Song, by Toad Festive Fifty 2010: 11-30
Welcome to the second installment of the Song, by Toad Festive Fifty for 2010. Yesterday I explained why I am going to have to exclude Song, by Toad Records music from my end of year lists from now on, and today I am going to explain (i.e. make feeble excuses for) some of the inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies you might perceive in this particular list.
There are certain albums, for example, which just don’t yield edited highlights all that easily. There are no songs by Mount Erie or The Books, for example, because I found it next to impossible to disentangle individual songs from their records – this does not, of course, mean that I don’t love the albums.
In other cases, bands have been somewhat penalised by having too many good songs. Micah P. Hinson, for example could have had loads of songs on here, because I bloody loved his album, but I tried to restrict the number of times any one band appeared on the list. Basically, once a band had a song on here, the second one was treated a little more harshly, and third even more so. It wasn’t systematically done by any means, but I just wanted to represent as broad a selection of bands as possible.
And finally, I suppose it kind of goes without saying, but don’t pay too much attention to the specific order of these songs. Ask me on a different day and I would probably sort them differently.
11. Sam Amidon – Pretty Fair Damsel It’s rare that I hear pretty much anything played as a Toad Session and still end up preferring the full studio version, there’s just something so special about seeing your favourite songs played live in your own living room. This, however, is just amazing. As much as I love Sam’s voice, in this case I think the way the rich, beautiful backing just twinkles its way through the song is what really sets it apart.
12. Jason Lytle – Liquid Hyper Tweeker Energy Drinks If ever a song embodied its subject matter, then it’s this one, with a hyperactive electronic signature harrassing the song from start to finish.
13. David Tattersall – The Typewriter Ribbon David Tattersall is probably starting to get a bit sick of people going on about his lyrics, because it kind of implies that his actual songwriting isn’t good enough to merit mention on its own. Once again though, one of the chief reasons I love this song is the fantastic lyrical content, but to labour that aspect would be to do all the others a massive disservice. There is a lot of sax in this song, for example. Yes, sax! And you know what, it’s fucking cool too!
14. Hezekiah Jones – I Love My Family Here’s a free tip for anyone starting up a brand new label from scratch: have something as utterly beautiful as this on your first release and you will be well on your way. Fucking gorgeous.
15. Kid Canaveral – Her Hair Hangs Down Ever since that video I suspect Kid Canaveral might be growing a little tired of people telling them how great this song is, especially for a band who play some of the most upbeat, infectious pop tunes you could hope to hear. But if Broken Records have to put up with me constantly picking their sad songs, then this lot can bloody well take it too.
16. Male Bonding – Year’s Not Long This is nothing like as rough and ready as their earlier stuff, or so I am told, but there is a furious pace and a reckless rhythm to it which brings what is essentially no more than a first rate pop song to life with incredible vim and relish. They just batter through this with such joyous disregard that you get the impression they might have their next album recorded by the end of the week if only we wouldn’t keep demanding they play the song they’d just finished over and over again.
17. Sweet Baboo – I’m a Dancer The contrast between the loveliness of the music and the darkness of the lyrics on this song is really quite disconcerting. There’s also an odd mixture of self-loathing and leering arrogance about this as well, which just adds to that conflict, despite being a pretty sort of song your mum might well hum along with.
18. Perfume Genius – Mr. Petersen The possible undertones of sexual abuse – or at the very least, of the unspecifically sexually inappropriate – in this song give an almost unbearable emotional weight. The whole album has that, actually, and this song might be one of the poppier ones, but still devastating if you actually think too much about it.
19. Sam Amidon – Way Go Lily The rolling, repeating lyrical refrain in this song give it an hypnotic quality, particularly the way the vocals cut through the swirling orchestration. There’s barely any actual lyrical content to speak of, but the vocals are layered and interwoven like part of the orchestra.
20. Onions – I Want to be a Dancer Some of you might point out that this song was actually released in 2009, not 2010, and is therefore ineligible for this list. I would point out to you that this is my fucking website and I will do what the fuck I like with it. So by virtue of the ‘I will make exceptions as and when I fucking well please’ clause, this counts. For a website most commonly described as supporting Scottish music, I think I’ve found out more about Manchester this year than anywhere else, including my first contact with this massive pop diamond by Onions.
21. David Tattersall – The Old Family Aside from writing truly incredible lyrics, David Tattersall plays a mean guitar. If The Typewriter Ribbon was all about the lyrics and the sax, this is all about that guitar rhythm. I am really itching for The Wave Pictures next album to go nuts with the guitar, because it’s really fucking awesome when they do that.
22. The National – Little Faith My reasons for picking this would be the same as almost any other song on this album: defiant warmth, and resolute gravitas. Why do I like this one marginally better than the others? Dunno, just do.
23. Warm Ghost – Claws Overhead I know this is pretty much this season’s must-have production technique, but here is a big, pounding anthem which has been buried under a blanket in the next room. Or, to put it differently, it sounds like it was written for people on acid but recorded for people on heroin.
24. Glass Animals – Leaflings This song has been put together really carefully and, in my opinion, utterly brilliantly. The bursts of muffled dancefloor beat which emerge at intervals from the muddy background is the only instance in recorded history of me even being able to tolerate that particular sound, never mind absolutely loving it.
25. Admiral Radley – I’m All Fucked on Beer This song needs no more explanation than the title. It’s loud and rude and fucking brilliant. Punch the air, bang yer heids and open another can of Special. And the wee two-second carnival interlude is pure genius.
26. Sweet Baboo – Y’r Lungs In a similar vein to I’m a Dancer, this song isn’t as sweet on the inside as it is on the outside. But in this case the lyrics are at least sufficiently cryptic that the beautifully wistful sense of sadness which pervades the music is the impression which dominates the song.
27. Broken Records – Modern Worksong I said in my review that there was a palpable sense of well-disciplined purpose to this album, and nowhere is this more evident than in this song. Forced forwards by that skittering beat, this track has such drive it’s fantastic.
28. Silver Columns – A Warm Welcome Like Kid Canaveral and Broken Records before them, Silver Columns are learning the immensely irritating lesson that no matter how upbeat and exciting your album, I will absolutely, definitely, always pick the one downbeat number as my favourite song on it. Sorry lads, it’s not you, it’s me.
29. The Scottish Enlightenment – All Homemade Things The Scottish Enlightenment have been relentlessly productive this year, perhaps making up for all the lost time since their last single. The only danger with their album being so well-received is that it seems to make people forget how good their two 2010 EPs were. This is such a simple, simple song too, but that one riff and the customarily unhurried pace are judged just about perfectly.
30. Perfume Genius – Learning A bit like with The National, choosing songs from Learning to include on this list was a little bit arbitrary, as there’s barely a weak song on the album.
Click here to download all these songs in one zip file.admiral radley, broken records, david tattersall, glass animals, hezekiah jones, jason lytle, kid canaveral, male bonding, national, onions, perfume genius, sam amidon, scottish enlightenment, silver columns, sweet baboo, warm ghost