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“Dolby’s Top 500 Indie Rock Tracks of All Time (500-251)”

No, Taylor Swift isn’t dead. She’s still alive, but she is a Sy Borg. No, I’m not fu**ing kidding.
Guess who wrote and sang these songs I have listed below here? I’ll give you a hint: NOT FU**ING SY BORGS. They drink, belch, scratch their nuts, cuss, and fu**ing rock. No introduction should even be necessary.
It is interesting, though, because I’ve put a lot of punk songs on here, too. Punk is always indie rock, though indie rock isn’t always punk: it can be alt-country, lo-fi, noise, or most commonly, just the band damned music being made on the planet, music that SHOULD be on mainstream radio. But then, this is the way the world works sometimes.

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500 Born Ruffians – “Ocean’s Deep” (Birthmarks) [Paper Bag]
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Cover your ears, people who thought Goldfinger and the Suicide Machines were “overly perky”! Still, the “Float on” of the 20-teens is in many ways ranked too low on here.
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499 Harlem Shakes – “Unhurried Hearts (Passaic Pastoral)” (Technicolor Health) [Gigantic Music]
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I’m thinkin’ it’s probably Lexy Benaim’s (it’s a dude) explicit sexuality that keeps this band from being more popular—it’s extremely jarring, it’s like he’s on too much acid to be able to tell whether he’s a pimp or a loser.
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498 Beach House – “Holy Dances” (Devotion) [Carpark]
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Some of Victoria Legrand’s best falsetto surfaces on this album… did she eventually become shy about showing off her voice? As a staunch devotee of Devotion stacking up against their albums since then, I would say yes.
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497 Yo La Tengo – “Did I Tell You” (New Wave Hot Dogs) [Coyote]
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A stately, sedate Yo La Tengo number here, notable if for no other reason for the head-twisting chorus: “I’ll try not to wonder / Or tell you that I’m not willing to wait / ‘Cause deep in my heart I’m willin’ / Heart’s still willin’ / Brain’s impatient / My heart’s still willin’ to wait”.
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496 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – “I’m a Ghost” (Hearts of Oak) [Matador]
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For indie rock, this is definitely some powerful bass. It’s like Leo himself said: “Please don’t take my anger away!”
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495 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – “Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead” (Hearts of Oak) [Matador]
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Speed, speed, speed… proof that if Leo rose to prominence in the ‘90s he would have fit right in in Less than Jake or Green Day.
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494 Oxford Collapse – “For the Winter Coats” (Bits) [Sub Pop]
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The memorable, inimitable lyrics seem to pile up almost on top of each other in the verses of these songs, and then you think you’re in the chorus — so Oxford Collapse’s gift for harvesting an INCREDIBLE climax really hits you, even if the song is just about not being able to get to sleep.
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493 Liz Phair – “Go on ahead” (Whitechocolatespaceegg) [Matador]
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Sort of an unassuming little ditty here of Phair’s third album, but a soothing, simple melody nonetheless, and featuring a most subtle key change in the middle. Nice touch.
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492 Cat Power – “You May Know Him” (Moon Pix) [Matador]
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Here again we have lyrics extracting themselves out of songs and standing on their own as sovereign poetry, so that a discussion of the music itself seems as irrelevant as it is futile. Cat Power knows this, and leaves things bare, allowing her cherubic voice the distinct artistic statement overhead.
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491 The Dismemberment Plan – “I Love a Magician” (Emergency & I) [De Soto]
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I’ll leave it up to you to decide how the he** this band does this, or any of the stuff that they do: suffice it to say that what shines through here is just the youth of the whole thing, and yeah, to an extent, the stupidity. They’ll gladly err on that side, and more than make up for it later.
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490 Cat Power – “Cross Bones Style” (Moon Pix) [Matador]
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Remember rapper k-os? Kinda? Give him props for at least a passable nod to this song on his album Joyful Rebellion: “Oh how time flies / With crystal clear eyes” — a song wholly indescribable, but never forgettable.
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489 The Dismemberment Plan – “Gyroscope” (Emergency & I) [De Soto]
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This is Travis Morisson’s eerie knack for tugging at your heartstrings — depicting an urban, depraved scene in a crowd from the perspective of one individual experiencing that crowd, and having to go through life knowing that all the while, they’re truly alone.
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488 Beach House – “Turtle Island” (Devotion) [Carpark]
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This song has one of the most inspiring and beautiful of Beach House’s lines: “How I want Olive to know / That inside me she’ll always grow”.
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487 Deerhunter – “Fluorescent Grey” (Fluorescent Grey EP) [Kranky]
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An apt opener on the excellent Fluorescent Grey EP, which you’d never listen to. Guess why? ‘Cause there’s four great full lengths by this band to enjoy.
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486 Beach House – “You Came to Me” (Devotion) [Carpark]
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More great Devotion shenanigans here… I remember the knock on this album being that the drum machine was “cheap-sounding”… well this ain’t Daft freakin’ Punk, and the melodies and lyrics are there 100%
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485 Cat Power – “Babydoll” (You Are Free) [Matador]
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Ok already writing about these songs I’m getting this overwhelming feeling like WHY ISN’T THIS SONG NUMBER ONE, which is a scary thought, seeing as this is where I’m at on the list.
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484 The New Pornographers – “The New Face of Zero and One” (Electric Version) [Matador]
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Sugary catchiness to the point of “ridiculousness” was critics’ reception to the Pornos from day one, but things only got stickier for their excellent sophomore effort Electric Version, on which this is about the 37th-best song or so. Something like that.
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483 Women – “Upstairs” (Women) [Jagjaguwar]
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This is the lazy, languid and just-twisted-enough followup to the album’s centerpiece “Shaking Hand,” a song which features one of the most stupefying phrase in its complex, trebly-guitar outro. The essence of DIY, with full control in the hands of the guitarists and his bag of tricks.
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482 Deerhunter – “Nothing Ever Happened” (Microcastle) [Kranky]
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Cool concept here covered by Bradford Cox, even if it seems a little wonky as far as the idea goes — the sensation of the self being permanent, and life being temporary, and what’s more, disposable. Great artist in music and lyrics overall. Wait, wikipedia says the rhythm section wrote this song! Well some guitarist shreds all over it, that’s for sure.
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481 Yo La Tengo – “The Summer” (Fakebook) [Bar/None]
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I THINK this is Georgia Hubley singing on this song, although the vocal is so mellow and sonically mixed in with the reverb-heavy guitars that the whole thing tends to sound like one organic whole.
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480 Modest Mouse – “Cowboy Dan” (The Lonesome Crowded West) [Up]
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Whoa, is this sh** intense… this definitely isn’t a song you forget after you hear it, and in general people tend to typically either love or hate Modest Mouse.
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479 Grimes – “Weregild” (Halfaxa) [Arbutus]
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I remember bits and pieces from Grimes’ sophomore non-slump Halfaxa… I remember it not being as approachable as Visions and certainly Art Angels, but this is the main one that still sticks out for me, all the while still resting on those ominous minor chords.
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478 Califone – “Slower Twin” (Quicksand/Cradlesnakes) [Thrill Jockey]
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The penultimate track on a fantastic album here, “Slower Twin” is sort of the more optimistic, LESS depressing precursor to album closeur “Stepdaughter.”
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477 Califone – “Tayzee Nub” (Roomsound) [Dead Oceans]
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Halfway through the group’s stellar debut album Roomsound, this one blossoms, flourishes, and stands giant, with lyrics about oblivion… maybe drugged up? Probably drugged up.
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476 Big Star – “Daisy Glaze” (Radio City) [Ardent]
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I’ll admit, all the Big Star songs I put on here come from by The Best of Big Star CD. Not only is it a best-of, it’s not vinyl! (Writer places hand dutifully in indie holy water.)
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475 Sebadoh – “It’s All You” (The Sebadoh) [Sub Pop]
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I bought The Sebadoh on a fateful trip to Denver’s Twist and Shout records (I’m pretty sure I mention this episode on like every other post on this blog)… “It’s All You” is significant because it’s the first song on the album, and co-Sebadoh-songwriter Jason Lowenstein really gives us an in-depth look into his idyllic mindset: “I’m gonna get so wasted!”
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474 Califone – “Slow Rt. Hand” (Roomsound) [Dead Oceans]
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Again… how is this song not higher… here we find Califone potentiating their gift for juxtaposing florid picking and buoyant sliding, all over a chord progression that turns on a dime, and lunges you back into climax before you even think you’re ready.
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473 Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks” (Veckatimest) [Warp]
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Commonly known song here… I used to hear it on the Pandora station they played in a Whole Foods I worked at, and it probably had no business not being a blockbuster single… yet, this isn’t a “pop” album they were making, per se. It’s way too explorative.
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472 Fugazi – “Birthday Pony” (Red Medicine) [Dischord]
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Honestly, I don’t remember much from my experiences with this album, other than thinking, wow, somebody actually hates the world as much as me (which is something considering that as is documented in Everett True’s Nirvana: The Biography Ian MacKaye actually had an affluent upbringing). And sure, this is like a postmodern deescalation into the mindset of a fifth grader, that doesn’t hurt.
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471 Hercules and Love Affair – “Time Will” (Hercules and Love Affair) [DFA]
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To be honest this whole album sort of melds together as one for me… I don’t ever remember putting it on (on CD) and then taking it out (or flipping the CD over so it was upside down) ever, unless I had to work or something. “Time Will” is the opener.
