four / I won't pick up hystering."

I've always had a fond admiration and deep respect for Deerhoof, with their perky absurdist guitar tickles and vocal ululations, but not since "Milk Man" in 2004 have they been able to carve their niche into my musical memory. Yes, that's only four years ago, but for a band that puts out a critically acclaimed every year, that's a long time. It's a curiously brusque tune that manages to go through a spectrum of abstraction in only two minutes. With only three succinct parts and couple of off-road noodlings, it jarringly dives into each of them back and forth in a way that makes every transition feel like a pile of bricks upon the ears. From the burying of sparkling and earthly guitars both acoustic and electric multiple times over to the sugar jazz style percussion and of course a dusting of Satomi Matsuzaki's chirping haikus makes this the leanest, meanest, and most memorable song of Deerhoof's since they stopped using an analog recorder.

84 "I'm In Awe, Amadeus!"
Maybeshewill
Not For Want Of Trying
[Robot Needs Home]

Moment @ 0:12

Rarely do songs with such teeth and tenacity also sound like beaming rays of light shining down from above. A dancing guitar converses with a rollicking piano, singing the same words as if together they made a glowing chorus. Eschewing the methodical and minimal elegance of most instrumental music, Maybeshewill prove that emotion can be conveyed just as powerfully in hyperventilating tempos and major key distortion surges, with all that hazy reverb left to the birds. Punching and snapping its way to the finish line with two or three-second progression change respites, it's the ideal track to watch the sunrise in fast-forward to. It gets messier and headier as it trounces on, but it remains hopeful in its melodies, regardless of how much sound is piled on top. The only caveat: fists thrust into the air in victory upon the song's finale is required.

83 "Tightrope"
The Coast
Expatriate
[Aporia]

"What are you waiting for?"

As near as I can tell, that is the only discernible lyric in this debris-filled tornado of a pop-rock song. The reverb is cranked to 11, but instead of it filling the brain with spacey meditation, it brims with anxious jitters and full bodied anthemics. Really, it's the only lyric that matters too. I'll always associate this track with the morning I first put the CD in my car - 7:30 a.m. and the first frost had arrived in Minnesota. Frigid and yet the sun still shone brightly through my windshield, I felt this odd calm of depression and hopefulness wash over me with this song blasting through my Saturn's tinny speakers. It felt like a cool reminder to not let the monotony of everyday life affect my core; it's only "waiting" if I'm not in the moment when I walk in that classroom. So I walk the tightrope both inside and outside of teaching the best I can and even though falling is a great possibility, at least I'm alive.

82 "I Will Possess Your Heart"
Death Cab For Cutie
Narrow Stairs
[Atlantic]

"It's like a book elegantly bound / but in a language you can't read just yet."

Once one of the top five bands working the indie rock scene, they have now become one of the only respectable groups working the mainstream alt-rock scene (if it even exists anymore). Despite my initial dismissal of their first album for Atlantic Records, Plans, I have since officially warmed up to their crisply produced lite-rock stylings. I even like/love the majority of that aforementioned bastion of Phil Collins-inspired schmaltz. And this year's Narrow Stairs does it even better. And this is the song that convinced me to give future Mr. Deschanel and company a second shot at possessing my heart. An atmospheric, stalker-narrated, 8-minute plodder as an album's first single? Only the most gorgeous piano plucks and tremolo guitar swimming can pull off such a feat and give a band both more mainstream and indie cred. It's elegant, creepy, and monstrous all at the same time, and regardless of how much of an incorrigible sadsack Gibbard may be, his voice still sounds like an angel carved from a glacier of candy.

81 "I've Got Your Number"
Passion Pit
Chunk Of Change
[Frenchkiss]

"This is where I tell you that / I know love's what I need to work at."

The newest song on the countdown (I just heard this for the first time on December 30th) is also the most twee. The definition of "twee" is beyond debatable, maybe in this day and age even moreso than "emo", but to me anyway it basically means "insufferably adorable". Those two words together should hopefully explain why it is then that a song only listened to four or five times inside of three days over New Year's was able to make it into the countdown. Apparently this guy made a bunch of electro-love songs for his girlfriend and then got a record deal with The Hold Steady's original home Frenchkiss because they were just that good. And I can't help but admit that that struck me as (while yes, a little vomity) incredibly endearing. His original audience was ONE PERSON, and the intensity of his adoration was so well communicated that he was able to take those same exact recordings and then project them onto a rabid listenership of thousands with the help of some blogs and a highly respectable indie label. Listen to the chorus alone and you'll understand why this laptop-pop fairy tale came true. Some people say the ballad the dead, but I'm a firm believer that you just have to sing like you mean it for your love to sound alive.

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  1. Blogger Mike | 12:27 AM |  

    Chris,

    I was kinda surprised that a song from Blood On The Wall's album "Liferz" didn't crack your top 100. I would have liked to see "Rize" or "Hibernation" on there. Or perhaps a song from Bon Iver, like "Lump Sum." But then again, it's your top 100 list, not mine! :P Awesome list though...thanks for sharing your list and uploading the songs!

  2. Blogger chris | 2:08 PM |  

    Mike,

    Thanks for checking out the list! I liked Liferz, especially "Rize", but it didn't stay with me like Awesomer did a couple years back. Also, "Lump Sum" was pretty high on my list last year since For Emma Forever Ago originally came out in 2007 - I considered putting it on the list again, but thought that'd be silly.

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