Photo by Erica Schrag.
1. The Replacements | Left Of The Dial
The 'Mats have long been my favorite band, and this song is probably the best representation of their drunken, stumbling perfection.
2. Mercury Rev | Chasing A Bee
This was the song that got me into Mercury Rev, and it's still my favorite thing they've done.The bizarre, hypnotic lyrics from David Baker just make the gigantic chorus a bigger payoff. My attention span is terrible, so any song this long I can get into must be some kind of masterpiece, right?
3. Guided By Voices | Game Of Pricks
With so many great albums and such a massive number of great songs, it's hard to narrow it down to one Guided By Voices track, but this is the one I find myself going back to the most. It's direct and to the point, and with awesome lyrics: I'll climb up on the house...Weep to water the trees...
4. Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel | Tumbling Down
I actually came to know this band, and specifically this song, through the movie Velvet Goldmine. It's epic without being overbearing or pompous, and its sentimental weirdness really strikes me in the nicest way possible.
5. Toro Y Moi | Talamak
This is a really beautiful song from Toro Y Moi's Causers Of This album. At first listen, it's just this really mellow groove that you want to nod your head to, but when you go deeper it's this very sincere, sad song that kind of breaks your heart, but in a wonderful way.
6. Skeletons | Stepper A.K.A Work
I love every album by this band. They're completely underrated and neglected by all the taste makers but they never fail to amaze, especially with this song from their most recent album Money. With so many subtleties, the whole thing is like a a dance hall that's rigged to explode any minute. It's possibly the tensest song I can think of.
7. Syd Barrett | Wolfpack
This was the first song I heard from Syd Barett outside of his stuff with Pink Floyd. Syd was one of my first real musical obsessions; his music was such a strange mystery, especially lyrically, and his spaced-out guitar sounds got me interested in learning the instrument. This song, in a lot of ways, got me started writing music.
8. Backseat Dreamer | For Starry Eyes
This one is a complete masterpiece of song construction and, in all honestly, is one of the warmest, most alive electronic songs I can think of. The melody is beautiful and the strings are gigantic and overwhelming, but the best part is the strange darkness within the song. It's kind of unexplainable, but when you hear it you feel it all over.
9. Big Country | Broken Heart (13 Valleys)
All cheesy 80s production aside, this song manages to be both incredibly catchy and devastatingly poignant. Every melody is better than the one that precedes it, and they're all very good.
10. Animal Collective | Banshee Beat
An incredible song, made simply wonderful by the way Avey Tare sings the word pool. It's at that moment that the song transforms from a pretty, sort of defeated sounding song into a massive celebration. Animal Collective has so much good shit, but this is by far my favorite.