-Across the Universe Soundtrack - All My Loving The intro of this song in the movie is a ridiculously adorable scene--I love the way the girl says “Pull the other one” when Jude sings “and remember I’ll always be true.” His Limey accent really shines through in this song too, I love it.
-The Beach Boys - God Only Knows This might just be the ultimate song for a significant other. There is no better musical description of that all-consuming storybook love that every girl (and many guys, even if they don’t want to admit it) dreams about.
-Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life This might just be the cutest song ever written. We’ve all met someone who makes us feel brand new. This song articulates that feeling perfectly.
-Bright Eyes - Oh, You Are the Roots That Sleep Beneath My Feet and Hold the Earth In Place Again, we’ve all met someone like this. Someone who keeps us grounded and holds us up. Someone who is our foundation.
-Cat Power - Sea of Love I first heard this song in Juno and it was just irresistible. I’m not really that into Cat Power but this is a beautiful cover of surprisingly old song (surprising to me anyway). For any fans of Tom Waits, he does a phenomenal cover of this song as well--totally different from this one.
-Dashboard Confessional - Hands Down OK, it’s cheesy as all hell but you can’t deny this: this is absolutely what the best date of your life sounds like in your head.
-Lucero - Slow Dancing This is either the happiest sad song ever or the saddest happy song ever.
-Stone Temple Pilots - Still Remains Some might call this song a tad creepy. I think that’s kind of a narrow-minded view. It’s a beautifully prosaic song about (truly) all-consuming love in an extremely intimate context. It’s a little intense but I fell in love with it when I was a teenager in love for the first time and never really looked back from there.
-Thrice - The Weight This is a little bit more of an adult perspective, focusing on commitment and dedication more so than passion and emotion--although it has plenty of both to spare.
-Weezer - Susanne Any guy would kill for a girl like Susanne. Someone to bake you brownies and give you the coat off her back. Someone to put Izzy, Slash, and Axl Rose on hold when you call. All that you need in the world.
-Weezer - Holiday Another old-timey 6/8 time signature love song from the W. This one describes a beautiful Utopian vacation with the girl of your dreams to “a strange and distant land where they speak no word of truth but we don’t understand anyway.”
-Yellowcard - October Nights If “God Only Knows” is the ultimate song for a significant other then this is its pop punk equivalent. I never make a mix tape for a girl I like without this song...and usually I close with it. A perfect articulation of the romanticism of one of the favorite past times of lovers the world over: watching their lover sleep. Awww.
Current Lover (not quite so joyful):
-John Mayer - Slow Dancing In a Burning Room Leave it to John Mayer to write a love song about being in an apparently doomed relationship with a woman he appears to openly loathe
-Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories - Stay I’ve always kinda dug this song but I never really started appreciating it until I FINALLY discovered the movie Reality Bites about 17 years too late. It’s the perfect bookend for that movie. A heartbreaker about a serious communication breakdown between two disgruntled lovers who always seem to find their way back to one another.
-Lucero - What Else Would You Have Me Be? I really, really love this song and relate to it immensely. The title says it all: a defiant and earnest declaration of “this is who I am, love it or leave it.”
I hadn't really planned on doing one of these but when Danielle did hers, I felt challenged. My reputation as the World Heavyweight Champion of lists was on the line. How could I back down? I also felt like there needed to be a little balance between the representation of the mainstream and the underground. I used to make one of these lists every year but after that one I got a little bit lazy. But thanks to Vundablog I'm back on track this year! Let's get right to it, shall we?
11. Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2
It's been a while but these guys still got it. Some of the best beats they've ever produced and I love the way their voices and lyrics have evolved.
10. Adele - 21
Unlike Danielle, I think this album is phenomenal front to back. The first five tracks are especially unstoppable as well as a sweet cover of The Cure's "Lovesong" and the beautiful single "Someone Like You." This woman's voice gives me chills.
9. Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch the Throne
When one of the world's best emcees teams with one of the world's best producers, you can't help but expect greatness. While it didn't quite live up to the expectations of the names attached to it, it still plays very well to both men's individual talents (especially Kanye--some of his best beats ever are on this record) and what you're left with is the best hip hop record of the year.
8. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
There's a pretty sizable wave of psychedelic/baroque/dark/minimalist folk and indie music going on right now and as much as I respect a lot of the bands doing it and know they're talented, very little of it moves me. This is a very notable exception. This record just sweeps you up in a whimsical world from the word go with walls of sound and texture. I wish more of these neo-folk bands sounded like this.
7. Esoteric - Paragon of Dissonance
7 songs. 94 minutes. EPIC DOOM.
6. Mastodon - The Hunter
After "Blood Mountain" and "Crack the Skye", it seems like Mastodon is pretty much expected to produce greatness pretty much every time they release an album at this point. This obviously doesn't live up to those two albums but it's safe to say that Mastodon has done it again and shows very little sign of letting up. Some signs...but not very many...
5. La Dispute - Wildlife
Saw these dudes open for Thrice in October and they really blew me away with their energy and intensity. Amazingly, the record does a pretty admirable job of capturing that powerful live energy. The vocals can be polarizing but I personally LOVE them. This band reminds me a lot of Modern Life is War in a lot of ways. Good ways.
4. Wilco - The Whole Love
It's truly a shame that this band isn't more of a force in the musical landscape of today because they do all the things everybody loves and do them better than all the bands that everyone loves but no one knows who they are.
3. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
This is the record that all the phenomenal female vocalists of today (including Adele) wish they could make. THIS is how it's done, ladies. Take notes.
2. Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning
Listen to this on headphones and prepare to be carried away on a mystical journey through several very different dimensions, sometimes all at once. Prog rock surely is NOT dead.
1. Thrice - Major/Minor
I have to admit I'm biased on this one but I can't help it, I just love this band so much. This record was pretty much what I expected: a lot more pop-oriented, specifically in song structure, and much more focused on Dustin's voice and on melodies and harmonies. "Call It In the Air" is right up there among the most epic songs these guys have ever written. LOVE IT!