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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 35-31

Trying something new - these little widgets above each song title should let you play them right here on The Blogulator while you read! Let me know if they're bogus...

35 "Own Anything"

"If you get there before I do / hold my hand and pull me through."

If any band can make a three-note riff sound like an orchestra of hurt, it's Wilderness. Armed with an e-bow and enough reverb to make your chest cavity implode, the so-called "post-punk Explosions in the Sky" is certainly one that will remain a modern day favorite. While a track from their previous record Vessel States didn't break into my Top 100 two years ago, "End of Freedom" from their self-titled debut was in my personal top ten and I'm sure if this record came out earlier in the year, this track would be even higher on this list. I just heard it on December 31st for the first time, have listened to it approximately 30 times since and still am not sick of it being in my regular rotation. The amount of time spent with the opening progression is almost blood-boiling it's so suspenseful, because if you know this band, you know it's going to splash into something grandiose at any moment. You just wait for it, wait for it, and then CRASH it comes tearing down like a band of submarines surfacing at top speed. The vocals are even more abrasive and intense than usual, and aside the majestic guitars, it just makes it that much more of a beautiful chaos in musical form. Hitting rock bottom never felt so good.

34 "Boneless"
The Notwist
The Devil, You + Me

"This town is all in hell."

Speaking of all time modern favorites, here's another. The long-awaited follow-up to Neon Golden was an extraordinarily rewarding first few listens, and while only about half the album lives up to expectations (and with the first record's "Consequence" being the first love song Jess and I bonded over, those are some big shoes to fill), this track in particular is also unbelievably infectious. And usually three-minute pop ditties with no grand ambitions are throwaways or those pushed toward the bottom of the list if they do attain transcendence, but The Notwist's meek and humble leanings combined with an effortless ability to pile on layer after layer of friendly weirdness make them a pop band for the ages. The piano twinkle is odd enough, but adding falsetto back-up vox, a maraca, a lilting toy keyboard, and what sounds like a broken harpsichord, all while never sounding quirky (seriously, I don't know how they do that), is remarkable. It's breath-taking, it's sweet and underneath incredibly macabre, but ultimately it's just plain catchy. But without any of the downfalls of the pop songs that you hear once and are okay with never hearing again, I kinda always wanna listen to this song.

33 "The Day (We Fell In Love)"
Easter Demos

"Two hearts / unchained / flying."

Speaking of pop songs that are greater than they sound in theory (I guess this set of five is all about the unintended segues), this is the only song from a straight-up demo that made the list. And at such a high number! But I just could not help myself from the first time I listened to this song at night time. Seriously, I think it's required to understand its magnificence. The lead singer's detached and ghostly croon is enough to make you fall in love with her and her understated back up band, but when that repetitive chorus loops around and back on itself, it's almost too much to contain in two ears. The beat is steadier than you'd think necessary for a song about hearts flying around unchained, but it, along with the muted guitar chug and slacker bass riff, bring the song a levity that's left to anchor while the keyboards and vocals slink off into the night sky, never to return to Earth. Having listened to this track at least five or six times thinking "wow this is good for a demo," I never thought of it achieving "greatness." Then I saw the hearts spin out from my car stereo into the blackness of the twilight in the air. I cranked up the volume, waved goodbye, and chilled out, waiting for mine to go and meet them in universe land. Soon after, it did.

32 "Campaign"
Russian Circles
[Suicide Squeeze]

Moment @ 4:55

Now that last one was a quick grower. It just took the right atmosphere and setting to get under my skin. This one was a slow-burner. In fact, like Russian Circles' first album, the whole record takes its time to really lay its smackdown on you. But like when I saw the band live for the first time after their debut Enter came out a few years ago and felt the destructive force reverberate throughout the Triple Rock Social Club, when I let this track in particular play in the background multiple times as a mood setter then finally listened to it LOUD one day, it pulled me back and threw me against the ropes, sucking the life out of my being. It's quite possibly the best opening track to an instrumental album I've ever heard, which is particularly tough because almost every track on every great instrumental album sounds like it would be the perfect opening track to a vocal-centric record. So to rightly introduce the listener to an album where the voice never kicks in is a generally tough task, and many bands are left with too much floating ambience or too much get-your-attention thrashing. The beauty of the snake-like guitars hovering and piercing their way into the brain in this track makes the perfect mood-setting piece, whether you're ready to rock or ready to think. Or both.

31 "Modern Mystery"
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

"We're making up our history."

During a trip to see the fam for my mom's official wedding reception this past June, I had a brief fling with whatever that "indie" channel on XM radio is. We rented a car and the 45-minute drive from the airport or back into town when we wanted to get away was the prime time to crank up the tunes and pretend we weren't in the middle of freaking nowhere. I love my family, but North Carolina, while beautiful and refreshing in its weather, is totally boring. Hearing everything from The Killers to The Ruby Suns on the very-MOR Left of Center (is that what it's called?) station was incredibly comparable to the state: pleasant, relaxing, but never enough edge. This track here, which I first heard and basically flipped out about upon my discovery, basically fits that criteria to the tee. But its straight-line enthusiasm and quiet ruckus made it stick out from the crowd of good-enough tunes on the radio. It has that certain je-ne-sais-quoi (I do sais quoi though - check the "whoa-ah-oh"s and the prescious guitar noodling) that makes a smile come to the face when your feet are on the dash of a spotless car you do not own. It's carefree, it's not trying to be much, and it just wants to sit in the sand and be left alone. There's nothing mysterious to freak out about or try to solve - only moments to do stuff. And do stuff I did, and do stuff I shall continue to do. For those times when we don't want to hurt or yelp, we just want to be.

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