Music, Shameless self indulgence

Five Memorable Songs of 2009

OK, so just about everyone with a blog or a podcast or a coffee can telephone to yell into has weighed in on their picks for album of the year.

For your standard latte-sipping, NPR totebag-carrying music geek (like me), the consensus picks usually include Animal Collective, the Avett Brothers, Neko Case, and the Decemberists. Nothing wrong with any of those bands, but you can find better writeups elsewhere.

So this Monkey won’t bore you with another list of the same names. Here instead are five songs that made a memorable impact this year that you might not see on other top 10 lists.

(Also, maybe some of these songs technically came out in 2008, but maybe your Monkey didn’t hear them until 2009, and maybe he doesn’t want to hear any corrections, so let’s not nitpick, OK?)

  1. Great Expectations by the Gaslight Anthem: Melodic, sentimental and anthemic pop punk. Good band.
  2. Oh My God by Ida Maria: More high energy stuff in the pop punk vein. You won’t find a more refreshing blast of music this year.
  3. How You Like Me Now by The Heavy. This English band blends elements of Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and Screaming Jay Hawkins into an awesome mashup of funk, rock and soul. This song proves that last year’s breakout single Colleen was no fluke.
  4. The Great Defector by Bell X1: An Irish band writes an unapologetically catchy tune that sounds a lot like the Talking Heads, but that’s OK. U will like.
  5. Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Speaking of the Talking Heads, their former lead singer wows with this super danceable tune. Finally, middle aged white guys have some soul!

Here is the James Brown-ified “The Heavy” at their best.

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Music, Podcasts

Why This Monkey Owes Bell X1 An Apology

Longtime readers of this blog (of which there are none), are likely to remember that Your Monkey recently wrote about his admiration for the Bell X1 single “The Great Defector.”  While your Monkey liked the song on the first listen and continues to like it to this day, he may have erred a bit in his headline for the piece:

Bell X1 Writes the Next Great Talking Heads Song.

Sure, there is no denying that this song shares a lot of the same qualities as a Talking Heads song (the upbeat rhythms, the playful lyrics, the David Byrnian-vocal intonations), but the snarky headline seems to imply that Bell X1 are just an imitation act.

The more your Monkey hears from this Irish band, the more he likes what they have to offer. Recently, the singles Rocky Took a Lover and the Ribs of A Broken Umbrella have made an impression on him. It is clear that this band has a strong sense of melody, a whimsical lyrical style, and some legs to their music.

Bell X1 songs have been the clear standout tracks on recent podcasts from the KEXP and Radio Nowhere, and your Monkey would be crestfallen if his immature style of headline writing has damaged the band’s self esteem in any way.

So please accept these sincere apologies.

And here is another Bell X1 song for your listening pleasure. This is from a live DVD and the performance has an infectious energy. Enjoy!