Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Songs: 41-60

The halfway point... 

2011 41-60 by David Scott on Grooveshark

60. "Basic Hypnosis" by Notorious B.I.G. & The XX
<Wait What mashup>

The downtempo beats of The XX are a perfect match for Big Poppa. Wait What put together an excellent 10 song mixtape combining the two. It is a tough call between the above and "It's All About The Crystalizabeths", which features The XX's best hook but a lot more Puff Daddy. Download the whole thing on soundcloud here
59. "Virgin" by Manchester Orchestra (from Simple Math)
"We built this up in one day / to fall down"

Despite releasing their third album in 2011 and being relatively popular, I hadn't listened to Manchester Orchestra before this year. I can only assume that the band's similarity (in name only) to the despised Manheim Steamroller kept me away.  

58. "Radioactive (How to Dress Well Rework)" by Marina & The Diamonds
"My blood is burning / radioactive"

The original version of this song is generic overproduced pop (and I like Marina, who was #58 on last year's list). This remix by How to Dress Well (aka Brooklyn's Tom Krell), however, completely reworks the track with new beats and vocals from the bottom of a well. 
57. "Please, Please George" by Dinosaur Feathers (single)
"So I might have / to read the Wheel of Time instead / they're gonna finish that / even though Robert Jordan's dead"

Relentlessly catchy song that pleads Game of Thrones author George Martin to hurry up and finish the the fantasy series. If this was a TV blog, HBO's series based on Martin's books would be my #2 for the year, behind only Breaking Bad ("I won") and just ahead of Seasons 2 of Louie and Archer.
56. "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People (from Torches)
"You better run / better run / outrun my gun"

It is oh-so-easy (and more than a little unfair) to simply dismiss Torches as a poor man's Oracular Spectacular. On this humble blog, easy will always trump fair. 
55. "Jesus Fever" by Kurt Vile (from Smoke Ring For My Halo)
"I packed my suitcase with myself / but I'm already gone"

One of the first songs I downloaded in 2011. The only prescription for the song, of course, is more cowbell. 

54. "The Show Goes On" by Lupe Fiasco (from Lasers)
"So no matter what you been through / no matter what you into / no matter what you see when you look outside your win-doo"

The generally reviled third album from Lupe Fiasco has too much pop sheen, but while some will bemoan the use of Modest Mouse's most famous riff and the tired you-can-do-anything rhymes, I can't help but nod along. Sue me.

53. "All Die Young" by Smith Westerns (from Dye it Blonde)
"And I can tell by the look in your eyes / you didn't know the way"

A pleasant song made great by the repeated chorus to the tune of "Oh Yoko" over the closing minute. 

52. "Tigers" by The Submarines (from Love Notes / Letter Bombs)
"Baby you can never be / everything I'll never need / but would you put your arms around me"

The male/female tandem behind The Submarines are married, but fortunately not happily enough to lose the ability to write conflicted pop songs like this one.
51. "As Bright As Your Night Light" by Nerves Junior (from As Bright As Your Night Light)
"Sending signals, only you and I know / flip your hair if the answer is no / crack your knuckles / blink three times / grab your coat and I'll grab mine"

A menacing tune that is perfect for night driving at high velocity. (Or, more likely for me, driving your 2-year old to preschool while obeying all posted traffic signs.)

50. "Little Black Submarines" by The Black Keys (from El Camino)
"I should have seen it glow / but everybody knows / that a broken heart is blind"

There are indie bands to make it big that I like more than The Black Keys, but there may not be a band whose mega-success makes me happier. It is awesome that there is still a place in popular music for two guys playing straight-ahead rock and roll. 
49. "Tree by the River" by Iron & Wine (from Kiss Each Other Clean)
"Time isn't kind or unkind / you like to say"

After stealing Kiss Each Other Clean's advance single for my 2010 list (where it was #1), it is not a surprise the full album was a bit of a letdown. The musical advancements Sam Beam is making has created higher volatility from track-to-track than his early work, but I'll take an album of so-so tracks for a chance at a track like "Walking Far From Home" every time.  

48. "Codex" by Radiohead (from The King of Limbs)
"The water's clear / and innocent"

While I haven't liked all of Radiohead's releases (caveat: I prefer to The Bends and In Rainbows to Amnesiac or Kid A) you could never really call an album of theirs dull or forgettable. The Kng of Limbs was kind of both -- with this song as the notable exception (for me). 
47. "Love Out of Lust" by Lykke Li (from Wounded Rhymes)
"We will live longer than I will / we will be better than I was"

Am I the only one that routinely confuses Lykke Li and Basia Bulat? How many alliterative blonde female singer/songwriters from northern latitudes are there out there?  

46. "The Stand" by Mother Mother (from Eureka)
"But for the planets / and the stars / and everything else ... and Mars"

Perhaps the strangest song on the list, particularly the exchange about space (partially excerpted above). 
45. "Daphne" by Lia Ices (from Grown Unknown)
"A heavy numbness seizes her into bark / feet so swift to root, arm to branch and hair to leaf / woman to tree"

A gorgeous, building track from a singer I should know more about than I do.  Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) appears on this track somewhere, not that it makes a difference.

44. "Helix" by Justice (from Audio. Video. Disco.)

Justice bringing it with a sample from the man, the myth, the legend: Billy Ocean. I called it here. Also, why are there several thousand words on Wikipedia about inconsequential president Millard Fillmore and not even a complete bio or discography on my man Billy O? Get out of my dreams and get on it citizen historians.
43. "Ray Charles" by Chiddy Bang (single)
"I got that honey / that sugar / that spice"

The best summer song released this November. First album proper due in February.  
42. "Otis Redding" by Kanye West (from Watch the Throne)
"I adopted these ni**as / Phillip Drummoned them"

I couldn't resist pairing Otis and Ray (though there is no doubt which singer I prefer). I was surprised to see Watch the Throne high on so many year-end lists. It is fun, but "Otis" is one of the few complete tracks on the album, which suffers from far too many lazy verses. Kanye also sampled Otis on "Gone", my #9 song of 2005.
41. "Poor In Love" by Destroyer (from Kaputt)
"I was poor in love / I was poor in wealth / I was OK in everything else there was"

My favorite track on Kaputt, perhaps because it perfectly captures the odd 80's retro sound of the rest of the album in less than 3 1/2 minutes (advance single "Chinatown" was #99 last year).

1 comment:

  1. EPR's top 5 of 41-60:

    1) Otis
    2) Love Out of Lust
    3) Daphne
    4) Pumped Up Kicks
    5) All Die Young

    Other notes:
    * Agreed with Basic Hypnosis > Crystalizabeths. Though I might have gone with Islands is the Limit
    * Helix just missed top 5 - any song that begins to touch the pulsing electric guitars of Aerodynamic (Daft Punk) is tempting
    * Virgin to me is somewhere in the Pavement-Built to Spill-Pixies continuum...with a little too much Marcy Playground