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Tied to the 90s: Yostal’s 10 Best Songs of “2007” Thursday, December 20, 2007

Posted by Yostal in 2007 in review, 90s rock, DeadOn's Resident Pop Culture Historian, Gen X&Y, Reasons why I was single, rock & roll, Tied to the 90s, Yostal.

Tied to the 90s

Welcome back to “Tied to the 90s“, a not-very complete guide to a decade that was. I’m your host, Yostal, and once more, I’ll be taking you through the pop culture landscape of the 1990s. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please email me at GoinYostal@gmail.com or leave me a comment.

Today, I’ll be looking at the 10 best songs of 2007. Or I should say “The 10 Best Songs I Added to my iTunes Library in 2007”. Between writing Tied to the 90s for a good part of the year, the development of Seeqpod, and getting Sirius in my car and listening to Lithium 24 pretty much non-stop, I have added a large amount of music to my iTunes this past year (grand total: 650 songs). So I thought as a “nostalgia columnist” it wouldn’t be right for me to talk about the current music, especially as I don’t know what the hell I would be talking about. So instead, you get a wide-ranging look at what I was listening to in 2007. Some of this may trod upon ground covered earlier this year, but that said, here we go again…

1). Never Noticed” by Buffalo Tom (from the band’s 2002 rarities compilation Besides)

A band I should have known well before this year, but did not until a Deadspin post linked to a blog post that compared the AP Pre-Season College Football Top 25 to Indie Albums. Michigan, then ranked #5, when the world was still new and full of possibility and before The Unpleasantness, pulled Buffalo Tom’s 1991 album Let Me Come Over. I was lost, but thankfully, PreciousRoy, as good a Domer as there has been, hooked me up with a Whitman’s Sampler Pack of Buffalo Tom tracks. Needless to say, I was hooked. This is also probably how I ended up with a rarity being my #1 selection, I didn’t know any better, it was just the one I liked the best (though “Mineral” and “Summer” are also terrific as well.) Mike O’Malley and Jon Stewart are both fans. That was good enough for me.

2). “The Bleeding Heart Show” by The New Pornographers (from the band’s 2005 album Twin Cinema)

Yes, the University of Phoenix commercial got me hooked. It’s just such a great song all over. If there’s something I adore about TNP songs, it’s how the lyrics make no sense andperfect sense at the same time. Plus, Neko. Everybody sing along…Hey La, Hey La! We have arrived…to late to play….the Bleeding Heart Show!

3). “Long Shot” by Aimee Mann (from her 1995 album I’m With Stupid)

This one is totally on the_bad_one, a major Aimee Mann fan, and this was his suggestion. I’ll admit, until a month ago, I had never heard it, and now, it’s one of my absolute favorite songs. You may remember Aimee Mann from such previous works as Til Tuesday, but her solo career before this album included Whatever, which also has a great title track which could have just as easily gone in this slot. Oh sure, it’s a little hard to get people to get on board with a song that starts “I fucked it up”, but you know casual F-bombs work for Liz Phair (who will be gotten to in a second part of this), so why not? And if your record company doesn’t like your work, well, that isn’t that big a surprise, is it? I love the blend of the traditional guitar in this with the rhythmic backing line. And yet, at it’s core, this song is as much a plea as it is a realization. “Please love me…more” (One other point is Ms. Mann’s favor on this song is how amazing the live version on Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse is. I rarely like live versions of any song better, “I Want You to Want Me” being the major exception, but the raw emotion Aimee presents the song with in the live version totally wins me over.)

4). “Read My Mind” by The Killers (from the band’s 2006 album Sam’s Town)

Probably my favorite “new band” which is to say, a band whose work begins in the current decade. I listened to this song a lot this fall and especially over the last month, in part because I became convinced that hidden within its lyrics were a description of the Michigan coaching search. I know it seems ridiculous, but somehow, it made sense to me because it all kept coming back to “I don’t mind if you don’t mind, because I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Seriously, it was crazy. Still love the song though without the connection.)

5). “Plus Ones” by Okkervil River (from the band’s 2007 album The Stage Names)

I’m a sucker for subreferencing and for lyrical cleverness. Guess what, we have both here. Total hat tip to Dr. David (who, if you remember, was the source behind the Canadian post back in May). When you can work Paul Simon, R.E.M., the Byrds, The Zombies, and ? and the Mysterians into the same song and have it feel completely organic, you’ve done quite well for yourself.

6). “Wheat Kings by the Tragically Hip (from the band’s 1992 album Fully Completely)

Hey, speaking of Canadians. Two of my favorite pop culture things from 2007 were being introduced to this song by our Canadian contingent on Deadspin and discovering reruns of Corner Gas on WGN, and they both have ties to Saskatchewan. There’s just a certain exceptional beauty to this song, soft, subtle, and heartfelt, even if its discussion of a wrongful murder conviction. You’ll hear the loon’s call at the open and you won’t want to leave.

