CJ's Best Of The 00s Volume 2: If I Cross Myself When I Come Would You Maybe Recieve Me?
11. How I Could Just Kill A Man-Rage Against The Machine(2000)
"How I Could Just Kill A Man" is the rare cover that manages to eclipse the original in almost every aspect. Though certainly not the most vicious of gangsta-rap songs from the early '90s, Rage Against The Machine scrounges for every last scrap of brutality to be found in Cyprus Hills' classic and then amplifies it a thousand fold. When B-Real raps "Young punk had to pay", you agree with him. When Zach De La Rocha does the same, you believe it. Truthfully, it's not one of Rage Against The Machine's more aggressive songs, and that's what makes it so scary-you've never heard the band sound quite this casual when talking about murder before. It doesn't scream it's intentions, it growls them. And the way the song sheds parts of itself off in the last 11 seconds until it's nothing but drums and vocals is maybe one of the most uniquely cathartic sequences in music. "How I Could Just Kill A Man" will end you, and you will thank it for the pleasure.
12. Gravity Rides Everything-Modest Mouse(2000)
If you're a dipshit, the most cruelly ironic twist of fate this decade was finding out that Modest Mouse's turn to the mainstream was also one of the best moves they could have made for bettering their music. The truth of the matter, though, is that The Moon and Antarctica is still not a mainstream record by any stretch of the imagination. Pretty much just "Gravity Rides Everything" and a couple other songs ever had a hope of being played on the radio. It's not hard to see why, too-this song is incredibly easy to fall in love with. The lyrics are optimistic without being happy, per se, and the guitar tone that Isaac Brock gets is nothing short of ethereal when it's not pleasingly folky. On a personal level, this song has gotten me through a lot of hard times and I think it'll continue to do so for many, many more years to come. Simple beauty is an easy thing to overlook, but "Gravity Rides Everything" practically forces you to stop and acknowledge the cool comfort it brings. Indie music this decade-any music-had the deck stacked against it for almost 10 years, because this song came out at the beginning of the decade and right out of the gate, the bar couldn't have been raised higher.
13. Heavy Artillery-Mr. Lif(2002)
Mr. Lif has to be one of the most underrated members of the alternative rap movement, and I can't for the life of me figure out why, especially with songs like "Heavy Artillery" under his belt. This song proves all by itself that you can sound fierce as hell without explicitly talking about killing people-the sped-up military drumline would accomplish that by itself, but when you combine it with Lif's sharp-but-smooth flow and jagged voice, you have a rap song that can peel the paint off the walls as good as any death metal number. Mr. Lif practically reinvents what it means to be aggressive in the rap world, and he didn't even have to mention his gat to do it.
14. June-Goodbye Gadget(2006)
If anyone could possibly make the argument that punk isn't dead, it would be by showcasing songs that do something new, like "June". Oakland's own Goodbye Gadget have crafted a pop-punk song that avoids the baggage that comes with such a divisive label by making it a smart, pointed story about a woman who feels trapped in her own life-the woman, in this case, being June Cleaver. It's a song about a woman who knows that she's kind of worthless, who could just as easily be any woman in any kitchen anywhere in the country. It's not typical punk fare, and the string arrangements jump out at you even more because of it. If Goodbye Gadget ever hits it big, it'll be because of sharp, catchy, tight numbers like "June".
15. Lay Low-My Morning Jacket(2005)
My Morning Jacket might be one of the most overrated groups of the decade-their album Z in particular-but that doesn't make "Lay Low" any less wonderful than it is. One of the least experimental, most straightforward pop songs on the aforementioned Z, "Lay Low" is a song that recalls a certain kind of boyish love, the kind that says "I know you don't think much of me, but I know I'm the guy for you and I can prove it". The charming, romantic tone of the song leads into one of their best solos, making this song one of the few times My Morning Jacket really earns their praise as a "guitar band". Soft and confident, "Lay Low" is a song that deserves to be played at outdoor socials and barbecues for years to come.
