Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Songs: 61-80

The next batch... 
80. "Victory Dance" by My Morning Jacket (from Circuital)
"Take machete into the brush / though at first there is no path"

I am usually onboard with an artist's maturation, but can't help but wish Jim James & co. would just rehash It Still Moves. Circuital is better than Evil Urges but it is increasingly clear that MMJ is not (and doesn't want to be) the band I once loved.
79. "Cold Feet" by Lost Lander (from DRRT)
" Too much conversation / too much information / I've got to turn it off"

Lost Lander is the new project from personal favorite Brent Knopf (Menomena, Ramona Falls). Debut album due in 2012. 

78. "Real is a Feeling" by Pictureplane (from Thee Physical)
"and we all feel real"

Pictureplane has now made the top 100 songs list twice ("Goth Star" in 2009). They would have easily made the list for ugliest album covers twice as well.
77. "Price Tag" by Jessie J (feat. B.O.B.) (from Who Are You)
"We're paying with love tonight"

Trite anti-consumerism sentiment plus obvious posturing on a track that is over-produced to the extreme.  What's not to like? Pitchfork called it "like Nelly Furtado fronting Sugar Ray." I can't defend this one, other than to say that B.O.B.'s pop-rap is likable to me where it is probably nauseating to most.
76. "Circle Married the Line" by Feist (from Metals)
"It's as much what it is as what it is not"

If the long-awaited follow-up to The Reminder didn't deliver as many Apple-tv-spot-ready songs it made up for it with admirable consistency.

75. "Exhaustible" by DeVotchKa (from 100 Lovers)
"There is no one that loves you better / than me my dear"

While some bands alienate old fans and/or attract new ones by constantly evolving (see #80 as an example), some are content to stick to their niche. DeVotchKa has been doing that wonderfully for nearly a decade.

74. "Cruel" by St. Vincent (from Strange Mercy)
"They were the zephyr blowing past you / glowing fiercely / so they can't see you"

When I reflect on this song, I am tempted to think that I admire it more than I like it. Then I listen to it again and realize that's bullshit; it's a pretty great song by any standard. 

73. "Hand It Out" byWoods (from Sun and Shade)
"I'll roll right over / if it makes much sense to you"

I'll praise one band for staying true to its niche (#75) and criticize another: if Woods doesn't evolve a bit (or at least stop putting out an album every year), fatigue is going to set in. Not there yet, though. Perfect Sunday morning music.

72. "Fresh Paint" by Pree (from Folly)
"Sorry only comes / when folly goes / and makes a habit out of leaving on the light"

After a phenomenal EP in 2009 (including song #16 on that year's list), Pree releases a pretty good piano-driven debut LP. You either love the voice or you will hate the music.

71. "Mermaid" by Okkervil River (from I Am Very Far)
"But my mouth / fills with both panic then prayer"

A slow builder from Will Sheff and crew. I enjoyed I Am Very Far but can't help but feel that the band misses Jonathan Meiburg (and, for me, Shearwater's output doesn't make up for the loss).

70. "I'm God" by Clams Casino (from Instrumental Mixtape)

I believe those are Imogen Heap's vocals sampled on the track. Clams is part of an interesting group of DJs/producers that find success in songs that aren't quite mashups, aren't quite remixes, but yet aren't quite complete originals.
69. "Shuffle a Dream" by Little Dragon (from Ritual Union)
"You cruise around in your deluxe water craft"

Little Dragon wonderfully combines vintage-sounding vocals with modern electronic backing, no better than on this track. 

68. "America's Son" by Air Review (from America's Son)
"I am America's son / and I'm so inclined to run"

A pleasant enough, but forgettable, song -- until the chorus kicks in.
67. "Wait" by M83 (from Hurry Up, We're Dreaming)
"There's no end / there is no goodbye / disappear / with the night / no time"

While I personally don't get the universal acclaim for "Midnight City" (see #63; to my ear it has a faux urgency that is better suited to its Victoria Secret commercials than best-of-2011 lists), this gorgeous track unfolds with pain and grandeur. Crap, this song should probably be higher on the list...

66. "You Are A Tourist" by Death Cab For Cutie (from Codes and Keys)
"This / fire / grows / higher"

At this point, Death Cab is like the indie rock equivalent of Ed Zwick movies. They are pretty good. Everyone generally agrees that they are pretty good. But no one is ever asking themselves: "Damn, when is the next Ed Zwick movie coming out".
65. "Ghost Towns" by Radical Face (from The Family Tree: The Roots)
"All this time / I've been chasing down a lie / and I know it for what it is / but it beats the alternatives / so I'll take the lie"

I like the trend of one-man acts like Radical Face (aka Ben Cooper) still using band names rather than their given names. It's nice to know if I ever recorded something I could still call myself Jimmy Stewart's Fury or Covenant Breach or something. Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about these things...

64. "One Whole Year" by Bombadil (from All That The Rain Promises)
"But I'll tell you in a minute it was shorter than it felt"

Another odd song by this jokey band from Duke University ("Sad Birthday" was #88 on the 2009 list and "Honeymoon" should have been in the top 50).    
63. "Balance" by Future Islands (from On the Water)
"Because before the morning comes / there's a certain calm / and then there's light / it just takes time"

I feel like this song is a much more successful version of what M83's "Midnight City" is trying to be. And I am aware I am in the minority on this one. 
62. "Maybe Baby" by Blitzen Trapper (from Terminal Sales Vol. 4: Please to Enjoy)
"Set me free / but leave the key"

While nothing from the band's proper LP in 2011 (American Goldwing) stood out for me, this track from a Sub-Pop sampler is a new addition to my list of favorite tracks under 2:00.

61. "Tenere Taqqim Tossam" by Tinariwen (from Tassili)
< in Tuareg - mostly>

Tassili represents a "worlds colliding" event for someone that is an unabashed fanboy of both music from Mali (source of my #2 album of the 2000s) and TV on the Radio (Kyp Malone and Tunde Adepimpe appear on this track and others on the album).

1 comment:

  1. EPR's top 5 of 61-80:

    1) Balance
    2) Exhaustible
    3) Maybe Baby
    4) Ghost Towns
    5) America's Son

    Other notes:
    * Future Islands has a little more of a growl than the cleaner vocals of M83, which is a good thing
    * Hats off to a band from Duke that has transcended the Jack Johnson vortex of flip-flop rock
    * Never listened to much MMJ, but went back and enjoying It Still Moves
    * Would have gone with...Midnight City...Instead of...Wait. The comparison reminds me of Time to Pretend vs. Someone's Missing (different albums, I know)
    - The point is: whether it's the tune for Victoria's Secret models or the ladies of the GSB dancing around a house in Atherton...there's nothing wrong with that
    * Can't wait for the Covenant Breach single to drop. Side project: Ceteris Paribustamove