1. The Stills | Changes Are No Good
This comes from The Stills first album Logic Will Break Your Heart which is one of the most consistent albums to come from the first half of the 2000’s. This song in particular just speaks to me as perfection, it is 80’s influenced post punk with tight bass and drums, beautifully echoed leads and I love the first two chords of the rhythm guitar, they are major 7 chords and they are fun to play and always just sound pretty. The reason this record is The Stills best is because they had lead guitarist Greg Paquet, who left after the release of Logic.... Also, I love the artwork used on the album and especially on the single release for this track. Easily one of my all time favorite songs.
2. Toro Y Moi | Talamak
I have been a huge fan of the whole new genre that has emerged this year. Dreambeat, Chillwave, Glo fi... Whatever it is, I love it. Washed Out is probably my favorite but all of it is great. Neon Indian, Memory Tapes, and Toro Y Moi are becoming some of my all time favorite bands to listen to. It is strange because my friend Randy has been doing this kind of electronic throwback pop music for a couple years as Deastro, but it’s only now catching on because more of these types of bands are getting attention. I found Toro Y Moi because he (Chaz) is friends with Washed Out (Ernest) and I’ve simply become obsessed with anything those dudes are involved in. This track is one of the most accessible and just impressive songs from the whole movement.
3. The Walkmen | The Rat
Simply put, Matt Barrick is one of the best drummers alive right now. The Walkmen are one of my all time favorites, if not my number one favorite band. They have been such a huge influence on me and (guitarist) Paul Maroon has taught me the value of tone, reverb, precision and many other guitar-playing elements. I got Bows + Arrows right when it came out and I still listen to it at least once a week. This song has so much going on, the absolutely amazing drums, the reckless guitar, and the howling vocals all come together in a style that only The Walkmen can pull off.
4. Bombay Bicycle Club | Dust On The Ground
This is a new found favorite by guys from the UK that are my age. It is nice to know that someone is still keeping the guitar indie rock spirit alive and it is especially nice to know that these are such young dudes. The Joy Division influence is irrefutable here but a lot of my favorite bands would not have existed if it weren’t for Ian Curtis. This song isn’t as much a mega pop gem as Always Like This but when the bass and lead guitar come in together after the actual dust on the ground lyric, it is one of those life-completing moments.
5. Tears For Fears | Head Over Heels
As far as 80’s pop songs go, you can’t get much more legit than Tears For Fears. This is such a sonically pleasing song with all the production I just love it. I was obsessed with this song in the tenth grade right after I watched Donnie Darko for the first time. This song is played in the movie when Donnie and all the other kids are going to school and it just fits so amazing; it is a moment of cinematic perfection. I had listened to plenty of Tears For Fears before then but it was at that time in my life that this song just really hit home for me.
6. Television | Marquee Moon
One of the best guitar rock songs, ever. My father has the Marquee Moon record on 12” vinyl so I have listened to the actual album all the way through more times than I can count. About eight years ago when I was getting truly obsessed with The Strokes my dad was like You should probably listen to who influenced them most and showed me Marquee Moon. The dueling lead guitars on this track are just out of this world. Some people only know Television as the band that Richard Hell was in at one point and they get grouped in with late 70’s punk a lot, but they are so much better than all that. Television was so ahead of their time and where The Ramones would write a two-minute song with three chords and a shout along chorus, these guys were putting together ten-minute plus masterpieces.
7. Gorillaz | Tomorrow Comes Today
Blur always wins the Britpop War for me, so I will always listen to anything Damon Albarn is involved in. But Gorillaz go beyond that. The first record Albarn and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura did together as Gorillaz is a masterpiece. Beginning to finish, no other album blends rock, pop and hip-hop together so well. Tomorrow Comes Today has my favorite video (I love Jamie Hewlett’s artwork) and the best beat off the record. It is such an original tune that captures so many different elements of music while still conveying emotion so well. Gorillaz laid the groundwork for artists that I like so much now like Toro Y Moi, who make beautiful pop songs with a hip hop backbone.
8. The Strokes | Hard To Explain
Is This It has been such a big part of my life it is hard to describe. Both of The Strokes first two records are just perfect in my opinion and they have had such an influence on me it’s ridiculous. Simple fast paced drums, run along bass, lazy vocals and roaring guitars. The guitar trade offs between Albert Hammond, Jr. and Nick Valensi will make any song The Strokes ever do worth listening to. I love the guitar tones and the way it was all recorded. Just perfect.
9. Interpol | Leif Erikson
Turn On The Bright Lights is another album that has impacted me more than any piece of art should ever affect one person. I actually bought Antics first but then I heard NYC and Obstacle 1 and I decided I should buy their debut also. One of the best decisions I made in my life. The simple chord progression at the beginning of this song builds up into such beautiful leads played by Daniel Kessler, amazing echoed leads that creep into your brain and crawl down to your heart to take up residency. Interpol has this dark depth to them that few bands have. One of my all time favorite albums, by one of my favorite bands and the solo riff that comes in towards the end of this song gives me chills every time.
10. Ambulance LTD | Stay Where You Are
In 2004 I saw The Killers play St. Andrews Hall in Detroit and I was very excited because they were one of my favorites at the time (their first record really is spectacular). Little did I know that within the next year they would sky rocket to success and then release completely shit albums from then on. But one thing I can thank The Killers for is Ambulance LTD. Ambulance opened for the Killers that night and almost got booed off by a rowdy Detroit crowd, but I knew there was more to them. I ended up getting their first (and only so far) record and it is another one of the albums that is so consistent it can be listened to beginning to end. My favorite version of Stay Where You Are is on that record, LP, and it has a two-minute guitar intro that is so spacious and ambient it almost estranges you to the song right before the incredible riff comes in to deliver the hook of the song. A completely perfect guitar pop song with a beautiful melody.