Staff Top 10
Top Ten Favorite Penultimate Songs

By: Mike Orme

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Posted 04/27/2007 - 11:19:59 AM by meatbreak:
 I can't believe this doesn't have a hundred comments underneath it already. Maybe everyone is away researching - I know I'm not totally sure what to add to this list. Yet. I just know there's plenty stuff screaming at me that it's been ommitted from this list, I just can't quite think of them. Though, I think any penultimate Oneida song works like an intake of breath before the trademark epic psych-out thrash to the finish.
Posted 04/27/2007 - 11:46:39 AM by grandbanks:
 Well, of course I agree with Meat on the Oneida thing, but gotta stress that Anthem of the Moon is a great intro to Oneida in general, and "To Seed & Flower" is s great great song. They have a bunch of these short bursts on their albums, really hooky and powerful at the same time. "Pure Light Invasion" another favorite of mine but not a penultimate. I always really loved how "Human Interest" went into "Sinews" on Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime. I am immensely biased about this one, as well. Can't really argue with the segue from "Turn it Off" into "Future Home of Stucco Monstrosity" from the first album either. Of course this list could be very very long.
Posted 04/27/2007 - 01:09:23 PM by florenz6:
 I was also expecting lots of comments. Here are two of my favourite pen-ultimate tracks: "China, My China" and "Some Of Them Are Old". The song that follow these gems try to avoid any sense of ending and are spiralling off into the universe...(sorry, if this doesn´t sound like good english. Ah, yes, they are from the masterpieces "Here Come The Warm Jets" and "Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy)"! Welcome back in the midseventies! Trust me, or google a bit!
Posted 04/27/2007 - 01:10:26 PM by florenz6:
 "the songs that follow..."
Posted 04/27/2007 - 02:03:02 PM by AKMoose:
 The Trail of Dead song has a name, you know. "After the Laughter."
Posted 04/27/2007 - 03:17:16 PM by GlassAnimalBoy:
 For me, the best second-to-last moments belong to Modest Mouse. On Lonesome Crowded West, you have "Bankrupt on Selling" which is a last, truly tender touchstone from which they rev up and take off to meet Jesus and learn the truth about God in "Styrofoam Boots." On The Moon and Antarctica (my favorite album of all time), it's "Life Like Weeds," a track that sums up a lot of the themes of this incredibly undervalued record. You get sort of a desperate hopelessness, before Brock's violent hopelessness blows the whole thing out of the water with "What People are Made Of" And We Were Dead, It's "People as Places as People," basically serving that same function to lead up to "Invisible." I'm glad for this article, because I might not have realized how Modest Mouse uses this track so well, usually for my favorite songs on the albums. It's always a song that you feel could be the last track, before the real big finish comes along and really hits you over the head.
Posted 04/27/2007 - 07:06:29 PM by garlad1:
 Thin Lizzy's Cowboy Song before Emerald on Jailbreak. Foxey Lady before Are you Experienced. Or all along the Watchtower before Voodoo Chile. NY's Cortez the Killer followed by Through my Sails on Zuma is almost a reverse penult.
Posted 04/27/2007 - 09:30:17 PM by joeyjeremiah:
 "Darkdancer" was the last album I expected to see listed at the top of the page. Kudos!
Posted 04/28/2007 - 11:19:28 AM by Famethrowa:
 Shine a Light off Exile on Main Street. Serious omission. Good call w/ the Life Like Weeds shout out. The chime at the 6:19 mark gives me goosebumps everytime I hear it. A lot like the bell at the end of OK Cpu. Perfect segue into the finale of a nearly perfect album. Again, props.
Posted 04/28/2007 - 03:40:39 PM by lodger:
 Just have to add Cold on Pornography by The Cure before thinking about anything else..
Posted 04/29/2007 - 09:37:59 AM by KingVitamin:
 AC Newman - The Town Halo is the only thing that sprang to mind for me and, really, the only song I can think of that I associate with the word "penultimate." It just feels so much like, you know, this album's ALMOST over, but not quite. Except I guess when people do that thing like on Music Has the Right to Children.
Posted 04/29/2007 - 10:41:46 PM by sonicben:
 "Rebellion (Lies)" by the Arcade Fire springs to mind. It is the ultimate climax after a series of smaller ones, and it is perfectly followed by the breather that is "In the Backseat". It took many listens before I even noticed that last song. It also took many listens before I was patient enough not to skip straight to Rebellion! Still their masterpiece, in my opinion.
Posted 04/30/2007 - 05:38:41 AM by smezzer:
 the first one that came to mind is the title track from Goodbye and Hello by Tim Buckley. Definitely one of the 'epic penultimate before short and simple end', its a ten minute long political allegory dressed up as medieval fantasy. But a lot better than that sounds. Another great track in a similiar position is 'Won't Get To Heaven The State I'm In' from the Spiritualized album Let It Come Down, another epic penultimate track, this time a rising gospel blues number. I can take or leave the rest of the album, but that song.. Oh boy
Posted 04/30/2007 - 07:18:34 AM by terrorist:
 the second last track on any album i dearly dearly love. duh.
Posted 04/30/2007 - 11:27:34 AM by raskolnikov:
 "Making the Nature Scene" off Sonic Youth's Confusion is Sex, "Casino" from the Dead C's the Damned, "From Sinking" off Oceanic by Isis, and "Black Vomit" by Wolf Eyes from Burned Mind. Nice choice with Oneida, and props to Florenz6 with the two sweet Eno choices.....
Posted 04/30/2007 - 08:13:49 PM by jeremyyoung:
 The most glaring omission here is surely "There is a light that never goes out" from The Queen is Dead. Not only the best song on the album, it's also the best Smiths song and one of the greatest songs of all time. A perfect lead-in to the superb closer "Some girls are bigger than others". Some others that spring to mind: "Lipstick vogue" from This Year's Model by Elvis Costello, which is one of his angriest songs. It's a huge outburst of tension and anger that had been building up over the course of the album. On a side note, the "L" trilogy on the 2nd half of the album (Lip service, Living in paradise, Lipstick vogue) is one of his greatest run of songs on any album. "Nothern sky" from Bryter Layter by Nick Drake. Surely one of his finest songs; since the last song "Sunday" is an instrumental, this feels like the last song on the album and what a way to end it. "Hello earth" from Hounds of Love by Kate Bush. Appropriate to mention this here, since you had the Kate Bush tribute last week. The most epic song on this brilliant album, it is a perfect conclusion to the epic Ninth Wave before the hopeful finale of "The morning fog". And how can you forget "Bohemian rhapsody", which was the penultimate song from A night at the opera? The album ends with their take on "God save the queen" (the anthem, not the Sex Pistols song), but fancy burying a such a classic track like Bohemian rhapsody so far back on an album? I guess it was their admission that they couldn't do any better after that song, which is why they didn't try. Some honourable mentions: "Slide away" from Definitely maybe. "Eternal life" from Grace. "This is the one" from The Stone Roses. "Brundisium" from Strange Bird.
Posted 04/30/2007 - 09:45:53 PM by bj_randolph:
 Decemberists, "I Was Meant for the Stage"

