Second day and, as promised, a second piece of the list. Here are tracks forty through thirty one.
40. Gomez – “Airstream Driver”
Reverb is utilized well here, as Gomez creates a fantastic rhythm for the song and layers over it increasingly as the song builds. The lyrics bounce along throughout the piece as guitar riffs and even – dare I say it? – cowbell is used. A truly ingenius work from a consistent band that’s still solid after all these years.
39. Ingrid Michael – “Soldier”
Her guitar strums manically at the beginning of the piece, and soon she’s joined by backing drums, then bass guitar, and finally the chorus ties all together in an uplifting swell. “And so it goes, this soldier knows/The battle with the heart isn’t easily won/….but it can be won” shows the tough facade of the protagonist crumbling around her as she finally realizes what it means to love. Cheesy? Yes. But dammit if it’s not effective.
38. K’naan – “Wavin’ Flag”
I had the privilege of seeing this song performed live last spring, and nothing can compare. When I heard that it was chosen as the theme for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I was ecstatic. K’naan details his difficult childhood in Somalia and raps in a spectacular flow about how as he grows, so does his strength. It’s literally one of those songs you can listen to a hundred times and still feel your heart start to swell as the chorus kicks in.
37. Jason Lytle – “Brand New Sun”
Psychedelic folk is really the best way to describe this love song for the new millenium. “So you should hold my hand while everything blows away” drifts out softly from Lytle’s throat as the audience gets swept up in the almost apocalyptic lyrics. This could be an especially unfortunate hike or just as easily be a conversation between the father and son team from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. And yet it’s still so charming in the way it conveys his love.
36. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – “Cool Yourself”
Full disclosure: Thao was a friend of mine in college. This doesn’t change the fact that her infectious indie pop here works so well. The strumming guitars coincides with the sunny drums and Thao’s “Oh, gotdayum” vocal delivery. Horns only add to the fun once the obligatory “Whoa whoa whoa’s” start, and the almost jangly captivation of the song takes over.
35. The Dodos – “Fables”
If Grizzly Bear wrote a more upbeat, more accessible pop song, it would most likely sound just like this. The harmonies are spot on and the hard-thumping guitars work well with the cheery lyrics. The instruments seem to spiral out of control near the end of the song, then build back onto each other with an aggression that belies the buoyancy of the rest of the track.
34. Noah and the Whale – “Blue Skies”
When compared to the light-hearted work on NatW’s first album, “Blue Skies” is a far cry from the standard set by the whistling charm of songs like “Five Years’ Time.” The orchestral movements and choral back up of the slow-moving arrangement plays well to the broken heart of the singer. Written after a particularly devastating break up, this song really shows transformation with lines like “This is the last song that I write while I’m still in love with you.”
33. Joe Purdy – “Miss Me”
Purdy is the undiscovered gem of Arkansas, and this song is no exception. “Miss Me” uses the guitar, fiddle, banjo, and slow drums to support lyrics concerning a story of abandonment. There’s a bitterness inherent in the words, a resentment even, but the protagonist seems to still have legitimate concern for his lover that left him so easily for the big city. Once the harmonica sets in halfway through, you’re already lost in the overwhelming charm and heartbreak of Mr. Purdy himself.
32. Free Energy – “Dream City”
You might recognize the first few notes from the ubiquitous flip camera commercials, but the entire song is outstanding. The pop rock beginning transitions to almost a croon, as the instruments subside into the background. A raucous guitar provides our backdrop while a brass section adds a certain flare to the experience. The energy picks back up soon, however, and horns and drums work together to build to a climactic end section. Once the “Na na na na’s” begin, try to resist the allure of Free Energy.
31. Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch – “Lua”
Another entry from the compilation Dark Was the Night, and another duet on the list. I chided Feist and Ben Gibbard for not really adding anything to the song they used, but quite the opposite is evident here. Conor covers his own song, but the addition of Gillian’s lilting voice creates more sympathy and an evocation of pain than the original, which sounded far whinier. The mandolin almost seems like the heart strings themselves are being plucked. In the end, a cover should transform the song, and while this change was subtle, it was thorough and quite affecting.
Tracks thirty through twenty one will arrive, like a present wrapped from a fat ass creeper with a fondness for children, on Christmas morning.
Hope you enjoyed the second section of songs for the list. If you’re missing any from your library, check out this link for some help.