Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 Songs: 21-40

40. "Under the Earth" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (from Mosquito)
"Twelve times / put a hex on you"

The heavy use of dub/reverb makes this the first of two remaining artists to remind us strongly of Sandinista-era Clash. "Sacrilege" is pretty great as well (unlike the creepy-as-hell, Garbage Pail Kids inspired album cover).

39. "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" by Kishi Bashi (from 7" Singles EP)
<Talking Heads cover>

A straightforward, stripped down cover, but we are talking about, for our money, one of the greatest songs of our lifetime and quite possibly the most genuinely romantic (the "naive" subtitle refers to the melody, not the lyrics).  So an excellent new version by an emerging new artist (#92 on last year's list) is welcome. 

38. "Restless Leg" by Har Mar Superstar (from Bye Bye 17)
"Shake shake shake shake shake the leg oh oh"

We hadn't heard of Har Mar Superstar before hearing a few classic R&B sounding tracks from his 5th album, Bye Bye 17.  Pitchfork thought little enough of the guy to give his second album a 2.0 and his third album a 1.9. For context, both of those would have been the second lowest score they gave out over the past year. Of course, 4 of their 25 lowest scored albums of 2013 made this list, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised. 

37. "Demon to Lean On" by Wavves (from Afraid of Heights)
"Holding a gun to my head / so send me an angel"

The mid-90s punk that Wavves recalls is now as removed from today's music as the original punk wave was from the 90s.  So we look forward to the 4th wave around 2030.

36. "A New Life" by Jim James (from Regions Of Light And Sound Of God)
"Babe / open the door / and start your new life"

Takes a while to get going, but patience pays off with a nice old fashioned build.  While we've been disappointed with My Morning Jacket's recent output, at least James is keeping busy with interesting side projects. 

35. "There Can Be Only One" by Cass McCombs (from Big Wheel and Others)
If love is either all or none / who owns my heart?"

Very much roll-the-window-down-and-cruise music. Very Lou Reed (RIP) as well. 

34. "Wild Country" by Wake Owl (from Wild Country EP)
If I want to leave / I will"

Based on the last several tracks, this list is in danger of becoming unbearably pleasant.

33. "I Remember You" by Rilo Kiley (from Rkives)
"And may old acquaintance be forgot / but I remember you"

The male voice here is full cheeseball but Jenny Lewis sounds great and we like the borrowed riff from "Marquee Moon" enough to overlook it. 

32. "Lightning Bolt" by Jake Bugg (from Jake Bugg)
Everyone I see just wants to walk with gritted teeth"

The comparison to Dylan is an easy one, and one that is not sustainable over the course of a full album, but the 19-year old certainly pulls it off for two and a half minutes.

31. "This Evening So Soon" by Bob Dylan (from Another Self Portrait: The Bootleg Series Vol. 10)
<Bob Gibson cover>

The man himself, in an unreleased track from the Self Portrait sessions.  This concludes the unintentional flashback portion of the top 100 list, with new/"new" music from favorite acts from the 60s (Dylan), 70s (Bowie, #53), 80s (Clash, #100) and 90s (Pearl Jam, #58).

30. "Heaven" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (from Little Moments EP)
<no idea what Alec is saying>

We can't think of another band where the perceived decline in quality fails to match what we hear.  CYHSY's debut was pretty universally praised, but its follow-up (which featured our #1 song of 2007) was quickly forgotten and few people noticed/cared when they broke up and got back together. Even friends who swear by the debut don't care much for the recent output. (bandcamp link)

29. "Before We Run" by Yo La Tengo (from Fade)
"Take me out beyond the stress / speak to me in words we can't erase / take me out / it's only us"

One of the things lost in the translation to digital music is the art of track listing.  "Before We Run", like "Moonlight Mile"on Sticky Fingers or "I Believe" from Talking Book, could only be a closing track. 

