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The Mass Media

Five Indisputably Excellent And Underplayed Songs of 2009

Five Indisputably Excellent And Underplayed Songs of 2009
Five Indisputably Excellent And Underplayed Songs of 2009

Let’s do a countdown. So much good music came out this year that it’s hard to decide which songs to include on such an important list. Indisputably excellent? Yes. Underplayed, because it’s literally impossible to play these songs too many times. So you’re in for a treat.I’ve decided on these five songs because they are the best, and because they are from the best five albums that came out this year. Of course we’ll have to go backwards.Number Five:M. Ward – Oh Lonesome MeThis is a remake of a song by Don Gibson, that topped the country music charts in 1958 for eight weeks. The original was fast and lively, making light of emotion with twangs in the ‘i’s and the ‘e’s. Speedy and self-deprecating, it infuses lonesomeness with irony. But this version embraces the emotion in the lyrics musically. A picked melody supported by piano replaces the rhythm guitar from the original. It’s almost unrecognizable as a country song. M. Ward’s gravelly voice increases the song’s mournful tone without over doing it. Ward’s collaboration with folk singer Lucinda Williams makes it much more meaningful, the perfect song for mourning lost lovers. Plus it’s six minutes long, because sadness is most enjoyable when it’s drawn out.Number Four:Cunninglynguists – HypnotizedI’m surprised no one thought of this clever name before, but it may be why these rappers don’t get the radio time they deserve. However, while the name makes me chuckle, the album produced by this trio of Southern rappers is serious work. The only boring spots are the skits. Who decided skits between tracks were cool? It never worked for Nas, Eminem, Kanye West or any other rap or punk artist’s album that I know of. Record execs should put their foot down on this issue. Anyway, these guys are sample masters. Listening to their stuff makes me want to be a DJ. And the lyrics are fun, not Shakespeare or anything, but I’d say they’re cunning enough. My girlfriend loves them, and especially the line, “Did you just pinch yourself? Cause you’s a dream come true.” I’ve probably heard that part of the song five times as much as the rest of the song thanks to the magic of rewind.Number Three:Sunset Rubdown – Silver MoonsEpic. That’s how this song bursts into play. Musically, it doesn’t seem that complicated, but it feels like listening to a symphony. It washes over you like a wave. What makes this sound? Organ, maybe? The instruments are a mystery, but their effect is heart stopping. I wish I had sub woofers just for this song. And the vocals are shocking. I don’t know if they would work in front of anything less than a wall of sound. This band began as the singer from Wolf Mother, Spencer Krug’s solo project and quickly expanded to a quartet. Their style is distinct, otherworldly and wonderful. It’s the kind of band that makes bland words like wonderful mean something. Sunset Rubdown makes me want to drink red wine and watch a volcano erupt.Number Two:Wilco – One WingThere’s no way to tell which song on Wilco’s newest album is best, but if I had to choose I’d say “One Wing” is the song. It’s got some stellar guitar bits leading into the verses, and subtle sad and disturbing minor notes. The ambiguity in the lyrics makes you think. Classic Wilco. Who would have known I’d ever be a fan. My first exposure to this band was when I got a mixtape with “Secret of the Sea” on it and I never listened to the song for more than fifteen seconds at first. That was a year ago, but the song grew on me, and Wilco’s newest album has me floored. It’s worth checking out on youtube, if you have time.Number One:Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse – Angel’s HarpFrank Black of the Pixies sings this song on DJ Danger Mouse’s new masterpiece, Dark Night of the Soul. The album is by far the best music compilation of 2009, including vocals from the Flaming Lips, the Strokes and Iggy Pop among others. It’s dark, dreamy and provocative. “Angel’s Harp” is one of the less catchy songs on the CD, but it’s the most unique and edgy. It’s the song I kept rewinding to, but the album should really be listened to as a whole. David Lynch made a full size book of artwork and photography to be sold with it. But, you may never hear the album or see the art without an Internet connection. EMI will not release the album because of an undisclosed dispute with Danger Mouse, leaving the project either scrapped or on indefinite hiatus. Even illegal versions of the songs are disappearing from file sharing networks like Bearshare and Limewire. The only reliable way to hear the album is by streaming it on NPR.org. I guess with this much talent contributing to one album there’s bound to be some eccentric mix up.