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470 Surfer Blood – “Fast Jabroni” (Astro Coast) [Kanine]
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Not really a climax on the album, but a credible little 100-yard dash here… by the way this dude in jail recently didn’t know what a “jabroni” was! Da** do I feel old.
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469 Pavement – “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” (Slanted & Enchanted) [Matador]
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This is to be honest a mind-bogglingly underwhelming song when stacked up to the rest of Pavement’s collection… I’m really not sure why I put it on the list at all, it must have represented some mental hurdle I encountered during the course of my everyday life while I was making this list, or the obfuscation of that hurdle, to put it more exactly.
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468 Cat Power – “Shaking Paper” (You are Free) [Matador]
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Sometimes all you can say about Cat Power is “Ooh lah lah.” Hey, somebody’s gotta keep the “ooh lah lah”’s going, Odelay style.
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467 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Gentle Sons” (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) [Slumberland]
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Straight Jesus and Mary Chain, on an album full of songs the JMC would probably blow an amp trying to play (and they already have that frizzy hair, so that wouldn’t do any good).
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466 Gang Gang Dance – “Dust” (Saint Dymphna) [The Social Registry]
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Ooh, this is a perfect, pristine closeur, like a sunset on a beach, where obligatorily the sky and sand both start turning all purple and stuff, and the crabs start talking to you.
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465 The Walkmen – “Angela Surf City” (Lisbon) [Fat Possum]
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Oh yeah, a little cathartic anger out of the Walkmen here, sort of a rare thing… but you remember it throughout this album as a certain kissoff, a more human message on an album which is often filled with paeans to a higher power.
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464 Pavement – “Fillmore Jive” (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain) [Matador]
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My sense of this song is ultra-skewed, because I must confess my first experience with hearing this full album was the re-release, on which “Fillmore Jive” is NOT the final song, whereas on the original, it is. Finality helps it, lemme put it that way: and it took me a while to conceptualize this song’s lo-fi climax, which nonetheless is there.
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463 Gang Gang Dance – “Inner Pace” (Saint Dymphna) [The Social Registry]
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This song here is a one-of-a-kind song. And how many songs can you say that about? It should be all of ‘em.
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462 The Dismemberment Plan – “Spider in the Snow” (Emergency & I) [De Soto]
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It seems like one of the things relatively little talked about regarding this album is the incredibly HOMESPUN feel it boasts, particularly about at this segment (track four, and then five)… it’s like, REALLY, just the honest dude next door making some music. And not music that you forget anytime soon, either.
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461 St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy” (Strange Mercy) [4AD]
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The titled track on a classic album — this one brings things down a notch speed-wise, and gives the listener a view into St. Vincent’s perspective on gritty New York street life (which is still pretty cute and coquettish, by general standards).
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460 Cat Power – “The Moon” (The Greatest) [Matador]
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This song has the most hilariously simple, yet unconventional, yet also pristine, chord progression I think I’ve ever heard besides maybe the Pixies” “U-Mass.”
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459 Cat Power – “Willie” (The Greatest) [Matador]
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This is where Cat Power creeped into satellite radio big time—by basically doing the same thing she did on You Are Free, her preceding album, but dulling it down a tad in terms of staunch lyrical biography. What’s the point of it? I dunno, but it’ll sure make you feel cool when you’re shopping in a Whole Foods.
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458 Enon – “Shave” (Hocus Pocus) [Sub Pop]
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The way you know you’ll be really weirded out by this bizarre opener on Hocus Pocus is probably that you… hear it at all, but you’ve gotta credit the band for having some serious fun all over this project, and precociously letting the chick sing a bunch of songs (sorry, wikipedia doesn’t even say her name, and research was never my strong suit).
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457 Dirty Projectors – “Two Doves” (Bitte Orca) [Domino]
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When this album came around in ’09, I was so subsumed within it that basically I took the entire thing as an all-encompassing dogma, each part of which lent its own chapter to my newfound musical deity—so it becomes ironic when the most memorable, time-spanning moments from it end up being also the most intimate, pliable and extractable.
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456 Deerhunter – “Strange Lights” (Cryptograms) [Kranky]
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Surprisingly, this always shows up near the top of the “most popular” Deerhunter songs on iTunes and stuff… I think they have a lot of better songs than this such as definitely “Spring Hall Convert” which proceeds it nonetheless on the overall magnum opus Cryptograms.
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455 Belle and Sebastian – “Funny Little Frog” (The Life Pursuit) [Matador]
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Again, part of a classic album, the charming paean to an imaginary friend, or an imaginary more-than-friend. Eh, maybe she just wanted to dance.
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454 Little Joy – “Unattainable” (Little Joy) [Rough Trade]
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This is another album where they seemingly just randomly give the girl chances at singing, sort of like The New Pornographers. Ok, there, I looked up her name, Binki Shapiro. I’ll make a run at the feminist thing after all.
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453 Neutral Milk Hotel – “You’ve Passed” (On Avery Island) [Merge]
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In the lifetime achievement of the year, this song manages to be cooler than the one that’s entitled “Song against Sex.”
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452 Kurt Vile – “Peeping Tomboy” (Smoke Ring for My Halo) [Matador]
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What a “vile” song! Huh-huh. Not the best on the album, not the worst, but a nice little acoustic, percussion free respite, and maybe some comedic levity away from what other wise is some deep emotion draping this thing.
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451 The Vaselines – “Slushy” (Dum-Dum) [Rough Trade]
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Even as I listen to this song to remember which one it was, the production — the drum sound, the fuzzy guitar and the mixing — hits me, and makes me realize I should have ranked this song higher, but then, for better or worse, I typically don’t have production too staunchly in mind when I make these lists.
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450 Menace Beach – “Maybe We’ll Drown” (Lemon Memory) [Memphis Industries]
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“The influences peel off like stickers on a notebook” – Rollie Pemberton
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449 The New Pornographers – “Streets of Fire” (Twin Cinema) [Matador]
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This is definitely a fan favorite… a Dan Bejar number that sort of mocks the Carl Newman numbers for its melodic simplicity and amusing images of apocalyptic mayhem. Cute.
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448 Modest Mouse – “Baby Blue Sedan” (Building Nothing out of Something) [Up]
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Hungover music. Music to accompany you at your proverbial end-of-your-rope. A throwaway track on an album full of throwaway tracks (or b-sides and odds-and-sods, to be more scientific about it). A voice speaking directly into your ear.
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447 Califone – “Horoscopic.Amputation.Honey” (Quicksand/Cradlesnakes) [Thrill Jockey]
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This song proves that something giant, and overarching, can also be immensely and acutely fragile, and translucent, a reference point for probably more bands than you realize which in my opinion include Modest Mouse and My Morning Jacket. Basically anybody who plays disc golf.
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446 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “In This Home on Ice” (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) [Clap Your Hands Say Yeah]
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The rudimentary implications of music often surprise me, the operative factor here being that this American actually surpassed the British in the essential capacity of daunting, crippling melancholy, all the while employing roughly the tactilities of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who of course had yet to materialize in ’05.
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445 Pinback – “Bloods on Fire” (Summer in Abaddon) [Touch & Go]
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I believe there is some schizophrenia wound up in all rock and roll music, great or not, and the lyrics here which jolt awkwardly from intimate crooning to cathartic rebuttal are a classic example… still arguably the centerpiece on you guessed it another classico Pacifico.
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444 Pavement – “Harness Your Hopes” (Brighten the Corners: Nicene Credence Edition) [Matador]
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What I see, Mr. Malkmus, per your file that Debbie forwarded to me, is an obstinate refusal to craft a crowd-pleasing chord progression, choosing instead to show off your gaudy understanding of jazz, and your apparent need to CHALLENGE listeners. Well, you’ve successfully avoided making “Harness Your Hopes” being the greatest song of your catalogue, through lyrical lewdness and the fact that song has no real structure. But we know who this song is apparently being sung to: this “Julie” person, but boy does she get a heterogeneous, wayward statement with a minimalist guitar solo. Atta boy.
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443 Ryan Adams – “Gonna Make You Love Me More” (Gold) [Lost Highway]
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Well, Ryan, is it? Is it, Ryan, is it? Really? Ryan? Is it, Ryan, is it?
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442 Belle and Sebastian – “Nobody’s Empire” (Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance) [Matador]
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This song is good in spite of the fact that it blatantly rips off Bob Dylan’s song “Romance in Durango.” Stuart Murdoch is also a big fan of American baseball (that oughta get us puffin’ our chests out a lil’ bit).
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441 Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal” (Fleet Foxes) [Sub Pop]
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For being the supposed centerpiece on this album, this is a song which features very, very few lyrics, and what’s more, none of the phases, or ebbs and flows that other segments might do.
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440 Beach House – “Heart of Chambers” (Devotion) [Carpark]
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Nothing has been lost from this album over time. It’s sheer perfection.
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439 Bon Iver – “The Wolves (Act I and II)” (For Emma, Forever ago) [Jagjaguwar]
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This song features a particularly sad and compelling lyric, on an album about heartbreak: “When your eyes are all painted so natural blue”. Also the product of many concert singalongs.
