(Yeah, I wrote out my list on a giant dry erase board in my apartment. Because I care that much.)
The disadvantage to being the third one to post his 15 songs of 2010 (so far) is that inevitably, there’s some overlap. So while a couple of these songs have already been mentioned in Matt and Glenn’s posts, I hope you’ll still enjoy my list of 15. This was a semi-arduous process for me. Why? Because, with the year not even half over, 2010 has supplied me with plenty of fantastic music to get excited about. That means it took some combing and tough choices to narrow things down, and I’m still not entirely happy with this list. And I know that June through December will only make the end-of-year lists we plan to do here at TWJ that much harder. But you know what, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, too. So enjoy, continue reading and we’ll keep bringing you new stuff that might end up being some our — or your — favorite music of 2010.
So here are my Top 15 songs of the year so far. In keeping with the trend, these are in no particular order.
Download Sean’s Top 15 here
1. “Excuses” By Morning Benders – This song had faded from my playlists until I revisited the year’s play counts on my iTunes. “Excuses” is the perfect example of what having friends who are musicians can help you do with your band. Morning Benders have grown up plenty for Big Echo, out now on Rough Trade. This song is a swelling and sweet tribute to growing old with someone you love, and how freaking terrifying/great that can be. Check out the video of the gathering that produced this song in our widget on the right. It’s hard not to love Morning Benders after doing so.
2. “Rambling Man” By Laura Marling – There’s something aged wise about Marling, even though she is only 20 years old. Some of these songs feel like the answer to former boyfriend Charlie Fink’s latest output with Noah And The Whale, which was one of the more solid albums of 2009. Marling has the kind of vintage voice well beyond her years. And I love this song for lines like: It’s funny how the first chords that you come to /are the minor notes that come to serenade you / and it’s hard to accept yourself as someone you don’t desire / as someone you don’t want to be. It’s about living life to the fullest, not letting it pass you by.
3. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” By The National – For a brief few minutes while compiling this list, I considered just throwing the entirety of High Violet into my top 15 — that’s 11 songs — and just filling out the rest. Because the latest LP from this Brooklyn-via-Cincinnati band is that rich, compelling and beautiful. This particular number, which is the first single from High Violet, wins the award for “song I’ve listened to most while showering before work.” Don’t know why I felt the need to tell you that, but there it is. From punching drumbeat to shiver-worthy piano melody, this song is a treasure.
4. “Conversation 16” By The National – I stopped myself at two songs from this band. And for all the gushing I just did about “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” this one begins the best three-song stretch of High Violet — the final one — and continues to be my favorite on the record. My favorite part of this song: Matt Berninger and company making the line: And I was afraid I’d eat your brains. ‘Cause I’m evil sound as if it were a soaring, beautiful thought.
5. “Heaven’s On Fire” By The Radio Dept. – I probably haven’t given The Radio Dept.’s album Clinging to a Scheme enough of a chance yet. But this song is undeniably buoyant, catchy and subdued all at once. Just solid song construction.
6. “Cranberry” By The Ruby Suns – An assault on the ears in a wonderful way, this tune from The Ruby Suns album Fight Softly is a gem. There’s so much going on here to absorb, and it all hits you in waves. The first, a lovely intro, the second, a dance-inducing bridge. Wash, rinse, repeat.
7. “Jackie Wants A Black Eye” By Dr. Dog – There’s nothing too complicated about Dr. Dog’s sound. It’s a throwback to 60’s pop, and it warms the soul. And this song, with its bittersweet tale about appreciating the shared power of heartbreak, and hearts-put-back-together-again.
8. “Dance Yrself Clean” By LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening, the newest record from James Murphy-led LCD Soundsystem is one of a few albums I’m keeping in mind for record of the year so far. This song provides a great example why in its 8 minutes and 58 seconds of glory. Murphy excels at building neurotic tension and then releasing it in an onslaught of club-worthy beats and emotive singing/shouting. The first three minutes of this tune build that tension to a nearly palpable height, and the payoff is so so so fantastic.
9. “Good Intentions Paving Company” By Joanna Newsom – This cleverly-titled and well-written song from Have One On Me was immediately my favorite on the record. Newsom is one of the few artists who builds a bit off shtick and does it without feeling contrived. Her unusual, childlike singing voice is well-tailored to this song, about experiencing an insecure kind of love that is constructed on the best of — you guessed it — intentions.
10. “In A Dream” By Skybox – This song by Chicago natives Skybox is summer in song form. Grab this song, roll your windows down and blast it. Sunny guitars, sunny hooks, and lyrics about jumping in the water to forget all about those rest-of-the-year troubles. You get the idea.
11. “Go Do” By Jonsi – As Glenn said in his Top 10 list, the Sigur Ros frontman doesn’t stray too far from his primary band’s sound here. But this song manages to be inventive and unique nonetheless. One of the prettiest songs of 2010 so far, to be sure.
12. “Tighten Up” By The Black Keys – Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, two soulful dudes from Akron, Ohio, make a rocking return to form on Brothers, their most recent album. “Tighten Up” is one of the singles from the record, and it’s all fuzz-guitar, funky drumbeat, sung-through-a-megaphone vocals with an ample side of blues attitude.
13. “Confetti” By 1,2,3 – Readers here at TWJ might be tired of hearing me rave about 1,2,3. And with my last three spots here, I’m probably going to test your patience. But I ask you to reserve judgment until you listen to all of these songs. What am I talking about?
14. “Can’t Bribe God,” By 1,2,3 – Sorry. This song is a throwback to old R&B and blues and I find it irresistible.
15. “Going Away Party” By 1,2,3 – I’m a little ashamed. But not much. Because this song is still great. I listened to all three of these songs 20 times in one day during a 90-minute-total commute to and from work last week. Give ’em a chance. And we’ll keep searching for new tunes. Promise.
Download Sean’s Top 15 here