I think one of the big selling points about 2010 is that 2009 will be looked back upon as terrible. It happens every 10 years (1979, 1989, 1999), but secretly everyone knows that the '9 years actually rock. I can list tons of examples... but people have shoddy memories and can't remember what they ate for breakfast.
Julian Casablancas: "River of Brakelights"
Julian's voice may sound Dylan-scraggly, but he sure does know his way around a synth. His solo effort is basically Strokes without the live instruments, and I chose "Brakelights" over the single ("11th Dimension") because it seemed more enduring. (Oddly, both songs contain lyrics about sports, hate and robots.) I could listen to the second bridge for hours.
"1901" is a really catchy and French-y breakout single from a 10-year-old band. Only bad thing about the tune is the sell-out factor (the Cadillac commercial). Plus, the word "phoenix" strikes me as the most stereotypical word in the rock dictionary. Otherwise, lovely.
Marilyn Manson: "15"
Although universally panned, High End of Low is actually a great addition to the Manson catalog. It is chock-full of inspiration--his girlfriend dumped him and he reunited with counterpart Twiggy in the same breath. Nobody dumps Manson! "15" is a point-blank song about an unnamed assailant, and it's really sinister ("Not letting you live won't satisfy me").
Hot Leg: "Cocktails"
Justin Hawkins has been out of the limelight for some time, but since the Darkness he has been writing lots of songs for other bands and... Adam Lambert. Hot Leg is his new group, and it's basically a step up from a hair metal cover band. But their music sounds modern. A guitar, bass and drum solo in the same song, sweet woman! This is maybe the best song ever about mixed drinks, which is a perfect song for a bar.
Sonic Youth: "Malibu Gas Station"
I thought that The Eternal was kind of a dud, but there are still some absolute gems from this old band. "Malibu Gas Station" features an actually listenable Kim Gordon lyricising about southern California "white trash celebrity" (at least that's what I think). The guitar melodies are a little metal and a little rockabilly.
More Best of the Year 2009 ...
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