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438 Band of Skulls – “Death by Diamonds and Pearls” (Baby Darling Doll Face Honey) [Shangri-La]
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Strangely, I was able to include this first Band of Skulls album on this list, but not their equally raucous second one which found them migrating to Vagrant, which has historically been emo and scrappy but is now distributed by a parent company internationally. It’s often a fine line with these things, between indie and mainstream.
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437 Pavement – “Newark Wilder” (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain) [Matador]
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Appearing on an album along with “5-4=Unity,” the explicit Dave Brubeck nod, this song had that proud jazzy tinge, but an even prouder TENSION — tons and tons of tension, which make it the acquired taste that it is. Centerpiece is a strong term, but it definitely stands out.
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436 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Young Adult Friction” (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) [Slumberland]
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This is typically the fan favorite on this album for the “UNFAHGETTABAH” “Don’t check me out” mantra toward then end. Oh, dahling.
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435 Wilco – “Someone to Lose” (Wilco, Shmilco) [Epitaph]
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With production even more organic than on the nonetheless proud and Berlin-influenced Star Wars, Wilco gives us that sort of lyrical irony unique to bands which are extremely successful — looking at that success from the inside out, and wanting to shake things up, maybe just for the very sake of variety itself.
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434 A.C. Newman – “The Palace at 4 AM” (Get Guilty) [Matador]
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Sure, this is probably a song about how he’s finally relinquishing the goal of being a writer, but what should stand out even more is how fluidly and beautifully Newman’s alto meshes with the other instruments on the mix, almost seeming to hit the respective pitches even more aptly than they do.
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433 Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Love Comes to Me” (The Letting Go) [Drag City]
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This is the beautiful, serene opener on Mr. Billy’s mellow 2006 album The Letting Go — a great statement in favor of the intrinsic benevolence of the world we live in, much like Bjork’s unforgettable “All is Full of Love.”
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432 Belle and Sebastian – “The Blues are Still Blue” (The Life Pursuit) [Matador]
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Monotony broken. Cup o’ tea, then, Bruce.
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431 Spoon – “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” (Gimme Fiction) [Merge]
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This was always the precocious album opener that people seemed to talk about a little less than, say, “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine,” but allow me to say that he does slightly rip off Jeff Tweedy’s soloing style. Give credit where credit is due.
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430 Nirvana – “Paper Cuts” (Bleach) [Sub Pop]
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Sorry, I know it’s jarring to jolt back to the scrappy debut Nirvana album amidst all these pastoral indie songs… keep in mind the music industry was suffering in general in the ‘00s, and we’re beholding the spellbindingly strange implications of that very ebb and flow, right before our eyes (in the form of things like Head Automatica’s Popaganda not topping the Billboard charts, and such).
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429 Jesca Hoop – “Four Dreams” (Hunting My Dreams) [Vanguard]
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This song and artist excite me… I imagine she’s got other great songs, but to be honest, there’s just so much great music out there it’s completely exhausting.
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428 Band of Skulls – “Fires” (Baby Darling Doll Face Honey) [Shangri-La]
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This is the track on which they actually utter the album title, albeit in a non-titled-track. Personally, I love that technique, like happens on Modest Mouse’s “Bury Me with it,” another fine ditty.
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427 Sebadoh – “Two Years Two Days” (Bubble and Scrape) [Sub Pop]
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This is one of those classic Lou Barlow Sebadoh tracks where it’s like, oh yeah, by the way, life matters again. Or rather, LOVE matters again — the Lowenstein numbers giving you the goofy notion that all that matters is rolling around drunk in the snow.
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426 Sebadoh – “Violet Execution” (III) [Homestead]
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A very slow, methodical rocker, the primary draw being the production, hardly a rarity in the case of Sebadoh, and did he just say “I love sorcery / It’s miserable”?
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425 Camera Obscura – “Razzle Dazzle Rose” (Let’s Get out of This Country) [Merge]
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All of the sounds pliable and delicate, like a daisy petal, Tracyanne Campbell sends us rafting idyllically into the night on this one, with the classic line “Courage / My love / Will make me bolder”, all before of course coagulating into a love paean for the unifying color “razzle dazzle rose.” Well, there went that. But, it’s music.
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424 Belle and Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day” (The Life Pursuit) [Matador]
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Oh God, it’s been so long since I was eight and taking piano lessons… and funnily, a lot of those terms I learned back then would be useful here… ok “stepwise” patterns, but what’s the term for the continuous notes leading IN to a key musical phrase? Eh, c’est la vie. Either way, it makes for great driving music (per the American way, I guess).
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423 A.C. Newman – “Elemental” (Get Guilty) [Matador]
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“Fought my way through to the west side for you / Not because I wanted to”, and lemme tell ya folks, what goes around comes around. This song carries a pristine, cosmic perfection much like the writing of Alan Watts.
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422 Califone – “Trout Silk” (Roomsound) [Thrill Jockey]
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Yup, this is the first song on Califone’s first album, and it’s obviously about female genitalia. No wonder everybody always hates me when I name this as my favorite band.
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421 Pavement – “The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence” (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: L.A.’s Desert Origins) [Matador]
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Yeah, this is a really weird song about R.E.M. Hey, it’s still probably not as weird as Nick Cave.
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420 Pavement – “Platform Blues” (Terror Twilight) [Matador]
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Is that HARMONICA on this Pavement track? And way more sexual frustration that usual? Yup, and yup.
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419 The Walkmen – “Red Moon” (You & Me) [Gigantic]
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Ah, the cloudy days back home listening to this album that would just SUCK ME IN, too many to even be enumerated.
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418 Peter Bjorn and John – “Let’s Call it off” (Writer’s Block) [Wichita]
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You know what’s hilarious? The initials of this band spell out to PB&J. And appropriately, they are very much a no-frills, WHOLESOME type music, very basic in that all the lyrical themes are functional, recognizable and gleanable, and… mean. Well, some of ‘em.
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417 Annuals – “The Bull, and the Goat” (Be He Me) [Ace Fu]
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This is white boy Adam Baker showing off his sense of RHYTHM right here! Who said these guys can’t be influenced by Parliament? They didn’t get that memo.
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416 Fleet Foxes – “Blue Ridge Mountains” (Fleet Foxes) [Sub Pop]
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Fan favorite. Yawn. Next track.
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415 Women – “Black Rice” (Women) [Flemish Eye]
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This is one of those albums that like so OBSTINATELY only has one good song, or one song that actually makes the concerted effort to be good… I guess I’m giving myself away here… but… it’s “Black Rice”… it’s “Black Rice”…
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414 Kurt Vile – “Jesus Fever” (Smoke Ring for My Halo) [Matador]
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Oh, so Real Estate… except it came before Real Estate. So. It’s still oh so Real Estate. Chord progression folds neatly inward to a minor, for added poignant melancholy, or just something that won’t make you want to punch the radio, for once.
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413 Califone – “Giving away the Bride” (All My Friends are Funeral Singers) [Thrill Jockey]
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This was Califone’s most RHYTHMIC album (we’ve got the sea changing opener on it featured here), and, not coincidentally, not only their last one with percussionist extraordinaire Ben Massarella, but also the last one before lead singer Tim Rutilli up and moved back out west, I believe to Arizona (for Stitches and beyond).
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412 Nirvana – “Sifting” (Bleach) [Sub Pop]
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I looked it up… apparently it’s not Melvins drummer Dale Crover on this song (he does drum on “Paper Cuts” and “Downer,” as well as numerous songs on Incesticide), but this song has been described as “a very Melvins number” (Melvins were a sort of twisted grunge group out of the town as Nirvana at the same time, Aberdeen, Washington), and it’s even got the quintessential Melvins drums-only intro. And god da**, I mean, this song is just fearsome, in sound and subject matter.
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411 Mr. Little Jeans – “Rescue Song” (Pocketknife) [Harvest]
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This is the sparkling, candy-dripped opener to an album that on this site I ranked as the second best album from 2014. I found out about it in a bizarre way, too: by googling the band Beirut.
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410 The Jesus Lizard – “Gladiator” (Liar) [Touch & Go]
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This is one of those songs that’s so loud and fearsome that it takes several listens before you’re like, oh yeah, this band does indeed have a sense of rhythm, and nobody else has ever laid down that exact groove as they are right there.
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409 Neutral Milk Hotel – “Holland, 1945” (In the Aeroplane over the Sea) [Merge]
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More bizarre than it is good, so it’s a testament that it’s on this list at all, because, please allow me to self-tout, there are no bad songs on this list.
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408 The New Pornographers – “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” (Together) [Matador]
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This song has been known to make me cry. And yet, I only ranked it #408. We always hurt the ones we love.
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407 Pinback – “Syracuse” (Summer in Abaddon) [Touch & Go]
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Pure perfection… it’s hard to even know what to say about this song, but it reminds me of a field of newly fallen snow. Annual snowfall totals in Syracuse, New York, in inches? 116, for all you geography buffs out there.
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406 Pavement – “Transport is Arranged” (Brighten the Corners) [Matador]
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It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between “music” and “poetry” by this point in Pavement’s career, with their singer so incredibly, sedately at the helm, having long relinquished the punk days of “Forklift,” and gone into simple statements which seem to also comment on the music and the world around them, just as much as on themselves.
