The 20.9 Best Songs of 2009… So Far / Jan.-June

Art by Odili Donald Odita

Art by Odili Donald Odita

How freaking crazy is it that 2009 is already halfway over? What a crazy year so far, in so many ways, the least of which is all of the fantastic, surprising, and sometimes disappointing music that has come our way. TBE will be 5 months old in a week and we have been chronicling most of the year’s jams. Here are my top 20.9. I guarantee you wont agree with all of them but doesn’t that just make our friendship that much more deep and meaningful? Just so we are clear how I arrived at this particular order, I’ve selected my favorites from my top listens each month and then ordered them purely by total play count. I know that’s confusing but whatever, the list is after the jump.

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Fanfarlo are cheaper/better than a Luna bar, can also be enjoyed by men

reservoir

and if we’re kicking up a fuss, it’s only cause we must

Fanfarlo – Luna

Don’t look at the album cover (or think of Luna Bars) when you start listening to “Luna” because your expectations will explode. This is not music for downer teens in 1800s, nor music I would describe as “sepia tinted.” Not really sure what Fanfarlo were thinking with this album cover but then again who really cares ’cause it’s the music what we are here for. And that, my friends, requires no wondering, just wonderment (If that is a word). So Fanfarlo is one of those bands that has been all up in my inbox for months now and I somehow managed to avoid falling in love with them. Luckily, I kept being reminded of them and kept revisiting their tunes until then started to grow on me more. Then, BAM, one day I find out they are selling their debut Reservoir for $1! After briefly wondering why the London based outfit was dealing in weak-ass dollars I just bought the damn thing and that’s when we really clicked, Fanfarlo and I. Don’t worry, I’m not a jealous lover. You can get in on the love too. Its still only $1 until July 4th (again with the USA stuff?)

Bury your face in MySpace /// eMusic too /// Buy Reservoir for $1!!

The Rural Alberta Advantage: Interview/live show at The Bell House, Brooklyn, 5/29/09

raa1

This is a post where I recap a lot of exciting things so prepare yourself accordingly.

The Rural Alberta Advantage is Nils, Paul, and Amy. They self-released a record called Hometowns which was one of my favorites of 2008. Having just signed to Saddle Creek they will be re-releasing that record on July 7th. This is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is that it makes Hometowns can be on my favorite albums of 2009 list (which it most certainly will).

Before the show the band was gracious enough to sit down with me for a bit and talk about their album, touring, music videos, Subway sandwiches, self-googling, the origin of their name, eMusic, NYC audiences, and a bunch of other fun stuff. They were funny, gracious, open, and generally fantastic. I apologize for my over-use of “like” – I was a bit nervous – but otherwise it is an interesting interview. I learned a lot about the band. Before I get into that I want to talk about their live show. It’s amazing. Go see them. Seriously, I am not gonna freak out on you again like I did with Lykke Li but that’s only because The RAA’s awesomeness was not such a surprise. Look at photos of their live shows here or watch videos here but actually don’t bother because you should just go see them. Oh, but buy Hometowns first! Deal? Good.

Interview and a few other goodies after the jump…

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Miike Snow has the best Cult, Logic(ally)

miikesnowcover

i wanna rewrite my heart and let the future in

Miike Snow – Cult Logic

I love Miike Snow. I love them for their weird spelling and for their antlered-rabbit. I love them for their beautiful, epic, danceable music and it’s fantastic lyrics. I love them for the way their music has snuck so deftly and solidly into my life. There was a time when nobody knew much about Miike Snow. Over time we learned that the band was made up of Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Avant with the addition of American vocalist Andrew Wyatt. Bloodshy & Avant are the Grammy winners behind such pop mega-hits as Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Wyatt most recently co-wrote and produced Daniel Merriweather‘s debut album (along with Mark Ronson). These dudes are no newbies when it comes to the music scene and it’s a treat to see them (kinda) stepping out from behind the scenes. They still remain elusive and are prone to obscuring their faces in photos but that only makes me like them more. Miike Snow is about the music and that makes me about Miike Snow.

If you grabbed DJ be’s Slow Burn Summer mix yesterday then you know Miike Snow’s remix of Vampire Weekend as well as Treasure Fingers’ remix of “Animal.” Their debut album comes out on June 9th but you can be smart like me and buy it on iTunes now (comes with a fresh digital booklet with lyrics!). I could attempt to describe the awesomeness of it all to you but luckily for both of us Miike Snow are streaming the whole jam on MySpace so if you don’t believe me then go believe the music. “Animal” (and it’s myriad brilliant remixes) was the first track to catch my attention, followed by “Burial” and now “Cult Logic,” an anthem of sorts for me these days. Did I mention they are touring? Yeah, I’ll be at Spaceland in L.A. on June 16th if anyone wants to join the party.

