Song, by Toad Festive Fifty 2009 – 36-50
36.Wild Beasts – All The King’s Men
The vocals are weird, but there’s something about a large chunk of this record which I find absolutely compelling. I love Ben’s voice, for starters, and this song probably highlights it better than any other.
37.Virgin of the Birds – Ilona, You Should Still Be My Vampire Attendant
Quite apart from the weird start, this is just a song based around a single, simple, brilliant hook. So infectious I simply can’t stop humming it to myself. And he’s playing a gig at our house on New Year’s Eve, if you fancy seeing him live.
38.Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt.2 (EP Version)
Meursault releasing their singles so late in the year has really fucked with my lists. I love Nothing Broke, and both of the Williams Henry Miller on it, but the single version just blows this clean out of the water and the poor little acoustic version has ended up exiled to No.38. It’s non-lyrical vocal bits which make this – the sort of deflated sigh of dismal unhappiness in between verses – just brilliant.
39.Withered Hand – Providence
Erm, nothing to say about this actually. It’s just ace. Dan’s slightly peculiar lyrics, the borderline-Hawley guitar strums, the vocal harmonies… who knows what makes this song so good. Like all his music though, it just makes you like the guy.
40.Timber Timbre – Magic Arrow
Spooky and weird. That kind of describes the whole album, but the repeating bassline and the insistent rhythm give this one a sort of sinister purpose of its own. One of the discoveries of the year, as far as my ears are concerned.
41.Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard – To be Ojectified
There are a lot of songs about ageing and mortality on Em Are I, but this is one of the saddest and most resigned. It’s like a cross between a stream of consciousness and the gradual deflation of an airbed, and ends up being both maudlin and comforting. Which is to say that the lyrics are a bit on the horrible side, but the delivery is sympathetic and warm.
42.Broken Records – Wolves
Broken Records (and many of my other friends, like Sparrow & the Workshop and Withered Hand) suffer a bit in this year’s Festive Fifty because many of my favourite songs on their album, like A Good Reason, were actually featured in demo version on previous year’s lists. This song, however, did not, and is one of the highlights of their album for me. By the time everything gets going it’s just a fury of a song, and cannot fail to remind of how brilliant these guys are on stage.
43.Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Tom Justice, The Choir Boy Robber
It’s an odd subject, and the story is almost as compelling as the music itself. There was a bit more full band stuff on vs. Children, and I’ve heard older fans complain about this, but the drum beat and the repeated, yet unintrusive chime of the piano in the background of this song are both lovely.
44.Alela Diane – White as Diamonds
This is fucking stunning and would have been in the top five had it not been for those goddamned bastard cymbals, which time has done nothing to soften. The acoustic Daytrotter version of this song is one of the loveliest things I’ve ever heard.
45.Broken Records – Out On the Water
Hmm.. am I allowed to include this, given it was out last year? Fuck it, I love it when a band whose live set is mental and reckless suddenly slow it down and play something surprisingly gentle. Here this is performed live at the Bedlam Theatre early last year – bloody great:
46.Wild Beasts – Hooting And Howling
A bit like other songs of theirs on this list, I don’t know whether I love the vocals, the laid back but nevertheless quite danceable beat or that really nice guitar sound they have. Cracking album.
47.The Leisure Society – The Last of the Melting Snow
The Leisure Society made a bit of a rod for their own backs with this song. By virtue of its Ivor Novello Award nomination it shot a tiny band on a tiny label right into the limelight, and infortunately the rest of their material just didn’t cut the mustard. The album was just plain weak, and I found myself forgetting about this song because of it, which is criminal because it is absolutely brilliant. There is a reason it got them so much attention.
48.Jesus H. Foxx – I’m Half the Man You Were
For a band with two drummers and four guitarists to make such nuanced and subtle music is downright weird. This is probably ‘the pop song’ from their fantastic Matter EP, and that head-nodding rhythm and the gorgeous vocal lead out make this one of my favourite songs of the year.
49.Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers – Beating St Louis
Shilpa Ray’s voice plus accordian. Job done. Honestly, for someone with pipes like these to be accompanied by the macabre accordian moaning which dominates this song is simply a cast-iron recipe for Toad-pleasing.
50.The Smiles and Frowns – Mechanical Songs
Another song which sound like it would be drifting around the abandoned site of a funfair which had gone horribly wrong, this song is from the band’s excellent debut, and also available on eminently desirable white vinyl 7″. Buy one, and make your friends slightly nervous by playing it all the time.