Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Good songs

Good songs have been many this year, and normally I refrain from compiling a list of the best of them, but for some reason I feel compelled to - so here's the top 11 (I just couldn't pick the last one, so call it a tie for tenth).

11. Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
Emo comes of age! Despite containing a verse so awful and mind-numbingly boring I nearly switched off before the song finished, The Black Parade contains the most awesome, Queen-inspired musical excess this side of Muse with a chorus that practically demands all listeners to pump their fist in the most convenient direction (generally up) with force and repetition.

10. I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News) - Eagles of Death Metal
Containing far and away the best guitar solo of 2006, this positively stinks of sweat and rooting. And it's SO great. Stealing blatantly from 60s hit 'Summertime Blues', EoDM have ripped it a new arsehole, greased it up and stuffed it full of god knows what. Rock on.

9. Ta Doleur - Camille
The French Bjork came out of nowhere in Australia with this piece of quasi electro/quasi vocal gymnastic, totally cool piece of avant-garde-ism. Camille actually makes farting noises and still sounds in tune. Amazing. And so danceable.

8. When the Sun Goes Down - The Arctic Monkeys
Followed closely by unknown classic off the same record 'From the Ritz to the Rubble', 'When the Sun Goes Down' is everything that is great about the Monkeys' debut encapsulated in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Tales of whores and pimps on the streets of Sheffield, cockney lyrics, references to Sting and the Police and the BEST riff in about 5 years, magic in its simplicity, if 2003-2005 were the years when the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party brought rock back to the dancefloor, 2006 told the new wave to fuck off and let the Monkeys work.

7. One Better - Les Claypool
Funk - circa 2006 for Mr Claypool. Dispensing with extraneous instruments (i.e. guitars), Les decided he could do more on HIS 6-string than an army of budding Van Halens and created the quirkiest and coolest release since Primus. 2006's best song about the Space Race.

6. {Explain} - Sarah Blasko
Sarah Blasko threatened to make a classic on her debut, and delivered with this moody piece of operatic drama-ballad, despite the appalingly pretentious parentheses. Clarinets and oboes must be the most under-utilised instruments in the world.

5. Mojo - Peeping Tom
The most subversive pop single since Gorillaz' Clint Eastwood took everyone by surprise in 2002. With Mike Patton's crazy beat-boxing and the smoothest jazz/pop style around, it's probably the most under-rated song of the year.

4. Black Swan - Thom Yorke
Singers need to learn to swear as well as Thom Yorke does. When he says 'this is fucked up/fucked up/this is your blind spot/it should be obvious/but its not' you know he damn well means it. Like the best Radiohead songs of recent years, Black Swan finds the elusive balance between electronic experimentalism and old school rhythms and melodies. Terrific, heartfelt and morbidly depressing. Just how we take him.

3. Dirtywhirl - TV on the Radio
No song title has ever captured to perfectly both the sound and the 'feel' of a song as this one. Swirling guitars, a thumping, tribal rhythm and a vocal melody that you can't help shouting along with ('Commander!/Controller!/I found you!'), TV on the Radio are the shit.

2. One Crowded Hour - Augie March
It's not experimental. It doesn't break taboos, push envelopes or blaze trails. It's just a song. But for a band to take what has been done a million times before and do it this well is deserving of high praise. Glenn Richards' standard poetic, convoluted lyrics are driven along by pure beauty of sound before a climax that belongs in a porn film.

1. Sixteen Straws - The Drones
Reworking an old Australian convict shanty - 'Moreton Bay', a tale of hardship within the penal colonies - shouldn't be this good. Driven solely by a plucked acoustic and gentle harmonica, the tale of a prisoner and his Faustian pact with 15 other convicts belongs in the annals of Australian musical lore, as bloody as Nick Cave and as touching as, well, it shouldn't BE touching, but somehow it is. Not for a second over its nine-minute running time does it let your attention falter. Expect to find yourself short of breath.

Honourable Mentions
I feel Like Going Home - Yo La Tengo, Roscoe - Midlake, Chips Ahoy - The Hold Steady, Juicebox - The Strokes, Assassin - Muse, Go-Go-Gadget Gospel - Gnarls Barkly, 19 20 20 - The Grates, Not Yet - The Veils, On Your Living Room Floor - Ground Components, This Mess - Wolf & Cub

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