10. Estelle featuring Kanye West. "American Boy." Leave it to a girl from overseas to sing the best song about Americans this year. And leave it to Kanye to only make it better.
9. Pete and the Pirates. "Knots." A beautiful piece of guitar pop that will seem longer than its 2 minutes and 14 seconds once it logs a week of playtime inside your head.
8. Jamie Lidell. "Little Bit of Feel Good." 2008's best soul track, hands down, from 2008's best soul album, hands down. Jamie Lidell is single-handedly striving to make Motown relevant in the age of computers.
7. Okkervil River. "Singer Songwriter." If this song sounds as though it's about you (or your girlfriend), don't get mad; just appreciate the incredible perceptiveness of Will Scheff's lyrics.
6. Lil Wayne. "Phone Home." Look, Lil Wayne's crazy good, crazy productive and just plain crazy, and no other song on Tha Carter III, Dedication III or any of Weezy's other efforts this year conveys this as well as "Phone Home."
5. Vampire Weekend. "Walcott." While I don't know if you can really call Hyannis Port a ghetto, this song melds VW's prominent drumming and ringing guitars to perfection.
4. Bound Stems. "Sugar City Magic." A perfect amalgamation of the factors that make Bound Stems one of the most engaging new bands around: tempo changes, stirring lyrics and some genuine Americana urgency.
3. The Cool Kids. "Black Mags." One of the better songs on probably the most stellar debut release of 2008. The Cool Kids are bringing you style, some compelling homemade beats, and hip-hop's flyest BMX bikes, and they're bringing it hard.
2. The Hold Steady. "Stay Positive." You want anthemic? Here's anthemic. Driving instrumentation and some passionate background vocals make a perfect backdrop for Craig Finn's vocal prophecies.
1. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. "Buriedfed." Half folk, half careening rock and all invocation of one man's raw emotion. Robinson lays it bare in this song, and you can hear the homelessness and alcoholism that he overcame in the process of making this album. The talent he demonstrates is tremendous, substantiated in "Buriedfed's" poignant lyrics and the steadily increasing force as the song begins and reaches maturity, all over the course of five fully packed minutes. While the rest of the record doesn't again reach the stratospheric standard set by its opener, one feels justified in believing that he can do it again. Either way, it's a hell of a place to start.
Check back Nov. 27 for the next list.
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