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405 Deerhoof – “Giga Dance” (Milk Man) [Kill Rock Stars]
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I don’t know what’s weirder here—the incredibly shrill, hauntingly raucous guitar tone, the strangely jazzy rhythm in a song so noir, or that Deerhoof are actually pulling off this confident of any indie rock album with an Asian female lead singer (Satomi Matsuzaki) whose words you can’t even really understand. Well, they’re singing about a crazy milk man killer, anyway.
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404 No Age – “Errand Boy” (Nouns) [Sub Pop]
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“Surreal” is not a word that would be in any way inapplicable to this particular number.
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403 The Entrance Band – “Fine Flow” (Face the Sun) [Beyond Beyond Is]
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Endless opener on a classic album—this song establishes the band’s groove, which really isn’t anything special although being sold unforgettably by the relentlessly, memorably desperate-sounding lead singer
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402 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “The Tenure Itch” (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) [Slumberland]
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Ack… I can’t believe this song isn’t in the top 400! It must just be the unstoppable force of all the fan buzz around “Young Adult Friction” that threw it off, but this song is ABOUT as good as “Come Saturday.”
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401 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood” (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) [Clap Your Hands Say Yeah]
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This song is the last song on a classic album, and the primary melody of it, the basic riff which spans the whole song, is carried by the bass guitar—trust me, you’ve never done this much singing along with a bass in your entire life.
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400 Beach House – “Better Times” (Teen Dream) [Sub Pop]
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I heard this song in Kroger! I heard this song in Kroger! Ok, that’s a little white trash to get so psyched up about, but I did hear this one, as well as one time “No Intention” by Dirty Projectors. Oh God, what does this song mean to me anymore? It demonstrates that Victoria LeGrand is an overwhelmingly FEELING individual, that’s for sure.
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399 Brainiac – “Hot Seat Can’t Sit down” (Hissing Prigs in Static Coutre) [Touch & Go]
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God, I used to listen to this sh** when I was younger… so raucous.
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398 Califone – “Apple” (Heron King Blues) [Thrill Jockey]
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This used to be my favorite band, and it might still be… I don’t really think about stuff like that anymore, because I’ve come to decide that enjoying music takes too much energy, anyway. Ever notice that? It’s like meeting new people, or something.
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397 HEALTH – “Before Tigers” (Get Color) [Lovepump United]
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Ooh, this is the unforgettable centerpiece on HEALTH’s breakthrough sophomore album, on which, miraculously, they actually weren’t ripping off Liars, and actually maybe even getting more melodic than Liars, at least on this tune.
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396 Bon Iver – “For Emma” (For Emma, Forever ago) [Jagjaguwar]
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I’m not sure, but I THINK that this is the only song on the album that has drums on it. Why’s that important? I dunno. It just is, man! It really is, man!
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395 Iron and Wine – “Innocent Bones” (The Shepherd’s Dog) [Sub Pop]
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The classic lyrics build up on this song, from “Every tongue that gets bit always has another word to say”, to “There ain’t a penthouse Christian wants the pain of the scab but they all want the scar”, to “Every saint has a chair you can borrow and a church to sell / And the wind blows cold across the back of the master and the kitchen help”.
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394 Camera Obscura – “Swimming Pool” (Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi) [Merge]
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Really cool simple little ditty by the charming Scottish Camera Obscura, but underdeveloped, for sure, compared their more fertile and orchestral later stuff.
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393 Animal Collective – “Banshee Beat” (Feels) [FatCat]
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This is another song with the term “swimming pool” in it… sometimes making these lists just goes like that. Sigh, the truth comes out.
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392 Pavement – “In the Mouth a Desert” (Slanted & Enchanted) [Matador]
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Cool project here, but you sort of have to listen to the entire album to really understand it. Like I remember when I was just getting into Pavement and I was illegally downloading, and I was like “This is a single?” Nope.
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391 Pavement – “Fin” (Brighten the Corners) [Matador]
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Again, full album helps. It also would have helped if they would have actually made this the “fin” of their career, and not made that mediocre (not terrible) album Terror Twilight.
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390 Aloha – “Setting up Shop” (Here Comes Everyone) [Polyvinyl]
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The best song in history to ever have an intro that’s a verbatim ripoff of “Bennie and the Jets.” Not even a question. I’d play this for my friends and they’d always say it was really “chill,” and I’d be like, well, what would the pinnacle of life be but relaxing and getting stress the fu** away from you?
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389 The Walkmen – “Victory” (Lisbon) [Fat Possum]
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It’s always peculiar to me to hear an artist like The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser express bona fide frustration, after having already in his career penned a cozy eggnog-sipping ballad like “Red Moon.”
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388 Animal Collective – “#1” (Strawberry Jam) [Domino]
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And who is this weird dude singing this? This guy sounds like a cross between William Shatner and Mr. Rogers. Fantastic song.
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387 Blitzen Trapper – “Echo/Always On/Easy Con” (Furr) [Sub Pop]
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This is a somewhat awkward, but deliberately, and entertainingly, awkward number between the third to last song and the last song on this classic album, and it gets your mojo goin’ with some good ol’ Wild West rockabilly, just like you figured it would, if you’d listened to the album up through this point.
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386 Pinback – “Fortress” (Summer in Abaddon) [Touch & Go]
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In general, this album is full of lyrical assessments of anger or frustration set over conversely pastoral, placid music, but on this tune they at least get the tempo going and establish somewhat of a groove, all over those awesome live, post-rock Tortoise-style drums, as usual.
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385 The Entrance Band – “Medicine” (Face the Sun) [Beyond Beyond Is]
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All of the melodies, the song structures and the instrumentations are pretty much good throughout this album, but what knocks me out in particular more than anything is this guy’s incredibly plangent voice — what makes it even more amazing is that he’s so late in his career and he still sounds so nervous, and genuine.
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384 Rapeman – “Trouser Minnow” (Two Nuns and a Pack Mule) [Touch & Go]
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You might say Steve Albini and my site go hand in hand, at least methodologically, because like me he makes a habit of being the chronicler of “disaster,” here rendered lyrically, as well as aurally.
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383 Blitzen Trapper – “Furr” (Furr) [Sub Pop]
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Weeeeird… a song about like growing fur out in nature, but strangely soothing, and bright, too, in a way (plus I’m just a sucker for titled tracks, whenever life allows me to be such).
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382 Hercules and Love Affair – “Athene” (Hercules and Love Affair) [DFA]
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Classic gold dust… break out the disco ball and the Molly.
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381 Mudhoney – “Running out” (The Lucky Ones) [Sub Pop]
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The best RIFF on The Lucky Ones, Mudhoney’s not-so-uplifting-but-robustly-cathartic 2008 return to form, and close to being the best song if not.
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380 Wolf Parade – “The Grey Estates” (At Mount Zoomer) [Sub Pop]
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Maybe Amanda Petrusich was right in her pitchfork review of this album that this is part of a relatively anticlimactic side b… well it’s a comforting, bright hook to me, nevertheless, if not necessarily the visceral, multifaceted journey we get elsewhere.
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379 Interpol – “Obstacle 1” (Turn on the Bright Lights) [Matador]
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I have to say time has not been kind to my opinion of Interpol, from their album cover with animals fu**ing on it to their ANNIVERSARY TOUR (I fu**in’ hate tours that are in honor of like an album being out for 10 years, or whatever), but this track in particular at least is definitely pure kinetic energy on wax.
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378 Pavement – “Embassy Row” (Brighten the Corners) [Matador]
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In tandem with “Blue Hawaiian,” this composes half of an extremely creative sector which kicks off the band’s coy, almost impossibly droll fourth album Brighten the Corners.
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377 Pavement – “Elevate Me Later” (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain) [Matador]
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Great song… and whenever I hear it, or think of it, I think as well of the alternate version, “Ell Ess Two”… whoa, this song was originally called “Loretta’s Scars II”? I’m glad they changed it, because it has nothing to do with looking at a woman’s scars.
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376 John Prine – “Long Monday” (Fair & Square) [Oh Boy]
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Honestly a lot of the songs on this album are pretty similar to each other — deliberate, conventional chord progressions and steel guitar flanking John Prine’s signature baritone croon. Lotta melancholy to be doled out, and this is some of the personal, romantic kind, rather than the political kind which we get elsewhere…

375 Fleet Foxes – “Meadowlarks” (Fleet Foxes) [Sub Pop]
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You could move this song up to #1 and I wouldn’t complain a bit
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374 Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls” (Yanqui U.X.O.) [Constellation]
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Many people are familiar with this band’s first album f#a#infinity (pardon the butchered symbology there)… Yanqui U.X.O. is a good companion piece and at times even replacement for its ability to get to the POINT quicker, without all the theatrics, although we all love those theatrics too, as well.
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373 Aloha – “Summer away” (Here Comes Everyone) [Polyvinyl]
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Finally this song picks up the pace to a little briskness on this album, amidst a general quagmire of deliberate melancholy, albeit all swathed in opaque melody. On this song, Tony Cavallario is mourning the loss of his second grader who “Taught us all the names / Of the presidents and states”, and yeah, I always thought it was a good mix of innocence to compliment the sporadic mentions of romance.
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372 Pavement – “Debris Slide” (Westing by Musket and Sextant) [Matador]
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Rather unassuming early number that made it on to the band’s odds and sods collection: not as slow and uncomfortable as “Mercy Snack: The Laundromat” or as raucous (or perfect, for that matter) as “Baptiss Blacktick”… sometimes ya just find the groooooove.