Bury your face in MySpace /// Buy on iTunes /// RCRD•LBL freebies

The Maccabees are about to Love You Better

the-maccabees-wall-of-arms-2009

that thought will cost you more than just a sweet smile

The Maccabees – Love You Better

When The Maccabees blew onto the scene in 2007 I was caught in their storm. Their debut LP Colour It In was what The Futureheads’ second album should have been and I loved them for it. Orlando Weeks voice has a specific vulnerable urgency that when coupled with their propulsive guitar rock works magic on me. It seems that most people know them for their single “Toothpaste Kisses” which is unfortunate because it always seemed like the token mellow filler among an LP packed with rock. Anyway, enough praise for their debut, its time to give some love to their recently released follow-up, Wall Of Arms. I have had Wall it on repeat all day and haven’t skipped one track. It is smart, sharp, fast, tight, and most importantly, it is out now. The fantastic lead single “Love You Better” (above) and my fave (not easy to choose) “Can You Give It” (below) will give you a good idea of what you are in for when you make the smart decision to pick this one up.

The Maccabees – Can You Give It

Here is my favorite from their debut Colour It In.

The Maccabees – All In Your Rows

Bury your face in MySpace

Phoenix are giving me Lisztomania

phoenix-wolfgang-art

oh… this is show time

Phoenix – Lisztomania

I, along with the rest of the blogosphere, have been sitting on the new Phoenix album for a while now but considering it’s release date isn’t until May 25th I figured it prudent to wait until May to drop my thoughts on it. Well May is here kids, and I couldn’t be more excited to hype this album! I have been a long time fan of certain phoenix songs (“If I Ever Feel Better,” “Long Distance Call”) but I never really got into any of their albums as a whole. That all changed when I got my paws on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. When the single “1901” hit the web back in February (get my favorite remix here) I had a feeling this album would be a real step up for the French quartet and boy was I right. You can tell by glancing at my Last.fm stats that I haven’t been able to stop listening to this album. Clocking in at 9 tracks (10 if you count the 8 minute ambient filler of “Love Like a Sunset” being split into 2 parts. I don’t.) and 37 minutes it is short, but oh so sweet. The aforementioned “Love Like a Sunset” aside every track here is solid gold. Short, infectious, and tightly wound, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is like Phoenix’s version of Danny DeVito on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: I never really had much faith in their early work but with this I’m sold. And so should you be. May 25th, people. This one’s worth your cash.

Phoenix – Long Distance Call (From 2006’s It’s Never Been like That)

Bury your face in MySpace /// iTunes too

Harlem Shakes want this weekend to be about Strictly Game

technicolorhealth

make a little money, take a lot of shit, feel real bad, then get over it

Harlem Shakes – Strictly Game

With its weirdo-distortion, trotting drums, and the cruising “Ooohs,” the opening of “Strictly Game” is hard to pin down. The drum machine beat that kicks in doesn’t help. Luckily the confusion doesn’t last long as all but the drums cut out with the incoming vocals. Now we’ve got a jam. It almost feels like there should be hand-claps. I recommend toe-taps as a worthy substitute. Brooklyn’s Harlem Shakes (named after the dance move) released their Burning Birthday’s EP in 2007 and generated a lot of buzz with their energetic/spastic live shows. 2009 sees the release of their first full LP, Technicolor Health, and it more than lives up. I never really fell for the EP but I have been playing this one for a week straight. If the major tuneage isn’t enough, get it cause they name-drop Poughkeepsie (holler!) on “Niagara Falls.” Oh, and the guitarist, Todd, is the fantastic one-man side project Arms. Get on that too. I know, it’s a lot. But it’s the weekend so it’s all good, yo. Here is one from the EP to comfort you.

Harlem Shakes – Red Right Hands

Bury your face in MySpace • eMusic too

Passion Pit’s new single has me Reeling

passion-pit

and here I am, oh here I am, oh when will someone understand

Passion Pit – The Reeling

You may remember Passion Pit from my Head’s Up ’09 mix (or from every blog in the galaxy). Well now is that time, folks, that moment of truth when all the hype and anticipation come crashing down on the head of their first single from the upcoming debut LP Manners. First things first, if you aren’t familiar with “Sleepyhead,” the track that grabbed the blogosphere by the ankles and pulled, then cancel your bikini wax and get on it ASAP. Ok, ready? Good. So “The Reeling” has been getting some harsh reactions and I am not feeling their negative vibes, man. In addition to a sweet children’s choir, the track has danceability, rockability, funkability, (drinkability?) and is generally groovy, MAN! I liken those harsh vibes to the dude that complains about his new girlfriend because she is not as hot as his last girlfriend. First, every lady (song) should be treated individually and not compared, that’s just rude, and second, you know if you had never met your Ex (Sleepyhead) you would totally bone this babe (The Reeling) if she came onto you in a bar. And you would love it. So don’t fron’t, you negative Nellys. Anyway, all convoluted sexual metaphors aside, I am feeling this track and am looking forward to more from my favorite vaguely vaginally named band.

Passion Pit – Sleepyhead (Kids At The Bar remix)

If that was too much reading then how’s a ’bout you get dancing with my favorite “Sleepyhead” remix. This one is a “put your drink down, shout “I LOVE this song!” and squeel your way to the dance floor” kind of remix. You know. Oh, you know.

Bury your face in MySpace.