Who's with me, people?

Posted 05/01/2007 - 05:11:17 AM by MikeOrme:
 Great suggestions, everyone. Keep 'em comin'!
Posted 05/03/2007 - 04:32:54 PM by teleportation:
 Uhh... dude, hate to break this to you, but Station to Station ain't part of the "Berlin Trilogy."
Posted 05/03/2007 - 07:49:03 PM by MikeOrme:
 >> “Stay” serves as the fiery set-up man for the maniacal crooner ode “Wild Is the Wind,” as well as, of course, the entire Berlin Trilogy.

I asserted that "Stay" helps set up the Berlin Trilogy, not that it lies within the trilogy itself.
Posted 05/05/2007 - 11:51:04 PM by HBurton:
 Surely can't go past 'The New' from Interpol's Turn On the Bright Lights. The whole album is awesome, but this track takes the tension that has been building from the start and quietly nudges it up further before blowing it to smithereens. Paves the way perfectly for the stately closer 'Leif Erikson'. (And I know for Australian listeners like myself it's technically the third-last track, with bonus track 'Specialist' stuck on the end, but 'The New' is too amazing to worry about that.)
Posted 05/09/2007 - 12:19:29 AM by wayupnorth:
 Let's Call it Love by Sleater-Kinney off The Woods comes to mind too. Good flow into Night Light at the end.
Posted 05/11/2007 - 04:17:37 PM by mirakle:
 In response to bj_randolph, I am ridiculously fond of the Decemberists but they tend not to do a good job with choosing the penultimate song (and I even like the Mariner's Revenge, I just think it's in a sort of weird place on the album). I Was Meant for the Stage is the best of their penultimate songs, but it wouldn't make my top 10.
Posted 05/31/2007 - 04:33:51 AM by cinatyte:
 Even though the record only came out 3 months ago, I'm surprised "No Cars Go" hasn't muscled its way onto the list.
Posted 09/19/2007 - 07:51:01 PM by cwperry:
 "Snow" on The Benelux Years by The Chrysler (2007).