By Jef With One F
By Bob Ruggiero
By Corey Deiterman
By Marco Torres
By Angelica Leicht
By Angelica Leicht
By Charne Graham
Pearl Jam, "The Fixer": Never mind anyone under 25 who heard "The Fixer" probably thought it was a new Kings of Leon song — it's lean and mean in a way Eddie Vedder's Seattle survivors haven't been since the "Do the Evolution" days... or maybe ever. In a year the band's 1991 breakthrough Ten got the deluxe-reissue treatment, almost always a sure sign an artist is ready for the oldies shelf (see: Nirvana), "The Fixer" proved Pearl Jam is still hungry and vital. Not bad for a Target commercial.
U2, "Moment of Surrender": Although it proved to be, well, "Magnificent" live, look no further for the reason No Line on the Horizon was U2's poorest-selling album since the similarly stadium-sized Pop than the fact that its best song is a melancholy ballad that stretches more than seven minutes. But what a ballad it is. Bono may be revisiting familiar territory, the uneasy alliance between earthy and unearthly love, but he does it with both characteristic humanity and a heretofore-unseen degree of humility (really!). Meanwhile, the Edge's angelic harmonies and Brian Eno's chorale-like keyboards make this song the closest U2 has ever come to touching the face of God — no mean feat for a band whose credits already include "Gloria," "40" and "One."
White Lies, "To Lose My Life": Pale, skinny post-punk Brits singing about love over fuzzy basslines that feel like a ride on the Tube are nothing new, of course, but these London lads do it better than most. Having 2009's most Livejournal-worthy refrain in "Let's grow old together/ And die at the same time" didn't hurt. By year's end, "To Lose My Life" had found a proper home in teasers for the CW's Twilight-lite series The Vampire Diaries.
White Rabbits, "Percussion Gun": More than any other, this song by the Missouri-to-Brooklyn transplants embodies the brave new world Noise is still coming to terms with. We first heard it in a friend's car — we had to ask her who it was at least three separate times who it was before we finally remembered for good — and we never did hear anything else off parent album It's Frightening (even though it was produced by Spoon's Britt Daniel). No matter, because its machine-gun drums, exclamation-point bass and leering lyrics may be the most purely fun three minutes of music we heard all year.
Wilco, "I'll Fight": Jeff Tweedy's band continues to refine both its peculiar business model as a group that makes its living on the road yet whose fans still swamp record stores whenever a new album comes out — ask anyone working at Cactus Music the day Wilco (the Album) was released in June — and its talent for couching uncomfortable sentiments in silky-smooth sounds. Here, Tweedy compares himself to Jesus, vowing to fight (and kill) for his audience as his musical compadres craft a deceptively upbeat organ-based tune that doesn't so much smooth over the lyrics' sharp edges as conceal them in a leather sheath. No other band out there would go to such lengths for its listeners, which is both comforting and a little creepy.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Zero": Karen O and her two cronies leave the Lower East Side for Studio 54 for this New Wave dance-floor gem with hipster-criticizing lyrics that cut deeper than anything Pitchfork could come up with. By simultaneously castigating and embracing the YYYs' fan base, "Zero" set a synth-punk standard nobody in 2009 could live up to: Nobody else in their ZIP code, anywhere else, and — although "Heads Will Roll" and "Skeletons" came relatively close — not even the band itself on the rest of It's Blitz! Chris Gray
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city