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371 The Dodos – “God?” (Visiter) [Frenchkiss]
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What’s amazing about this song is part of what’s amazing about the rest of the album too: the band’s ability to only be two guys, and only have guitar and drums, but still make that guitar like a velvety texture of the music itself, not just a shrill melody. This song aptly closes the album.
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370 The Jesus Lizard – “Mouth Breather” (Goat) [Touch & Go]
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I always thought this song was funny, ‘cause it’s like the alt-rock band’s thrash/hair metal song… for some reason Pitchfork always named this like their favorite Jesus Lizard song… I’d probably go with “Monkey Trick” off this album, and then the whole album Liar in general.
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369 Yo La Tengo – “From a Motel 6” (Painful) [Matador]
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Narcotics and two-chord progressions… this was the ticket to success for Yo La Tengo, but at what a price! Yeah, it always turns out that way.
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368 Dinosaur Jr. – “Pick Me up” (Beyond) [Fat Possum]
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The primary feather in this song’s cap is definitely the slow down a couple minutes in, which finds some serious shredding on the part of J. Mascis. This 2008 comeback album for Dinosaur Jr. marked a seriously much-needed jolt back into good ol’ garage rock, after all that creepy post-punk crap.
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367 Interpol – “NYC” (Turn on the Bright Lights) [Matador]
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I might have put this song higher up, but Interpol’s really been pi**ing me off lately, doing things like album anniversary tours (which I hate for obvious reasons), and what was up with that album cover with that animals fu**ing on it? Not feeling the animals fu**ing!
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366 Pinback – “This Red Book” (Summer in Abaddon) [Touch & Go]
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Solid album track here after “Fortress” to slow down the pace and lead us into the tepid final statement… love the curiously intricate drum beat, very characteristic of the band.
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365 Pavement – “Blue Hawaiian” (Brighten the Corners) [Matador]
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This song combines a couple key skills that Pavement had honed as a band by this time, their fourth album: a beautiful atonal vocal on the part of Stephen Malkmus (which as usually seems lyrically to be composed of a bunch of gibberish), and a dark, tense, minor chord progression. They’re sorta like Nirvana working backwards, and not marrying a psycho cu**, or something.
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364 Grizzly Bear – “Speak in Rounds” (Shields) [Warp]
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Somehow Daniel Rossen sounds just as damaged if not more on this followup album to Veckatimest, and this song has every bit the tender, delicate persona as if it’s going to fall apart at any time, as the band ever had.
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363 John Prine – “Bear Creek Blues” (Fair & Square) [Oh Boy]
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Then we go from supremely vanguard to supremely conventional… but let’s face it, nobody does it like Priney boy.
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362 Das Damen – “Noon Daylight” (Mousetrap) [Twintone]
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That one line always stuck with me: “But I tried so hard / In my mind”. Then there’s also “I’ve never been so / Afraid of / Something I made”. Beautiful sensitive-guy alternative rock lyricism on display here.
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361 Menace Beach – “Elastic” (Ratworld) [Memphis Industries]
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I’m not sure why this album didn’t get better reviews… I think it’s great fun in the sun, beach power pop. Hmm, maybe they don’t have beaches in Scotland, or it’s too cold to go, maybe that’s the problem.
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360 Modest Mouse – “Medication” (Building Nothing out of Something) [Up]
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Haha yeah, this song is a little kooky… perfect for when you’re grabbing a beer in the middle of the day on a weekday for no other reason than that you’re an extremely weak person.
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359 Sonic Youth – “Schizophrenia” (Sister) [SST]
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This song probably singularly ushered in the era in which Sonic Youth started making music that the average person couldn’t just pick up and make — and more than the technical chops or the instrumentation, it was the guitar tone itself that raised the bar.
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358 Yo La Tengo – “The River of Water” (Ride the Tiger) [Coyote]
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Great bouncy, sunny number here not too different from “Upside-Down,” another one of my YLT favorites.
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357 Bon Iver – “Skinny Love” (For Emma, Forever Ago) [Jagjaguwar]
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The sheer emotion being professed in this song is something undeniable all its own… for anyone who doesn’t know, this is the acoustic songwriting aficionado Justin Vernon who went through a painful breakup, then wrote a classic indie rock album in a Wisconsin cabin in the middle of nowhere.
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356 Liars – “The Garden Was Crowded and Outside” (They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top) [Blast First]
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A veritable middle finger to capitalism here… this song is a beautiful slice of live flesh not to be fu**ed with in any way, and fully bespeaks why a lot of people prefer this early stuff to even great later albums like Drum’s Not Dead and Sisterworld.
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355 Pinback – “Sender” (Summer in Abaddon) [Touch & Go]
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Great song here to establish the patient, thorough vibe of this album — we’re not going anywhere for a while, we’ve got plenty of genuine emotion to get across.
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354 The Black Keys – “The Desperate Man” (Rubber Factory) [Fat Possum]
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This has got to be one of the most FAMOUS indie albums of all time, being quintessentially as it is having been released on Oxford, Mississippi’s (the college town) Fat Possum, and so it’s a sociological token in a certain sense by that very regard.
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353 Califone – “The Eye You Lost in the Crusades” (Roots & Crowns) [Thrill Jockey]
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Slipping in and out of concrete meter, in and out of melody and then finally in and out of consciousness, this may be the centerpiece on the band’s defining project Roots & Crowns, and epitomizes how rather than actually being blues, they take the best aspects of the blues and twist them into something much more original.
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352 Aloha – “Perry Como Gold” (Here Comes Everyone) [Polyvinyl]
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A haunting track here late on the album… not the closeur, but strangely, it is the last track listed in the track listing in the album notes. This album starts and ends RELATIVELY raucously, but boy is there some deliberateness thrown in in the middle.
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351 Califone – “Spider’s House” (Roots & Crowns) [Thrill Jockey]
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This is another one of those songs I find strange that I put so low on the list… I guess it’s like The White Stripes said: “The two sides of my brain need to have a meeting”.
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350 Heartless Bastards – “Sway” (The Mountain) [Fat Possum]
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Wow, if you wanna just talk about RAW vocals, flying by the seat of your pants vocals, that never congeal to any pattern, either melodic or rhythmic — Miss Erika Wennerstrom’s got um by the plateful here — a bona fide lover of music whom I follow on facebook.
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349 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Come Saturday” (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) [Slumberland]
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When music becomes… INFECTIOUS. Interesting concept. Second song on the album here, and by far my favorite song on the album (it’s just actually not about their bodies, so garners less appeal in many sectors).
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348 Yo La Tengo – “Upside-Down” (May I Sing with Me) [Alias]
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This is a song a lot like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s “Come Saturday,” it’s funny, but it came a lot earlier, and yet the Pains’ number isn’t really a ripoff — it’s just funny, so much lies in aesthetic and feeling.
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347 Oxford Collapse – “A Wedding” (Bits) [Sub Pop]
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I’m not even lying… I was actually just thinking about Mike Pace of Oxford Collapse and the Child Actors while I was writing the last blurb, and now here he pops up. Like most of their songs, this song is hilarious, but it’s mostly hilarious because it’s so “bad and stupid,” which was exactly how one female fan explained Nirvana’s early greatness.
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346 Little Joy – “The Next Time around” (Little Joy) [Rough Trade]
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This band name is something I’d had visions of before it surfaced, but in a way it’s funny hearing Fabrizio Moretti in a band that’s so subdued. This band would have made a great like loungy, trendy ‘90s cafe Real World band. And if you know what the he** I’m talking about, well, that just proves you’re from the ‘90s now doesn’t it.
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345 Guided by Voices – “Hardcore U.F.O.’s” (Bee Thousand) [Skat]
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This is actually not Guided by Voices’ first album but rather their SEVENTH, albeit the one which put ‘em on the map, which would surely make it a curious cultural phenomenon when this album comes out so low-budget (or seemingly low-budget) with that tape break in the second chorus (I think it breaks, and then comes back in again).
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344 The Walkmen – “All My Great Designs” (Lisbon) [Fat Possum]
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I know I’m kind of favoring this album over You & Me… I just fell in love with it I have to admit and this song had the nice penchant of not being too dramatic, and so, ironically, for that reason, not being too simple.
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343 Animal Collective – “Floridada” (Painting with Animal Collective) [Domino]
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I really can’t explain why I like this album so much, when most critics don’t, but I’d also just be like, well, why not?
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342 Liars – “Mr. Your on Fire Mr.” (They Threw Us in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top) [Blast First]
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This song nicely takes the blistering pace that I guess life itself does, but it’s arguable that it actually takes the listener to the climax beholden to “The Garden Was Crowded and Outside” which comes a little later.
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341 Pavement – “Baptiss Blacktick” (Westing by Musket and Sextant) [Matador]
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I consider this one of the defining early Pavement songs — juvenile, but best for situations when you’re in the middle of a bunch of people, activity and stress, and it takes that stress and leaves it in bandages, hussy.
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340 Julia Holter – “Goddess Eyes II” (Ekstasis) [RVNG Intl.]
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Ironically, this appears earlier on the album than “Goddess Eyes I,” and it’s also the smoother and more cleaned-up version, which yes is part of why I ranked it lower.
