by Bill Forman
Why, it seems like it was just yesterday that we began counting down these top ten favorite songs of 2009. But it was actually, you know, Monday. To refresh your memory, here’s a quick recap of previous installments, minus the accompanying videos and rationalizations:
10. “Fantasy Man” by the Swell Season
9. “Sea Within a Sea” by the Horrors
8. “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” by Mayer Hawthorne
7. “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray
6. “Treat Me Like Your Mother” by the Dead Weather
5. “Alcoholics Unanimous” by Art Brut
4. “Her Eyes are Underneath the Ground” by Antony & the Johnsons
And so the countdown continues. As we build up to tomorrow’s final, startling revelation, here are the runners-up ...
3. “Jetstream” by Doves (Astralwerks/Caroline)
With Kingdom of Rust, Doves nearly snagged their third No. 1 album in the U.K. — Lady GaGa won out by just a handful of sales — and this opening track suggests why they’ve had such staying power. It’s a push-pull of power and restraint, with orchestrated arrangements over an almost incongruously loping rhythm, like Aaron Copland brooding beneath a dejected English sky.
Jimi Goodwin’s vocals, meanwhile, are as elegantly plaintive as any since “There Goes the Fear.” Comparisons to Coldplay will no doubt continue, but if that’s what it takes to broaden their audience in the states, so be it. In fact, I kind of envy anyone hearing Doves for the first time. There’s not a better band out there right now.
2. “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups (Dangerbird)
When this song came out in March, I was left feeling much the same way I’d felt about Silversun Pickups’ first album: another great live band that can’t pull it off on record. A few listens later, though, and it was like when The Wizard of Oz goes from black and white to color: Nikki Monninger’s sinuous bassline, the driving repetition of the verses, all building up to that monster chorus (“When you see yourself in a crowded room / Do your fingers itch / Are you pistol-whipped ...”). Brian Aubert’s songs sound just like Smashing Pumpkins’ might if Billy Corgan were actually able to sing, and they can expect to be performing this one for a very long time to come.