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.

Music, Podcasts

Five female-fronted music groups you should be hearing — plus a link to a free Mp3

Recently, your Monkey narrator has been hearing a lot of excellent female artists that are deserving of some attention. Some of them you may know, some you may be hearing for the first time. But all of them are worth your attention.

  1. Ida Maria: Your Monkey has written about this high energy punk pop Norwegian songstress in the past, and if you haven’t checked out her American debut album “Fortress ‘Round My Heart” yet, you are in for a treat. Start with the singles “Oh My God” and “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” and see what you think. They will only cost you two bucks on itunes, which is pretty much what thi Monkey gets charged for every ATM visit.
  2. Metric: The latest album from this Toronto-based group fronted by singer Emily Haines has been getting a lot of good buzz recently. For the highly competitive price of free, you can download an acoustic version of their latest single “Help I’m Alive” from their site. Pretty good deal if you ask this Monkey. Link to site is here.
  3. P. J. Harvey and John Parish:  The latest album between the well-known Harvey and the lesser known Parish is called “Woman A Man Walked By.” Harvey first perked this Monkey’s ears last year when she released the moody, contemplative and piano-driven album “White Chalk.” Since Rhapsody does not have this album, your Monkey has not been able to listen to the whole thing yet, but the song “Black Hearted Love” was featured on a recent All Songs Considered podcast and is well worth your time. Here is a link to the podcast.
  4. Connecticut-based band Eula was recently featured as one of Christopher Laird’s artists of the week on his weekly Radio Nowhere radio show and podcast. This three-piece band has a nice low-fi  sound with a little more aggression than you might expect. Here’s a link to their website.
  5. The Birthday Massacre: This might be a product of your monkey’s abnormal brain, but there is something strangely comforting about this band’s unsettling, industrial synthpop sound. It be the mix of the melodic and the menacing. Check out a video below.