Part one (albums edition) is here.
I’ve done a separate list of my favourite songs for the year because a bunch of these tracks show up on albums that didn’t make the other list. Plus, given we all live in an iTunes kind of world, you might like to purchase these one-off tracks instead of forking out for the entire album. I was going to limit it to ten songs, but there were too many, so I made it a top twenty. Cross-referencing is welcome, as are your own comments about what songs were on high rotation at your joint during 2009. Without further ado:
Number 20: ‘Oh! Hark!’ Lisa Mitchell (from the album Wonder) Have a real soft spot for this singer-songwriter. Actually, the version I like is the demo version on the deluxe version of the album. Nice, tuneful track that shows the ex-Idol contestant at her best.
Number 19: ‘Know We’re No Where’ She’s the Driver (from the album Distorted Harmony) Gritty, distorted, shoe-gazey track from Melbourne two-piece band.
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Number 18: ‘Forever More’ The Verses (from the album The Verses) Potential-revealing track from new band put together by Ella and Jesse Hooper, late of Killing Heidi.
Number 17: ‘Silos’ The Maladies (from the album With You Right by my Side, Baby, the Deal Just Can’t Go Down) A David Lynch tinged cover of a Don Walker song by this startling Melbourne band.
Number 16: ‘Dry Grass and Shadows’ Alela Diane (from the album To Be Still) I could’ve chosen a few tracks from this album (which is why it is on the album list!) but this album opener is the one I keep coming back to.
Number 15: ‘Get Myself Together’ Liz Stringer (from the album Pendulum) A dark, brooding number that Stringer sings to perfection. Beautiful instrumentation and production brings the whole thing together. Great.
Number 14: ‘Sing the Changes’ The Fireman (from the album Electric Arguments) Proof positive that Macca can still write a ringing pop tune. Call it my nostalgia trip (esp as it came out last year; not to worry).
Number 13: ‘Right On’ Special Patrol (from the album The Stranger’s Dozen) Who say’s classic pop is dead? Fab track from this Adelaide outfit who should take themselves more seriously.
Number 12: ‘Love Don’t Make You Juliet’ Brandi Shearer (from the album Love Don’t Make You Juliet) Beautiful ballad that should be much better known than it is. (Grabs cowboy hat.) Do yourself a favour…
Number 11: ‘Tale 3 Lento Arabesco for Zdravko Colic And The Georgian Male Choir’ Goran Bregović (from the album Welcome to Bregović) A pretty stunning choral/chant/funeral/wedding piece from the “greatest hits” album of this Serbian singer and composer. No, really…
Number 10: ‘The Trap’s Been Set’ Gary Louris/Mark Olsen (from the album Ready for the Flood) A decent song lifted into the top ten because of the harmony vocals. Probably my favourite vocal performance of the year. I mean, they fuck it up with a spoken-word interlude, but just ignore that bit.
Number 9: ‘Oh My’ The Drones (from the album Havilah) I love the pace of this heavy ballad, the slow grind of it, and the controlled mess of the arrangement. Turn it up loud and groan along…
Number 8: ‘Blanchard’ Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions (from the album Through the Devil Softly) One of Sandoval’s atmospheric lullabies from an album full of them. Makes me realise how much the mood of a song affects my listening pleasure. However you describe this mood, I’m generally in the mood for it.
Number 7: ‘The First Days of Spring’ Noah and the Whale (from the album The First Days of Spring) I’m sorry I didn’t make a bigger fuss about this album during the year, but it has sort of crept up on me. I mean, for someone of my age group (cough) it is probably a little bit mopey and oh-you’ll-get-over-it, young, in other words, but it is a great song from a great album.
Number 6: ‘Long Time’ Buddy and Julie Miller (from the album Written in Chalk) One of many great songs from this alt-Nashville pair. But this is a lovely slow, bluesy ballad which, as I said at the time, wouldn’t be outta place on a Tom Waits or Rickie Lee Jones album. Beautiful playing and singing.
Number Five: ‘City Lies’ Marie Fisker (from the album Ghosts of Love) This is from my album of the year and it typfies what I love about the album. Crunchy semi-vintage guitar sounds, simple arrangement, singable tune, great vocal, mood scraped off the streets of late-night cities around the world. Be still my beating heart.
Number Four: ‘Ripped’ Genevieve Maynard and the Tall Boys (from the album The Hollow Way) Australia has produced many great songwriters but young artists could do worse than to sit at the feet of the experienced Maynard and learn a thing or two about their craft. This unhurried, beautifully structured ballad is a masterclass in the art of songwriting.
Number Three: ‘The Wanting Comes in Waves’ The Decemberists (from the album The Hazards of Love) My fave track from this tremendous album. It is full of Jefferson Starship and Black Sabbath overtones, but somehow boils down to a classic folk-rock extravaganza that not only stands on its own but plays its part in the overall scheme of the album. What’s not to love?
Number 2: ‘Codeine Arms’ Eilen Jewell (from the album Sea of Tears) Love this dark, twangy melodic waltz of addiction. I really think Jewell is one of the great vocalists; there’s something just so mature about her delivery, something unhurried and strong and her voice is at its best on this classic track.
Number 1: ‘Method Acting/Cortez the Killer’ Dave Rawlings Machine (from the album A Friend of a Friend) Oh lordy. I know this is a Dave Rawling’s solo project, but I can’t help but think of it as Welch/Rawlings track and I would count it amongst their best. This is a song you lose yourself in as it unwinds over its ten minutes and twenty-one seconds. Nobody does gentle, desperate pace better than these two and this one spools out like a thread of gold. The vocals are gorgeous, the guitar playing somehow tasteful and edgy at the same time. I’ll cop to being a sucker for this sort of thing, but seriously, it is such a great song. The only improvement you could make is to double its length.