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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Knox Harrington Five (KH5): Best Songs of 2009

Better late than never I suppose.  Here, absent further pomp and pageantry, are the best songs of 2009.

5) "New Orleans" - Let The Dominoes Fall - Rancid

Whether you prefer the Lars Frederiksen led, rocked-up version of this song, or the acoustic version from the deluxe version of the Dominoes album with Tim Armstrong on vocals, this gem of a song is a well-crafted, catchy number that lent itself to long stints in 'ol Knox's CD player.  Proof positive that Rancid is far from dead.

4) "Streetlights" - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit 

This standout track from the former Drive-By Truckers singer-guitarist and his new band (which includes keyboardist and Son Volt alumnus Derry deBorja) delves into the realm of reflection and soul-searching a la Ryan Adams' work with Whiskeytown, yet with one shot less drama, which is a good thing.  A great song from a great album.

3) "Angel Flight" - Revival - Radney Foster and the Confessions

Regardless of your views on the wars currently being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, this sullen yet somehow lovely track by the man I would consider the Crown King of alt-country/americana brings a tear to the eye as it tells the tale of the servicemen who fly what are known as "Angel Flights", and who are charged with the grim task of bringing slain American soldiers home from battle.  This passionate track, featuring Hootie & The Blowfish's Darius Rucker on harmony vocals is really a great song, even by Foster's lofty standards and track record.

2) "No Turning Back" - American Central Dust - Son Volt

After two great albums by this re-formed alt-country powerhouse, this collection of songs was a bit of a let down.  As they say however, every rose has its thorn.  This track harkens back to the glory days of yesteryear when Son Volt led the No Depression music parade and reminds the listener of early Son Volt songs like "Back Into Your World", "Tear-Stained Eye" and "Windfall", yet is distinct enough to ward off being branded the "same old thing".  Add lyrics like "you're beat and bleeding, but stubbornly shining" and you have great track where Jay Farrar again succeeds at driving the mind to the dusty streets of recession-ravaged America.

1) "I Just Can't Take It Anymore" - Varshons - The Lemonheads

I was hesitant to award a cover song the top spot in the 2009 KH5, but Evan Dando's version of this Gram Parsons classic demanded the title.  No matter where, or how often, I listened to this song, I found myself caught up in its simple guitars, even flow, laid back production and dynamite vocal harmonies. As I said in my initial review of this album, it may very well be the case that Evan Dando does Gram Parsons even better than Gram Parsons did.

There you have it.  Get these songs, enjoy them and remember, as Mickey Rourke said in Harley Davidson & The Marlborough Man, "it's better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool". 

Posted by Knox Harrington on January 5, 2010 | Permalink


Once again Knox, you have written with a descriptive authority and personal flair that leaves one wanting more; at the vary least a download or two. I applaud your reverance for, not only the music as a whole, but for the quest for a deeper understanding for who, what, where and posibbly why.

Might I toss into the ring for strong appreciation "2 daughters and a Beautiful Wife (Drive by Truckers from Brighter then Creations Dark)

No bubblegum, pop infused mall rat horse shit here!

Keep it up brother!

Posted by: Xavier | 2010-01-07 3:58:14 PM

Agree, the best track of 2009, Evan's vocals are superb !

Posted by: Ann | 2010-01-08 2:23:50 PM

All computer enhanced garbage posing as talent. You can't fuck or get someone in the mood for dancing or fucking with any of that trash.

Benny Bennasi, Bryan Cox, tiesto,.....

Posted by: Vegan Philosopher | 2010-01-10 2:38:20 PM

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