16. Bonafied Lovin'-Chromeo(2007)
If there's a reason that I'm not as averse to dance music as I used to be, it's probably because of "Bonafide Lovin'". The song is just so fucking fun-there's nothing about this song that doesn't realize that it's a kind of cheesey '80s throwback and it loves itself for it. The synthline practically grabs you by the arm and asks you to dance with it, and if you find yourself refusing I recommend you check to see if you still have a pulse. The theme of the song is awesome in an old-school way, too-it's been too long since the days of songs about being a man and stealing a woman away from an unworthy lover were in vogue. In that regard, Chromeo is following in the steps of their electrofunk forefathers. I can't anticipate anything but a good time coming from walking with them.
17. Drunken Lullabies-Flogging Molly(2002)
No one combines fury, sorrow and partying like the Irish, and nobody since the Pogues has done it as well as Flogging Molly. "Drunken Lullabies" is a song about finding yourself fighting even after you've learned long since that you have nothing left to fight for, and it screams all the frustration and bemusement that comes with that condition as though the band was standing right in the room with you. Lines like "Has the Shepard led his lambs astray/To the bigot and the gun?" bite hard, and the song is so energetic, so delightedly wrathful that you feel like fighting for something yourself, even if you don't know what it is. That's what "Drunken Lullabies" is-a battle anthem for an army that doesn't exist, and may never have existed to begin with, but leaves the aftermath of every battle it fights in it's wake. You can smash something or you can cry or you can do both, but you'll never know why you're doing it, not really. "Drunken Lullabies" is that feeling contained in a jagged little bottle, and it goes down a lot better than you think it should.
18. Banks Of The Deep End-Gov't Mule(2001)
An elder statesman of a band forming a side-project that turns out to be better than the original grouping is about the best sort of problem that you could hope to achieve. The fact Gov't Mule took all the best parts of the Allman Brothers Band is only icing on the cake, as they decided to go in a completely different songwriting direction than their parent group. It's hard to tell exactly what "Banks of the Deep End" is about, but a good guess would be that it has something to do with the death of former bassist Allen Woody. It's rare to hear a southern rock song that can be described as "moody", but "Banks of the Deep End" fits that bill in a big way. It comes across as sincere because of how stripped down it is-there are no string or woodwind arrangements like there might be from other bands trying to show their grief. It's just a few old men on guitars, drums and organ. The line "On the banks of the deep end/Where I lost my best friend" rings true as much because of Warren Haynes' resigned croak as the lyrics themselves. It's a hard rocking but mournful glimpse at a group of aging men who lost one of their best friends, and even if the song didn't stick in your head due to the classic, fundamentalist musicianship of the band(which it does), such a glimpse by itself turns this from a good song into a truly memorable one.
19. Fight Test-The Flaming Lips(2002)
The Sot Bulletin might have been the album that set the Flaming Lips off towards their new(aka Good) direction, but it was Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots that turned them into the synthpop/electronic indie band to be beat, and that much was obvious from the first song, "Fight Test". Within the first 20 seconds of the song, it became impossible to deny that you were listening to something magical-nothing else on earth can capture such a dreadful feeling, that of having missed the opportunity to be with the love of your life, and turn it into something that sounds so wondrous. That's the genius of the song, that it takes such compelling, joyful soundtrack sensibilities and focuses them around the most relatable chorus of the decade: "I don't know how a man decides what's right for his own life/It's all a mystery." It may be, but when you hear this song you'll feel like you're a step closer to solving it.
20. Yeah Sapphire-The Hold Steady(2008)
"Yeah Sapphire" contains not one but two of my favorite lyrics of the decade-the one in the title of this blog post and "'Cause dreams, they seem to cost money, but money costs some dreams". The Hold Steady has an incredible talent for being able to get to the emotional core of whatever it is they're playing about and laying it bare in the simplest, starkest terms possible. For that reason they were one of the hardest bands for me to pick just one song to represent. "Yeah Sapphire" has gotta be it, though-the story of the eternally wrongheaded boyfriend wanting to get back together with his old flame is a classic, and the agility of the lyrics, mixed with the dire situations the speaker finds himself in, turn a series of bumbling mistakes into a tender, bonafide classic.