28. "Needle" by Born Ruffians (from Birthmarks)
"Lost / but in my place"

At the 0:50 mark, the yelping pop goodness that made Red, Yellow and Blue one of our favorite albums of 2008 is back.

27. "You" by Bibio (from Silver Wilkinson)
"Find somebody else / just like you"

Anthemic, even with only 13 words in the song. 

26. "Walkin On a Pretty Day" by Kurt Vile (from Wakin On a Pretty Daze)
"Phone ringing off the shelf / I guess it wanted to kill himself"

We just realized that the album title and the song title are not the same. Huh. 

25. "Spinning Signs" by Painted Palms (from Forever)
"I'm just talking to the things inside my head"

Tame Impala got a lot of love last year (consensus #3 album of 2012 according to Metacritic's compilation of top 10 lists) for a very good album of trippy psych-rock.  The advance single from Painted Palm's debut (due Jan 14) would be right at home on that album, and would instantly be the best song.  

24. "Becoming the Gunship" by Islands (from Ski Mask)
"When it was dark / I was a question mark"

Not sure if anyone has more eclectic a run of recent album highlights than Islands, from "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby" off their debut, to "Creeper" to "Disarming the Car Bomb" to "Hallways" (our #2 song of 2012) to "Becoming the Gunship". Great band. 

23. "Dance Apocalyptic" by Janelle MonĂ¡e  (from The Electric Lady)
"But I'm allergic to the house pets"

Quite the little retro kick over the last few tracks.

22. "Hurricane (Chvrches remix)" by MS MR (single)
"Keep my eyes open / my lips sealed / my heart closed / and my eyes peeled "

Chvrches early single "the Mother We Share" cracked the top 50 last year but their full length debut couldn't do better than the honorable mention list in 2013. Similarly, Ms Mr's 2013 debut of "noir&B" (a perfect descriptor, and fun to say) was a good listen, but wasn't likely to crack the list either. Instead, Chvrches complete 80'sfication of album favorite "Hurricane" represents a surprising high point for both acts. (soundcloud link)

21. "Cayucos" by Cayucas (from Bigfoot)
"oh way oh way oh / come on come on come on come on"

We'd like think that the masculine/feminine going on in the song title and band name has some meaning. Wikipedia informs that Cayucos is a little hamlet on the California coast (past Morro Bay, as the song says) and that it is Chumash for Kayak. So probably not. 

1 comment:

  1. EPR'S TOP 5 OF 21-40

    Time Waits for No One...

    (1) Islands - Becoming the Gunship
    * more eminently listenable, rewarding music from Islands. Looking forward to listening to Nick Thorburn's collaboration with Man Man - Mister Heavenly

    (2) Painted Palms - Spinning Signs
    * not being familiar enough with Tame Impala (other than Feels Like We Only Go Backwards), this sits somewhere between the electronic arpeggios of Yeasayer and the pulsing of Kavinsky. More of this, whatever it is

    (3) Wavves - Demon to Lean On
    * it took self-control not to push this to #1 of the cohort. Songs that sit somewhere in the nexus of tracks from Surfer Blood, Pavement and The Pixies have a lot of mileage with me

    (4) Har Mar Superstar - Restless Leg
    * irreverant, jangly, with threads of sadomasochism. The guy's other albums don't have much going for them, but this one was fun through and through. I would have put up Rhythm Bruises instead

    (5) Born Ruffians - Needle
    * the slow build works well here to kick in the yelping. It's no Foxes Mate for Life, though

    CYHSY - Heaven (b-side)
    * feels consistent with their debut. My memory is that they are able to produce one or two tracks in recent albums that live up to that sound, but nothing that is as universally good as the 2005 album
    Jake Bugg - Lightning Bolt
    * very nice little ditty. Recording sounds really flat, though. A fuller sound in the bridge would have made this song kick a lot harder. There's a Beast and We All Feed It is the high water mark
    Rilo Kiley - I Remember You
    * recruiting Stephen Merrit to do the male vocals and a slight lyrics rewrite could have taken this track to the next level