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339 No Age – “Sleeper Hold” (Nouns) [Sub Pop]
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Solid album track here in the middle of a great album — great tempo change, something I don’t even remember Nirvana doing too often other than on “Aneurysm.”
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338 Sleater-Kinney – “Leave You behind” (All Hands on the Bad One) [Kill Rock Stars]
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This was when we REALLY knew that Sleater-Kinney had pop songwriting down to a rock slab science, working in tandem with “The Size of Our Love” off prior album The Hot Rock.
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337 The Black Keys – “Just Couldn’t Tie Me down” (Rubber Factory) [Fat Possum]
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Production goes a long way on this album — the way the guitar tone manages to be so shrill but also so warm at the same time, as if it just embodies every quality of electric guitar production all at once.
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336 Aloha – “All the Wars” (Here Comes Everyone) [Polyvinyl]
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Great line from this song: “You recall you were walking through walls”, a recurring theme in rock music of course (Meat Puppets’ “Things,” Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely”).
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335 Sonic Youth – “The Sprawl” (Daydream Nation) [Enigma]
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This was the scrappy, young and intimidating Kim Gordon at her finest, which would then of course give way just as auspiciously to the tonal and reflective, a la “Turquoise Boy.”
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334 Bon Iver – “Flume” (For Emma, Forever Ago) [Jagjaguwar]
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Right away on the opener of For Emma, Forever Ago, we get a musical swatch which is stylistically microcosmic of the whole, and we get a memorably sad lyric which sort of sums up the plight that Justin Vernon is in: “I am my mother’s only one / It’s enough”.
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333 Teenage Fanclub – “December” (Bandwagonesque) [Creation]
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You can’t fault the band for the guitar sound here… you can fault them for the cheesy dramatic aspects of this song and all the starts and stops, although to their credit like Big Star it’s almost like TOO infectious and catchy to be a hit.
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332 Tapes ‘n Tapes – “Insistor” (The Loon) [Ibid]
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ORIGINALITY seems like a harder and harder thing to achieve in music these days. Indeed, this seems like almost one of the last truly original songs in indie rock.
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331 The Dodos – “Park Song” (Visiter) [Frenchkiss]
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One thing is clear: the DESPERATION gives way here, and ironically, the result is the most memorable of them all, an undeniably infectious soundtrack for aimlessness, for the little freedoms you have at work which can nonetheless brim with plaguing anxiety. On “Park Song” Meric Long sings ABOUT desperation, in a non-desperate way.
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330 The Jesus Lizard – “Monkey Trick” (Goat) [Touch & Go]
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Dayum, is David Yow pi**ed about somethin’. Probably the best cut on early pi**-stomper Goat, but you definitely have to be in the right mood for it.
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329 Mudhoney – “Burn it Clean” (Superfuzz Bigmuff/Early Singles) [Sub Pop]
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Ah, there’s just something so visceral and cathartic about Mudhoney. They’ll always be one of my favorite bands, and also I just remembered how crazy that song “What’s This Thing?” is on The Lucky Ones.
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328 Pavement – “Easily Fooled” (Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition) [Matador]
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This seems to a band favorite, placing teemingly all over this re-release… a catchy enough little jingle, but you can also see why the band relegated it to b-side, with Malkmus sounding marginally interested in the proceedings at best.
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327 Spoon – “All the Pretty Girls Go to the City” (Kill the Moonlight) [Merge]
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The best part is the spooky descending piano… the knack for piano is a great marker for bands, like Real Estate and Soul Coughing… a great style-ignorant tactic.
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326 The Dismemberment Plan – “A Life of Possibilities” (Emergency & I) [De Soto]
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Speaking of funky, this song has an almost surreal virility to it — it sounds like music being made on another planet, as if to say like, I know this is a crazy thing here, but just stick wid’ it.
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325 Guided by Voices – “I Am a Scientist” (Bee Thousand) [Scat]
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Ah, just a classic… undoubtedly the centerpiece of this album, a nice brief statement as is the band’s wont, with lyrics inverted, poetic and cosmic delivered nonchalantly right into your lap.
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324 Spoon – “They Never Got You” (Gimme Fiction) [Merge]
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For all the brisk kinetic energy at work here, there’s still a dark, haunting quality, as if all truth is just a little too much to take. Great album track late on Gimme Fiction here which sort of sums the whole thing up.
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323 The New Pornographers – “Letter from an Occupant” (Mass Romantic) [Matador]
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Per the usual dictum of infectious catchiness and undeniable enthusiasm, this little Neko Case vocal-acrobatics session is sort of the anchor of Mass Romantic, showcasing the band’s early cheeky love affair with poetic irony — “I’ve cried five rivers on the way here / Which one will you skate away on?”
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322 Spoon – “Rhthm & Soul” (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) [Merge]
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I once wrote a “Dolby’s Rupees” about this one… it’s really a fave, and interesting too because it’s basically the exact same tempo and style as previous album’s closeur “Merchants of Soul” (which I think is sort of a trite old complaint at this point).
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321 The New Pornographers – “Twin Cinema” (Twin Cinema) [Matador]
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This is one of those songs where the verses are just so PACKED with poignant chord changes that the genius is just undeniable — it’s like a new glimpse into a way to be yourself, a righteous, perfectly content self-containment.
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320 Sleater-Kinney – “Steep Air” (The Woods) [Sub Pop]
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Ironically, I now get to the girl band and it’s the one with the most MUSCLE of anything I’ve listed lately — it’s been all the dainty indie lads up to this point. Don’t forget, Stephen Malkmus recruited drummer Janet Weiss for the Jicks, calling her “an avalanche” in the process, and Carrie Brownstein’s been through some serious sh** in her life. No doubt these girls can rock.
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319 Blitzen Trapper – “Black River Killer” (Furr) [Sub Pop]
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This song just blew my mind when I heard it, reminding me a little of the Beastie Boys’ “High Plains Drifter” — an archetypal lawless fantasy about being a good ol’ cowboy out west, and Eric Earley even sells it with a twangy drawl (which to an extent probably is a gimmick).
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318 Wolf Parade – “Fancy Claps” (Apologies to Queen Mary) [Sub Pop]
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Sort of a frenetic, crazed middle-of-the-album song here, way darker and full of final meaning than the name indicates, but then, you come to expect that with this band.
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317 Guided by Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain” (Bee Thousand) [Scat]
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I see this song often prized as one of the best on the album, and I ranked it ahead of “I am a Scientist” so I guess I agree too… but it’s not exactly charming subject matter we have here! Oh well.
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316 Pavement – “Grounded” (Wowee Zowee) [Matador]
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This song to me is the absolute ideal of tranquil, ultimate contentedness in life, a song no other band could have pulled off, probably — to have the confidence to orchestrate that eight-note-long string bend, and feature it with repetition in the chorus like that.
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315 Sun Kil Moon – “Half Moon Bay” (Admiral Fell Promises) [Caldo Verde]
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This is my favorite snowy-day song ever. Sort of taking a page out of the Songs: Ohia playbook, and doing things probably just as well, in my opinion — the California-by-way-of-Ohio acoustic soloist who named himself after a boxer.
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314 The Autumn Defense – “Silence” (Circles) [Arena Rock Recording Company]
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Composed of among others John Stirratt the Wilco bassist (who commendably has been with them their entire lifespan, The Autumn Defense make tranquil, easy to like pop.
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313 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” (Hearts of Oak) [Lookout!]
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This was the first of two main “travelogues” to Europe, on which everything was a first nightmare but before which America for him was a “land of fungible convictions” that “seemed like the pits.” In light of this, it becomes even more amazing that its followup “Bottled in Cork” is not only a 180 over to the praising of such abroad travel, but that it actually really sounds genuine. Pitchfork bashed “Sin Eater”… WHY??!?
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312 Pavement – “Stop Breathing” (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain) [Matador]
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I know I shouldn’t make fun of my sister, but I remember she would put this song on mix tapes and actually cut off the last two minutes or whatever that have that piano arpeggio part… I think it upset her gastrointestinal system a bit. Yeah, it’s a weird song, and they’re a weird band, in general.
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311 Wolf Parade – “Call it a Ritual” (At Mount Zoomer) [Sub Pop]
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Still remember when I bought this album from Twist and Shout, the record store in Denver Colorado — I bought it in the same trip that I did Sonic Youth’s The Empty Page. I don’t think even God himself would have been much help in getting me to lay off buying both of these albums, and this is the dark, haunting stomper track two that takes things down a notch from the beautiful, gleeful (but still kinda oh-everything-sucks) album opener.
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310 Broken Social Scene – “Stars and Sons” (You Forgot it in People) [Arts & Crafts]
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Cool, slow, hypnotic and unforgettable — placed at track three on what’s generally considered a classic album, “Stars and Sons” is likely the exact item of utility at which Broken Social Scene irreversibly changed a lot of people’s lives.
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309 Tilly and the Wall – “Rainbows in the Dark” (Bottoms of Barrels) [Team Love]
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Typically I can only take this band in doses just ‘cause they’re SO da** perky, but to this song’s credit it is a little slower, more under control and less over-caffeinated, and the sea of grainy synth provides more than enough levity to the occasion.
