As I sort through this year's releases, trying to figure out what the hell I'm picking for the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Poll, there are a good number of tracks that keep popping up in my mind. These aren't necessarily the "best" tracks I heard all year, but they're the songs I enjoyed listening to the most. They're also fairly unrelated to my favorite albums of 2010 -- as a matter of fact, in at least one case, I hated the album the track came on, but each of these ten tracks got played over and over again, to the point of ridiculousness.
I've never been so hyped about a piece of film score before, but Daft Punk's "Derezzed," from the Tron: Legacy soundtrack manages to make me not only want to see the movie, but maybe get a little funky at the same time. If ever there were a perfect act to soundtrack a movie about being sucked into a computer, it would be a French electronic duo who dress like robots.
Gaslight Anthem hails from the Garden State of New Jersey, and like that state's favorite son, Bruce Springsteen, the band knows how to write bombastic songs that celebrate the common man. "Diamond Street Church Choir" might be Boss-aping at its most obvious, but the tune's so loaded with "whoah-oh"s in its singalong chorus, it became my summer jam in a heartbeat.
While Wavves are part of the whole lo-fi, indie rock trend that's in vogue right now, where you steal as much as you possibly can from Pet Sounds without actually covering it, the California act managed to step away from the pack. "King of the Beach" demonstrates that ably, with a snotty punk edge to the song that shows they're more than just a No Age knock-off.
Was there a better opening track on any album this year than LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean"? The way it plods along, slowly but surely building up for almost five minutes, before it absolutely explodes with throbbing bass? Fucking brilliant. I can't imagine how well this worked in concert, but James Murphy could've looped that Casio drumbeat for double the amount of time, and the release still would've been ecstatically cathartic.
Beach House's "Zebra" was this year's "Comfy In Nautica" or "Young Folks." It was the sleepy, mellow, indie cut that you could've heard every hour of every day for months on end, and you still would've smiled just as big the hundredth time you heard it. The harmonies on the chorus are sweet and beautiful, and the whole song just manages to make me feel happy in a way that's nearly impossible to put into words.
While past Gorillaz albums have managed to have several songs on them which could stand on their own as singles. Plastic Beach is different, in that it functions best as a complete work, with each track flowing into another in such a way as to make singling one out difficult. That being said, "Stylo" still manages to work as a single, thanks especially to Bobby Womack's soulful contribution.
There was a resolution pending / On the United Nations floor is, probably, the least likely way to start a catchy power-pop number, yet Ted Leo and the Pharmacists manage to do just that on "Bottled In Cork," from The Brutalist Bricks. The Simon and Garfunkel-styled acoustic portion of the song bounces along, and you're almost dsitracted from the fact that the song is les about falling in love, and more about international relations.
The first time I heard Sleigh Bells' "Infinity Guitars," I was annoyed beyond belief. Then, it was stuck in my head for something like a week. So, I listened to it again, and liked. Repeat for about a month, and it's one of my favorite tracks of the year. They're ripping off the Go Team something fierce with the stomp-clap-shout-sample formula, but as the next Go Team album isn't out 'til next year, this does a fine job of filling that need.
The Black Keys finally managed to lose me this year with Brothers. It got too far away from the blues-based, two-man formula they'd been using to great effect for years, and they started sounding a little too Blueshammer-y for my tastes. "Sinister Kid" manages to be the one track on their most recent album to stretch their formula with some Meters-like funk and still stay true to what's made me a fan all these years.
Y'know what? I don't care that this is a cover. The Bird and the Bee's Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates is relentlessly charming and wonderful, and the album as a whole managed to make me actually enjoy listening to songs I'd long since grown sick of. "Heard It On the Radio," in particular, is just so cheerful and catchy that I had to physically restrain myself from playing the whole thing at a wedding rception this past summer.