7). “Signal Fire” by Snow Patrol (from the original motion picture soundtrack from 2007’s Spider-Man 3)

I realize this was probably the only redeeming feature of what turned out to be a pretty weak conclusion to the trilogy. And yes, I realize, it was just culled from the Snow Patrol song generator, but there’s just something about it, and the use of the phrase “Signal Fire” that has me coming back to this song a lot. I can’t explain it, it just is what it is.

8). The Golden State” by John Doe (f. Kathleen Edwards) (from the 2007 album A Year in the Wilderness)

I think there’s a danger of picking my favorite song from a year not yet completed, and in looking back upon the difficulty I had in making the selection, I’m fairly certain my caution was well warranted. But it is “30 Years, 30 Songs”, and so here we are. The notion of picking a love song by the guy who was once the lead singer of seminal American punk outfit X paired with a Canadian singer/songwriter 24 years his junior is almost absurd, but maybe that’s what I like about it. It captures all of the wonderful little things about true love without feeling cliche. I’d never really equated California with love before, but you can almost see how it makes sense. A better song may come along this year, but this one is going to be tough to beat. Thank you to Victoria for her obsessive reading of Salon and her insistence that I nab this one. Well done my friend.

9). “Burning Down the House” (cover) by Tom Jones and the Cardigans (from Tom’s 2003 Reloaded album)

Every year, when my buddies and I go on vacation, it usually involves a large amount of driving, and this year was no exception. We had decided to make CDs with which to torment each other, include a CD of mindboggling covers. This was one of the head scratchers, and yet, here it is, and I absolutely adore it. I can’t explain how you combine the consummate Welsh showman with a Scandopop band, add some crazy remixing, and get a Talking Heads song to stand on its head, but there it is. It really doesn’t make any sense, but you know what, I don’t think it has to. MY HOUSE!

10). “Brother” by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from the 1993 original motion picture soundtrack for So I Married an Axe Murderer)

As regular readers of Tied to the 90s can tell you, I have a soft spot in my heart for Toad the Wet Sprocket. I also have a soft spot in my heart for the 1993 film So I Married an Axe Murderer. Well, when I ordered the soundtrack to get the Boo Radleys cover of “There She Goes”, I got the major bonus of this little known Toad track. It’s just, wow. So yeah.

One other thing: As the Writer’s Strike continues, I am now out of new episodes of How I Met Your Mother to recap for the foreseeable future. So I’ll be bringing back Tied to the 90s from time to time in the near future. If you have any suggestions for future columns, please let me know.

That’s all I have for this week. I genuinely hoped you enjoyed it, and please come soon for another edition of “Tied to the 90s”. Until then, this has been Subcommandante Yostal, logging off.



1. DougOLis - Friday, December 21, 2007

If you have what? Uhh, the anticipation.

That’s one hell of an eclectic mix (chronologically). I wouldn’t exactly say it would match my list, but there’s not a bad song in there. I approve. And yes, I know that you do this for my approval so there you have it.

2. spankyjoe - Friday, December 21, 2007

Not that this is a bad thing, but I think that after the 90’s ended, Yostal and I started listening to music from completely different planets. I’ve just been lost in a metal ghetto. (Thank you, Relapse Records!)

In no particular order:

Nine Inch Nails – “Zero-Sum”
Baroness – “Isak”
Jesu – “Weightless & Horizontal”
The Dillinger Escape Plan – “Black Bubblegum”
Pig Destroyer – “Rotten Yellow”
Queens of the Stone Age – “Turning On The Screw”
Wilco – “Sky Blue Sky”
Dethklok – “Go Into The Water”
Bettye Levette – “Talking Old Soldiers”
Justice – “Let There Be Light”

3. Jerkwheat - Friday, December 21, 2007

Once, I had the chance to meet Gord Downie after a show and expressed to him my pleasure at having finally heard “Wheat Kings” live that night after having seen them 8 or 9 times before without that happening. He then proceeded to chat with me about social issues for a solid five minutes.

I repaid him by making “Wheat Kings” one of the first songs I ever learned how to play.

4. DougOLis - Friday, December 21, 2007

I am somewhat surprised you didn’t include anything off the Into the Wild soundtrack (i.e. Hard Sun or Guaranteed).

5. nicolle - Monday, December 24, 2007

as a rather recent reader of this blog…i think there should be more Tied To The 90s columns, because 90s rock is the best music ever. as it has been a few months since the last one, i didn’t realise this blog covered nineties music as well as television.

maybe…ring in 2008 with a short dissertation [top ten/fifteen/twenty list?] on some of the best music of 1998? there was some really, really good music that year…sure, the year was laden with one hit wonders and bands that later became awful, but isn’t that what the nineties were (are?) all about?

2008 hasn’t even started, and i’ve still got a funny feeling 1998’s music was far better than 2008’s will ever be.

6. Yostal - Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nicolle, I will see what I can do. Certainly that is a good idea.

7. Michael - Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey, what about “Mansard Roof” or “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend?

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