While there have been a number of albums that have been absolutely incredible, music is remembered by the songs that top everything else that you go back to time and time again. This year has been no exception.
Runner Up, 11 - Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down - Alicia Keys
This was a song that I hadn't heard up until a couple days ago. Keys is not an artist who usually pops up on my radar, but I suspect that I'll start paying more attention to her as I drift somewhat more into the Soul/R&B scene. What caught my ears with this track is Keys incredible vocals, which just flow over the song as it builds with energy. I know that had I heard this earlier, it would have been on my Best, New playlist for a while.
10 - Taller Children - Elizabeth & The Catapult
Taller Children was my first introduction to Elizabeth & The Catapult, off of their first album by the same name. What caught me at first was its quirky beat and fun lyrics, and it kept me listening through the entire album. Easily the best song off the album, it's still refreshing, even after all of these listens. In particular, I love the groove and energy that is spread out through the entire album.
9 - Quiet Highway Road - The Alternate Routes
Quiet Highway Road is just as it sounds. While I've extolled the virtues of The Alternate Routes numerous times for their energy at their live shows and with several songs off of this album, this song stuck with me every time that I listened through the album. Stuck at the end of A Sucker's Dream, it's the perfect epilogue for a fantastic album. Coupled with the amount of driving that I do, the song has become somewhat of an anthem for me while speeding along the back highways of Vermont. Listening over the album, I get such a fantastic feeling of freedom and liberation that I get from getting on the road, and I'm reminded that once the days get a bit longer, I'll take a couple of weekends and get back on them, with this song blaring on the radio.
8 - Travelling Woman - Bat for Lashes
I'm not overly aware of Bat for Lashes, but this song caught me while listening to Joss Whedon's TV show Dollhouse. This song was perfectly placed at the end of one of the best episodes (Belonging), in a sort of montage scene. The scene struck me as being particularly important and part of that was the song. Natasha Khan's voice is haunting over the lyrics, and end result is a beautiful, resounding song that remains with me.
7 - The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone) - The Decemberists
While there's a prologue to the album, this album kicks off the album in grand style. The first of four 'Hazards of Love' songs, this one introduces the main, epic story, setting events into motion that carries over. While the album as a whole really can't be picked apart and listened to in its component parts (apart from The Rake's Song), this song does a decent job of it, and in a way, can be listened to as its own story. The best thing about this song is that unlike the rest in the album, it won't leave you hanging for more when it's finished, if that's all that you really want to listen to. Furthermore, Colin Meloy is at his best sound for this entire album, and the song as a whole is a strong one, bringing out the album's unique theme right off the bat in grand style.
6 - Getaway Girl - Sarah Siskind
Sarah Siskind was an artist that I came across last year, but it was 2009 when she introduced her new album, Say It Louder. Getaway Girl was one of the songs that stuck out for me as the best song of the album. It feels strong, resilient, and Siskind's fantastic voice hovers along with the guitar work here in a really good way. The song just feels right through and through, and as with others on this list; it's been a song that I've gone back to numerous times without tiring of it. Getaway Girl just flows in a very chilled, laidback fashion that seems perfect for winter here in Vermont.
5 - Nothing But A Miracle - Diane Birch
Nothing But A Miracle is my favorite track off of Diane Birch's fantastic album Bible Belt, one that features a wonderful R&B/Soul feel throughout. The album is an examination of the 5 stages of grief, and the song is a fantastic look at a breakup and the recovery afterwards. This, to me, is something that anybody can really relate to. Birch sounds absolutely incredible in this song, and the rest of the album really has to struggle to keep up with the vocals and emotion wrapped up in this song.
4 - So It Goes - Myra Flynn
Yesterday, Myra Flynn got my pick for the best album of the year, and it was an incredible struggle to pick just one of her songs for this list. I ended up with So It Goes, although there are a couple of other songs off of the album that would have fit this nicely. The tipping point was recalling this song at her release show in Burlington over the summer. Like Ordinary Man, this song is an incredible effort when it comes to songwriting, merging mixed songs, fantastic lyrics and musical skill to present an incredible sound. I think this song is at the crux of the album, and one that certainly holds quite a bit of meaning to me.
3 - Ordinary Man - Gregory Douglass & Grace Potter
I got an early copy of Gregory Douglass's fantastic album Battler last year, and thought it was fantastic, but when I listened to it, I was floored by Ordinary Man, a duet between Douglass and Grace Potter, of the Nocturnals. For me, the song is very relatable, and it's one that I've attached quite a bit of sentimental value to right off the bat. Looking back over last year's Best Albums of 2008, I see that this should have been on there, or at least, it should have made it onto this year's - it certainly falls on that list. This song is romantic, emotional, and smooth and features an utterly perfect balance between Gregory and Grace's lyrics.
2 - Born Again - Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons
Born Again was the first song off of Death Won't Send A Letter, and is a rich blend of Baptist gospel and folk/country rock with a rich sound and wonderful lyrics. The song feels powerful, with a heavy beat coupled with guitar and bass work that just drives the song along. Chisel's voice provides the next component to the song, and the overall tone and feel is one of inspiration, happiness, and it has such a feel that the title doesn't feel ironic or out of place. I dare you to listen to the lyrics and find yourself not moving to the beat, clapping your hands together.
1 - Lake of Silver Bells - Carbon Leaf
The best song of the year is Carbon Leaf's Lake of Silver Bells. I really dug Nothing Rhymes With Woman, but Silver Bells just stood far apart from the rest of the album, and I think it's one of the best songs that Carbon Leaf has ever made. The opening couple of bars lull you into this easy, laidback state of mind, but around a minute into the song, it builds and just bursts into a soft energy that grows over the rest of the song. Lead singer Barry Privet's lyrics absolutely shine here, and harkens back to their absolute best songwriting efforts with their album Echo Echo. I listened to this album over and over, and this song never got old. It's warm, invigorating and spring-like. Above all, the song feels like it really represents my mood for the past couple of months, enthusiastic, dreamlike and hopeful. This song will easily remain one of my favorite songs of all time.