The list is tightly bound by my taste for the punchy over the swishy, the pounding over the lilting, the catchy over the fancy and the relentless pursuit of relentlessness. When I say punchy, pounding, catchy and relentless, you'd think punk and you wouldn't be wrong but the lifeboat's got room for folk, country, power-pop, ska, the much-maligned (by me anyway) indie-rock and perhaps a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger.
1. Manic Street Preachers "Jackie Collins Existential Question Time"
While Journal for Plague Lovers is not as immediate to me as Send Away the Tigers, this track with it's refrain of, "Oh, mommy, what's a Sex Pistol?" is as good of a smack-in-the-face as anything they've done.
2. Radio Faces "Slippin' Back With You
Milwaukee-ite Nato Coles 2nd best album of the year (see the next list) could be given a ridiculous genre like "bar-punk" or "honky-punk" but songs like this are just rough-hewn, mid-western rock n' roll played like the final closing time is nigh.
3. Pugwash "Monorail"
If I was Australian (where this Irish band had a huge hit this year) I'd hate this song but since it's a novel obscurity with cool keyboards, a lyrical list and, befitting the album's name, Earworm, a chorus that slithers into your ear like Kahn's mind-controlling eels and just takes over it'll fit here.
4. Teenage Bottlerocket "Skate or Die
The fact that Teenage Bottlerocket (and their kin, The Lillingtons) so often resemble an old-school hardcore band as much as a pop-punk band is their secret strength.
5. Classics of Love "Slow Car Crash"
I've a bit of weakness for survivors, like ex-Operation Ivy/Common Rider singer Jesse Michaels but he's still a all-out performer with a knack for wise, sharp-eyed lyrics and choruses that a crowd of sweaty kids can yell along to instantly.
6. The Bomb "Space Age Love Song"
Despite the abundance of ripping rockers ( "Haver", "Integrity") on Speed is Everything that sees Chicago punk legend Jeff Pezzatti (of the fearsome Naked Raygun) giving the kids hell, I chose this mid-tempo, post-punk ballad because it hearkens back to "Holding You" a longing ballad from the neglected album Raygun, Naked Raygun.
7. Two Hours Traffic "Territory"
The pride of Prince Edward dish out sprightly power-pop with a dollop of wussiness.
8. Frank Turner "The Road"
Poetry of the Deed was a bit of a let-down but this song is not only a clear-eyed statement of Turner's philosophy of itinerance, it's also a grand, booming song whether played solo or with the band.
9. Shonen Knife "Ramones Forever"
I'm a sucker for a heartfelt tributes to great bands and for Osaka's Shonen Knife.
10. The Methadones "Gary Glitter"
I'm also a sucker for savage put-downs like this one from Dan Vapid formerly of Chicago's Kings of Pop-Punk, Screeching Weasel.
11. Said the Whale "Camillo (the Magician)"
With "Camillo" Said the Whale prove that while there may be not be any good band names left to pick there's still a near-inexhaustible supply of power-pop hooks as yet uncast.
12. Dear Landlord "I Live in Hell"
Pop-punk schleps Adam and Brett from Chicago's the Copyrights name their sideband after a Dylan song and rock like hell.
13. Roman Candle "Why Modern Radio is A-OK With Me"
A little alt-country is good for what ails you, especially when it's astute, tuneful and not too studied.
14. Carbon Silicon "What's Up Doc?"
While I wish that Mick Jones and Tony James would remember that songs can be over in 2 minutes fifty-nine, you gotta love a rip-snorting rocker like this:
15. Grant Hart "You're the Reflection of the Moon on the Water"
A hummable zen-noise-pop song from the former Husker Du man and members of Godspeed You Black Emperor.
16. Dr Frank "Bethlehem"
The doctor must need to write catchy pop-punk songs with clever lyrics and quirky bridges since he keeps recording music despite his massive literary success (calling the sequel to his best-seller King Dork, King Dork Approximately is a sly Dylan reference).
17. Tinted Windows "Kind of a Girl"
Okay, the classic super-group paradox (the whole is less than the sum of the parts) kicked in for this Cheap-Trick-Smashing Pumpkins-Fountains-of-Wayne-Hanson aggregation but, fittingly, the single was a grand-scale pop song.
18. Ida Maria "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked"
As I've said before, the hype, or lack thereof, is irrelevant, if the song (in this case one by a sexy Norwegian) makes you want to sing along or air drum than you've got a winner.
19. Jeffrey Lewis "Whistle Past the Graveyard"
New York cartoonist and anti-folk standard-bearer Lewis tries on his cow-punk boots then contemplates eternal life and zombies.
20. Oak Ridge Boys "Seven Nation Army"
Stop using that word novelty like it's a bad thing, as if this White Stripes classic didn't always need some gnarly country veteran going bom-bom-bom-bom-bom in the background.
21. Dan Magann "Tina’s Glorious Comeback"
As a singer and song-writer I'd slot Vancouver's Magann somewhere between the Violent Femme's Gordon Gano and the Weakerthan's John K. Sampson and while some of Nice, Nice Very Nice is occasionally a bit hushed or precious, when his cleverness and tunefulness come together it's impressive.
22. Bob Dylan "It's All Good"
Together Trough Life was not a great record by any stretch but this song is one of those "Foot of Pride" style attacks on the world's ills that even a half-assed, strangulated Dylan pulls off well.
(Bonus: Bryan Scary and the Shedding Tears will confuse the hell out of everyone with Queen-like piano-punk song, "Andromeda's Eyes".)
Okay, MRML Readers, leave us a comment on our choices and then tell us your picks for the great songs of '09
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