September 15, 2009

10 Most Underappreciated Songs of the Decade

Photobucket1.) Josh Ritter - "Thin Blue Flame" (from The Animal Years)
Nearly 10 minutes in length, Ritter's masterpiece is a "Stairway to Heaven"-caliber achievement with Jimmy Page's guitar licks exchanged for 700-plus words of poetry. Traversing a war-torn world and a host of Shakespearean, Biblical, and science-oriented images, Ritter finds solace in a ray of hope: "So I stopped looking for royal cities in the air / Only a full house gonna have a prayer."

Photobucket2.) The Walkmen - "Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me is Gone" (from Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone)
With Hamiltoin Leithauser's Thom Yorke-like howls and the thick reverberations of pounding drums, organ and guitars, the Walkmen lay their claim on the world of popular music with their first post-Jonathan Fire*Eater album: mature, esoteric, and unpredictable.

Photobucket3.) M. Ward - "Vincent O'Brien" (from Transfiguration Of Vincent)
It's hard to choose from M. Ward's catalogue: there's not one false step. However, this slow rollicking build-up of muted guitars, drums, and a riffing piano is one of the artist's most immediately convincing, due largely to its poetic simplicity: "He only sings when he's sad / And he's sad all the time / So he sings the whole night through / Yeah, he sings in the daytime too."

Photobucket4.) Marah - "Round Eye Blues" (from Kids in Philly)
A pre-9/11 war song that escapes for moments into the imagery of a hard working James Brown and Little Richard and the rhythm of "Proud Mary" and "Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay." The Bielanko brothers have never sounded so soulful and harnessed their love of Springsteen so sincerely.

Photobucket5.) Peter & The Wolf - "Safe Travels" (from Lightness)
Set by a chorus of sighing voices and the light-hearted up-stroke of an acoustic guitar, the song's tone is an otherworldly one—simultaneously eery and soothing. With the addition of Red Hunter's calm near-spoken word voice, it's also impossible to forget.

Photobucket6.) Exploding Hearts - "Sleeping Aides and Razorblades" (from Guitar Romantic)
Power-pop makes its triumphant and convincing return with the debut from this tragically short-lived Portland quartet. Here, the band delivers one of the all-time great break-up songs: "Well, I felt so bad when I heard that song / You know it's been such a long long time / It's a little offbeat and it ain't in tune / You know, it's just like this heart of mine."

Photobucket7.) Tangiers - "I Wanna Go Out" (from Never Bring You Pleasure)
From the furiously fast thumping of drums to the tightly delivered power chords and slurred vocals, everything about this Tangiers song screams "release!" Whether you're carving down a wave or a concrete mountain, speeding down the coast or hurriedly throwing back a few, this is the song you'll want playing.

Photobucket8.) El Ten Eleven - "My Only Swerving" (from El Ten Eleven)
For an entirely instrumental duo, Los Angeles's El Ten Eleven is remarkably expressive. Never more so than this cinematic blend of tremolo-infused riffs, popping double-bass notes, synthesized arpeggios, and orchestrated crash of cymbals.

Photobucket9.) The Fruit Bats - "When You Love Somebody" (from Mouthfuls)
With the constant thud of a bass drum and smile-inducing hand claps (think The Beatles' "Two of Us"), this organ-built 60s-tinged pop song is treachorously addictive and often prone to repeated listening. If there's one reason to start listening to the Fruits Bats, it's this.

Photobucket10.) Martha Wainwright - "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" (from Martha Wainwright)
This song may be directed towards Wainwright's neglectful father—folk singer Loudon Wainwright III— but this passionate stranglehold has the strength to kick more than one ass. And ass-kicking has never sounded so righteous and brutally poetic: "I will not pretend / I will not put on a smile / I will not say I'm all right for you / When all I wanted was to be good / To do everything in truth."

Josh Ritter


  1. these are some pretty sweet songs, really glad i came across them

  2. sleeping aids and razor blades...holler at your boy matty...

  3. damn right. best song you ever introduced me to durphey

  4. I was just looking around to see if anyone had a list to go with Safe Travels, glad I'm not alone in loving it.

  5. Your'e absolutely right about Josh Ritter. I always wonder how is it that this song has never been huge.

  6. @Croat, couldn't agree more. No one's tried to write something that grand and epic in a long time, let alone pulled it off. Maybe Orpah will make the lyrics required reading for her book club and then it will blow up.

  7. sick sick songs

  8. m. ward.... powerful stuff