Friday, November 30, 2007

The Top Ten Tracks On Elbo.WS Reviewed In 50 Words Or Less

Back when this blog was ye olde Sliver Magazine, we had a feature called 50 Words Or Less in which we reviewed the latest songs and albums with--you guessed it!--long, rapturous discussion that had 1,000 word ledes at least. Were Sliver not only read by friends and immediate family, it may have been our calling card feature. After all, the whole thing recalls Robert Christgau for the ADD generation, no?

But I got to thinkin' (which is always dangerous): How could this feature be brought back? And this is what I came up with: On a bi-monthly basis, because of the fact that the chart ranks the songs by measuring two weeks worth of data, we'd review each of the top ten tracks on Elbo.Ws in 50 words or less. And so the feature was brought back to life! It's Alive! It's Alive! Dear God, It's Alive.

One note before we begin. The songs below comprised the top ten as of this morning (11/30/07) at 7 a.m. Central Standard Time, when I last checked the chart. Things could be radically different, or they could be not different at all. At any rate, here's the first of what hopefully will be a long-going feature. Enjoy!

The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes – Aly, Walk With Me

This song should be heavily protested by more prudish folk, as it sounds like sex personified: breathy vocals, pseudo trip-hop beat, pulsating bass line and noisy guitar textures make this track sound like Sonic Youth doing Nancy Sinatra. And this song does nothing if not walk all over you.
Grade: A-

Download: The Raveonettes - "Aly, Walk With Me"

The Raveonettes on MySpace

Black Mountain

Black Mountain
– Tyrants

There’s much appreciation on this reviewer's part for the wide array of influences here (Sabbath, Pink Floyd, ELO, Fleetwood Mac, in addition to any number of bands who existed from 1968 to 1975). But, ultimately, “Tyrants” sounds like LARPers cramming in every prog-rock cliché they could into one song. Seriously, where are the unicorns?
Grade: C+

Download: Black Mountain - "Tyrants"

Black Mountain on MySpace

The Whitsundays

The Whitsundays
– “Sorry James”

It’s not so much James who needs the apology, so much as The Kinks, the strengths of whom The Whitsundays blandly copy. Imagine what wonderfully kaleidoscopic direction Jennifer Gentle could take this song, then compare that to the actual product. “Sorry James” isn’t a bad song, per se; it’s just unremarkable.
Grade: C

Download: The Whitsundays - "Sorry James"

The Whitsundays on MySpace

The Magnetic Fields

The Magnetic Fields - "Three-Way"

"Three-Way" is an odd choice for a first single, but then Stephen Merritt is nothing if not odd. On the whole, the psych-garage-rock track feels like a musical palette cleanser, in that it could follow a more serious-minded track. The band sounds like it's having good-natured fun and that vibe definitely rubs off on the listener.
Grade: B

Download: The Magnetic Fields - "Three-Way"

Official Magnetic Fields Website

Bodies Of Water

Bodies Of Water - "I Guess We'll Forget The Sound, I Guess, I Guess"

Initially, his song belongs in the Department of Redundancy Department, both titularly and musically. But Bodies Of Water stay afloat by throwing enough sonic curveballs in their garage-folk sound to keep the music engaging, and then add epic vocal harmonies. The end result is a soul-stirring conclusion to what was at first an unremarkable track.
Grade: B+

Download: Bodies Of Water - "I Guess We'll Forget The Sound, I Guess, I Guess"

Bodies Of Water on MySpace

Sally Shapiro

Sally Shapiro – "Anorak Christmas (Piano Mix)"

Download: Sally Shapiro - "Anorak Christmas (Piano Mix)"

Piano intro recalls “Come Sail Away”, but there’s no rocking as Ms. Shapiro sings the love unrequited. “Anorak Christmas” is one remix away (one more aggressive than the club mix from which this song is derived) from being the inescapable club hit that you all know and hate, but nod your head to anyway.
Grade: B

Sally Shapiro on MySpace

Oh Astro

Oh Astro – “Snow Queen”

The sound of a stuttering hard drive doesn't seem immensely appealing, but Oh Astro have pleasantly proved otherwise. Should Oh Astro collaborate with Timbaland, the result would something that only Ken from A Fish Called Wanda could understand. To call "Snow Queen" danceable would definitely not be an insult to dancing, though.
Grade: B+

Download: Oh Astro - "Snow Queen"

MySpace Page

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes – "Coat Check Dream Song" (Exclusive live version)

Grading this song objectively seems irrelevant, considering that the cause it benefits is arguably the greatest test of mankind's moral fortitude. So I'll say this: buy this album. If some angst-filled warbling from a pretentious troubadour is the worst of your problems, then you, my friend, have got it made.
Grade: N/A

Download: Bright Eyes - "Coat Check Dream Song" (Exclusive Live Version)

Bright Eyes on MySpace

The Vandelles

The Vandelles - "Lovely Weather"

The vocals on "Lovely Weather" make it sound like they're thieves breathing down your neck. When you want to listen to fuzzed out neo-psychedelia, you shouldn't have to think about tuberculosis. Also, Serena Maneesh could do this song in a much more interesting way. This might sound cool in a Tarantino film, but it simply doesn't work on it's own.
Grade: C-

Download: The Vandelles - "Lovely Weather"

The Vandelles on MySpace

The Raveonettes

(that's right, we ran the same photo twice, because we're lazy)

The Raveonettes - "Dead Sound"

If The Raveonettes' upcoming Lust Lust Lust is filled with nothing but "Dead Sound"'s and "Aly, Walk With Me"'s, then it looks like they will release the first great record of 2008. We'll have to wait until Jan. 2008 to see what dreamy, harmonious tricks The Raveonettes have up their sleeves.
Grade: A-

Download: The Raveonettes - "Dead Sound"

The Raveonettes on MySpace

(Jonathan Graef)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice! Bodies of Water is in my "Best of '07" .

8:10 PM  

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