Biographical Mix 2009: Pop Culture

I can only assume that anyone reading this has been anxiously awaiting this moment ever since I started posting these things. After all, you’re getting this one fresh, as it just happened, as opposed through the misty, water color memories of the previous years.

Since this is fresh, I’m going to take things a bit further and expound upon each of my choices, mostly because I like to over think things.

For those who don’t remember how this works, this is a mix comprised of my favorite songs from 2009. It’s a fairly good sampling of what I listened to this year, which means that many of these songs came out before 2009, but I just got around to listening to them this year.

As should be very clear, pop culture played a huge influence on me this year, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Without further ado, my 2009 Biographical Mix:

“Returning to the Fold” by The Thermals

I discovered this band through the TV show “Chuck.” I love more or less everything about the show, and the music has been no different (my most recent slow mixes are filled with songs from “Chuck.”). This is a great song for driving around and singing at the top of your lungs.

“The Twist” by Frightened Rabbit

Yes, another band I discovered because off “Chuck,” leave me alone. Okay, by and large it’s angsty Scottish (I think) alternative type music, but it’s really likeable angsty Scottish (I think) alternative type music. It’s also really catchy while also being incredibly sad and danceable.

“Just Drums” by Tapes N’ Tapes

Wow, I just now realized that this is another gem from another TV show, this one being “Big Love,” a show I just like, not love. But some guy named David Byrne picks out the music for that show, so it’s always a safe bet they’ll have some good tunes. I barely made out this song in the background of a scene, but it was enough to catch my interest. The rest of the album was okay, but this song is pretty great.

Hellodrama” by What Made Milwaukee Famous

This is my favorite song off of a great album, “Trying to Never Catch Up.” Shockingly enough, it has nothing at all to do with a TV show. I’d actually heard about this band for a while before I actually gave them a shot, and I’m glad I did.

“Basement Parties” by Matt Pond PA

Again, not a band I discovered because of a TV show, although they are favorites of Josh Scwartz’s music producers, as they can be heard on both “The OC” and the aforementioned “Chuck.” I generally enjoy any song that makes me think of college, and this is one of those.

“Rally” by Phoenix

I had a good run there but, yes, this is also a TV discovery, from the 3rd season of the late, great “Veronica Mars.” It seems that these guys are a big buzz band now, but it’s news to me. I like this song because it’s poppy and happy and good.

Wilco (the song)” by Wilco

Okay, well, let’s be clear about this one: yes, I first heard it on a TV show (the Colbert Report), but I’ve been a Wilco fan for a while now. I had the recording from the show and played it to death well before the album version finally came out. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it doesn’t shy away from that cheese.

“The Fixer” by Pearl Jam

Yes, it was only appropriate that Pearl Jam released a new album this year, as this was also the year that I caught back up with this band. I enjoyed their latest record well enough, and this was easily my favorite song. A pop song by Pearl Jam? Who knew?

“Ascending” by …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead…

I like Trail of Dead and I really like this song, but I’ll be honest, none of their albums have hit me the way “Source Tags and Codes” did. I like how they’ve expanded their vocals over the years, but it seems to have come with a loss of guitar hooks.

“Welcome Home” by Coheed & Cambria

Yes, well, I couldn’t go too long without another pop culture induced choice. I have yet to see the move “9,” but I absolutely loved the trailer, in no small part due to this song; it’s epic. This song also represents the extent of my exposure to Coheed & Cambria.

“Last Call” by Thursday

Sure, maybe it was the fact that this album came out right around the time I started jury duty, but it just clicked with me. I enjoy Thursday, even if they are generally lumped in with much less talented “screamo” acts. It was actually hard for me to pick just one song off of their last album, but the super emo side of me couldn’t resist a song that ends with the repeated chorus of “Everything is fine,” when it most obviously isn’t.

“Radical Adults Like Godhead Style” by Sonic Youth

I go through Sonic Youth phases and the last three months of ’09 was one of them. Honestly, there’s not much more to say than that. They creep up again and again over the span of most of my mixes for whatever reason. They’ve put out such a huge catalog of music that I feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up with them. Hell, I still haven’t listened to their latest yet and that came out months ago.

“Into the Mirror” by Minus the Bear

Oh, Minus the Bear, the band that makes me think of college like no other band makes me think of college, which is a bit strange, given that I don’t even think they existed when I was in college. No, it’s their music that makes me think of college — something about their lyrics just speak to me in that way.

I was a bit disappointed with their last album, but this two song single and recent acoustic release has redeemed them in my eyes. They’re starting to get less angular and more groovy, which I’m perfectly fine with.

“Thunder$stroke” by Beaten Awake

I always feel weird when I put band with people I know (or have known for years) in them on these lists, like I’m cheating somehow or playing favorite. But, damn, if Beaten Awake’s second album isn’t impossible to ignore. I had a really hard time picking a favorite song, but sold out and went with the single. Sure, I wish the vocals were a bit more to the forefront and it’s a ridiculously catchy vocal line, but I can look past that.

“Substitution” by Silversun Pickups

There are moments, when I listen to the Silversun Pickups, when I can find no other way to describe their music but Grunge 2.0 (you know, if we stopped 1.0 before it got completely awful, thank you very much Seven Mary Three). There are also times when I listen to the Silversun Pickups where I wonder why I don’t listen to them more. They’re like the Smashing Pumpkins before Bald Billy went insane, but with something more important to say.

“I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor” by the Arctic Monkeys

Never let it be said that I’m a trendsetter. It’s a catchy song, what can I say?

“Can’t Stop Partying” by Weezer

Ditto. I’d go into details, but I just wrote a whole damn blog on Weezer.

“Time to Pretend” by MGMT

Again, I’m probably behind the cool kids curve on this one, as I didn’t really listen to much MGMT until this past year. This is the kind of dance music I like — the kind that doesn’t require any actual dancing.

“Left Behind” by CSS

I will say this much: CSS could be the revelation of 2009 for me. It would have been pretty easy to assume a lot of different things about this band, from the stupid Ipod commercial to the cutesy singer and dance beats. But they cover a pretty wide range of music styles on their (so far) two albums. It’s also impossible to not love a band that features a musical homage to Death From Above 1979.

“Stadium Love” by Metric

Great title for a great song by a great band — makes it a good choice, I’d say. Really, I can’t say enough about the title of this song. The lyrics are fairly abstract, but the music is just so huge that calling it anything other than “Stadium Love” would have been kind of sad. I can only assume that the riff came before the words.

There it is — took me weeks to write, but there’s my mix for 2009. Enjoy. I’m off to watch Chuck.

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