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Top 100 Songs of 2008: #s 45-41

Make Believe
Going To The Bone Church

"Conduct electricity and behavior."

I told you Tim Kinsella was returning to the list. His non-Joan of Arc band has come close to making the countdown twice in the past, but just never cut it enough until this song. They're probably one of my favorite bands in the world to see live, because Kinsella gets all theatrical and confrontational to random people in the crowd and his cousin Nate gets all crazy playing drums and keyboard at the same time, but on record, they've only been fun to listen to, not really groundbreaking or intimate to me like JOA. But this song changed all that. From what I believe is Tim's first vinyl-only release (which is saying something for a guy who puts out at least two records every year), this track communicates everything that's unique and wonderful about the band: it's stilted yet catchy, minimalist yet driving, and just generally a total wallop of awkward rock, harking back to his days in the brilliant Cap'n Jazz. The way the guitar sounds like it's dying and struggling to stay alive, the haunting vox that peek in the back, and the keyboard twinkles that brighten up the darkness all transform the fun into something viably memorable, even if it is all nonsense. Sometimes that's just what I need: goofy, unyielding nonsense rawk.

44 "Earls Court"
Moonlit Sailor
A Footprint Of Feelings

Moment @ 2:13

Dudes are only like 20-years-old. Probably the youngest cats on the countdown. And yes, their sentimental album title proves their youth, but the amount of restrained and immaculate emotion they are able to pack into their on-the-surface by-the-numbers post-rock (holy hyphens!) is enviable and possibly heaven-sent. It seems like it shouldn't work because it's just sparkling guitars and mid-tempo percussion, but the placement and notes of each riff just wreak unspeakable damage on the heart when listened to at an appropriately loud volume. Especially when there's stars up in the sky to look at. Also a bonus for this song: always associating it with a man named Josef, whose orgasmic reaction to the "moment of healing" as defined above when playing it on our instrumental radio show, will never be forgotten. The moment really is as skull-crushing as his face indicated, but what's amazing is that it's a song that evokes hope, love, and sadness all at once, and with Joe now across the country in San Fran, all those feelings are definitely felt. Can't wait to visit that bastard and listen to this song with him.

43 "Transformer"
Marnie Stern
This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That
[Kill Rock Stars]

"The future is yours, so fill this part in."

Out of all the songs I could have been listening to when I got the phone call, this was it. I was kicking back for a moment, having just gotten home from a rather stressful day of teaching, listening to Stern's new album. I had appreciated her guitar chops on her first record, but that was about it. It didn't really stick with me, other than in the mash-up of her fretwork with "Lip Gloss". But there was something delightfully rage-filled combined with an innocent optimism in her frenetic upbeat sound that was hypnotizing me from doing much of anything except sitting on the couch and listening. Probably because I got a worrisome phone call from my mom earlier in the day about my grandmother and was kind of just waiting for Part II to happen at some point in the next couple days. But before I could even wrap my head around the fact that it was going to happen any minute now, I got that phone call right after Stern's first chorus singing the refrain quoted above. I pressed pause, got the news, tried to stay on the phone as long as I could with my mom, but eventually there was no words of love and encouragement that could be said any longer, and so we hung up and we were both left to fill that part in. I silently gave as much respect to my grandmother for as long as I could, then I blasted the song, put it on repeat, and screamed into a pillow. "I cannot be all these things to you. It's true."

42 "This Feels Perfect"
Team Robespierre
Kayrock 7"

"You can't solve anything with flowers."

Sometimes a simple riff can do the trick. Sure, sad songs can be cathartic. Sure, angry songs can be a good source for venting. But when you take both those emotions and transform them so they just complement a catchy-as-eff keyboard melody, it becomes not so much about negativity, but wanting. And wanting can feel good just as much as it can feel bad. And that's exactly what this band of tiny nerdcore dweebs do so amazingly with little more than a couple grungy synth effects and a crapload of energy. What's most revelatory about this track, whose DIY and eff-all aesthetic certainly doesn't scream "THIS MATTERS", is that its lyrics, delivery, and title actually do matter. A lot. Taking less than two minutes to spout out everything that he wants, the lead singer of TR sounds less like a whiner (though you might think so initially due to his nasally yelp), and more like a man who can only go so long without breaking apart. What's the kicker, though, is that while the song is about everything that he wants to do to make things perfect (again), the name of the song is "This Feels Perfect", proving that the very act of espousing desire is enough to make that urge feel quenched, satisfied temporarily, before you want to belt out those wants again. In the moment, that which we desire cannot be ours, but communicating that desire is enough to sate it, if only for 1 minute and 49 seconds.

41 "In Red"
Azeda Booth
In Flesh Tones
[Absolutely Kosher]

"There is relief beneath these covers."

Definition of a creeper: a song that at first sounds interesting enough to put in one's semi-regular rotation, but never really anything special, only to find months later ultimate joy in its profound amazingness. That's what happened here, specifically with this song's final two minutes. The first three minutes are definitely necessary to get to that culminating bliss too, setting the mood with an aching falsetto and skitter-scatter minimalism. The sparse guitars and hovering synth feel like a slow motion rain down on an electric plateau - an atmosphere so infectively gorgeous that I couldn't help but want to hear it over and over again, especially that buzzing melodica floating underneath it all. But when I finally really listened, I mean REALLY listened, and heard that momentous cymbal-ridden breakdown after an incredibly subtle build-up, upon my twentieth or so listen, I remember feeling my knees shake. I was so pummeled with sadness and brokenness by the whispered indecipherable vocals, but the kind that keeps you strong, not the kind that dissipates your being, that I could help but listening just to those final two minutes on repeat at least three times more every time I listened to the track as a whole.

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  1. Anonymous .molly. | 7:27 PM |  

    I would like to take issue [aka giggle] at your use of the term "cats" in #44, but also applaud your use of the phrases "orgasmic reaction" and "hovering synth" elsewhere in this write-up.

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