Every January, after those “best of last year” ballots have been submitted, I start plowing through what the new year is offering. And every time I do that, there’s one record that stands above the pack and digs its claws into my ears and mind and heart, to the point where it’s more than wanting to play it over and over. I have to. In January 2005, that record is the Foxymorons’ Hesitation Eyes. I’d probably be knocked out by the songs alone; how they remind me at times of Big Star (“Just Because”) or where I hoped Wilco was heading before they started to shed their skin almost annually to explore more dissonant and obtuse areas (“I’m Still In Love”). Critics have dropped names like Guided by Voices (nah – that’s a band in dire need of an editor), Sebadoh, and Pavement. And while the starkness of some of the material is the genesis of that name-dropping (or the Tweedy-like vocals), the sheer tunefulness of the material eclipses those bands. Hesitation Eyes is filled with first-rate musicianship, great vocals, killer melodies, and creative arrangements. So imagine how stunned I was to read how David Dewese and Jerry James created these great songs. Not in a magical studio session or during an introspective woodshedding experience, but by shipping songs fragments back and forth across the country. There’s interplay between James and Dewese that leaves me no choice but to deduce that they’re proactively telekinetic. “Everything Changes” is a hit record, period. End of story. Put that song on a WB show or a hip indie film soundtrack, and these guys are stars. And I can’t think of a higher compliment than saying that “This Heart of Mine” is a stone-cold classic, a song that so perfectly hits its mark that I can’t imagine a single nanosecond that could be improved. It’s got a weakly honest vocal, a subtle banjo solo, a hummable chorus and all the heart in the world. I’d recommend the album for that one song, and when you consider that there are eleven more almost as good, I don’t know why you’re still reading. Get this record. Don’t make me come over there and get your wallet.