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308 The New Pornographers – “Loose Translation” (Electric Version) [Matador]
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Sweet, deliberate majestic beauty goin’ on here — just another unassuming classic Pornos track placed smack in the middle of the album, though for many it takes a while to get into this band’s subtle knack for the chord change (in which case the layered, metaphorical lyrics don’t really matter).
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307 Elliott Smith – “No Name No. 5” (Either/Or) [KIll Rock Stars]
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When I make the case that at Elliott Smith’s best he wrote songs that were about as good as The Beatles (having less of the lavish full-band production, on the other hand), this is about what I’m talking about right here: the earth seems to stand on this one little note-slur of the vocal, all over of course a poignantly depressing lyric, even more so now. Still makes for great music.
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306 The Entrance Band – “The Crave” (Face the Sun) [Beyond Beyond Is]
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This is one of my absolute favorite bands (the lead singer just goes by the name “Entrance,” and also puts out solo stuff).. the songs are amazing and the producer absolutely nailed the soundscape, with a beautiful bass that beats you in the chest when you listen. I’ve even heard a version of this song that is sung in French, and it was just as good (I can’t really tell what the he** he’s saying anyway).
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305 Fleet Foxes – “Lorelai” (Helplessness Blues) [Sub Pop]
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Some things can just only be pulled off by the particular voice at hand — Robin Pecknold, here. This is a very pastel arrangement, simple and serene, almost like a nursery rhyme, but something about the directness cuts things short a little more abruptly than the stuff on their first album, and so this marks a key step forward.
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304 Mudhoney – “Who You Drivin’ Now?” (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge) [Sub Pop]
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It’s hard to remember, since probably two months have now elapsed since I originally chose the SONGS for this list, why exactly I picked this one and not “Into the Drink” or “Pokin’ around,” or any of this album’s other amusing crunch-fests, but it’s impossible to overstate how playable of a grunge power-pop album this is.
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303 Camera Obscura – “Tears for Affairs” (Let’s Get out of This Country) [Merge]
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A beautiful, stately little number here — this song might have my favorite guitar solo on Let’s Get out of This Country, and that’s saying something because it’s got some stiff competition in “Dory Previn” and the titled track.
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302 Sebadoh – “Decide” (The Sebadoh) [Sub Pop]
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THIS is the pinnacle of music (I know I didn’t rank it first, it’s just one of my dirty tricks) — I mean think about it, it’s right before file sharing came around, so a band like this, no matter how magnanimous, motion-filled and perfect their choruses get, is going to play to precious little audience in their live shows, just for probably coming around at the wrong time (by this time pop music had devolved into the ska, swing and nu metal netherworld).
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301 The Black Angels – “Manipulation” (Passover) [Light in the Attic]
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I have to be in a certain mood for this band’s brooding, grungy magnum opi, but the low-budget THUMP of the drums definitely saves it from smarmy ‘80s hair-metal territory, and the sheer power of this brand of ‘00s lo-fi is intriguing.
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300 Menace Beach – “Come on Give up” (Ratworld) [Memphis Industries]
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This a band that for which I just can’t understand why they’re not more popular: Liza Violet is one of the spunkiest voices in rock, and their songs are well produced and undeniably original, though also heavily influenced by The Jesus and Mary Chain (being way less of a Breeders ripoff than Speedy Ortiz).
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299 The New Pornographers – “These are the Fables” (Twin Cinema) [Matador]
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An unforgettable album centerpiece here, filled with the beautiful, hallucinogenicallly informed lyric “Ten million dancing girls kicking cans ‘cross the sky.” I remember this album coming out and just marveling over how good all the songs were… it was definitely hard to pick just one, but “Use it” seemed to be a general favorite.
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298 Black Mountain – “Wucan” (In the Future) [Jagjaguwar]
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“Whoo!” Now this is a haunting number. I can just see the band jolting this one out outside a campfire near a mesa amidst a group of Indians, everybody nibbling on peyote leaves and really feeling the vibes. I love when one of our heroic bands comes out like this and completely reinvents the west.
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297 Grizzly Bear – “I Live with You” (Veckatimest) [Warp]
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I recently featured Grizzly Bear in one of my blurb posts, and I mentioned how on this exact track the band manage to wield a functional metaphor within the song title, of a song in which they eventually do not even once cite the title, whereas most bands if they were to come up with something this clever would run it into the ground by singing it like seven times within each of like four different choruses. It’s also rare for a song this slow to be so intimidating, even scary in a wya.
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296 Band of Horses – “I Go to the Barn Because I Like The” (Everything All the Time) [Sub Pop]
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Nice little low-key number here to bring things down a notch after “Weed Party”… a sort of soothing country song with a well placed meter change halfway through.
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295 The New Pornographers – “The Body Says No” (Mass Romantic) [Matador]
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Here again we see The New Pornographers’ gift for being metaphorical — the idea of the body “saying” something, and then this wisdom going to override what we might be yakking about with our big mouths, or wishing for in our heart of hearts.
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294 Spoon – “Take a Walk” (Girls Can Tell) [Merge]
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The band’s sense of melody, and really, their influence genus, was still developing at this point in their career, but this song proves at least that they can really gear up and have some fun with a swift stomper. It’s also sort of a quintessential example of how a fun rock song can have a mean message at its heart, which maybe even it should, too.
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293 Deerhunter – “Neither of Us, Uncertainly” (Halcyon Digest) [4AD]
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This is just a da**ed near perfect song… I can’t believe I didn’t place it higher. He**, I might just copy and paste that into the rest of the blurbs from here on out.
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292 Wolf Parade – “Shine a Light” (Apologies to Queen Mary) [Sub Pop]
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This is a song frequently featured glowingly in reviews of this album… to me it lacks the dark climax that delivered other tracks into celestial territory, but there is certian a hypnotic quality to it.
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291 Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Biomusicology” (The Tyranny of Distance) [Lookout!]
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I was definitely wowed by this song the first time I heard it — not only did it have a killer hook, but those lyrics are amazingly timeless and hard-won: “And in the midst of all of the action / We’ll maybe only there find satisfaction”.
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290 Teenage Fanclub – “Star Sign” (Bandwagonesque) [Creation]
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A great archetypal statement of Britpop here — the powerful, visceral album centerpiece (although it’s hard to really call it a “centerpiece” since it’s so markedly less bombastic and ridiculous than the album’s remainder).
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289 Pavement – “Type Slowly” (Brighten the Corners: Nicene Credence Edition) [Matador]
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This song absolutely rocks… another one my sister used to put on mixtapes… and the live version is even better on the Matador re-release on which he really tears it up on the guitar solo.
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288 Jesu – “Mother Earth” (Conqueror) [Hydra Head]
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This is another song where as good as it is, from production to balance to everything, and for how well it holds together, the lyrics are even better: in this case with the spellbindingly simple plea of “Mother earth / Take pain away”.
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287 Gang Gang Dance – “Bebey” (Saint Dymphna) [The Social Registry]
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Great, great album intro here on a great, great album… one of the few electronica-ish efforts on this list, although this type of thing can often make for great fare on these too. They just really set the tone of the fun that’s going to ensue on this one.
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286 The Dismemberment Plan – “The City” (Emergency & I) [De Soto]
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I remember for a while being obsessed with the thought of what “city” Travis Morrison was referencing here (it apparently never occurred to me to just look the band up on youtube), but another great thing about this music is that it is so universal — every city has “subways” and “blank stares,” well more or less, and most places can give a feeling of awkward detachment within one’s valleys of morale.
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285 The Entrance Band – “Spider” (Face the Sun) [Beyond Beyond Is]
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Sometimes when I live in a new town, like Terre Haute, Indiana, I have one song which just sums up the entire experience of being there and of walking through the streets — for this town it’s Heartless Bastards’ “Could Be So Happy” and for Asheville, North Carolina, it was this song. And yup, it probably was ‘cause of all the hot babes there.
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284 Spoon – “The Ghost of You Lingers” (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) [Merge]
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This was definitely a song that stood out stylistically right away on this 2007 project from anything on 2005’s Gimme Fiction — a track with no drums, and more than enough tension and operatic emotion.
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283 Big Star – “O My Soul” (Radio City) [Ardent]
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I’ll admit, for Big Star I just have the “best-of” (it’s kinda lame – plus it’s on CD! Double gasp!)… and this song acts as sort of just a long conduit in the middle of the album on which the band show of their chops and pristine guitar sound. “Rocking” typically isn’t Big Star’s forte, to emerge as a contrasting element to pop melody but, that’s what we have here and the results definitely aren’t dismissible.
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282 Menomena – “Five Little Rooms” (Mines) [Barsuk]
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Somewhere between the poker-faced musicianship on Mines of “BOTE” and the weirdness-to-the-point-of-androgynous-ennui displayed on “Tithe” we have this showstopping centerpiece, every bit as haunting as those Victorian and Gothic novels we were supposed to read in English class.
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281 Dinosaur Jr. – “Almost Ready” (Beyond) [Fat Possum]
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When this album came out it was just rock and roll Valhalla — it seemed like nobody else was this SIMPLE in indie at this time or “straight ahead” — and very much microcosmic of the album Beyond as a whole (of which “This is All I Came to Do” is arguably the high point), this album opener let’s you know right away this project is gonna be honest, genuine and LOUD.
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280 Deerhunter – “Spring Hall Convert” (Cryptograms) [Kranky]
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I never got why this song wasn’t the general fave on Cryptograms and one reason why is the quintessential Deerhunter structurelessness — with no need for the conventional verse/chorus format, this thing just opens up and pours.
