Sunday, January 17, 2010

39. “The Bleeding Heart Show” by The New Pornographers (2005)

As the decade wore on, the “super group” tag attached to the New Pornographers began to seem really befitting. AC Newman, the New Porn’s main songwriter has essentially established himself as the master crafter of the power pop song. Neko Case is Neko Case and it seems like the New Porn’s pop sound took her solo career out of its countrified shell and got her and her band to expand their palate for the better. Dan Bejar of Destroyer contributed a handful of quirky gypsy folk pop songs to each New Porns record, all of them typically excellent. The end result is Newman and Bejar basically getting a kick-ass backing band, with Neko chipping in on lead vocals and/or harmonies. If that sounds good on paper, it’s even better on the records. Nowhere is this better exemplified than with “The Bleeding Heart Show”, which mystifies me as far as the lyrics go (“In business of your lives, the perception, it is wrong, mile after mile. The phantom taste drinking wine from your heels.”), but never ceases to rock it out with the anthemic “hey la’s” in the coda. This is a truly fantastic pop song that is incredibly catchy and never not enjoyable to listen to. Check it out.

As an aside, when trying to find you tube links to these songs, I sometimes come across really absurd videos. And sometimes I come across decent homemade ones, like this one.

40. “The Crane Wife, Parts 1 & 2” by The Decemberists (2006)

The Decemberists were always destined to be the object of our derision, what with their hyper-literate lyrics and absurd tales of goblins inhabiting the world of indie prog rock (is that even a thing?). But not so fast my fren’! These guys are huge for a reason and their first couple of albums were real gems, with songs like “July July” and “California Youth Brigade” and “Red Right Ankle” and “Billy Liar”. Things started to get kind of dicey with 2005’s The Tain, which is what made The Crane Wife LP so enjoyable when it came out.

Ostensibly, The Crane Wife is a collection of tracks based on a Japanese folk tale bearing that same name. It’s pretentious, of course, but that’s what we’ve come to expect of Colin Meloy and there’s a place for this in the world of indie rock. But more importantly, The Crane Wife is a hell of an album when taken as a whole or when taken apart as a bunch of single tracks. It’s definitely one of the best albums of the last ten years and “The Crane Wife, Parts 1 & 2” seems to best exemplify what it does best. Extra points for the fact that it segues immediately into “Sons and Daughters”. Check out “The Crane Wife, Parts 1 & 2” for yourself.

41. “Patty Lee” by Les Savy Fav (2007)

This band pretty much defines the “post hardcore” genre in that they seem to take many of the great elements of hardcore – wild energy and rocking guitars -- and mix them with angular dance rock to make a nuanced and unique sound that is very listenable. It’s still edgier than your standard Drive By Truckers song, but it’s not a brutal as, say, Agnostic Front. So if Joy Division is “post punk” then Les Savy Fav is “post hardcore” and I love that these guys channel 80s hardcore and punk and 90s indie rock to make this perfect mix of rock n roll for 2009.

“’Patty Lee, turn the lights on, please.
There's something I don't understand.
Patty Lee, turn the lights on please.
This party's gotten out of hand.’
Those were the last words her suitor spoke before he croaked.
In seven seconds he'd be dead, tied to the headboard of Pattie Lee's bed.”

“Patty Lee” is Les Savy Fav’s version of a dance / rock song, and it outdoes any other dance rock song of the decade, in my opinion. People will cite “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand or some other crappy Killers song, but the reality is that “Patty Lee” gets things to a very unique and awesome place without abandoning the aforementioned “post hardcore” aesthetic. The lead guitar is unlike anything in rock n roll today, Tim Harrington’s lead man antics are way, way out there and they have a bunch of unique, kick ass songs to back everything up. Les Savy Fav made one of the decade’s best albums when they recorded Lets’ Stay Friends -- an eclectic collection of great rock songs that doesn’t so much as genre hop as “style hop” – and “Patty Lee” is the centerpiece of the whole record. A must-have.



What with that 17 day bender over Christmas and the whole working on a dream thing (a book I've been writing entitled 'What With That 17 Day Bender Over Christmas'), we have been seriously remiss in posting. Sorry. It will happen again.

Also, once the Top 100 is done, we'll be posting the Best of 2010. Yeah, I know. It's a little late for that. Suck it.