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279 Belle and Sebastian – “Song for Sunshine” (The Life Pursuit) [Matador]
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The funky synth doesn’t so much help this song as it does avoid ruining it but the chorus still takes us great, celestial places with a rare Belle and Sebastian falsetto in tow.
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278 A.C. Newman – “The Town Halo” (The Slow Wonder) [Matador]
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More frenetic wonderment from the class of 2000s pop songwriting here… and, cello! Is that a stringed instrument I hear there? Yeah, it’s a little annoying, that’s why this song isn’t ranked higher.
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277 Califone – “3Legged Animals” (Roots & Crowns) [Thrill Jockey]
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This is the precocious, easy rocker toward the end of the album that sort of snuck up on me after a long while — and then became my favorite song for a while, not only on the album, or by the band, but on the entire planet, too. It’s pure Chicago grid — divining possibility out of nowhere, when that’s your only hope.
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276 Mudhoney – “Something So Clear” (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge) [Sub Pop]
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This song marks the point where Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge especially becomes a dichotomy — preceded as it is by the almost twee-pop in spirit (though not in sound) “Good Enough,” then hammering in with its own style of good ol’ basement grunge, the kind which the band had themselves made world famous on their prior albums.
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275 Fleet Foxes – “Quiet Houses” (Fleet Foxes) [Sub Pop]
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I get to thinking about this song sometimes because it’s an old favorite, and it really hits me just how raw, how organic it is — how encapsulating of a commensurate vision something has to be in order to be content just saying “Lay me down / Lay me down / Lay me down”.
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274 Aloha – “Mountain” (Some Echoes) [Polyvinyl]
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Whoo is this song trippy! I do believe I could not take this song on some good acid. Overall this album was generally a success — the more stately and singer/songwriterly followup to 2004’s Here Comes Everyone — and this song is the closeur.
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273 Sonic Youth – “Tuff Gnarl” (Sister) [Squeaky Squawk]
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This tends to be the first go-to favorite most people have on Sister — it’s right in the middle and it’s got one of the best melodies of anything on the album, and then we get the obligatory two-minute noise session obligatory of this band, which can certainly hit the spot as well sometimes.
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272 Deerhoof – “C” (Milk Man) [Kill Rock Stars]
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Nice deliberate number here in the middle of the album, pouring on the eeriness and probably more listenable than a lot of the exemplary, forceful numbers of epic noise ruination.
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271 Sebadoh – “Weird” (The Sebadoh) [Sub Pop]
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This was the exact song that made me fall in love with Sebadoh — when they were the perfect, exhaustive combination of the two bands I’d originally gone into the record store looking for that day, The Lemonheads and Oasis.
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270 Black Mountain – “Stormy High” (In the Future) [Jagjaguwar]
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Here is the band making great use of the seven/four time signature on an explosive album opener, in true prog-rock form the way they sort of lean toward, while also mastering stoner indie rock.
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269 Nirvana – “Big Cheese” (Bleach) [Sub Pop]
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This is ooooooold Nirvana here… I’m talking the b-side on their very first single (which I believe would be known as a “seven-inch,” in vinyl terms… and actually there’s a famous account of producer Jack Endino subbing this one in for “Blandest” because it was a “way livelier tune.”
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268 Blitzen Trapper – “Fletcher” (American Goldwing/Live in Portland) [Sub Pop]
[1]
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I dunno, but uh, this explodes as flavor crystal/pygmy gel rock and roll which if taken in pure stylistic terms gets pigeonholed as formulaic but in that case we must indict the Gaslight Anthem too and Nick Hornby wouldn’t like that very much.
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267 Starlight Mints – “Zoomba” (Change Remains) [Barsuk]
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How’s this for indie rock sacrilege… this is my favorite band from Oklahoma ever. Yeah I know, you’ll probably send your pink robots over to kill me.
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266 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) [Wichita]
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Of course, this was my “first love” on this album, which is why I rank it so low — but in a way it makes sense that these classic representations of the fragile, noxious human heart would emit themselves multifariously and in phases which in denoting immediacy, do so of their own fragility as well.
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265 Pavement – “Father to a Sister of Thought” (Wowee Zowee) [Matador]
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This tends to be a fan favorite for the baths of steel guitar and the laid-back, alt-country feel which matches other album standouts like “Black out” and “Grounded.”
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264 Heartless Bastards – “The Mountain” (The Mountain) [Fat Possum]
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This is about as rugged as indie rock gets — classic, seminal garage rock with an inimitable howling female on the vocals and a song that can never seem to CONGEAL into anything anthemic, there’s just too much spontaneity there.
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263 Hot Hot Heat – “Bandages” (Make up the Breakdown) [Sub Pop]
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I think I detect an ever so light classical influence on this song — but make no mistake, it’s not the placid, stately stuff for old people’s homes. This is restive modernism — Stravinsky, itchy key men with more girl problems than they know what to do with, but maybe a slightly better sense of humor than Alice in Chains.
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262 Deerhunter – “He Would Have Laughed” (Halcyon Digest) [4AD]
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There’s light, spare use of the echo chamber, and then there’s “He Would Have Laughed” — a closeur on an album which features the lyrics “When there’s no love / You’ve done nothing wrong / You can’t take too long / Makin’ up songs”, all of course culminating in the very corporeal ideal of just having to be a veritable machine, but in the process being so pliable and perfect.
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261 Aloha – “Ice Storming” (Some Echoes) [Polyvinyl]
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“Ice Storming” is sort of a centerpiece of sorts on an album, Some Echoes, which by all accounts improved on the already commendable Here Comes Everyone — a centerpiece full of idyllic half-formed thoughts, save the one mainstay: “I will stay / To witness the beauty”.
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260 Califone – “Lion and Bee” (Heron King Blues) [Thrill Jockey]
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Honestly, I wouldn’t rule this out from being Califone’s best song — it features their signature slide guitar executed to undeniable artistic perfection and a chord progression in the chorus that seems to solidify into something so heartbreakingly unexpected and expedited, as if to represent that life moves fast, which the Flaming Lips once said, and way less stylishly.
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259 Menomena – “Queen Black Acid” (Mines) [Barsuk]
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Yup, we’re getting to that point in the list now, every song’s an absolute classic: this one leads off Mines in astonishing form, taking a subject everybody loves (acid, not women, or both, maybe), and even hewing a sense of humor onto the whole thing: “You’re five foot five not a hundred pounds / I’m scared to death of every single ounce”.
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258 Melvins – “Ever Since My Accident” (Ozma) [Boner]
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Sort of a median Melvins number here, but commendably featuring a climactic bout of starts and stops courtesy of mainstay drummer Dale Crover, and what seems like a rare fictional perspective from cathartic lead singer Buzz Osborne.
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257 Women – “Drag open” (Public Strain) [Flemish Eye]
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It’s funny I just got done writing about “Ice Storming” because in “Drag open” we have another song which refuses to settle down into an set schema of phrasing — in the verse we get a conventional meter but the pervasive and pesky, three-bar phrase, before rocking out a little more traditionally in what guitarist Pat Flegel called his “Lee Ronaldo song” (I think he used the same guitar).
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256 Mount Eerie – “Pale Lights” (Ocean Roar) [P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.]
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The thunderous rush of sound is something undeniable of this track, at this point in Phil Elverum’s career when he’s done with his “band” The Microphones and operating under another alias basically all by himself — the studio technics are undeniable, though I hear he used to put on great live shows in LA and stuff, too.
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255 Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get out of This Country” (Let’s Get out of This Country) [Merge]
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Taking a relatively brisk pace (which amusingly track six on Desire Lines does as well), “Let’s Get out of This Country” is… maybe a little less depressing than the rest of this album? Eh, that’s pushin’ it. Still, it’s nice to know they actually have a drummer who has to not be strung out on Xanax in order to play his parts, at least once in a while.
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254 Intelligence – “I Hear Depression” (Fake Surfers) [In the Red]
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There are no other songs like “I Hear Depression” — the ascending and descending stepwise parts at the phrases’ ends are the stuff of indie rock wet dreams. What pi**es me off is, I keep sharing this song to facebook and all this one dude can say is “I hear depression? Sounds like somebody’s listening to Morrissey,” or something like that.
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253 The National – “Terrible Love” (High Violet) [4AD]
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Truth is stranger than fiction: I’d never been into The National, but actually had a dream that told me to start listening to them, and it was right when High Violet was out — or rather that October, when the weather started getting colder and cloudier. No doubt, that’s the type of band this is, despite that they always release their albums in spring.
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252 Iron and Wine – “Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car” (The Shepherd’s Dog) [Sub Pop]
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This song beautifully sets the tone on the iconic indie rock bastion that is The Shepherd’s Dog — the brisk but laid-back gallop of the percussion, the precocious banjo/slide guitar mix that goes to pervade the rest of the album, and maybe most of all the lyrical post-punk penchant of the whole thing.
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251 Grizzly Bear – “Foreground” (Veckatimest) [Warp]
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Less metaphorical than “I Live with You,” but still, none would argue, a haunting and unforgettable album closeur for its ability to distill an eternally still, cold vision of a mortal world without feeling, all captured in stately originality.

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[1] Live in Portland is only available on Bandcamp.

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